38 Things We Learned from Paul Feig and Katie Dippold’s Ghostbusters Commentary

By  · Published on November 2nd, 2016

“It’s exciting to put funny people on the screen.”

Ghostbusters (2016)

Commentators: Paul Feig (director/co-writer), Katie Dippold (co-writer)

1. Dippold requested to be introduced on the commentary as “the amazing Katie Dippold,” and Feig complies. Women, amirite? (That’s a joke in case any the dude-pricks who fought the film unseen are reading and might think I’m on their side. I’m not. Fuck off.)

2. Aldritch Mansion is located at Boston University where it functions as their Alumni house, so the skyline behind it is added digitally.

3. Feig originally envisioned an opening involving “an old guy getting electrocuted” but says they “mercifully” threw it out in favor of Dippold’s suggestion for a more iconic, old-NY feel.

4. Feig calls Zach Woods “literally the best improviser I’ve ever worked with, across the board.” He was cast even before the Ghostbusters themselves.

5. The extended cut features an additional fifteen minutes, and Feig talks about the reasoning behind cutting bits for a theatrical release. Oftentimes the details are dropped in favor of pacing, and it’s not always the best choice. “That’s why it takes us like half a year to edit and do test screenings to find what we need and what we don’t need.” He points out later that the energy of a theatrical cut should play to the room while a version made for home video is designed for viewers no longer dependent on others’ laughter.

6. Dippold wrote all of “that stuff” on the whiteboard behind Erin (Kristen Wiig).

7. Feig jokes about rebooting 1992’s Medicine Man but worries they might upset scientist fanboys. “There’s some scientist somewhere who says ‘You ruined my college years!’”

8. He thinks Wiig is similar to someone like Chris Farley in that both performers have comedy in their veins. Her current focus on dramatic material made him think she wouldn’t be interested in this film, but Wiig actually reached out to Feig to request a role even if it was just a small one.

9. Feig knew Kate McKinnon from Saturday Night Live and had met her at after-parties, but it wasn’t until he read in an interview that one of childhood dreams was to be a Ghostbuster that he thought to have her come in for the film.

10. McKinnon designed her character Holtzmann’s hairstyle. Contrary to some internet speculation it is not based on the cartoon Egon’s hair.

11. The Pringles bit is not an example of product placement. They just think Pringles are funny. By contrast, Papa Johns did pay money to be in the film. (Feig and Dippold make no attempt to defend it.)

12. Wiig had to be slimed twice as the first one missed her face and the second blast knocked her wig off. Instead of taking another two hours to reset and try again they just cut the two together and added some digital slime for good measure.

13. They planned a gag for later in the film where a nerd-bro sees the women in uniform and says “Nice vacuums” only to be zapped in the butt by Patty (Leslie Jones), but they went with the earlier one instead involving the YouTube comments.

14. Feig cameos as voice of the Ghost Jumpers narrator. He also drew the ghost with the giant boobs.

15. The Higgins Institute was named that well before Steve Higgins was cast as its dean. His character name, Thomas Shanks, is a nod to an old SCTV sketch with John Candy.

16. The studio didn’t want the scene of Shanks flipping off the women as they were worried it would “scare away families.” Early internet comments – presumably before the focus became man-babies complaining about the female cast – begged Feig to make it family friendly like the original. “If you watch the original they swear constantly, they smoke constantly, and then there’s fellatio from a ghost. So people remember what they want to remember.”

17. Dippold plays the real estate agent.

18. Feig and Chris Hemsworth have the same agent, and that’s how he got word that Hemsworth was interested in joining the film.

19. Hemsworth was concerned having to face off against three funny women for the interview scene as he doesn’t consider himself much of an improviser, but when the time came he improvised the bit with the lens-free glasses and the Mike Hat line among others.

20. It doesn’t seem like they stuck with the idea, but they originally envisioned The Heat 2 as “a really scary comedy” in deference to Dippold’s love of horror.

21. The equipment test in the alley was added in re-shoots. It was suggested by Melissa McCarthy. The alley was infested with rats.

22. Harold Ramis’ son is the excited concertgoer who runs by Rowan (Neil Casey) at 49:18.

23. They didn’t know until the day before filming his cameo whether or not Bill Murray would be doing the cameo.

24. The concert hall scene had an earlier iteration that took place at Comic-Con. “I just love the idea that Comic-Con’s the one place that you can walk in fully-armed and everybody just thinks ‘oh it’s your costume!’”

25. The behind the scenes term for an overacting extra is an “Elvis.”

26. Feig regrets keeping Ozzy Osbourne’s cameo so secret because it meant keeping him backstage until the roomful of extras was emptied. “So everybody who was there, I apologize.”

27. Murray liked the idea of basing his character’s look on Quentin Crisp.

28. Corvette Summer is one of Feig’s favorite movies, and it stars Annie Potts as a character named Vanessa. Her cameo here is as a character named Vanessa.

29. Feig doesn’t do rehearsals for fear of losing something magical.

30. He says some critics and viewers complained about the film’s third act devolving into CG and mayhem, but “first of all, you can’t make a big movie and not have a big third act, and secondly I feel like I like how this escalates.” I won’t argue with his second point, but as someone who like this movie while still thinking the the third act devolves into CG and mayhem I think he’s wrong on the first. Big doesn’t have to mean messy, and while there are plenty of movies that nail it I’ll just point to the original Ghostbusters as one that goes big at the end while still staying focused on the characters.

31. They got push-back, presumably from the studio, on the flasher ghost for fear it would be offensive. Feig says the trouble started with preliminary artwork that was done including some pieces showing the flasher with “an enormous demon mouth and tongue coming out right where his junk is.” This is a rare instance of studio push-back being understandable.

Kyle Brown’s concept art for the flasher
32. Slimer is created with an actual puppet. An early script gave him an origin as a gangster who killed someone in New York City’s Rainbow Room before dying himself.

33. The creepy parade balloons are based on actual Macy’s parade balloons from long ago.

34. Hemsworth’s big possessed dance sequence was the toughest scene Feig had to cut from the theatrical version.

35. The car that Abby (McCarthy) falls onto is her character’s car in The Heat.

36. Feig points out Brian Baumgartner but declines to call him “amazing” like he does for every single other person involved in the film’s production. What’s the beef there I wonder?

37. He’s unapologetic about the ladies shooting Rowan’s large ghost form in the nuts, and he points out that it was entirely his decision not Dippold’s. She thanks him for saying that because many have assumed it was her choice as a way to stick it to the guys.

38. The first cut of the movie was three and a half hours long.

Best in Context-Free Commentary

“I really think Kristen is magical.”

“What‘s better than letting’ Kate McKinnon do her dance.”

“Whenever I say ‘amazing’ just take a shot and you’ll be dead before the end of this scene.”

“This is our tribute to Die Hard 2, because why would you not?”

“Katie’s next film is called Nut Shooters.”


Final Thoughts

Feig’s energy remains high throughout, and he’s not shy about praising his cast and crew. He’s also not afraid to (politely) knock the dicks who attacked the movie sight unseen strictly for being a female reboot. It’s idiotic for many reasons – prejudging is dumb, sexism is dumber, it’s a perfectly good movie – but seeing young girls dressed up as Ghostbusters this Halloween is enough of a reason to celebrate the film’s existence.

Read more Commentary Commentary from the archives.

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.