3 things about Ratchet & Clank director Kevin Munroe
A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to be part of a Q & A session with the director and cast of the new Ratchet and Clank movie. Here are three things I learned about the incredibly gracious director of the film, Kevin Munroe.
1. Kevin Munroe is no stranger to bringing fan favorite characters to the big screen
Q: The fans for [the Ratchet and Clank game] are very, very passionate. What were some of the biggest challenges in bringing their video game world to the big screen?
A: It’s funny, because I’ve had my run-ins with a few different fan groups, in terms of properties. And everyone has a different tone. Turtles fan groups were very, very wary, I think, because a lot of people have interpreted Ninja Turtles in a lot of different ways. So a lot of it was like, “Okay, what are you gonna do with it? How are you gonna screw this up?” kind of thing; whereas the Ratchet fans have been so supportive, which is crazy. So I’m sort of not used to that energy. I’m kind of waiting for somebody to come, and slap me on the back of the head, or somebody to kneel down behind me to do the bully push or something. But no, and it’s been an incredible fan base to work with.
Really, the biggest challenge is that games are such a user driven way of ingesting a story. It’s like comic books. You control how fast you flip. You control how much you stare at a panel. So you’re really directing it whenever you’re doing that. When you play the video games, it’s pretty much the same thing. Any time you do an adaptation like that, you have to find the tone of what works for the people who love it. And then your job is to translate that love into another medium. So you try to take what people love about that, and stay true to that. So it has to be less about the details, and more about the feeling, and more about the tone, because eventually it has to become a movie. I think we just really kind of threaded the needle with this one.
2. George Lucas was a big influence on Kevin Munroe
Q: You are so creative in everything that you do. Working with George Lucas, how did that influence your creativity? Or did it influence it at all?
A: A huge influence – you kidding me? He’s one of the chief reasons I do what I do. It was 1977 when that first movie came out, and I was in a Red Theater, with the curtains opening, and I actually had a box of the red and white striped popcorn. It was such a clear moment; and at that moment, getting the toys, and coming back and re-creating that, the notion of taking these characters, and having them do stuff.
I remember sitting down with my dad, the day after Christmas. I’d gotten a Vader and a stormtrooper, and I was trying to re-create the thing that I had seen in the movie. He was the stormtrooper and I was Vader. I said, “Tear this ship apart until you find those plans!” And my dad said, “But if we tear the ship apart, we’re gonna die in space.” And I was like, “Ahhhh!” I think that was the moment when I became a director.
[Working with George Lucas] was incredible. It was film school, all over again. I admire that guy so much. Everybody has their opinions about him. But to be able to go and work with him, week in and week out – in editorial, specifically – because if he has one sandbox that he plays in, it’s to take a movie and to move things around, and figure out what it is. I just learned so much. It was more film school than I think I’d ever done before in my life. It was four years of incredible work. It was great.
3. Kevin Munroe just wants to tell the best story possible
Q: Are you more passionate about directing or writing?
A: Storytelling. That’s a lame answer, but it’s true. It probably is more of a director’s medium for what I like to do. I love the combination of visuals, words, music, and color.
I started out mostly doing character design. I think my first job was on Hey, Arnold at Nickelodeon, doing character design. When you design a character well, from the way they dress, to the way they stand, to the way their hair is, that can inform story; that can inform who they are. I love the idea of when a design is so crisp and clear that you just go, “I need no words, at all.” I think that’s probably the directing aspect of it. I just love the combination of all those things, the balance of it.
With [Ratchet and Clank], it was great, because I had never worked with Rainmaker before. They’re a fantastic studio. But I’d never really worked with most of the department heads, or any of the people there. So it was all just kind of like jazz. We were on a tight schedule, and we knew we had to make the movies, and just showed up. And like, “This is what I do. And how do you play?” And this guy, “Well, this is kind of like what I do.” And so we’d take that, and then move it, and then sort of combine it with everything that Insomniac had created. That’s such a rush for me. I love that.
A big thank you to Kevin Munroe for sitting down with us!
Note: Although I didn’t change any of Kevin’s answers, I did condense some of them for readability.