It’s only been days M3GAN was released, but the new film is already becoming a horror classic. Killer puppets are well received by fans of the genre, but it’s been a while since a murderous puppet has slammed audiences this hard – M3GAN has already grossed over $10 million more than predicted at the box office. Such a spooky puppet appears to have been created digitally, but fans may be surprised to learn that the titular puppet was created with minimal CGI due to budget constraints.
In a new interview with IndieWire, director Gerard Johnstone revealed that M3GAN is a combination of practical effects, a human, and a bit of CGI. Johnstone said the team behind M3GAN had to get creative in making the puppet because the film’s $12 million budget meant they couldn’t afford real AI. “We didn’t have a budget for a Boston Dynamics robot, but we didn’t want to rely on threads or puppeteers in blue suits or anything like that,” the filmmaker told the publication, “so that left us with the impossible task of finding a girl who who was about the same age as Violet [McGraw, who plays M3GAN’s owner] and could do all these physical things and perform with Allison Williams.”
Making the doll look real without relying on digital effects was a challenge, but young actress Amie Donald was a big component of the doll’s uncanny realism. The dancer and karate brown belt was originally slated to fill in on wide shots as M3GAN, but ended up doing many of the more difficult stunts in the film. Johnstone said the crew was amazed at the 10-year-old’s athleticism; “They pulled out ropes and figured they had to put something up for her and she would figure it out for herself. She would figure out how to get up off the floor without using her hands after just 45 minutes of practice.”
In addition to Donald’s skillful portrayal of the puppet character, puppetry and animatronics played a large part in the development of M3GAN. “The methodology was basically using an animatronic doll when she’s still, and once she starts moving, she’s a girl with a mask,” Johnstone said in the interview. CGI was then used for M3GAN’s facial expressions as the mask only had one expression.
It’s not just the budget that the team followed behind M3GAN use practical effects. Speaking to the Daily Dead, the film’s producer and horror legend himself, James Wan, said: “One of the things that was very early on was that Gerard and I were very careful to keep it as practical as possible. I’m a big fan of practical effects, and Gerard’s really into it, too.” He reiterated that the film was “pretty low-budget” and this forced the team to find creative ways to make M3GAN work.
The hard work behind the creation of M3GAN has definitely paid off as the new horror film enjoys critical and commercial success. You can read our review of M3GAN here.
https://wegotthiscovered.com/movies/m3gan-director-admits-the-movies-budget-is-behind-the-killer-dolls-lack-of-cgi/ ‘M3GAN’ director admits the film’s budget was behind the lack of CGI in the killer doll