Production Information (Cont'd)
While Stanbridge has served as an art director for almost two decades-serving
in that capacity on massive films from Star Trek Beyond and Tomorrowland to his
work on the Fifty Shades trilogy-Good Boys represents his first big-studio
feature as a production designer.
Discussing his inspiration, Stanbridge echoes the screenwriters: "When I read
the script, Stand by Me came to mind. It morphed into a different shape over
production, but that informed my look book. The main push for the design of the
show was to keep it poppy, with bright primary/tertiary colors and elementary
shapes like circles and squares-especially within the schools and the boys'
bedrooms. We wanted to keep it innocent, in a way, which juxtaposed against the
oddity of the kids saying such adult things. It was important for them to exist
in a space that reflected their age-and age they should be in-which made what
they said even funnier...whether it was vulgar or misunderstood."
Alongside a team of longtime collaborators, the production designer got to
work selecting locations in and around Vancouver, British Columbia, and building
sets, when necessary. It was important to the production designer that the
comedy's settings felt genuine. "Most all of the sets were practical," he says.
"There were portions of interiors built, but most were practical and split
exterior and interiors, based on size and ability to shoot all over Vancouver.
We did most of our neighborhood exteriors in the area by the University of
British Columbia, which are green and lush, with nice big trees in an
established neighborhood that almost felt like Leave It to Beaver. Interiors of
those houses were done further away from that area."
Stanbridge and his team then worked to adapt those locations to suit the
film's needs. "Art director SEAN GOOJHA and I have worked together on a few
projects, including Tomorrowland," Stanbridge says. "He's a fantastic graphic
designer, very conscientious and super-talented. I've worked with my
construction and paint team many times and set decorator VICTORIA PEARSON-whom I
share a synergetic collaborative mind with-who came with me from Colony."
His primary-colored "poppy" look and feel extended to props design and
locations. "We made the drone a lot brighter than most are, and all the
locations had patterns and bright colors added," says Stanbridge. "The houses
had their own character but still maintain a classic feel." One surprise that
shifted his direction was a script rework in which the drone rips through one of
the boys' homes. "We had no idea when we picked the practical location for Max's
house that we'd have to fly a drone inside and destroy that building. We ended
up building pieces later for inserts, but one version was shot in a practical
That said, tearing up a home was the least of Stanbridge's challenges. For
the largest set component of the show, the designer had to mastermind and bring
to life the story's giant highway sequence in which the Beanbag Boys race for
their lives across a six-lane highway. "We wanted to do this practically, so we
ended up building 300 feet of highway at a rarely used section of Pitt Meadows
Airport in British Columbia for the boys to run across the six lanes-then
visually extended it [through the brilliant work of VFX producer RAOUL YORKE
The designer admits that, as interesting as it would be to build an actual
section of a highway, he didn't want to spend the shoot's entire budget on one
set piece. "The way we created it was the most practical thing to do," he says.
"There was no way we could shut down a six-lane highway to shoot during the day.
Even if we could-just the way that all the barricades are linked together for
all the highway K-rails-there would be no way to turn around, do car resets and
more in a reasonable amount of time."
One of Stanbridge's favorite sequences of the production was creating and
shooting Rock of Ages at the boys' school. "I really liked where we ended with
the musical montage on stage," he says. "We wanted it to feel like it wasn't
beyond the kids' ability. It didn't have any feel of 'way-too-professional.' We
kept it low-fi with cardboard and sponged-on bricks to keep it in their world.
That was the impetus of most of the builds-to keep them something a kid would
understand and do."
While cinematographer Jonathan Furmanski would end up shooting Stanbridge's
sets from the 11-to-12-year-old perspective, the production designer wasn't as
beholden to that perspective. "There were generally more than one of the three
kids in every scene," he says. "What that meant for us was having spaces that
were large enough so that the boys could be together at any given time. We
generally didn't make materials higher or lower. They just existed in their
world as is. There were no visual jokes for the set design, based on their
Nunchucks, Drones and Peaches the Sex Doll
A Boys' Guide to Inappropriate Toys
When it came to explaining to the tween stars what sex dolls and adult toys
were, the easy way out for anyone on set became "Um...ask your mom."
While the filmmakers had nothing but support from the families of the kids
starring in Good Boys, inevitably, awkward conversations about set props would
come up. "The parents read the script, so they knew what they were signing up
for," says Gene Stupnitsky. "We'd throw out alts, but the kids didn't know what
they were saying. One time, in a scene with the sex doll, they asked us: 'Why
does the doll have a vagina?' I was frozen, but Stephen Merchant, bless his
heart, jumped in with 'Doctors use it in medical school to practice.' They
seemed to be okay with that explanation."
Lee Eisenberg says that their go-to solution was to deflect and move on.
"Generally speaking, we didn't engage with them on those questions," he says.
"So, if they asked us about what a line meant or what a prop was, we'd say, 'Go
ask your mom or dad.' That allowed them to have those awkward conversations."
Unsurprisingly, the trio of boys all had a little bit of (mis)information to
share. "They'd huddle and trade notes about 'What is this?'" Eisenberg says. "We
just wanted them to say the words. The less they knew, the better."
When the screenwriters were crafting the story, they found the best humor
came from a place of form following function. "The joke was always 'these are
weapons,'" Eisenberg says. "Anything that could be thought of as a weapon and be
a sex toy was in. A mask is scary, so 'you can't see our faces.' Nunchucks? Of
course. There are only so many sex toys you can use as a weapon. I hope no one
ever looks up our Google search from those weeks of trying to figure out how sex
toys could be used as weapons."
When asked if these props were Amazon deliveries or from multiple research
trips to the adult book store, Stupnitsky replies, dryly, "They're from our
Once they agreed upon scenes they wanted to shoot, Stupnitsky and Eisenberg
had to work with their heads of department to see what was feasible. "You have
an image, then need to make sure you want it on camera," says Eisenberg. "For
example, with the ball gag that Lucas puts in his mouth when they're popping his
shoulder back in-the imagine I had was from Pulp Fiction. While that ball gag is
black, you can't dye something like that to put in someone's mouth. You get into
all these weird conversations you never dreamed about when you are writing the
Turns out that shooting Good Boys was a fairy tale in a completely different
way. "In prepping the movie, the propmaster would come in and say, 'Okay, we
have three different anal beads," says Stupnitsky. It was like Goldilocks:
'These are too big, these are too small. These will show just right on camera.'
You give notes for shorter, longer, etc., and they give you options. You have to
talk to your DP to make sure it reads well on camera and that the colors are
right-this one is shiny, this one is matte..."
For all of this, the filmmakers turned to propmaster J DROVER, who most
recently served in that function on Robert Zemeckis' Project Blue Book for the
History Channel. "This is the first time I've worked with J, and he has an
awesome prop-building team," Jeremy Stanbridge says. "They allowed us to highly
detail out hand props, which were important in this show-especially with the
drone. We redesigned the drone because it would be doing damage." Turns out
there were more than a few little kids on set. "Destroying our own sets was
For his part, Drover totally related to the premise of the film. "We've all
been or known 11-year-olds with trucker mouths," he says, "and this is very
reminiscent of my growing up." Beginning with preproduction, Drover and his team
were dealing with a fascinating array of sex toys, luxury lifelike dolls and
high-end drones. "We had an endorsement from Pipedream, which is one of the
biggest adult-toy designers and manufacturers," Drover says. "They signed on
early on to help us out, and they were very flexible. We asked them to send a
package of items, and that's what we got in front of Gene and Lee. We'd swing
things around and discuss the logistics of whether they'd work like weapons or
Drover admits that, at the start of his career, he never imagined one day
he'd be hand-making anal beads. "We made a set of our own using metal dowels and
craft beads," he says. "We had that molded and cast in soft rubber, so the
actors could swing them around and not hurt themselves. Another time, we
modified a double dong to have it be stiff enough to go through door handles at
the corner store. The special-effects guys were heating up a rod on the side of
their truck. Anything to get the shot!"
Turns out that molding and casting multiple anal-bead sets and dildos was
only the beginning. Next up: firing several $5,000 sex dolls-ones the crew
nicknamed Peaches-out of a van, in preparation for a scene in which a sex doll
flies out of a car window. They needed to see exactly how it would look, and
which ones would survive the fall. "We had three dolls from Pipedream, and
they're a lot of logistical work," Drover says. "They are also quite delicate.
You couldn't drop them on the ground because the skin absorbs anything and
everything." Plus, as actor Stephen Merchant later discovered, "they're quite
heavy and hard to move," Drover says. "I can't imagine using one for
One of the sex dolls is used for "beauty shots" in Thor's house, when
Merchant's character is ready to buy Lucas' Ascension card, but instead goes to
purchase Peaches "for the carpool lane." The other two were similarly used for
purposes for which they were not originally, ahem, designed.
"We spent a lot of time getting the sex doll ready, and Peaches certainly was
a heavy one," says additional photography prop master BEN KRAKOWSKY. "I learned
a lot, including that they come with a USB vagina warmer."
Under the supervision of special effects coordinator PAUL BENJAMIN, the team
modified two of the dolls. By lightening Peaches' shell for her aerial trip
during the boys' highway jump, the SFX crew could fire her out of an air cannon
from the van. (The boy actors, by the way, thought these dolls were CPR dolls.)
One of Peaches' co-stars was wholly not a fan. "The CPR doll was kind of
creepy," Jacob Tremblay says. "When it was run over by a car, the eyes popped
out, which was scary. I'm already scared of dolls, so that was extra creepy."
Moving along to other high-flying props, Drover's team worked closely with their
SFX counterparts on the drones, modifying when needed, to make them do what they
were never designed to-like trashing a house or cutting flowers. "We used an
industrial designer named NOAH LI-LEGER-who helped with 3D printing,
laser-cutting and remodeling the sensors, GPS, etc., of these drones," says
Drover. "They're the Apple of drones, so it was a triumph to make sure they flew
In sum, the production had a fleet of these drones, eight models, with extra
shells, propellers and loaders. "We gutted a couple and inserted new motors, so
we could put in our own remote controls," says the prop master. "This equaled a
mixture of actual drone flying, as well as a drone on a stick with remote
control in the house to get all the shots we needed. VFX got a copy of the drone
to scan, and we'd make sure [on-set VFX supervisor] RALPH MAIERS was happy with
his visuals and had what he needed to go do his magic."
Fake Guitars, Baby-Oil Bottles and Paintball
n addition to all the sex toys and dolls, the film features an epic musical
number with Brady Noon's Thor performing Rock of Ages on the middle-school
stage. The scene required a whole different category of props. "We called that
sequence the 'Pantomime of the Pixie Sticks,' says J Drover. "From all the fake
guitars to the hairspray, bandana and microphones, our team would come in, fire
it up and see how it all went."
For another scene, a take-no-prisoners frat-house paintball fight, Drover
wanted to give Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg endless tools to employ. "We
swapped out movie slime in baby-oil bottles," says Drover. "Every time you see a
guy hit in the face, that's an air-blown paintball. We had lots of breakaways,
like the ping-pong table and towering beer-bong pyramids. It was a lot like
setting up dominoes. You spend so much time setting them up. A couple
action-packed seconds later? You knock it all down."
Dodging Cars, Flipping Bikes and Studying The Matrix
Boys Will Be Boys
Responsible for the film's many stunts was Good Boys stunt coordinator MAJA
ARO, who shares in those duties with her husband and business partner JEFFREY
ARO. A busy Vancouver-based team, Maja just wrapped season four of TV's High
Castle and Jeff season two of Netflix's Lost in Space. "It was a blast to make
this movie," Maja Aro says. "From the beginning, it was special. The cast was so
young, it made for a fun, light environment. It was awesome that, for our summer
project, we got to take young boys out and ride bikes with them. It might sound
simple, but all the boys had to be super comfortable doing that while delivering
dialogue. That's very similar to driving cars and recalling lines; it's a
different challenge entirely."
The creators were fortunate to have such like-minded stunt coordinators.
"We've always looked at this as an adventure film," says Gene Stupnitsky. "We
designed it like The Hangover with children. We knew there would be car
accidents, shoot-outs, chase scenes and more. That is in the DNA of the movie.
Of course, when you're doing that with kids, it takes a lot of planning. You
also only get them for a few hours a day and cannot go over."
To the production leads, it felt as if there wasn't an idea their stunt crew
couldn't execute. "The stunt people had a trampoline in their living room," says
Lee Eisenberg. "The team would send us three-minute clips of someone falling
into a life-sized Jenga set or being flipped across the room after being shot by
a paintball gun. We'd say, 'Oh, can they fall through a table instead of being
knocked over by a chair?' or 'Can they bump into a wall or fall down stairs?'
and the next day they'd do it. Maja, Jeff and their crew would walk through the
set to make sure it was safe and were so collaborative throughout shooting."
Just as it was for the production designer, the freeway sequence proved the
most challenging scenes for the Aros. The VFX team and stunts worked together to
make sure it was a seamless inter-department fix. "It looks just like the boys
are jamming across the highway," says Maja Aro. "But we had so many moving
parts; some vehicles were moving at high speed, others at slow ones. We'd ask:
'When do we use the kids, and when do we use their doubles?' We did all the comp
shots with the kids and some lock-offs with the boys running across the road.
Then, we'd have a number of amazing drivers slide cars right into their marks.
We also layered in a bunch of practical stunts to make sure it was happening
The stunt coordinator served double duty on set, portraying one of the
drivers who "politely" tells the boys to "get the fuck off" the freeway. "Gene
and Lee had a bunch of ladies audition, but they weren't loving them," says Maja
Aro. "The guys said, 'Why don't you do it?' That made the boys' day, because
we'd become so comfortable over the project. They thought it was so funny that I
was the one swearing at them."
Shot at the Pitt Meadows municipal airport about 30 minutes outside
Vancouver, the section of road production designer Jeremy Stanbridge designed in
an airport parking lot had to look like a highway with busy traffic. To ensure
that it could work safely for stunts, the film crew built a race oval. "The
traffic starts as a slow crawl, then it picks up and goes fast," says Maja Aro.
"We had our team driving on the back side of the set in a loop, then through set
on a section of highway."
Peaches, the sex doll, also makes an appearance in the scene, and comes to an
untimely end when she's catapulted out of a car driven by Stephen Merchant's
character. "Stephen's piece of that scene is on green screen, and on the
practical set we used his stunt double," says Maja Aro. "We launched Peaches out
of the car window and had a pickup run over her head. We did it all in little
pieces to get everything to time out. The two lead cars slide up, and the stunt
double did a close run in across that. Then we also layered a comp shot with the
actual boys in the scene-with no cars-to make it look like they're right there."
Safely off the "highway," there were many more perils in store for the
characters on their epic day of skipped school. For Lucas, played by Keith L.
Williams, the most numbing would be when his bike is hurled into the air and he
flips into a parked van. "The scene was R&D'd a lot, as the thing Lucas hits
changed several times," says Maja Aro. "We kept working with Gene and Lee on
what would be funniest. At one point, we had Keith's stunt double [MAYA
MACATUMPAG] launching off wires from the bike, but that looked too slow. At
another, we had him hit a shopping cart with a homeless person. This ended up
being another sequence where we closely worked with VFX."
Williams' stunt double ended up slamming the bike into a bench. Then, she
would run and jump off multiple higher decks before hitting the side of the van.
"The scene was put together in pieces," says Maja Aro. "There was half-inch foam
padding on the side of the van that the paint department made look like metal.
Maya was wearing body pads as well, and it's all about how she hit at the last
minute. She's almost turning and hitting the van with the side of her
back...instead of with her shoulder."
guy onto a beer-pong table. "We knew we could flip it over and that would
make a huge, funny mess," Maja Aro says. "Almost all of the guys in this scene
are stunt people."
Aro and her husband loved working with the three lead lads. "When you work
that closely with kids, you tend to become their buddies or, in my case, their
aunty," she says. "They're usually concerned with when they eat and what they
get to play with. With this content, they had a lot of questions for Jeff and
me. Brady wants to be a stuntman. He wanted to do a lot of his own stunts, and
Rock of Ages is all him. We worked with costumes to put knee and elbow pads in
what he wore."
Williams and Noon weren't the only Good Boys who got to play on set. Jacob
Tremblay told the Aros, and filmmakers Stupnitsky and Eisenberg, that he studied
The Matrix to get ready for the paintball showdown at the fraternity. "Jeff and
I have a training center at our house, and we had the boys up one day," Aro
says. "We have a ton of Nerf guns, and we let the kids go to town with them.
Jacob took his paintball training very, very seriously."
Despite all the fun, safety, and the safety of the boys in particular, was
always everyone's top priority. "I'm working with Jeff and Maja on another
project now," says production designer Jeremy Stanbridge. "Jeff was on Colony
and Lost in Space as well, so we have a good understanding of making things look
as real as possible, while safe at the same time. The look will never trump
safety, and they understand that. They give a lot of leeway with fabrics and
textures. I'd come up with ideas, and they'd make it work."
Lensing a Young World
A Tween Point of View
When it came to the cinematography of Good Boys, the rule book for your
typical comedy was immediately thrown out the window. From the beginning, the
filmmakers and cinematographer Jonathan Furmanski discussed establishing a more
cinematic feel with a real sense of spectacle. While many sequences are laced
with humor, there's also a sense of adventure and excitement to the scenes, such
as the highway-crossing scene, plaza chase or frat-house fight.
To establish this look, Furmanski used an anamorphic lens for the wide-screen
format, which had a grand feeling and was able to get all boys into the frame.
It also established a touch of that throwback feeling to the '80s and its
embedded sense of nostalgia.
The Good Boys' creators were honored to have the DP on their side. "Jonathan
was a blessing for us to have as first-time directors," says Gene Stupnitsky.
"He was so patient and very even-keeled, a great partner to have." Adds Lee
Eisenberg: "On a set like this, you need patience. He was so collaborative and
brought so many ideas to the table."
Some of the reference points that the filmmakers used were Stand by Me and
The Goonies, as well as other '80s coming-of-age stories. "Whether whimsical
adventure stories or straight-up comedies, we wanted to have an element of that
so those are the movies we first talked about," Furmanski says. "As the movie
developed a bit more and we dug deeper, we talked about movies like It, The Girl
with the Dragon Tattoo and surprisingly, Attack the Block. We wanted the movie
to have one foot in throwback and another firmly in 2019. It's a modern movie,
but we wanted it to feel like it has some roots in those '70s, '80s teen comedy
or adventure stories."
It was important for Furmanski to ensure that the world created on camera
would be colorful, bright and as seen through the eyes of a sixth-grader.
"Everything seemed a bit more vibrant and exciting," he says. "I tried to shoot
at their eye level. If there were tall people in the room, we tried to make it
look a little ominous and looming. We tried to portray everything from their
The idea was not to take an adult point of view and put it on the kids, nor
was it to make the kids seem older than they are. "The language is a lot more
adult-oriented than you find in your typical 12-year-olds' film," Furmanski
says. "That was part of the joy of it. It's silly that the kids talk the way
that they do and about the things that they do. As it often happens, they don't
always know what things really mean. There's this moment of innocence before
they actually deliver this R-rated material."
Not only was there a limit on the number of hours that the children could be
on set, the technical requirements of acting in a movie must be managed in a
unique way. "In large part, the boys were learning while shooting," Furmanski
says. "They learned how to hit their marks properly, to avoid looking at the
lens and to open up to the lens so we could see their facial expressions and
The cinematographer worked on ensuring that the blocking was kept as simple
as possible, so that the actors could concentrate on their lines and
performances rather than hitting several marks in a take. He tried to give them
freedom and space and made sure he was always there when the jokes hit.
"Everything needed to be built around the idea that the jokes play as strongly
as possible on screen, but then after that we let the scenes tell us where they
wanted to go a little bit more," Furmanski says.
In order to avoid risking the kids becoming disengaged in the process, it was
crucial for production to keep it fun for them. "We were basically 150 aunts and
uncles running around trying to keep them entertained, amused and engaged,"
Furmanski says. "That way, when they stepped on their marks, their energy was up
and they were free to perform the way they needed to."
One of the most epic setups is a sequence with the boys crossing a highway-a
scene that required stunts and a combination of practical and special effects.
"We spent a lot of time talking about it, and it paid off," Furmanski says. "It
felt like a real moment for the kids, not only because of the physical action,
but it almost felt like a figurative threshold that they were crossing over from
being adolescents into being young adults. The scene really has a lot of
Most of the scenes take place in bright, sunny exteriors, except for one: the
frat house. It embodies a more grown-up sense of place for the kids-a darker,
moodier and hazy atmosphere that's shrouded in mystery for the boys. "It's the
least familiar environment for the kids in the entire film, so we really got to
play with light and shadow and kept things a bit more down and gritty,"
Animatronic Bears and Inappropriate Musicals
When the boys weren't working on stunts, they could be found with the
movement team of PAUL BECKER, who has choreographed for the Jonas Brothers
during concerts worldwide, as well as for Deadpool 2, Disney's Descendants and
the hit series Riverdale. "Gene and Lee were looking for a choreographer who had
worked with children," says Becker. "I met with the guys, and we hit it off
instantly. I've done a number of films with kids, and my comedic instincts are
similar to the guys'. It felt like a perfect fit."
Becker explains his process of planning edits well before principal
photography begins. "I build the choreography for a scene with a skeleton crew
of a few dancers who represent each character and we pre-shoot everything; that
makes it easier for the directors to translate," he says. "Otherwise, if it's
just a wide shot of people dancing, they won't know where the focus is. I try to
give them my eye and my focus right away. For Gene and Lee, I would pre-shoot
and edit a sequence, and we'd use that pre-vis for our shot list."
Once he has broken down the script and figured out what the relationships are
among the characters, Becker plays the song key to the scene and reads it aloud
before moving on to choreography. "I build it before the cast even arrives, so
they can step into their spot," he says. "Of course, when the actors arrive,
they bring their own flavor to it, so I don't want to have it completely
Becker and cinematographer Jonathan Furmanski worked hand in hand to nail the
best way to lens the sequences. "The guys brought me on because of my
strengths," Becker says, "and they were humble about what they knew. They wanted
guidance to help the musical numbers work, and I'm glad I could help them."
Even though the trio of Good Boys-and much of the supporting kid cast-had
performed in front of the camera, Becker took seriously his job to bring out
their inner dancers and singers. During rehearsals he did "Mr. K-style exercises
to get it out of them," he says. "For example, I had them do the crazy dance
just to loosen them up."
One of the most poignant scenes in the film was purposely designed to make it
feel like Becker and his crew were never there. Lucas' parents' break-up story
is intercut with Lucas crying during the choir class' upbeat rendition of
Katrina and the Waves' "Walking on Sunshine." Becker adds, "Most people will
watch that scene and not know there's choreography. That's how I know I did my
job correctly; most choreography should look unchoreographed."
The filmmakers had labored to find the perfect song for that scene. "We always
knew it'd be a cut from Lucas finding out his parents are getting divorced to
being tight on his face while he's singing," says Lee Eisenberg. "We loved the
idea of everyone in his class singing and doing a lame dance, then you have a
kid who is crying and continuing to dance through it. That was always our first
When it came to Thor's Rock of Ages extravaganza, Becker laughs that he had
to condense the entire musical into two minutes of story beats. "The scene was
one of the most politically incorrect and uncomfortable scenes I've staged in my
entire life," he says. "Gene and Lee were talking through me to the kids, so I
had to relate all information. We follow the story of our rock star, Thor, as he
rises to fame, crumbles down and rises back up-all with inappropriate things
children shouldn't be doing."
The filmmakers loved the idea of it. "We got excited by the idea of Rock of
Ages," says Eisenberg. "We love the era, and the teacher, Mr. K, who has infused
it with his own life story."
When the kids were on set, it was often playtime. "Brady has this charisma,
crassness and likability that reminds me of the bad kid in school you just can't
hate," Becker says, "That's the element of Rock of Ages that I love. In the
studio, we had to tell these kids to do curious things. There's this gray area
and fine line between being a teacher and choreographer. Their parents are
there, but here I am telling them to swear or flip the middle finger as they're
walking and dancing away. The kids were so open. We had to tame them a little
Like his cohorts, Becker appreciates Good Boys' juxtaposition of deep heart
and shocking filth. "Gene and Lee gave me an outline and said, 'Go and play,'"
he says. "It was a blast, and I left no stone unturned. There's a moment where
Brady as Thor arrives in Hollywood and is greeted by a prostitute. Lee and Gene
had me tell the dancer to lead Brady into the bathroom with a donut, close the
stall as he puts the powder on his lips. Then, they wanted Brady to exit the
bathroom as if he's high on powdered donut, crashing to his downfall onto the
Similar to the production designer's mindset that the musical should look as
if it were created by middle schoolers, Becker took pride in "making everything
10 percent worse," he says. "The beauty of this scene is that it's supposed to
be bad. I had the duty of choreographing something that was supposed to look not
polished...yet be polished for film. That was quite a challenge."
Brady Noon not only lent his stunt abilities to Thor's epic Rock of Ages
performance, but his vocal ones as well. "The performance took one session to
get fully down," Noon says. "We had a 3D model of what it would look like, so I
had an idea of what it would be and how to flip the table. I broke three plastic
tables and two wooden tables during rehearsal. I picked up the routine quickly
and thought it was so fun. I'd never had a choreographer before, so I learned a
lot of moves to show off to my friends."
For a different scene inside a pizza restaurant, Becker choreographed a
creepy animatronic band. (Let's face it, what middle-school ditch day would be
complete without one?) "One of our favorite days to choreograph was when we had
three animatronic characters playing musical instruments," Becker says. "The
boys are on the dance floor before Lucas vomits inside a ball-pen. There is a
bear on a piano, a kangaroo playing the drums and a gorilla at the tambourine.
That's all humans; we got the actors to perform as robots."
A Fun Roller-Coaster Ride
Good Boys' Good Time Music
Brought aboard to curate the musical selections for Good Boys was music
supervisor Michelle Silverman, who recently brought the soundtrack of the
blockbuster Aquaman to life. With a fascinating resume of work on films as
diverse as From Dusk Till Dawn and Happy Gilmore to Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and Never
Been Kissed-not to mention smash TV series including AMC's Sons of Anarchy to
YouTube's Cobra Kai- Silverman was attracted to work on what she calls Lee
Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky's "big music-driven project."
A musician herself, Silverman feels that periods in her own life were "set to
my own soundtrack," and wanted to infuse the film with that feeling. "The movies
that influenced me growing up were everything from Grease, Fame and all of John
Hughes' films," she says. "If it was music-driven, a movie left such an
impression on me. Lee, Gene and I started talking about music ideas and how
music should have its own identity in film. With Good Boys, we wanted it to feel
like a fun roller-coaster ride."
Silverman also has a child who is the same age as the boys in this comedy.
"The story resonated with me and where my daughter was at," she says. "They're
going through the same type of journey." She and the filmmakers dove into the
process with gusto. "The guys had a bunch of ideas, as did I," she says. "We'd
email back and forth until everyone said, 'This is the one.' It was a very
collaborative process among Lee, Gene, Good Universe, Point Grey and me."
Capturing the emotional impact of music was key. She focused on songs that
make you feel like you're going on a wild ride that you didn't know you were
signing up for. "It's a comedy, so we wanted to keep it light and with energy,"
she says. "I started putting together ideas with that tone, and I put my songs
in a Dropbox link for Lee and Gene to listen to while they were shooting. I'd
send selections over to our musical editor, RICK ZIEGLER, and he'd try them to
picture. The guys loved that process of trying out different songs with
A student of Danny Bramson, the storied music supervisor of Almost Famous and
Singles, Silverman believes that there should be no rest until a scene has the
perfect song. With the on-cameras of "Walking on Sunshine" and "I Want to Know
What Love Is," she wanted the music to match "the big moments in the show."
"For 'Walking on Sunshine,' Gene and Lee wanted to find a song a
middle-school choir would actually sing...and have that set against a sad moment
for Lucas," Silverman says. "They were looking for the right song that goes
against the grain of 'everything is great,' when it's really not."
Silverman went very '80s with certain choices but chose to go across the
decades as well. "We even have 'Can't Get Enough of Your Love' in there, so the
film transcends time," she says. "Kids have YouTube and Spotify and understand
so much more about music than I did at that age. On my daughter's playlist is
everything from bands like All Time Low to Elton John."
The creative process was always collaborative, and never push/pull. "The guys
loved 'Oblivion,' so they wanted to keep that one," Silverman says, "but they
went through so much music. They would listen to hundreds of songs per scene,
and they were very specific about what they needed. 'Race with the Devil' is set
to such a great scene in the fraternity house when the Beanbag Boys are in the
Nerf/paintball war. Another song that resonates with me is Asia's 'Heat of the
Moment' when the kids are playing Spin the Bottle. I love that song, and what a
special moment in the film it is."
When it came to the rock ballad in the film's third act, it took quite some
time to pick just the right tunes. Fortunately, the story's creators loved "I
Want to Know What Love Is." Says Silverman: "It was a three-step process, one
that began with asking what musical makes sense for the kids to sing and dance
to. Once we chose Rock of Ages, we had to narrow down from all the artists in
that musical. After we selected the band, we focused on Gene and Lee's favorite
Foreigner song. I feel lucky to work with them; they're so talented."
The collaboration with Good Boys' composer Lyle Workman happened through
their shared music editor, Rick Ziegler. "I'd go back and forth through Rick, as
he was dealing with both of us," she says. "We'd share notes that way, and it
Silverman was also duly impressed with the boys' vocal talents. "The three
boys are outstanding," she says. "I was blown away by their singing, and that
what you're hearing are Jacob, Lucas and Brady's voices. Our music production
team [executive music producers STEFANIE FINK and ALANA DA FONSECA] went in the
studio and recorded them, and we were all so impressed by their voices. They got
the boys to the place they needed to be, which was fantastic."
Quite the Fashion Maven
The costumes are extensions of the tween's personalities, and because Good
Boys is primarily set in one day, finding the right outfit for each character
was key. "They're wearing the same clothes for the majority of the film," Gene
Stupnitsky says. "We threw a lot of ideas at our costume designer, Carla Hetland,
and she was always game."
Hetland, who currently serves in the same capacity on Project Blue Book, the
blockbuster History Channel series about the father of ufology, has also worked
with Point Grey on The Interview and 50/50. She was thrilled to return to the
fold and appreciates the heart of what Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg
created. "They're all such great guys and so much fun," Hetland says. That
warmth extended to the trio of stars on set. "I'd watch the monitor and get such
a kick out of those kids," Hetland says.
The costume designer aimed to ensure that each piece was maximized on screen.
"When you have a story where most of it takes place in one day, you have to make
sure that costumes chosen for each character are spot-on, and everyone is happy
with the clothes because the cast, crew and the audience will be looking at them
for a good length of time," Hetland says. "It can be challenging to get that
iconic look. Imagine that you're at a Halloween party, and you saw someone in a
Brady, Thor or Max costume. You'd want to instantly know who they are."
When the designer-who shares that this comedy is the biggest production she's
ever done with a principally young cast-approached her look-book for the Beanbag
Boys, she felt it was crucial to have their clothes match their personalities.
"For each one of the kids, we wanted to have a unique style," Hetland says. It
was important to give all of them a distinct appearance that felt grounded,
without pointing at the joke too much. "For example, Lucas is wearing a lot of
colorful T-shirts with rainbows and animals," Eisenberg says. "It's as if he's
dressed like a third-grader."
To express Lucas' naivete, Hetland gave him a Garanimals-inspired sense of
style. "Lucas is the innocent one of the bunch and very close to his parents, so
we wanted him to be more childlike and colorful," Hetland says. "We outfitted
him with all kinds of kid-like designs, from ice-cream cones to dinosaurs
Through the process, the filmmakers discovered that Keith L. Williams, who
plays Lucas, took a particular interest in the subject. "Keith is a real fashion
maven," Stupnitsky says. "He loves clothes and talking about them. We asked him
what he was going to wear to the film's premiere, and he's already figured it
out. He said, 'I'm going to wear something perfect.'"
When it came to Thor's rock-'n'-roll clothes, Brady Noon was certainly on
board with dressing like a tween badass. "As we landed on what Brady's
personality was like, he went from nerd to a bit of a rebel," Hetland says. "We
wanted to give him an edgy look, where he's trying to be cool." That was
reflected in Thor's epic Rock of Ages number. "We had lots of reference
material, so we tried to make it feel unique," Hetland says. "The film's story
has such an '80s vibe, so we had tons of fun putting together Brady's look for
the show, as well as the costumes for his back-up performers in the musical."
Likewise, Jacob Tremblay as Max was quite the sixth-grade fashionista, but in
a more subdued manner. "Max's look was more straightforward, as he's the one
growing up the fastest," Hetland says. "Whereas the others are trying very hard,
Max has his signature jacket and hoodie but isn't as colorful as the other kids
in his school."
Since Molly and Lily are having their own adventure, older teens in Good Boys
have their signature style as well. "We wanted to have a number of cool looks
for the high-school and college kids," Hetland says. "We'd start by figuring out
their interests, personalities, parents they have and the types of music that
they listen to-all that came into play." She drew much inspiration from
production designer Jeremy Stanbridge's choices. "For example, for the set of a
well-to-do family, their house would have modern, clean lines," Hetland says.
"Likewise, a middle-class family in our film might have a cozy home with lots of
prints. I looked at what Jeremy was doing, and his designs allowed me to inform
what the kids were wearing."
Naturally, it wouldn't be just one outfit worn throughout production. The
costume designer's team needed many, many iterations of the clothes. "We had to
have multiple versions of the boys' outfits," Hetland says. "Not just for
stunts, but because they're kids who love to eat ice cream and everything else.
We would try to give them a different shirt to wear when they were eating, but
we weren't always successful at keeping them clean. I'd say that 25 percent of
the time they got away from us."
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