Siblings Anthony Bueno and Claire Bueno have spent the last eight years working on their documentary Cleanin’ Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters. A comprehensive ‘making of’ look at Ghostbusters and its sequel, the documentary includes interviews with over 70 cast and crew that worked on the films. Initially self-funded, they eventually turned to Kickstarter, hoping to raise £40,000 to help complete the documentary (they exceeded their goal). As it nears completion they are planning to start screenings early next year.
On the Saturday of MCM Birmingham Comic Con, Anthony and Claire took to the main stage where they talked about the making of their documentary and also presented some exclusive footage. Given the numerous cast and crew they did interview, Anthony called it “very humbling” and how for the most part they talked very fondly of their experiences working on the films, saying, “We have captured something and we’ve probably got something that nobody else has and that nobody would have the chance to get.” Anthony did also try to live stream the event, but later mentioned that the signal wasn’t strong enough.
The panel began with the trailer for the documentary. This was then followed by an exclusive 12 minutes of footage which showcased just how in-depth it was, with cast and crew talking in detail about creating the proton packs and the slime for the sequel.
After the screening, Claire actually decided to ask the first question to her brother, wanting to know what inspired him to make the documentary. He cited how he enjoyed making the documentary Beware the Moon: Remembering ‘An American Werewolf in London’. “That was a great experience,” said Anthony. “It was basically, ‘What film can we do where we can continue doing that?’ Top of the list has always been Ghostbusters. It’s the one.” He added that he felt the film deserved a feature length documentary.
Claire then mentioned that there was a Ghostbuster in the audience, a cosplayer, who had two questions – referencing past interviews that New York was just as much as character in the films, he asked if that was something they picked up on, as well as wanting to know their “honest opinion” on the 2016 remake.
Anthony replied how the first film captured “that grittiness, that griminess” of New York at that time, saying, “It was a massive character and it kind of gets touched on in the documentary a little bit.”
Of the remake, Claire mentioned that they happened to be in the US at the time that Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters was released. “We were looking forward to it, but we were scared,” she said. “We went in there and actually we really enjoyed it. It was a very new re-imagining of the story. It paid homage to the films enough that we all got a bit nostalgic.” She added that she came out of the film feeling good and uplifted.
“I’m not very good at hiding my feelings,” said Anthony, “I actually really enjoyed it. But it’s clearly separate from those original films. It’s a different kind of sense of humour and style of film from what those original ones are, which it needs to be.”
They were then asked what their favourite experience was of making the documentary and if there was a bit of trivia they came across which surprised them.
“Harold Ramis definitely stood out to us,” said Claire, who revealed that he was the first person they interviewed for the documentary. “He opened the door to us and said, ‘Hey it’s the Ghostbusters.’ It was just like, ‘Oh my goodness, it’s Harold Ramis!’ He just disarmed us immediately and made us feel very at ease. He had such warmth and just gave us a plethora of information.”
“Behind the scenes, as far as I was concerned…Harold and Dan Aykroyd, those are the people we really wanted to get,” said Anthony. “I thought Dan Aykroyd would be that backbone, and he is great, but Harold was just the most detailed and became that backbone.”
As for the bit of information that surprised them, Anthony mentioned how from talking to Richard Edland, who worked on the visual effects for the first film, there was no effects company in place when they started making the film. Edland set up Boss Films by working on Ghostbusters and 2010. “They had to build the cameras and the printers that was going to do all the special effects,” said Anthony. “They only had nine or ten months to go before the film was out, where they normally have two years to make a film like Ghostbusters.”
“These people don’t go and do a job, these people love what they do and they care very much about the craft and filmmaking,” said Claire. “They want to do the best job possible. I think that was something that, on a personal level, was really lovely to be able to witness and capture on camera.”
When questioned on whether their documentary would also focus on the recent remake, Claire replied that while it would be nice to interview Chris Hemsworth, their documentary is essentially about the two original films. However, she noted that it would be interesting to do a comparison.
“We did make a conscious decision when this film was being made that we’re not going to incorporate the new film,” said Anthony. “It just keeps it a lot less complicated and there’s less work for us.”
Given Anthony and Claire’s experience with the cast and crew, they were then asked why they felt a third Ghostbusters film did not happen. “I just don’t think they ever found the right story to tell,” replied Claire.
Anthony revealed how in the spring of 2009 when meeting Harold, they learnt that Harold and Dan were due to turn in the first script for the third part in the autumn of that year, which eventually got the greenlight. “Sony don’t quite know what they got, or they knew what they had and wanted to make sure they got it right,” said Anthony. “Until they got that right story and the right people behind it… they would have wanted the original director, the original creative team. But as filmmakers grow from what they did 30 years previously, there isn’t a guarantee that you’re going to hit that right on the head again.” Anthony added that he had many odd theories about the third film, but wouldn’t talk about them all at the panel.
Because of the time they had spent working on the documentary, they were then asked how it felt seeing some of it on the screen with an audience at MCM Birmingham. “Really very good,” laughed Anthony as he mentioned how during the editing process he never knows how people are going to react. “It’s nice to sit here and see people’s reactions and have so many people want to come in. It’s very humbling and very rewarding.”
“We’ve made this film to share with an audience, to share the history of how these films were made,” said Claire, adding that she also loved watching it and felt like she was learning every time she views it. “I just can’t wait to actually deliver the finished piece very soon.”
Claire then used this point to say that now would be a good time to make a special announcement about the documentary. Anthony revealed that because they spoke to so many people and ended up with a huge amount of material, it was hard to cut it down to a runtime of about 90 – 100 minutes without sacrificing a huge amount of interviews, footage and story. “We have now made a decision, we are going to actually cut it in two to make two documentaries,” said Anthony. “So you get one on Ghostbusters and one on Ghostbusters II. When we start screening it, that’s how it will be presented.”
Because of the wealth of material they had accumulated for the documentary, they were asked when they felt they reached the point that enough was enough. Anthony replied, “We said six months ago, ‘That’s it, we’re not getting anymore material.’ There is stuff we got in the last six months, and there is still potentially stuff we’re going to get within the next two months, which is stuff that just hasn’t seen the light of day for 30 years.” He mentioned that they were still trying to interview Bill Murray and some of the material they had come across included auditions.
With the passing of Harold Ramis, it was noted that their interview may have been the last time he got to talk about the film. So they were asked if that added any extra pressure. “I think it’s an honour,” said Claire, adding they they did not know he was ill at the time. “You start to think back and think, ‘Well, was the reason why he gave us so much information and gave us the depth that he did because he knew it may be the last time that he would get the chance to talk about it?’ It’s not a pressure, but it feels like such a privilege and honour that this man actually shared, potentially, his last memories of that film with you.”
“He is a huge part of the documentary,” said Anthony. “We were chatting away with him for an hour before we even got to the interview. You have an experience you can’t buy. It’s incredible.” He also added that there wasn’t any extra pressure, saying “The pressure’s always been there because there’s so many people that dedicated their time to us that we owe it to them.”
Because of the level of material and interviews the two were able to obtain, they were asked if there was any tips they could give to future documentary filmmakers. “Perseverance,” said Anthony. “You just got to go for it and you got to be in it for the long haul.” He told wannabe filmmakers to find a project that they’re passionate about and that they should be open to learning more about it as well.
“If we can do it, then anyone can,” said Claire. “We have no connection to the film industry, we don’t have famous people that open doors for us. We went out and did it because we were passionate about it. We were just tenacious and not prepared to give up.”
The final question came from an attendee who wanted to know whether they had another project lined up after the release of Cleanin’ Up The Town. Anthony replied that there was, but didn’t want to say at the panel what that would be, though he hoped to tell people about it soon. “You talk to different people and they say, ‘Why don’t you do such and such?’” said Anthony. “There’s some films that I really like, and certainly classics from that era, and there’s other ones that I’ve got a slightly more personal connection with. And that particular film, or films… this year we’ve been talking about it quite a lot.”
By Shalimar Sahota