Director Dave Green has enjoyed a meteoric rise in moviemaking. Following a series of shorts, the young helmer made his film debut with the family friendly sci-fi adventure Earth to Echo. Its modest success put him in the coveted position of taking the reigns of the rebooted Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise, a dream job for a long-time fan and self-proclaimed “Donatello” of his circle of friends.
However, because of the mixed reception the 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles received from critics and fans alike, Green was asked to oversee some major shifts in tone and casting, as well as the addition of a slew of new characters. When Screen Rant sat down with the rising filmmaker in New York, we discussed what guided him in how to do right by the Turtles, the sequel’s plethora of Easter eggs, the promotion of mo-cap performer Pete Ploszek, and the possibility that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows could pave the way for some lesser-known figures to rejoin the franchise.
This film takes a lot more time to get to know the brothers as individuals. What was your guiding principle in figuring out how to do right by the Turtles?
Dave Green: That’s a good question. I grew up as a huge fan of The Turtles. I watched the cartoon every day with my friends after school. When you are that age, when you are around 8 or 9 years old, those characters are really easy to connect with because they’re just a little bit older than you. Every friend group has got a goofball, and a bully, and a technology guy, which was me; I was Donatello.
So when I got the opportunity to start working on this movie, I really just wanted to know who the brothers were in a deeper way. The way we did that was to really take time. Take time with each character and learn and see how each one of them tick.
There are so many inspirations you can pull from. There are the comics, the live action movies, and the cartoons. How did you decide what you were going to pull from?
Dave Green: There are so many different generations of Turtle fandom, like you are saying. So something that we did when we started the process was, “OK. Let’s open up all these comic books. Let’s open up all these cartoons. Let’s look for Easter eggs and poses of the Turtles jumping through their air. That’s a great frame. Look at how Splinter is doing this with his tail.” That was a huge joy to just kinda go back to the toys and the comics and from all these different generations of Turtle lure. It was a blast.
So for you it’s a real deep cut thing. What’s your favorite illusion in the movie?
Dave Green: There are a lot of small things that are kind of hidden throughout. There’s a foot stink sticker that’s in the Turtle van. There are things from the toys. Like, I had an old toy that would shoot pizzas. That’s kinda where the manhole cover thing came from in the movie. So we’re kind of taking bits from all over and just having a lot of fun with them.
Pete Ploszeck, he got promoted in this movie, where in the last one he did the motion capture for his character but it was replaced with Johnny Knoxville. How did the decision come about that he would also get to do the voice?
Dave Green: Well, Pete did just an amazing job in the movie. The way I look at a motion capture performance is it’s really things. It’s your facial performance, it’s your body movements, and it’s your voice. That really makes up an organic performance. So to get to use Pete’s voice in the movie was just fantastic because it meant we were treating that character holistically, organically. And he did an amazing job.
How did that decision come?
Dave Green: I think when we saw what Pete was doing on set and when we saw what he was doing in the cut, we were just really blown away with his work. It sort of needed to be that way to just deliver the power of what he was doing.
I think it really comes together.
Dave Green: Thank you.
Quick question to finish off. Is there any chance we might see Venus de Milo coming forward? She’s the female Turtle. She’s a little lesser known. Some people might call her non-canon.
Dave Green: I had a friend who gave me a pitch for this movie who was like, “There should be a female turtle!” Anyway, it’s not in this movie.
Well, it’s not in this one. But is that something that, if you continue with the franchise, you’d be interested in pursuing?
Dave Green: Never know!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows hits theaters June 3, 2016.