Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs creators share secrets

Sep 24, 2009 at 3:36 p.m. ET

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have to be quite pleased -- their debut film is the number one movie in America. SheKnows visits with the visual masters who have brought a beloved children's book to life.

Debuting with over $30 million in box office sales, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs has been a resounding success with audiences. With stars Anna Faris and Bill Hader, Lord and Miller have crafted one of the finest children's book-to-movie feats in years.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is in theaters now

Miller and Lord served as a creative force behind the CBS monster hit comedy, How I Met Your Mother -- and, let's not forget Clone High -- the series that clinched the duo Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs directing job. Lord and Miller sat down with SheKnows to discuss the finer points of being on top in Hollywood -- even for a week…or more?

Chris Miller and Phil Lord

Meatballs men

SheKnows: How did you two become involved with a classic children's book?

Phil Lord: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was our favorite book growing up. When we found out that Sony had the rights to it, we basically grabbed them by the lapels and forced them to let us make the movie.

Christopher Miller: We're super aggressive as you can see (laughs).

Phil Lord: As you can see (laughs).

SheKnows: (Laughs)

Christopher Miller: We had the idea from the book, there's pickles slamming into buildings and giant pancakes covering the school and we thought, 'this really feels like a Jerry Bruckheimer, or Roland Emerick movie.' That's the way we went into it. We needed to add the scientist character and took the archetypes from those movies like the reporter (Anna Faris), the mayor or politician (Bruce Campbell), the town cop (Mr T) -- and tried to twist them on their ear.

SheKnows: How did the cast come together for you?

Christopher Miller: We cast this movie slowly through the whole process. For example our casting director suggested Mr T for the part of Earl, the cop. Even before we came onto the project and she told us at a party. We thought that was incredible. So, the first thing we did when we were asked to direct it was 'we're throwing out all the Earl stuff and rewriting the whole character for Mr T.'

Mr T and Bobbie J Thompson in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

SheKnows: Who else served as your muses?

Christopher Miller: We wrote the part of Brent for Andy Samberg, who's our friend. We had this character for a while, Flint, who's in the script and early storyboards and we were looking for someone who captured that sort of geeky aesthetic in a cool way and we thought of Bill (Hader). He is a real-life, honest to goodness, American geek (laughs).

Animation domination

SheKnows: How difficult is it to direct animation after your experience with live action?

Phil Lord: Justin (Thompson, Meatballs' production designer) sits there with a pencil and we say 'Action!' He starts to draw… 'Cut, cut, cut! That's no… (laughs)!'

Christopher Miller: There's a crew of 500 animators and filmmakers that are all there, so often our day was split up into going through departments and telling them what we were looking for in this particular scene, or shot, or character. Hopefully, we just let them be them because we tried to hire the most awesome people we could.

SheKnows: Is that why the introduction of the film says what is says about "…a film by?"

Christopher Miller: This is everybody sharing information with you, every step of the way. If they fit with the story and fit with the tone, we went with it. Saying it was a film by one particular person or individual in our minds was ridiculous.

Phil Lord: This is 500 people…

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is causing quite a storm

SheKnows: So, it's safe to say it's your biggest project?

Christopher Miller: It was by a large, large margin…right?

Phil Lord: By a scale of...I'd say it was like a 100 percent more…

SheKnows: What do your mothers think about the film that was a favorite of yours growing up?

Phil Lord: She thinks it's the cutest movie ever!

Christopher Miller: She thinks it deserves an Oscar.

SheKnows: Are you guys in the movie at all?

Christopher Miller: Chris does some Ratbird stuff (laughs).

Phil Lord: We are homeless gentlemen, number one and two (laughs).

Christopher Miller: Chris is the dude making fun of me for getting hit by a hot dog (laughs).

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