Director Silberling (Lemony Snicket's) allowed his actors - Ferrell, Danny McBride, Anna Friel, and Jorma Taccone - plenty of opportunity to put their own spin on scenes, encouraging improv and letting the cameras roll as Ferrell and company came up with alternate lines. "I’ve known Brad in passing for a long time, in fact I did this movie The Suburbans with Amy Brenneman, his wife, a long time ago, and it was really fun to get to know him on a professional level and get to work with him," said Ferrell. "I’ve been a fan of his work and when we were meeting with potential directors, he immediately set himself above everyone in a way, just because he was like, ‘You know, whether you hire me or not you should use these two stages on the Universal (lot) because they are the biggest.' He had so much knowledge about how to shoot this film, and he was so willing to... 'If I don’t get the job, that’s fine, but here are the things you should probably do to make sure you do it the right way.' We were so impressed by just how he had the whole thing laid out, because we were kind of looking at maybe some more comedy guys who didn’t necessarily have a handle on a movie of this scope. And in the end I think we made the best decision, because Brad obviously was okay with anything we wanted to throw in comedically. He’s got, I think, a better sense of humor than he gets credit for, for the types of movies he’s done, so it was a great marriage actually. Plus, he was able to attract someone like Dion Beebe and Bo Welch to do the production, so he put together this team of amazing people that I think another director might not have been able to do."
Check out an episode of TV's Land of the Lost now and 'campy' is probably the first word that'll spring to mind. Ferrell says they didn't want to make the effects in the film deliberately bad to match the source material, but there were a few things he knew they didn't want to change in the transition from the small screen to the big screen. "We knew the Sleestaks would be slow. We would maintain that, but for the most part the decision was made early on to make the effects part be updated and a cool thing as opposed to a kitschy thing."
But they did alter the dynamic between the three main characters. In the show, Ferrell's character is accompanied into the lost world by his two children. In the film, the kids have been replaced by two adults (played by McBride and Friel). "For whatever reason we just thought it would give us a better platform for the comedy, instead of having my character saddled with these two kids," explained Ferrell. "It just seemed like it was more opportunity to have – Will, the character that Danny brought to life, and to have like a little bit of a potential of a love interest, and that sort of thing, we thought we’d mix it up."
And having the film focus on three adults changed how the Chaka character, the strange monkey thing played by Jorma Taccone, interacted with these lost humans. Chaka grabs Holly's breast in the film, something that would never have happened in the old TV series. "That was always in the script that he was kind of quickly figured out that, 'Oh, is this the way you communicate with women, by grabbing their breasts?' He’s kind of sly and a little touchy feel-ly. No, we just thought from the TV show, not that it’s really a reference for the majority of the audience probably, but we just thought that would be a funny place for Chaka to go," said Ferrell. "But then Jorma did such a great job. When I first meet him and he steals my wallet, he kind of came up with a lot of like – just started touching me everywhere he could. He was kind of adding all that too, and it was really funny to play off of. Like Rick thinking, ‘Oh, he’s just saying hello,’ and not really knowing what is this guy doing. So, yeah, some of that was added by Jorma."
An added bonus of switching the characters to adults was being able to work with Danny McBride. Ferrell's production company snatched up McBride's The Foot Fist Way and launched McBride's career. Now the two are friends and have worked together on the HBO series Eastbound and Down which McBride writes, produces, and stars in. "It definitely made it so much more comfortable for sure," said Ferrell of working with McBride on Eastbound prior to taking on Land of the Lost. "I think we had already had the talks with them as producers about Eastbound before Land of the Lost, before Danny got cast, so that was already, oddly enough, in the works. And yeah, obviously having spent three, four months together, it made it great just to show up in North Carolina and we got to play around. Danny, Jody [Hill] and Ben [Best] and the crew they had were just a bunch of funny, smart guys. It was great to go down there and see them because they employed a lot of the guys they’d worked with at the School of the Arts in North Carolina, so a lot of their crew and everyone else, it was a real family affair. And I think it shows in the series."
Land of the Lost is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and for language including a drug reference, and Ferrell admits the younger audience won't get some of the jokes. "We obviously didn’t want it to be kind of a Disney film. In a way, we wanted the humor to be cool and kind of pushing that PG-13, or fulfilling that PG-13 thing. But kids are pretty sophisticated. I’m going to say I think this movie’s appropriate for six years and above."