It seems like your career has involved taking on progressively more ambitious, complex projects. Do you have a sense of what else you'd like to make in the next ten years?
Flanagan: Oh, sure. One of the big ones has been TV. For years, I said I really want to get into television. Now that that's happening, it's like, "Great! So what after that?" One thing I'd love to do is do a big-budget movie. Like, go the way [Death Note director Adam] Wingard's going with Kong Vs. Godzilla or like when James Wan did Fast and Furious and Aquaman. I'd love a chance to play in that world, which I hear, especially hearing what James's experience was like, is fraught with its own challenges and can be just as frustrating as getting your first micro-budget up. There are so many other considerations on a movie of that size while still making it your movie surrounded by that many people.
It does seem challenging. You'd have this huge apparatus around you.
Flanagan: How can you steer it? I would love to try it. It's like, if I come out of it like James did or [Spider-Man director Sam] Raimi did and I'm like "Now I want to go back and do something that's more familiar," that's very likely to happen. I would love to take a shot. Especially something that is stepping outside of the genre, which has become familiar and safe to me in a lot of ways. Not having to fall back on the genre elements, the horror, and the scares and all that, but to really have to stretch another muscle, that would be great.
I'd love to do a family film that my kids could watch. All of my stuff, my kids can't see until they're way older and it's like, I'd love to do something that's sweet and kid-friendly and tell a really great story that could spark something in a younger viewer. I think about when I first saw E.T. How could I do something like that for somebody?
Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment is producing The Haunting of Hill House. Have you gotten the chance to work with him for the show?
Flanagan: It is Amblin Partner, so he's definitely involved. The extent of his involvement when it comes to the production we still haven't figured out yet and we probably won't till we go a little further with the writing and see what he wants to do.
But, yeah, the scariest part for me was when we were developing the pitch and I knew he was off watching my movies. Because before they would sign off on me and be comfortable, they were like, "Yeah, he's going to be watching some stuff." I was like, "Oh my god." That was terrifying. All the sudden you want to do everything you know you can't, which is like you want to defend your movie ahead of time and come up and be like, "If I could just explain what I was aiming for…" You forget that the movies speak for themselves and that if you get up there and try to qualify them, it's wasted breath.
But, yeah, my literary hero is Stephen King and my cinematic hero is Steven Spielberg and to be in their orbits in the same year is madness. I felt the same way with King when we got started with Gerald, where it really creates a lot of personal stakes. If I fuck up and embarrass myself, now I'm going to do it in front of my hero. That's awesome. Fear of failure is a really powerful thing. If you get complacent in your career you can start to lose touch with that and that can have bad results, so it keeps that alive and well. Hopefully it will help make everything better.
Gerald's Game is now out on Netflix.