Who You Gonna Call? Editing “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire”

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire editors Nathan Orloff and Shane Reid both came into the latest installment of the supernatural, super funny franchise having past experience with writer/director Jason Reitman. But where Nathan’s work with Jason came from collaborating on feature films like Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021), Shane’s work with Jason was amid his impressive body of work in the commercial world.

Summary for Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire sees the Spengler family returning to the iconic New York City firehouse where the original Ghostbusters have taken ghost-busting to the next level. When the discovery of an ancient artifact unleashes an evil force, Ghostbusters new and old must unite to protect their home and save the world from a second ice age.

In our discussion with Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire editors, Nathan Orloff and Shane Reid, we talk about:

  • How paying tribute to Ivan led to a job that paid tribute to Ivan
  • Being expeditious with the exposition
  • Raising the stakes while staying funny
  • Conquering the edit without clearly dividing it
  • Less Mayor, more marshmallow

Listen while you read…

Editing Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

Matt Feury: Nathan, the last time we spoke was for John Wick: Chapter 4. Before that was Ghostbusters: Afterlife, so your association with this film is kind of self-evident. Shane, you get the honor of kicking things off with how you got this gig. The floor is yours. 

Shane Reid: I edited an Apple commercial that Jason and Ivan Reitman directed together almost two years ago. It was their first time directing together. I dealt with Ivan mostly because Jason was doing press for Afterlife. So I was in contact with the agency, and I was getting calls on my phone that just said “Ivan Reitman”. It blew my mind. Then I took the call outside and he was so sharp and funny and just such a legend. I was pinching myself to work with him.

Pretty soon after that, Ivan unfortunately passed away. Jason and I had spoken a little bit during the ad and I wrote Jason an email. I knew how important Ivan was to him. I’m a father myself, so I wrote him an email. I debated about sending it for a little while because it was a very intimate thing. I didn’t know him that well, so I said, “I’m not going to pretend to know your family from this one experience, but all I can offer is a story about your dad.” 

So I sort of wrote a little bit about our conversations, what I gleaned from him, his sense of humor, and how he ribbed the agency. He was just a fun guy. Jason was quite moved by that. He wrote me an email back and it was nice. He asked if I could find someone to help him make a memorial service video for Ivan. I offered myself up and he thought that was too much. He didn’t want to put me in that position. I said to him, “Are you kidding me? Ivan’s a legend. I grew up watching his films. If I can do anything to give back to him or his family, that would be an honor.”

So we got to dive into working together that way. We built a fifteen-minute documentary for his service and it was a great experience. There was no script and there was no budget. It was all personal to Jason. It was just us inventing something, a way to let our minds be creative together. I think we bonded over that experience. When this film came up, he said, “I want to bring you on board.” He thought I’d work well with Nathan, who was on already. Jason has wonderful, talented people around him and I think, fortunately, he felt like I could slot into that world. 

MF: It’s cool that you got to honor Ivan that way and work with Jason like that. Nathan, Gil Kenan was a writer on Ghostbusters: Afterlife, but now he’s a writer and a director. When you were on Afterlife, even though he wasn’t directing then, did you have much interaction with him? Did you get a sense of how he likes to work?

Nathan Orloff: Interestingly, especially since towards the end of post-production, Gil was busy shooting his film in London with Netflix. I only got to interact with him a few times. He and Jason are so close and have such a wonderful relationship, both personally and professionally. I was sort of in between that.

That’s also a testament to Jason. Jason is very insular in his editorial. So it’s not, “You don’t get to talk to my editors.” It’s more like the feedback that Gil might have had on any cuts was to Jason and not to either me or Dana Glauberman. My experiences with Gil were brief and pleasant, but nothing that made it a deeper relationship professionally until this project.

MF: When we talk about films that aren’t part of a franchise, a lot of times questions about references will come up: what other films, what other projects, what other properties did the director draw from to give you as a reference? You would think that would already be pretty well established in a franchise. We have Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and we have the original films, but something I thought was interesting was that Kumail Nanjiani, who plays Nadeem in the film, in an interview, talked about the animated series The Real Ghostbusters. That was a specific point of reference that Gil had. Tell me about what he may have said to you guys about that, and how you could draw from something like that.

Nathan Orloff: I was finishing John Wick and I arrived in London I think a week or two late, so I may have missed some of the conversations. I worked on some of the previs for a short amount of time, months before shooting. I never had any conversations about the The Real Ghostbusters animated TV series.

Shane Reid:  No, that was from Kumail. That was the first time I heard it as well. That might have been something that they talked about as characters, actors, and directors more, but we didn’t reference that. I think you’re right in the sense that you’re making a Ghostbusters film. There’s a Ghostbusters tone, there’s a Ghostbusters pace that exists within those films. It’s not a full departure. It’s tethered to a legacy. But I think that if we were referencing anything, it was probably more folklore and horror. Gil wanted to make some things truly scary. He wanted to bring the haunted fairy tale imagery that people might have read as kids to life. So I feel like those are the references we discussed more.

MF: It’s interesting that you bring up the tone and talk about those references. Speaking of the character Nadeem, he seems to carry the lion’s share of the jokes in the film. I emphasize that because, Finn Wolfhard connection aside, the tone of the film is more Stranger Things and less about the comedy. The same was kind of true of Ghostbusters: Afterlife. The films are a bit darker, with a greater emphasis on the sci-fi or folklore elements. Tell me a little bit more about dialing in that tone and how you used Nadeem as the main thrust of a lot of the comedy. 

Shane Reid: I’ve always been a fan of Kumail. I think that the audience is a fan of Kumail. He’s such a cool actor. He started as a force of comedy and has grown and matured into an interesting, flourishing career. I feel like he was excited to go and have some fun again. His character was written that way but Kumail brought this I’m-so-stoked-to-be-in-a-Ghostbusters-movie energy. He just delivered that strongly. It’s not that the other characters aren’t funny, it’s that he just cuts through. Every time you saw his dailies, it was a delight. You knew that it would work in the places that you needed it to work in the film. 

Nathan Orloff: Also, I liked the tone of humor Patton Oswalt brought to the film. It fits into that Ghostbusters style of, “We’re explaining the end of the world, but here’s a joke about it.” I’ll be honest, after doing two of these films, I feel like I almost forgot the lesson of the first film. It’s hard to add stakes to a film and also be funny. To ride that tone, to have the actors and the direction to accomplish that is a testament to Gil and the people he’s cast.

It’s hard to add stakes to a film and also be funny.

MF: What was the timeline for this film in terms of production and post, and when did you each start on it? 

Nathan Orloff: We started it at the end of March and production was for three months. Shane and I cut on those three months in London, out in Winnersh, and then Shane went on to do the production of Deadpool. After production wrapped, I did three months of the director’s cuts also in London and Soho. Then we came back to show Sony the cut and moved all of editorial to LA. And then that’s when Shane also came back and joined us because the strikes had paused production on Deadpool. We spent the next few months working on the edits, figuring out pickups we needed, and reworking, tweaking, and finding the movie. Every movie of this scale works that way at that point. We started sound mixing in January. 

MF: Nathan, I’d like to hear a little bit more about the previs aspect of it. You started early doing previs for the film. How are you able to do that and what kind of previs were you being asked to do?

Nathan Orloff: It was only about two weeks of work. They already had a cut that Dana created internally of the sewer dragon chase. It was about getting some music into it and restructuring some of the jokes. Then we set it aside after a few weeks in December, and that became the target for what they were going to do when shooting came.

MF: I asked you each about getting on the film. I don’t think the two of you have worked together before. I could be wrong. When you did get together, what discussions did you have early on in terms of getting to know one another and the processes you each like to employ during post? 

Shane Reid: We hadn’t worked together before. We met on this and we got along wonderfully. We enjoyed working together. I remember our first meeting. We met at Sony and started learning about each other’s sensibilities. I think Nathan asked me how I would handle working with improv because we knew there would be quite a bit of it. We had a lot of improvisational actors like Paul, Kumail, and Patton and people who were going to sort of run with some things off the script. We were trying to figure out where that line is where we can continue the story but also allow for those wonderful comedic discoveries.

We talked about story structure and how to keep things moving along, but also mining for little pieces of gold. I think that’s such an important thing about the original Ghostbusters. Whether or not it was intentional, everything just seems so off the cuff. There was no way some of that stuff could have been written. I think that’s what audiences have attached themselves to so much. So I think that was one important aspect.

Nathan Orloff: It was also about the mechanics of us working together. Editing teams are all completely different. Especially as an assistant, I worked on shows that had clear divides. Editors would say, “I get reels one, three, and six and you get the rest.” That only changed in those extreme cases where the director said, “I want the other editor to take a pass at this.” Otherwise, they’d say, “This is my territory. I have ownership of this.” Because of the schedule, Shane and I both came to the table with the same sensibility, “We’re not going to be able to have any ego about this stuff.” Our instinct was to be incredibly collaborative and be throwing scenes left and right. 

Yes, one of us would tackle an assembly, but we weren’t precious at all. If I was stuck on something in the third act, Shane would do a big pass. It was a very useful way to work because the schedule was pretty accelerated. It was a VFX-heavy movie. I think we had 600 VFX shots. There are computer-generated characters and full-on digital storms. It is a very, very VFX-heavy movie. And to do it this fast, we had to work together. 

Shane Reid: Nathan’s right. We walked into this and knew it was going to be fast. This was such a massive script with so many characters. We knew we would have to do a juggling act. If this were a film where I had been the sole editor or Nathan had been the sole editor, obviously it would have run differently. But I also don’t have any interest in walking into a film, thrusting my ego into the center of everything, and saying, “This is mine. That’s yours.” It doesn’t seem like the way I’d want to work. It doesn’t seem like it would be the best thing for the film. I think sometimes you’re forced into that situation, but that’s just not the person I am. 

I’m also a fan of Nathan’s work. I would see a scene that he assembled and say, “This is awesome.” I never saw things I had problems with or thought I would do differently. Our sensibilities are very the same. So it was cool to just throw sequences at each other, free of judgment, and get our first gut instincts on them before we went to Gil. And this is the first time Gil is working with either of us as a director, so he needed to figure out if he trusted the process, and if we were working the way that he wanted us to work.

Once we figured that out, it was easy to get cuts to him very quickly, even if they were rough. We could say, “Hey man, here’s an idea we’re messing with. We thought about restructuring this. Maybe we could pick this up.” It all became a nucleus of creativity and openness. It was a safe place to operate from. 

Nathan Orloff: You said it well, Shane. We’d show each other things and that was more about the collaboration. The actual hand-off of scenes didn’t happen as much as I might have initially implied. It was more about being on the same page and we weren’t afraid to talk to each other. It became an everyday show and tell. Shane and I would show each other the assemblies and give each other honest feedback. In that way, we were constantly giving ourselves a leg up and relying on the other one to be a mirror.

Shane Reid: When we would hand sequences off, it was like, “I’m going to take this other thing on, infuse some of your ideas into this.” Some sequences would have so many jokes or so many variables in the way you could cut it. Not that we would cut things radically differently, but you would sometimes say, “How about we go to our separate corners, do our assemblies of this, and then sit together and just watch them and cherry-pick the stuff that we discovered?” Sometimes it was just a little look, a little bang off of this door, or whatever it was. It allowed you to work together to create the best sequence, instead of having authority or ownership of something completely on your own. 

MF: So you guys were in London working on this. Were you working at a location near the set, or were you working on the set?

Nathan Orloff: Not so much on this one. Towards the third act, I was on set a lot. The villain in this movie is completely visual effects. I thought SPI did a wonderful job. Shout out to them. There were moments where they shot up all this stuff with the actors, and then Gil would say, “Okay, work with the second unit director and shoot all the plates you need.” So we’d be there with a crane facing the other direction of the firehouse and say, “Okay, this is when Garraka is doing this.”

I’d have the edit reference with me, looking at it and thinking, “I think this is going to work.” That part was fun. Editorial was so close, unlike Afterlife, where editorial was only in L.A., and I flew to Calgary for six weeks. The entire time we were just across the street, so Gil would come by every day. 

MF: You have a quick reset from Afterlife to Frozen Empire. It’s been about two years. The Spenglers have moved to New York City and taken up shop in the old firehouse. So you’ve got to work in a little backstory for the Spenglers and even for the history of the Ghostbusters themselves. Tell me about the devices that you use for doing that reset and how it evolved to get to that sweet spot of educating the audience without slowing things down too much.

Nathan Orloff: From the very beginning, we wanted this film to sort of feel a little bit like a roller coaster. The beginning is horror and establishing that something’s coming, something’s sealed in this orb. And then we jump to New York and show everybody together. They’re ghost-busting. The beat with the cops is to say, “New Yorkers know who they are, and they’re now a part of ordinary life.” And the scene with the mayor is another one where they’re in trouble and you get context. We have a news segment that was completely done editorially. We shot a news voiceover, but the images shown are entirely constructed in post. 

Shane Reid: Originally, that information came from the mayor. 

Nathan Orloff: And it was too much mayor. 

Shane Reid: Yeah, we felt like a character was telling you everything. We found a way to come out of the Sewer Dragon scene organically through a news clip, and then roll the news clip into giving some backstory to catch the audience up. It was almost like taking the roller coaster up and that was the top saying, “Okay, here’s where we all are” and then right after that we went for the whole ride. 

Nathan Orloff: That was one of my favorite things about our assembly that never changed. Of course, the writing is there. They’re talking about,
“I’m a Ghostbuster and saved the world. You were a possessed canine ghost dog.” And from the assembly, we put the theme music from Afterlife. That music was a callback to bring everyone’s memory back to that movie and refamiliarize the audience with these characters a little bit. We did that one other time with a chess game where we played Egon’s theme. 

MF: Earlier we were talking about how to manage the comedic elements and the tone. As you said, you’ve got Kumail, Paul Rudd, Dan Aykroyd, Patton Oswalt, and Bill Murray. Clearly, Gil was okay with improv. How do you guys manage all of that in the cutting room? 

Shane Reid: When I’m putting together a scene, I think of myself as the first audience and all those people are funny to me. So while selecting, you’re just chucking to the side all the moments that make you laugh. A classic one is Bill Murray’s look up to Kumail after saying, “Puppies. Love them or kill them?” and he has that look up from his paper. Bill just does stuff like that. It’s so great. I can’t tell you if that scene is even where that look comes from. You just chuck those things to the side. 

When you start to build the scene, you get a sense of when you’re overstaying your welcome. Sometimes the improv lands better than the line, and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it’s distracting. I don’t go off of much, especially with comedy when it’s within the script notes. I like to stay objective and think of it as an audience. It’s easy to get swept up in the moment on set. You think everything’s gold when you’re discovering new things. But when you get in the edit, it doesn’t work the same way. Then you have to keep yourself on pace and ask, “Is the scene still moving along? Or am I just servicing the comedy more than the character?” That’s a balancing act that you learn over time. Scenes always start fat and then whittle them down until you find the right recipe. 

Nathan Orloff: The scene that kept changing was the Mayor scene in terms of the amount of jokes versus the story. It was such a delicate balance. We’d put in a joke and say, “Oh, this is so funny! Wait a minute, the next two aren’t as funny.” It’s the domino effect. It’s quite incredible with these kinds of films, with their ensemble-ness and how much momentum they need. You can’t stop for a joke if it’s not organic and authentic. 

The humor can work, especially from Paul Rudd, if the joke is coming out of insecurity or fear. I think about Kumail, his character was saying stuff to avoid thinking about danger or responsibility, or the fact that he’s kind of a sleazy guy. The humor has to come out of those things and not just rely on the fact that he’s a comedian saying something funny.

Shane Reid: And Venkman is just a wild card and always has been. You’re looking for a different set of rules for Bill Murray. You’re looking for Venkman to challenge the seriousness of the situation. He’s always finding a way to undercut the tension. Venkman doesn’t operate from a place of fear. He’s operates from a place of anarchy in a fun way. All the characters have different rules. Patton’s character is so well-written. He plays Dr. Hubert Wartzki, who is this nerdy folklorist underneath the basement. When you meet him, you want his comedy to work from a place of this educated, misunderstood, or not-talked-to guy who has finally found a moment to matter. Every character has to be treated separately.

MF: As an audience member, when you appreciate a film, you usually appreciate specific things the filmmakers did. One of the things I appreciated about this film is something you didn’t do. You have these big names and these iconic characters from a franchise that everyone knows and loves. Oftentimes filmmakers will do a reveal for each character that you can sort of feel it coming. The door is going to open and there’s Dan Aykroyd or the camera tilts up as if to say, “Look, it’s Patton Oswalt!” You were very matter-of-fact with these characters as you would be in real life. That was my interpretation. I don’t know if it was something you consciously did or talked about with Gil, but I would like to know if that was something that was ever discussed. How did you handle the introductions or reintroductions of these characters?

Nathan Orloff: I know what you mean. To me, they all did have reveals. They just weren’t relishing. None of them were flashy or said, “Ta-da!” The first frame of Ray (Dan Aykroyd) has a magnifying glass blowing up his eyeball. It’s funny. It gets a laugh. And then the shot of Ernie Hudson is a big crane move that booms down and tilts up to reveal him. But it’s within the story. He unrolls a blueprint and says, “It’s Egon’s design.” So we never stopped to do a reveal, but we were still doing it, if that makes sense. 

MF: The art is to not make a meal out of it, which you didn’t do.

Nathan Orloff: Right. That’s the best way to put it. 

Shane Reid: I think Gil understood that and shot it in that way where he was doing something special for each character, but they’re not walking out of the shadows or anything. It felt organic enough that it moved the story along. It wasn’t too noticeable. Also, you could feel it if it hadn’t been built that way. If we had just cut to Dan in that scene, it would feel like, “Oh, okay. I guess Dan Aykroyd’s here.” It needed something magical. I think Gil did a good job balancing it in a way that kept everything flowing. 

MF: You guys have what I think is real footage that was not just shot for the film. The footage looks like 80s-era Ghostbusters toy commercials. Were those legit? Did you make them? Did you re-edit real commercials? I can’t explain why I find this bit interesting. Maybe it’s the nostalgia factor.

Nathan Orloff: No, Those were licensed. We pulled those.

Shane Reid: I wish that could be recreated. I wish we shot it. That was amazing.

Nathan Orloff: I think we had assistants scrub YouTube and create a stringout, and we selected it and then it went through licensing. 

Shane Reid: I think we made fun of the ones with the kids with the proton beams. Then Jason Reitman said, “Hey guys, I had all these toys. This is what I grew up with.”

Nathan Orloff: I never thought in a million years that the sequel to Afterlife would mimic the weird meta-ness of Ghostbusters II. The second big scene in the movie is the birthday party and they’re playing the Ghostbusters song. To me, Ivan intentionally did that to talk about what it’s like to make something that became a hit and is now a few years old. So, to mimic and do our version of being meta while also trying to be a continuation of the story was funny and fun. 

Shane Reid: That’s the language of Ghostbusters that Ivan built into it, especially with coming off of the original film. But even in the original, the way that they include the montage of them trapping ghosts and the city catching on to it and it all becoming a cult phenomenon, that’s what made it so wonderful. As an audience, you discover it alongside the characters in the film, and because that DNA is baked in, it gives you all these rules that you can follow.

I was born in 1983. Ghostbusters came out in ‘84. Ghostbusters has been around for my entire existence. People dress up as Ghostbusters every year for Halloween. That Ghostbusters track plays every Halloween. I think that Gil found his way to bring the story to a younger audience. Kids are going to discover this movie, and their parents will say, “Hey, this has been around for our whole lives, and it’s in your life now, too.” That’s one of the wonderful things about how long this franchise has been around. 

MF: You have the legacy characters, you have the characters from Afterlife, and you also have the new characters that are just in Frozen Empire. That’s a lot of characters. It’s an ensemble. Eddie Hamilton, ACE does color coding based on the characters in his timeline, so he can get a sense of how often a character is present. When you have such a big cast, do you do anything within the editing interface to keep track of how they’re all being employed?

Nathan Orloff: We had colors for our index card so you could sit back and get a feeling for when the characters pop up. For timeline stuff, we do clip color based on whether it is visual effects versions or source material. If it’s dailies, it’s default unless it’s a different format, but we didn’t have anything like that on this. Or if it’s big VFX plays that are spherical or something like that, then we would make it a different color. But we had stickers on our index cards on the scene board. I love scene boards. I love having a bigger thing to look at. It sort of resets my brain. 

It’s like when you go to a movie theater and screen your movie. Suddenly, everything looks different to you. The edit feels different. It’s refreshing the neural pathways in your brain so they’re not doing the same thing over again as you sit at your desk. When I stand up and look at the index cards and try to look at the movie in a new way, I think it helps me think about structure a little bit better.

MF: Nathan, I think you’re the first editor to bring up neural pathways on the podcast. Congratulations. 

Nathan Orloff: Thank you. I am all about neural pathways. I think it’s fascinating how repetition carves things into our minds. That’s very in tune with the editing process to me, how scenes feel a certain way because every movie sets them up a certain way, and then you change it and all of a sudden feels very different.

Shane Reid: It’s funny, I’m looking at the scene cards now and I’m realizing that I don’t think I’ve ever looked at them in my room. That doesn’t do anything for my brain personally. And color coding each character sounds interesting, but I don’t know that that would do anything either. I think my brain works in the timeline only, and unless I’m watching it, do I feel like anything is working or isn’t working?

The scene indexing for me feels like, as you’re stacking it all up, it’s interesting to know. That’s where I relied on it more. Then I could say, “Okay, what’s coming next? We’re doing this? Okay, great.” Then you start linking the scenes together. But once it’s together I only exist in the timeline. 

MF: You mentioned the villain is a purely CGI character. He mostly only manifests towards the end of the movie. The characters interact with him, but there’s another character that they interact with more, and that’s the Melody character that Phoebe interacts with. Was there an actual actor on set with Phoebe that was then removed and then replaced digitally or enhanced digitally, or was there never an actor there, and everything was done purely CGI after the fact?

Nathan Orloff: There was an actor there at all times. She was always acting there and we cut with her performance. I never cut with empty plates. It was all up to SPI. They had a process and it took a long time. Each shot had a lot of prep time before they could even show us an early version. They had a rough 3D model that they would match-move her to, and we had background plates the crew would shoot after they wrapped a location. 

So after the director was happy, the crew would shoot an empty plate where Phoebe would act against nothing. But I never use those performances. Those were only used as framing references, so SPI had a visual of what was behind Melody. Then, they would take a rough 3D model of Melody and match-move her arms and face and whatnot. But the fire was so loose that it didn’t need to be mocap. Then they painted in the background to make her translucent and added all the fire effects. We had distortion. We had even a little bit of smoke. It took a long time to figure out what the look was. 

In interviews, McKenna Grace admits to being intimidated by working with the original Ghostbusters cast, who started the franchise forty years ago. Image © Sony Pictures Entertainment

Once we figured it out, it was like a machine. All of a sudden, all these Melody shots came in. In November, it felt like we only had four shots of her. I was thinking, “This is crazy late!” But by January we had 90% of them and they all looked amazing. It just took a lot of work on SPI’s end to do the rotoscoping, the match moving, and making her translucent. But we cut with a person the entire time.

MF: How much of that do you maintain in your AVID timeline? How many different phases of the visual effects do you need to manage? 

Nathan Orloff: Usually we had dailies and then Kevin Jolly, the VFX editor, likes to have a V0, which are the frames they’ve scanned. Then that goes on V2. If I’m monitoring V1/V2, there’s no difference. There’s no VFX done yet. But it’s from the vendor, meaning it’s gone through the pipeline. It’s a check on the CDL and a check of the scan links in case I change a shot or extend a shot. And then on V3 through V6, we had three VFX versions, the most recent one and then maybe two prior versions.

MF: Earlier we talked about the music and the Afterlife theme, and you also have Elmer Bernstein‘s motif from the original movie. Are those scripted ahead of time or is there some flexibility for you guys to feel out how and when to use them? 

Shane Reid: There were no hard and fast rules about it. We had the original score to work with, and the Rob Simonsen Afterlife score to work with. Those were safe places to go. But we always wanted to make this film feel like we were making a departure and a step forward as well. So we did a lot of temping with some horror scores, romantic scores, and sweet family scores. We tried to use things that didn’t fully rely on nostalgia. We wanted to make a pathway for some different tones that a Ghostbuster film hadn’t had yet. 

I used a lot of The Conjuring scores for the attic scenes and the lab or droning, scary sounds that created tension. When things started to go nuts in the lab, I worked with some original Friday the 13th scores, which were high, tense strings. Then we just pulled it back from there. Dario Marianelli did a wonderful job balancing everything. But just like the film had a lot of characters, there were a lot of themes too, and the music created so many different ideas within the body of the film. It was up to Dario to balance all that stuff together. 

Nathan Orloff: Shane, the stuff you put together for the comedy, like the library, for instance, when they’re leaving the library and going down the hallways. That stuff is like classic Elmer Bernstein, classic Ghostbusters. And that didn’t change. But we would temp with that because it felt right in the moment.

There’s other stuff, like the horror scores, which Dario would take and Ghostbuster-ize to bring it into the correct home. I had an aversion to using the “Gozer” theme because I visualized it for some of those big bombastic scenes. We needed something different. And then Dario did his own thing that was Ghostbusters-eqsue but not “Gozer”, of course. We didn’t use any of those for temp. For the comedy, we were doing a lot of Elmer. 

Shane Reid: The introduction of the family in the firehouse and the score from Afterlife, those things felt like glue. You could rely on that Ghostbusters pacing to keep you in that film. We broke the mold as much as we could. 

MF: If memory serves, Nathan, you had a cameo in John Wick: Chapter 4. Did either of you make it into this film, even if it was just your voice?

Nathan Orloff: No. Shane’s voice was almost in the final cut. 

Shane Reid: I was on the phone, right? 

Nathan Orloff: Yeah, you were on the phone. 

Shane Reid: I could have been somebody!

Nathan Orloff: Some of my eating might be Slimer, but I doubt it. I think they replaced all of it. 

Shane Reid: I wish your character from John Wick was in there somehow. 

Nathan Orloff: Yeah, that would have been great.

MF: Well, we’ve covered a lot of ground. I know both of you guys are still working on other films, very big films. Shane, I hope to be talking to you again later this year. You too, Nathan. I think the only thing left to cover is, how many little Stay Puft Marshmallow Men is too many?

Shane Reid: Oh, man.

Nathan Orloff: That is a great question. 

Shane Reid: Personally, not enough. I don’t know how everyone feels about too many puffs, but in every screening I’ve seen, when those things come on camera, it just lights the room up. They’re just so funny, anarchistic, and just crazy. They’re killing each other! It’s funny. I’ve never seen another animated character like them. I’ll watch them all day. Those scenes make me laugh every time. Especially the coda with the Mini Puft burning his face with the lighter and seeing his little smile. It’s just hysterical.

Nathan Orloff: I love the big wide shot before the pencil-sharpening shot in the beginning. I can watch that over and over. I see a different, hilarious sketch happen every time. It’s funny. I think the film struck the right balance. It was so cool to be in the preview audience and see it ignite the room.

Shane Reid: The second you’re behind that jar and you see a Mini Puft move, the whole theater goes crazy. It’s unbelievable how much that scene shifts once that little piece of magic drops in. It’s the right balance for this film, just like any other character. I could use a lot more of them in anything.

MF: So it’s official then. The Stay Puft Marshmallow Men movie has to happen. 

Nathan Orloff: Yes. 

Shane Reid: I don’t know what’s happening, but I’m down. 

Nathan Orloff: I’m into it.

Matt Feury

Matt Feury is host and producer of The Rough Cut podcast, as well as the Sr. Director, Market Solutions – Video & Post for Avid.