James Gunn who wrote the screenplay for Dawn of the Dead is working with Grasshopper Manufacture CEO Goichi Suda on Lollipop Chainsaw. How did the Hollywood writer get connected to a video game developed in Japan?
"Warner Bros. [the Western publisher] were the first to approach me with Suda’s blessing. They said, ‘Hey listen, do you know who Suda51 is?’ I said ‘Yeah, I think he’s awesome.’ They said, we have this secret project we’re working on and we’d like you to maybe get involved with it in some way," Gunn told Siliconera an interview. Gunn joined the Lollipop Chainsaw team when the game was early in development, way before Juliet Starling even had a name.
"I said OK and I had to sign – video games are like totally different. Movies people kind of trust each other [laughs] they show you projects and people get ripped off or they don’t get ripped off," Gunn disclosed. "Gaming industry is crazy you got to sign all of these forms that you’re not going to tell anybody. I had to sign all of this stuff and they showed me this tiny bit of footage of the character, she didn’t even have a name at this point, the blonde cheerleader cutting up zombies and the rainbows coming out."
That tiny bit of footage convinced Gunn to sign on the project. "I was like, ‘Aw man I’m in! I don’t care I’ll do whatever I need to do.’ I’ve been wanting to play around in the game field anyway. The ability to do something aesthetically so awesome was really exciting to me.
Lollipop Chainsaw has a three-act structure, similar to a film, Gunn explained. He originally was supposed to edit the game’s cutscenes, but his role expanded into creating the game’s script and writing all of Juliet’s dialogue.
"Well, it’s my script," Gunn answered when I asked him how much creative control Grasshopper Manufacture gave him. "I got 100% creative control on anything I could actually control. And what I mean by that is there were certain things already built in the game. When Suda first came to me there were certain sets that were built, certain sets that weren’t built. There were certain sequences which they started to put together, most of them they didn’t. I had a lot of freedom around that."
What was it like working with Suda 51? "Within that, the great thing about making Lollipop Chainsaw was that Suda and I had very similar tastes, very similar things that inspired us, and very similar aesthetics. And those things that were not similar worked together really well," Gunn chimed in. " I was lucky to have people like Scott at Warner Bros. to make sure the humor got through in the final game. There are a lot of Japanese guys that get a lot of the humor, but there are American pop culture references and things like that. It needs to work so everyone gets it."