Good Boy is about a woman with anxiety problems named Maggi. She got a little dog to help with her condition. Soon, she realizes that her dog was acting more than just a therapy dog. The dog soon turned from being overly protective of Maggi to being vicious to certain people that associated with her.
The screenwriters of this barking-good thriller are the brother duo Mr. Will Eisenberg and Mr. Aaron Eisenberg. So, take this time to get to know a bit about them and get an insight on their writing experience on Into the Dark: Good Boy.
1. First off, could you express your thoughts on the current events specifically the George Floyd Protests?
WILL: We are outraged by the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many other black Americans at the hands of police—and that’s not to mention the countless families torn apart and traumatized by our racist criminal justice system whose names we do not know. But we’re inspired, and cautiously optimistic, to see the diversity of these protests the past few weeks. It really feels like people are waking up and finally ready to confront the ugly realities of our country.
AARON: George Floyd’s murder was clearly an inflection point for our country. I’m just sorry it took another unnecessary and inhumane death to get here. We’re seeing more and more people stepping off the sidelines and calling out/ demanding an end to systemic racism—and that’s great. They’re marching, donating, reading, and listening. And positive change is already happening. Here in LA, the police budget has already been slashed by $100-150M. In my opinion, it isn’t nearly enough, but I’m glad we’re getting somewhere. Black lives matter. Any debate about that is racist nonsense.
2. Do you have a pet now or when you were little? If so, what is his/her name?
WILL: We had a miniature Schnauzer named Chance growing up. He loved our family, but barked at everyone else. My friends hated him. Today, my wife and I have two dogs! One is a mischievous Bichon Poodle mix named Scout, who loves to steal snacks. The other is a rescue dog, and a terrier mix, named Arlo. He's the inspiration for, I'd say, half of our movie-dog's character traits. Like hiding in cramped, dark places; having bad separation anxiety; being creepily obsessed with his owner (me).
AARON: My girlfriend and I have two rescues as well! Franny and Monty. But Francine (a terrier/ poodle mix) is actually my emotional support dog, and, in addition to being the inspiration for Reuben (the name of the dog in the movie), she’s been a miracle for me, personally. I adopted her almost six years ago after suffering a pretty bad anxious meltdown. The argument my psychiatrist gave me for getting an ESA is almost verbatim the argument Steve Guttenberg gives Judy in the movie. He was like “You can even pet them if you’re feeling particularly anxious,” and I was just sitting there thinking “I know how dogs work!”
3. List three adjectives to describe Into The Dark: Good Boy?
WILL: Fun. Weird. Bloody.
AARON: Judy. Greer’s. Revenge.
4. Could you express how you came to write the script of Into The Dark: Good Boy?
AARON: We love “be careful what you wish for” stories and are huge fans of the 1986 Little Shop of Horrors. The two of us were talking one night about my emotional support dog and started thinking about how fun it would be if a small, scruffy mutt could literally make its owner’s anxieties “disappear.” We didn’t want to go into B-Movie territory, so the thought was to make every element of Maggie’s character and her life very real, with the exception of this one factor—the murder dog. But we also didn’t want to make Cujo (another film we love), where the beast is predictably enormous and violent. That’s how we landed on a dog like mine: seemingly unassuming… until you cross its mom. Setting the movie around LA let us play with how big dog culture has gotten out here, where people literally baby their pets, dress them differently every day, take them to salons, book them therapy/ psychic appointments, etc. Satirizing that world was a lot of fun!
5. What was your writing habit when you wrote the script?
AARON: Will and I actually rented a cabin around Big Bear, brought our dogs with us, and started scripting off of our outline. We’ll do little, four day writers retreats from time to time; it’s a nice departure from the coffee shops we usually work out of. Anyway, we were there after ski season so it was eerily quiet. A cabin in the woods in a ghost town is a pretty great spot to draft a horror movie.
By the time we left, we had a really solid start. About 70 pages. A couple days later we had a very rough first pass. We followed that up with a thorough polish and sent it to our manager and Judy, crossing our fingers that she’d respond to it!
WILL: The script went through many iterations after that, but the first draft was a solid start, and structurally pretty sound.
6. Do you ever get writer's block when writing in general? What do you do to get back on track?
WILL: We're pretty disciplined and try to work a full day every day, regardless of how we're feeling. It's a job, and we try to treat it like one. Sometimes just pushing through the slow days leads to something great, and sure, sometimes it doesn't. But unless you're writing, you won't find out. I will say, one nice thing about having a writing partner is that if one of us is stuck on something, we can always swap scenes with the other one for some fresh eyes.
AARON: It’s also nice to have multiple projects in rotation. If we’re feeling stumped for a day on project A, it helps to put it away and see if you can make some headway on project B. I’ve always been a proponent of “sleeping on it,” but even figuratively I’ve found that if I’m working on something else, my lizard brain is still trying to solve problems with the thing I’m actually stuck on.
7. What were the challenges (literary, research, etc.) in writing Into The Dark: Good Boy?
WILL: This was one of the most fun things we've ever written, and the process was overall very smooth. As comedy writers, who happen to be horror fans and dog owners, we just blended all of our interests together, and the tone kind of revealed itself to us as we went on. Plus, writing it with Judy Greer in mind certainly helped, as it gave us a great baseline for her character, Maggie's, voice.
I think the hardest thing was probably revising it to meet the demands of the modest budget and short production schedule. Characters and locations were slashed and scenes were combined, yet we didn't want the world to feel too small, and we didn't want the pace to feel too rushed. It was a balancing act.
8. Could you express your experience working with Tyler Macintyre, the director of Into The Dark: Good Boy?
WILL: We were so excited when Tyler came on board, and we knew that with him at the helm, this movie would be every bit as fun as we hoped. But it wasn't until we first sat down together to discuss the script that we realized what a great collaborator he was. He asked the right questions, and it became clear that the three of us all basically wanted to make the same movie. He was also generous enough to keep us involved through production-- as any last minute rewrites came up-- and even through post, for notes and feedback. So often, writers are cut out of the process once their films are greenlit, and it felt really nice to be treated with that respect. We're all just trying to help, y'know?
9. What is your favorite line from any movie?
AARON: “Everybody dance!” – Waiting For Guffman
10. Which of your short films you made in the past would you like to see turned into a feature film? And why?
WILL: Honestly? None! In the past when we've made shorts, they were intended for that length and format. I think they'd be boring if they were any longer.
11. What was the best advice you have ever received about writing?
WILL: When we started writing professionally, we had a few projects with Nickelodeon, and our mentors there were these writers, Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi. They created Pete And Pete, and were just amazing teachers with decades of writing wisdom. They told us that we should be able to black out all the character names in our scripts and still know who's talking, from their voice alone. That stuck with me.
AARON: Oh yeah, that’s a good one. I actually forget who told us this, but “don’t be precious.” Will and I spent our first few years fighting with each other over every little change. “Should this line have a period or an exclamation mark?” Things like that. We’d argue in the way that only siblings can—but it just slowed us down immensely. Start bigger picture and move fast. Then go back and rework, rework, rework, tighten, tighten, tighten. And if an idea you were psyched about falls out, don’t sweat it. A new idea will replace it and eventually you’ll forget what you lost in the first place.
12. What was the major breakthrough that propel your writing career?
WILL: Write what we want to write. Not what we "know," not what we think we should write, not what somebody else thinks we should write (we've been down that road before.) write what we want to write.
AARON: Realizing that your signature style is not something you work to find at the outset, but rather something emerges when you look back on the scripts you’ve written. We started off trying to make sure that our projects ticked off certain boxes so that people could easily identify what it is we do, and that got really frustrating. Now we’ve written for kids and families, and people our age and older, animation and live action, but regardless of the story, everything has our DNA built into it.
13. If you could adapt the screenplay (or direct) any article/short story/novella/ novel, which one would you like to do?
WILL: This is a really tough question. We're looking at optioning a couple of articles right now, but I don't want to mention them specifically yet... Can I pass? Aaron?
AARON: Yes, Will. Permission to pass granted! I’ll say this: I’ve always wanted to make a movie out of The Phantom Tollbooth.
14. What was it like to see Judy Greer, Steve Guttenberg, Elise Neal, Ellen Wong and/or any other cast members speaking the words you wrote on Into The Dark: Good Boy? Did you get the chance to meet any of them?
WILL: It was incredible. Like I said, we were lucky enough to be on set every day, so we got to spend a lot of time with all of them. The shoot was only 16 days for a 94 page script, so there wasn't much wiggle room to get more than a few takes. Thank God we had the cast that we did, because they really brought it. And specifically, I need to give Judy so much credit, because there were a few days in there where it was just her and Chico (the dog) filming, like, eleven scenes with eleven costume changes in one location, back to back to back. She is a legend, and deserves all the starring roles!
AARON: Yes to everything Will said! I’d only add that the actor I was most nervous to meet was Chico! We didn’t know what the dog would look like until we saw a photo of him at the table read. He looked so perfect for Reuben and was such a funny gentleman on set.
15. What advice do you wish someone had given to you when you were younger about the industry?
WILL: The breakthrough I mentioned earlier is pretty much the main thing I had to figure out on my own, which I wish somebody had told me. Write what you want to write.
AARON: Listen to all the opinions you want, but don’t take everyone’s advice. The person who has the strongest understanding of what you’re trying to do is you—so instead of contorting yourself to try to appease everyone, find the notes that really amplify your vision and see those through.
16. If someone made a movie of your life would it be a drama, a comedy, a romantic-comedy, action film, or science-fiction?
WILL: Either a rom-com or a buddy comedy, depending on the central relationship. But in either case, I've already got a note... we need to make the protagonist more "likable."
AARON: Comedy, comedy, comedy! And I agree, definitely make the protagonist in Will’s movie more likable.
17. Last question, what do you miss most about childhood?
WILL: Back then, bread was at the bottom of the food pyramid.
AARON: Making our first movies together in our basement. And being a totally obnoxious theater kid!
Huge thanks to the Eisenberg brothers for accepting and answering my interview questions. I hope you guys enjoy reading the interview as well. Into the Dark: Good Boy is not to be miss.You should definitely check it out on Hulu when it releases on Friday, June 12th. Thank you for visiting Novelpro Junkie and I hope you keep reading its contents and checking out the interviews. Take care! Be safe and healthy everybody.