Today I'm very excited to share our exclusive interview with Jared Krichevsky - the man who designed the Monsterverse Mechagodzilla with Legacy Effects for Godzilla vs. Kong! Jared is a renowned concept artist with over a decade of experience in the industry, providing fantastic concept artwork for recent films such as 2018's The Predator and Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One (where he designed the Mechagodzilla for that film as well)! He's also a teacher at Gnomon School of VFX! Jared took time out of his busy schedule to speak with us and the fans of Scified / Godzilla-Movies about his work on Godzilla vs. Kong and even provided us with 4 NEW pieces of Mechagodzilla concept art not yet seen anywhere else (below)! Fan submitted questions were included with our own, so if you took part in our forum topic preceding this interview, look for Jared's answers to your questions!
Godzilla vs. Kong Interview with Jared Krichevsky
How did you first hear about the opportunity to design Mechagodzilla for Godzilla vs. Kong and when did you officially start work on it?
I was working in house at Legacy Effects on various projects for them. This was in February of 2018. I knew that they had worked on previous Monsterverse movies, so I knew that it could be a possibility and that maaaaybe one of them could happen. Our coordinator Damon Weathers and Co-Head of Legacy Effects Lindsay Macgowan let me know that something was coming in, but were being purposefully vague about it for a few days, teasing me with winks and elbows sort of thing. Then they told me what the project was and that it was MechaGodzilla and we would be starting on him! "Oh, crap you know I already designed the one for RPO." And so I was giddy at the chance to get to tackle another version, yet terrified at the possibility. Because what are the odds that I could get two Mechagodzillas through? Very slim, so I was prepared to let this one go If I didn't nail it this time. So it's like yay! I get to work on this character again! But you have that creeping suspicion in the back of your brain like there's no way.
Then the work began. Several artists at Legacy, myself, Darnell Isom, and Simon Webber each did some really great versions for the character. I remember from production that stealth bombers were a reference from production because they liked the clean edges of them. We did our first pass and then we had a meeting about those images. That's when I believe I met Adam and the production team for the first time. They would look stuff over and give us their thoughts. But they liked a few images that I did showing the inside of mecha, so we were asked to continue going with a few of their notes in mind.
Were you given any specific requirements for the design of Mechagodzilla by the studio?
I don't think so, it was really little-to-no information at all. You see they don't want to give designers too many references beforehand because they want to see what you come up with. Sometimes you get a lot of notes, other times they give you a blue sky kind of freedom. You're not working in a vacuum however, there are other vendors and other artists working on the same character all at the same time. So you know that they're doing their take and their best, and you're trying to do what you each think is cool. So It's kind of like a bake-off, all of us come up with our own take, our own design and the director has the fun job of getting to decide what makes it on screen. It can be competitive, but always in a friendly way, it's a challenge and sometimes you don't always get it.
You've mentioned on Twitter that it only took you 2 weeks to design the GvK Mechagodzilla. Roughly how many hours did you spend within those 2 weeks on the design?
I think it ended up being about 6 weeks total from February to April 2018. I remember there being a little break in there after I had my kid. I remember thinking, I have a very short amount of time to do this or else I'm going to lose it to someone who's more available. But admittedly this was a very short time span to work on a character, they ended up picking the design early on. Sometimes you can do up to 50 versions of a character before they pick something. ButI think it shocked all of us that it had been found so quickly.
You've also mentioned that you created 2 designs for Mechagodzilla, were these 2 designs that you submitted? Or were there other drafts you chose to scrap throughout the design process? If so, can you tell us why you chose the 2 designs you did and how the other scrapped versions differed from them?
It was really just those two, one of them having a very traditional Godzilla type body, and now that I look at him his face was far too busy. When things get busy that's when you get the Transformers note. Then the second pass I did which had the boxy tank shape they ended up going for right away. I'm assuming that they're looking at many different options from a lot of different artists, so I'm sure everyone brought something different to the table. From just the stuff that I saw from Simon and Darnell, they were completely different but valid takes. That's kind of what the beauty of design is, you give it to different artists and we're all going to give you a different result. So to see something get selected can feel very rare at times, even rarer that the thing makes it to the big screen, or that they're making toys of it etc...
What are your favorite aspects of the Mechagodzilla you designed?
I'm super proud of the fact that he looks heavy duty, when you put a character up against Godzilla and now a supersized King Kong, they have to be able to take a hit, and they have to be able to dish it out. So I think as a designer I'm trying to give toys for animators and the directors to play with. I think about fun toys or what would be really cool on screen to see. His appearance is absolutely brutal and intense so I'm glad the design conveys something that would inspire that ferocity. The claw hands are definitely a unique addition to the Mechagodzilla lineup, and they were something somewhat unexpected, but I thought they were brilliantly utilized in the movie.
Can you tell us something unique about Mechagodzilla that we may not have noticed easily watching the film?
The buzzsaw fingers, that was something I pitched in the room, and I'm not sure if it really was noticed or if it didn't get any attention at the time, but it's something that I put into the claw hands. You can see them working up close and hear the sound design when he's gripping Godzilla's head in a closeup. It was actually the thing I was most excited to confirm when I saw the leaks. I was like "Oh My God I can't believe they kept it" because admittedly, I thought it would be too brutal for a tent pole movie, but I am so thrilled that they kept it. It would be something cruel, that they could use to burrow through Godzilla's incredibly thick hide. So I like to think when he's splitting that skull crawler apart, he's also shredding his arms as he's doing it. Made me positively giddy, I just tried to think of as many ways as possible to stop Godzilla or any other Titan from a human perspective.
Which of the previous incarnations of Mechagodzilla (if any) was the biggest point of reference/inspiration?
They're a little details from each that I tried to incorporate although it's not very apparent. Showa has these little armored X's on his chest, So I use that pattern down the sides of GVK's down the arms and the legs. I thought they looked like something from a tank, that could help the reinforced look of the armor plating, and that they might suggest scales like on Godzilla. Kiryu has these ribbed neck and abdomen pieces so I adapted those over the whole body.
Which Mechagodzilla is your absolute favorite version of the character? (Ref Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla 1974 + Terror, Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla II, or Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla/Tokyo S.O.S)?
Pretty fond of '74 since I do love retro vibes but for the pure cool design factor Tokyo S.O.S.
Every single Mechagodzilla looks like Godzilla and not like a giant tank or airship. Other than the name, why do you think Apex built the Mecha G to look like Godzilla?
Actually I thought a lot about this while I was working on it, because why would you build a giant mechanized Godzilla? Why not just build a tank or a big carrier ship to shoot a lot of missiles at him? I think It's because Godzilla is an intelligent animal, he's clearly a hunter, he's clearly capable of some level of intelligent thought. So the reason why you would build Mechagodzilla to look like him, is pure intimidation. If you're intelligent to some degree, that also means you can feel fear, and what would inspire fear in a giant nuclear Titan? Something skeletal, something primal, something that looks like you but isn't you. And the way MechaGodzilla mobs the floor with the big G you know that he was very right to be afraid.
What was it like seeing your version of Mechagodzilla on screen? Did you have any favorite moments concerning our silver monster king?
The biggest high - so to speak - is seeing the toy leaks, which was nearly a year before the movie came out. So when I saw those, and confirmed that was what I did, I mean that’s the big feeling. Then slowly the toys or merch or other things leak and you kind of reconfirm to yourself that’s happening. Then I saw some low quality youtube leaks and that was what really sent me over the edge, I was blown away - at about that point I had to put a pause on my leak hunting and actually wait for the movie to come out. What I didn’t expect was how absolutely devastating he would be on screen. Then you see all the abilities that they built into him and stuff they utilized. It’s an amazing feeling. My favorite moment is his entrance when it splits apart the Skull Crawler. But the rest of the fight is this incredible choreography. I especially love when we’re in the shot of the building and MechaG smashes Godzilla into “us”.
Did the spines on Mechagodzilla's back have any unique purpose?
I figured it was for defensive purposes mostly, if you have big spines on your back they can't reach vulnerable areas. I did have an idea that they could be drones that could snap off and fly around and shoot missiles at Godzilla or Kong, but that Idea got nixed. Which makes sense to me, you would want those things to be solid. I went with the blunt squared off shape, to fit in with the overall shape language of the rest of the body, which was all big chunky squared off shapes.
Did the Jaegers from Pacific Rim play any part in the design and in the movements like the rockets on his back to make him turn and boost his movement like Gipsy Danger's elbow rocket?
I tried to avoid looking at the Jaegers intentionally, even though I'm a huge fan of the movie. When designing it's best not to look at a lot of influences that already exist. The reason why with the Jaegers is that all of their shapes are very clean. I always figured they were building Mechagodzilla from scraps from destroyed buildings and vehicles from past conflicts. To build these giant smooth shapes didn't make a lot of sense to me, I figured there might be a sense of urgency in developing a mechanized Titan as a form of defense against other Titans. Where I think a lot of those ideas came through is probably in production, because they made great use of his design and doing that next level of detail work, which was really exquisite.
Did you intend for Mechagodzilla to have more abilities aside from his rocket fists and lazer beam?
I came up with a lot of ideas that it could be used for, secret compartments and whatnot. Some I was shocked to see made it into the movie, and others I was like yes! they used it exactly how I thought it should be done. Hats off to VFX Supervisor Bryan Hirota and his team for all their brilliant work.
A few things that I thought would be cool were that the whole tail could be used like a drill as well, not just the scorpion tip. I also thought that those bottom fins on the ridges of the tail could open up as well with room for jets, flamethrowers, rockets etc.. there's a lot of fun places where you can put stuff on him. But I was happy with everything that they did.
What made you decide on a red color scheme for Mechagodzilla?
I tried a few colors, but I think production wanted red. Which visually made the most sense to me.
What was the most difficult part for you in designing Mechagodzilla?
Making sure the mechanics make some kind of sense. I mean I'm not an engineer or anything, but I thought production did a great job of making sense of all my mishmash parts.
Do you feel satisfied with your final design or would you go back and change it if you could? (I know I'm satisfied)
Yeah I'm definitely satisfied, there's always a part in the design process where you know you have to let go, the project ends, they need to move on to production. I wish I could hang on to these designs a little longer, and shepherd them through production, maybe explaining myself a bit more. But I don't often get that chance, so everything I do has to be on the page or in the model and let them do the rest. But for me, when I saw all the leaks, and confirmed that it was my design going through, It's a very powerful feeling, and it's just a part of all that movie magic that I love so much.
Compared to other creatures you've designed for other films in the past, how does Mechagodzilla stack up? Is he ranked highly on your favorites list? What are your top 3 favorite designs you've created?
I mean MechaG is top of the list, certainly the biggest character I've worked on scale wise, and to have some small contribution to the Monsterverse legacy is an incredible honor. I've been such a fan of all the Legendary movies. The TMNT come in a very close second of course, another long time fan of those characters. Third would have to be Pete's Dragon since it's such a sweet movie and I really love how it came out.
Did Mechagodzilla have any unique nicknames during production that you were aware of?
Not that I know of. I don't think I was privy to any of that.
You also designed the Mechagodzilla for Ready Player One, which was clearly inspired by the Mechagodzilla 2 design. Are there any aspects from your Ready Player One Mechagodzilla that you wanted to include with your GvK Mechagodzilla?
I tried to stay as far away from RPO as possible, if I took any elements or tried to repeat any elements I don't think it would have been as successful. As a designer I want to give them options, both for production and myself, just to show that I can come up with new ideas and keep challenging myself.
Going a little off-topic, you created some pretty interesting designs for Shane Black's The Predator a few years ago as well. Sadly we didn't get to see many of your creations make it on screen but your Predator Dog Hybrid and Alien Spider concepts looked pretty sweet. Compared to Godzilla vs. Kong, where your Mechagodzilla design is exactly what they used on screen, are there any Predator concepts you made that you wish had made it on screen for that film?
Yeah a lot of stuff from that got cut, and really none of the work I did made it in the movie, which is more common than something like MechaGodzilla, where it's almost shocking that something makes it through all the way to the screen. I think I would have handled a lot of that work differently now under different circumstances, so I'd love to get another crack at a predator franchise at some point. That predator spider though would have been really terrifying on screen.
Back on topic, are there any other Toho Godzilla monsters you would like to design for a modernized Monsterverse incarnation if given the chance?
I mean all of them! Which I'm sure won't happen, but if I do get it shot again I'd love to work on Biollante or Hedorah. I'm really interested in the nature's revenge angle of a lot of these stories. Those are characters that I think could be really pressing for our times and would provide a really ample challenge to Godzilla.
What was your favorite moment from Godzilla vs. Kong?
Mechagodzilla's introduction, what an entrance! Also Frankenstein’s monster destroying his creator.
Did you design any other creatures for Godzilla vs. Kong?
I did a few other designs for various creatures, all of them got cut haha. That movie got pretty paired down from the original story as I understand it. Would have been cool to see a lot more of the Hollow Earth. But I think Adam Wingard understands that you want to leave your audience wanting more and he did a great job.
Which Monsterverse movie is your favorite song far?
It's really hard to pick, so it's not fair. There's a lot of really great things in each of the movies that I love. So not counting Godzilla vs Kong I have to go with Godzilla (2014) I know a lot of people didn’t appreciate the slow build, but I rather enjoyed it.
Finally, are you Team Godzilla or Team Kong?
Team Godzilla all the way
I want to thank Jared for providing such phenomenal responses to our questions and for taking the time to chat with us about his involvement with such an important film not only to us but to the Monsterverse as a whole! Jared also recently welcomed a new baby to the world so we wish him and his family a very happy and healthy future! We're looking forward to seeing what artwork Jared provides in the future.
Let us know what you thought of this interview in the comments below!
Godzilla vs. Kong is currently playing in theaters and streaming on select platforms!
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This article was written By Chris and published on 2021-04-16 08:50:37
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