In anticipation of the December 22, 2009 DVD and Blu-ray release of Extract, recently, I was fortunate enough to participate in a virtual roundtable with writer/director Mike Judge. He answered questions on a wide range of topics, including the differences in his approach to live action versus animation, whether he would consider doing a sequel to Office Space and of course, a myriad of questions about Extract.

Mike JudgeQ: How different in approach is your storytelling when it comes to animation and live action? Do you bank ideas that were too cinematic when you were working on HILL and GOODE FAMILY and save them for your feature work?

Mike Judge: Actually they are pretty similar approaches. And you can actually get pretty cinematic in TV animation I think, as The Simpsons has done. I think I never got too cinematic with King of the Hill just because of the nature of the show and the characters, not really because it was animated.

Q: Animation or live action – which do you prefer, and why?

Mike Judge: I think they’re more similar than you might think from the point of a writer/director. I liked animation when I was just doing short films myself — doing everything myself. That was really satisfying work — making a film one frame at a time, getting it back from the lab and watching it for the first time. That was about as good as it gets I think.

Q: Would you ever consider doing a sequel to Office Space?

Mike Judge: I kind of feel like this movie is sort of a follow up to Office Space. I based Office Space on my own experiences working in the cubicle world, and I based a lot of this on my experience being a boss and running what was basically an animation factory on Beavis and Butt-Head. I think when you go from complaining about the man keeping you down, to becoming the man, you realize that being the man is no picnic either. At one point a while back I considered doing a sequel to Office Space, but I wouldn’t do one now. Since that movie came out there have been two great TV shows — the British Office and the American one — and dozens of commercials set in cubicles, so I kind of feel like I wouldn’t want to go back to it at this point.

Q: Did you always have Jason Bateman in mind for the lead role [in Extract]?

Mike Judge: I started writing this a long time ago — I think it was shortly after Office Space came out. I originally wasn’t thinking of any actor in particular, just writing it. Jason had done King of the Hill and I always liked him, but when I saw him in Arrested Development, I thought he would be perfect for this, and when I rewrote it and finished it, I was imagining him as the lead. It’s a similar character to what he did in AD, but I think Joel is a little less slick or something. Jason was the first actor I gave the script to and he said he liked it and wanted to do it, so it was him from the get go.

Q: What were the challenges of filming in a fully functional working factory?

Mike Judge
: Because we were on a tight budget, we had to shoot a lot of stuff while they were still working — they were really bottling. A lot of the background that you see in the movie is actually real people working — not extras. It was loud enough in there that they couldn’t hear us yelling “action” and “cut” and they just kind of got used to us being there, so I got some pretty natural acting in the background because they weren’t acting like they were working; they were really working.

Q: Was it your idea to cast rocker Gene Simmons as bench lawyer Joe Adler?
Mike Judge: Yeah, I had originally described the character as looking like Gene Simmons with a ponytail and a suit and tie. I was kind of naive though, in that I thought no one would recognize him without the Kiss makeup on. I didn’t realize how huge the reality show was. The only time I had ever seen him without the makeup was on Politically Incorrect about 9 years ago and thought he would be great playing an agent or high-powered attorney.