With filmmaker Ric Roman Waugh getting his start on films as a stunt performer, he's no stranger to telling stories that bring intense action. Having directed films like Angel Has Fallen and Snitch, Waugh would go on to helm intense scenes, but the upcoming film Greenland saw him flexing a new set of skills. While the film does focus on a comet on a collision course with Earth, it's not so much the scenes of massive destruction that hit hard with viewers, as we're also given an intensely emotional journey about a family seeking salvation, despite countless obstacles getting in their way. Greenland hits Premium VOD on December 18th.
Waugh made sure that, while the film had the potential to deviate into the realm of merely being a disaster spectacle, to tell the film most effectively he needed to stick with the emotional heart of a family on a path towards the only hope for survival.
"My whole mantra with this, when I read the material, is I love the inside-out approach, not the outside-in, where it's not about the spectacle, it's about this family within the spectacle," Waugh explained to ComicBook.com. "I thought a lot about Children of Men or A Quiet Place. Movies that had a huge high-concept engine to them, but the real narrative was about this internal place of intimacy of this, in this case, family. And I love that because you get to experience this event through their eyes."
He continued, "You get this big, visceral ride, of what we love with movie theaters, to go in there and be a part of that experience, but I didn't want people to watch the movie, I wanted them to participate in it, and that's always been my mantra. I think the engine of this gave it that. It was a way to show there's two monsters in the movie; there's the monster about to hit the earth, but then the other monster of humanity itself. Will we turn on each other, or will we help each other? And I love that, that moral test of it."
Waugh went on to note the ways in which he visualized the movie vs. what science told him such sequences would be like in reality.
"You take, always, a little bit of cinematic license, but the interesting thing is that we really hung on the backbone of real-world scenarios. Like, for example, the whole way that the extinction event happened, we really paid attention to all the different narratives," Waugh pointed out. "Now, nobody was here a billion years ago and knows exactly, but we've got a pretty good idea. But the other thing that was really interesting to me is I didn't want the movie to be hung on this one big event about to happen, and you were waiting the entire movie for it, and the fact that you find out that comets and asteroids, a lot of times they'll hit other things in the universe, and they'll break apart and become a belt of fragments. So then it gave me an engine where I can constantly pelt the earth, starting at the beginning of the movie, and just keep it continuously going, so that your monster is always a threat to everybody around them vs. waiting for the monster to finally appear in the third act."
Greenland hits Premium VOD on December 18th.
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This interview has been edited for length and clarity.