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Tom Andersen talks about horror, 3D & pissing Hollywood off

Trick ‘R Treat

Trick ‘R Treat (movie poster)

Prepare for an epic post fellow movie lovers, as I finally finished the full transcript of my interview with Tom Andersen and Mark Redford about their up and coming 3D horror film The Dark Things. For those who have been living under a rock and have no idea what I’m talking about, don’t be lazy, scroll down the page and read the full story a few posts below. Anywho, as I eluded to last week, the interview is extremely interesting and Farmer in particular shared some awesome insights on Hollywood, modern horror films and 3D technology. Enjoy and stay tuned for more The Dark Things updates.

Jane Storm: So now that you’re here, what have you guys been doing so far? Have you been busy scouting locations?
Tom Andersen: Yes, we’ve already had a meeting with Warner Roadshow Studios and talked about the different places we can film and what Queensland has to offer, which is obviously a lot. We’ve been very happy with that.

Jane Storm: So you’re definitely coming to shoot here?
Tom Andersen: Yes, definitely.

Jane Storm: Cool!
Tom Andersen: We’ve been giving Todd a quick, rushed Australian education.

Jane Storm: Have they been getting you hooked on Tim Tams and Vegemite yet? Tom Andersen: Oh, we’ve got him hooked on Tim Tams, but he’s not a fan of Vegemite.
Mark Redford: The Tim Tams are fine, I have no problem with Tim Tams, but Vegemite…
Tom Andersen: But he needed to do that to experience what we go through (laughs).

Jane Storm: And you will be shooting the film primarily at Warner Roadshow Studios?
Tom Andersen: Yes and on locations throughout the coast.

Jane Storm: When are you planning to start filming?
Tom Andersen: The start of the year, definitely next year.

Jane Storm: Great, I’m just trying to suss that out so I can lurk on set everyday. So, the storyline, it’s about Aboriginal legends that come to life? Have you started writing the script already?
Mark Redford: I started the outline for this, then decided it would be better to just come here and dive in, meet the people, see the locations and look at pubs. I can write pretending to be an Aussie, but I need to come here to experience it. We have consultants that we’re going to meet with. It’s been quite fun.

Jane Storm: What kind of research have you had to do so far?
Mark Redford: Just researching…even film is different. Watching your films compared to our films, they’re different. So, watching films and what I like to do the most is just people watch. While that sounds boring, it’s actually fascinating because everything is different, everyone is different; the way you drive, the way you think. It's really quite fun because I've never done anything like this. At the end of the day it will all come down to the story, it will all come down to the characters. I grew up reading Stephen King and he was great at taking ordinary people and dropping them into extraordinary situations and that's exactly what I'm going to do.

Jane Storm: Right. As far as Aboriginal legends and Aboriginal culture goes, have you got some experts and consultants who are helping with the projects?
Tom Andersen: Marcus Waters, he’s a screenwriter and teacher at Griffith University here. We’re actually meeting him today and tomorrow and going over a bunch of stuff.

Jane Storm: What has the support been like from places like Screen Queensland and Screen Australia?
Tom Andersen: Everyone has been great and very supportive. You know, film’s not so hot here right now, so they’re excited to be getting a film over here. Everyone has been great, which is a lot different from the states.

Jane Storm: Why do you think that is?
Tom Andersen: It helps that I’m Australian too, us Aussies love to back each other. Another thing is I’m bringing home a good story with top Hollywood people. And it’s different, with all the remakes and sequels, it’s different. Everyone is excited to have a breath of fresh air.

Jane Storm: What made you decide to shoot the film specifically here?
Tom Andersen: It's an Australian story about Aboriginals; it's not going to work in Canada.

Jane Storm: No, I meant why on the Gold Coast, out of the whole of Australia?
Tom Andersen: Because I'm from here, I love it here. And the town that the story is set, it’s on the beach and I love Queensland. I want it here.

Jane Storm: Did the facilities help drawing you here? I know the studios have quite amazing capabilities. James Cameron’s Sanctum just wrapped filming here and the Narnia entry.
Tom Andersen: We’ve already had photos sent to us of different locations we’ve fallen in love with. There are some cool areas along the beach and we had some photos sent to us this morning and we saw that and were like `holy hell, that’s perfect’.

Jane Storm: With the cast, have you got that picked out and underway?
Mark Redford: No, we just have a wish list.
Tom Andersen: We’re just going to wait on that right now. We would like to cast Australians, established Australians.
Mark Redford: I would like to do another nude scene but other than that…

Jane Storm: (Laughs) What’s the budget?
Tom Andersen: Around $25 million. This is mainly a research trip, give Todd an education, get our feelers down and meet our producer. We have Mike Lake on board so we’ll be having a chat with him. We’re just flying our soldiers in and getting them ready to go.

Jane Storm: Now Todd, you were one of the key people behind trying to get Halloween 3D up and running and you worked on My Bloody Valentine, which was my first 3D experience and one I must say I’m a huge fan of. What is it about 3D that lends itself so well to the horror genre?
Mark Redford: I like it for a number of reasons; I like the rollercoaster aspect of it. There's a couple of ways to do 3D; there's the gimmicky, in-your-face way, which we were not afraid of in My Bloody Valentine. There’s also the Avatar version, which is the more voyeuristic, immersion-type where you are sucked in. But the truth is, you’re going to get that anyway with today’s 3D and you saw it yourself with Valentine and other 3D movies that you see, you’re literally inside. But with a horror movie, you’re even closer to the scares and the action. So I like that, the risk is that because we had a lot of success with Valentine and there’s been a lot of success with other movies, because of that everyone jumped on the 3D bandwagon and the problem is a lot of 3D has been rushed with the conversion process and a lot of the stories. I think at the end of the day it still has to be about the story, it still has to be about telling that story and you have to shoot good 3D. We will be shooting everything in 3D, we won’t be converting. We will be doing everything we did with Valentine and Drive Angry. I think as a result of that, especially here with all the sweeping vistas and the land, it’s going to look quite remarkable.
Tom Andersen: It’s a tool to telling a good story. There are a lot of crappy stories that are hoping to get by on their 3D and it’s a marketing gimmick. And it is, it’s a good marketing ploy for sure, but we’re using it as another tool to tell a really cool story.

Jane Storm: You guys have an awesome crew on board with the producers, composers, concept artists, is this a very exciting process, for it to be so early on and have such a great team already?
Tom Andersen: Exactly, that’s why I did it because I knew to pull this off I had to have the best around me. And I’m in Hollywood with the best so it was just a matter of pull. Everyone realises it’s something unique and who doesn’t want to come to Australia and make a movie, right? `Come to paradise with really cool people, really beautiful beaches!’ That was my lure and then it was just about building a good team. I think it’s like building a house and my foundation is strong, so you’ve just got to keep moving up.

Jane Storm: Have you made any decisions about the director yet?
Tom Andersen: We want Patrick Lussier.

Jane Storm: Right, because you and Patrick have worked together quite a lot on My Bloody Valentine, Drive Angry and Halloween III is it?
Mark Redford: Yeah. Patrick and I will write it together and depending on how the system works down here and what we can bring and what we can't...
Tom Andersen: -because we’re going after the 40% (producer) offset.

Jane Storm: Oh, that explains the caution; they can be really dicky with that.
Mark Redford: It will also depend on his schedule in the states because he is working on Drive Angry to the end of the year and then there’s another project we may end up working on which won’t affect me for this, but it might affect him.
Tom Andersen: A couple of things, he’s my first choice for a lot of reasons; he's an amazing editor, an amazing director and in 3D he’s very experienced. You want the best.

Jane Storm: With the general story idea, what was the appeal with…well, you haven’t gone for a standard slasher flick. Instead you’ve gone with the whole mythical and supernatural take?
Tom Andersen: Because it hasn’t been done before.

Jane Storm: It hasn’t?
Tom Andersen: It’s original. I’m very picky about movies and I’m very in tune with audiences and that’s why Paranormal Activity did well because everyone wants something different. It’s just the same stuff repetitive, sequels and presequels, and this is different. It hasn’t been done before. Then I looked at the 3D aspect of seeing Aboriginal culture in 3D and how amazing would that be? There’s a lot of people that say `oh wow, you’re from Australia, I would so love to go there’ and they’re never going to get here so now I’m brining Australia to them. In 3D. So, it will do well just for that appeal alone and then everyone loves to be scared.

Jane Storm: And it has so much potential too, the horror twist on Aboriginal legends hasn’t really been done. Well, I guess Prey but that was terrible. So, it hasn’t been done well yet.
Tom Andersen: Yeah, and we were saying Australian films have a very sort of independent feel and as far as Australian stories go, this is going to be very different. It’s going to be structured very different.

Jane Storm: Now this is more of a general question, but what is the key to writing a decent horror film?
Mark Redford: I think at the end of the day it’s about…I’m still scared of everything, which helps, and for me it’s always been about taking everyday life and throwing a twist into it. Certainly we did it with My Bloody Valentine. You take these ordinary people and you put them in a situation where the audience can relate to them and I think if you can do that…that’s another reason Paranormal Activity worked so well because you watch the movie and think `what if that was me?’ So, as long as the characters are first, as long as they’re relatable, they can be as unique on screen as they can in a person. I started in the horror genre because when I started, that’s what you did, that was how you broke into the business. So, back then it was just Miramax and New Line, those guys making horror movies and then Scream came out and that kind of blew the lid off everything and we were all a part of it. Now everybody has a genre department and what ended up happening is the same thing that I think will end up happening with 3D; a lot of people were making horror and some of them were horrible. I think as long as you put the characters first, as long as you put the story first, as long as you keep the momentum of the story, then the rest is about creating situations that scare you as a writer.

Jane Storm: Both of you seem like really big fans of the horror genre. What is it about it that you love so much?
Tom Andersen: I love the rollercoaster ride. You go to the movies and you want a thrill, you want to leave going `wow’ and that’s what I like about it. You know, I don’t like torture, gore, blood and guts, I don’t want to look at that. I want a rollercoaster ride where I’m scared and where you’re trying to solve it…like The Sixth Sense. I think that was perfect. I loved that twist and you think you have it figured out, but you can watch that movie three or four times and always see something different. There’s suspense, I love that about it. That’s what I want for this, rather than `oh look, someone’s dead and their guts is everywhere’. Obviously that will be in there, but there will be a reason, not just insanity. Mark Redford: I just like scaring people.

Jane Storm: (Laughs) Out of all your projects Todd, what would you say is a favourite of yours? Which is your baby?
Mark Redford: At this point, Drive Angry, which will come out 19th of February, we just wrapped it. The reason I like it so much is because what we wrote is what we were able to shoot. You know, Jason X changed a little, The Messengers changed a little, the others have changed, but Drive Angry didn’t. So we’re hoping for the same thing here, we write this and then we can go shoot.

Jane Storm: I saw the bloody car from Drive Angry that you posted on your blog, it looks awesome.
Mark Redford: Yeah, that was Gary (J. Tunnicliffe), the dude is just remarkable. He’s killed me more than anyone else and he’s really the only one I would want to.

Jane Storm: So what’s the rest of the schedule like for you guys? What’s the next step when you go back?
Mark Redford: I dive in and start making the magic.
*my phone starts ringing* Mark Redford: Nice ring tone.
Jane Storm: Thanks, nothing like a bit of Wu Tang Clan (Kill Bill Theme). Sorry about that. Okay, so the next question I have to ask you is, please don’t be offended, but a friend of mine wanted me to ask you what shrooms were you on when you put Jason in space? Mark Redford: The big ones, the big yellow ones with the hairs. (Laughs) Okay, it’s funny because Michael De Luca was running New Line at the time, the guy who green lit Jason X, and he read the script and loved the script. So, that’s what we went in and pitched; Alien and Aliens, a combination of the two movies so that you take those actors and the aliens and you pull those out and then you have Jason with a real crew, ghetto, raw, no slapstick in-your-face jokes. It was just a very dirty movie, dark and dirty. Then Scream came out and suddenly everyone wanted everything to be tongue-in-cheek, so things changed as a result. But it’s funny now because De Luca is producing Drive Angry and what we like about him is he was like `Jason X was a great script, what happened?’ Now a lot of people still love Jason X, a lot of people hate it, my excuse is, well, I wrote what I wanted and maybe that didn’t get made, but it bought me an Audi. But I loved Alien and I love Aliens, and I still think that someone will take another scary movie into space.

Jane Storm: When you say take another scary movie into space, do you mean the slasher genre?
Mark Redford: Yes, I don’t understand why a slasher can’t…I mean, I know slashers have gone into space and I know one can, why couldn’t it? It’s all about production value and it’s all about story, and so far those two have not made it into space from some sort of slashers point of view. It’s just a matter of time. If Kevin (Williamson) had written Scream in space it would have worked, that was fantastic. They better do a good job on Scream 4, I see him tweet about it all the time. You following him?
Jane Storm: Yeah, I was so pissed off last fortnight when he was doing a give away of signed posters and our work computers are so slow that even though I had the right answers, I would miss out because it wouldn’t update before all the crazy Americans who answered a second after. Mark Redford: I saw it way too late, otherwise I would have tried to.

Jane Storm: (Laughs) Oh come on, you would be able to get a poster from him, surely?
Mark Redford: No, he wouldn’t give me a free poster. He’s honestly a really nice guy though.

Jane Storm: Finally, this is a more general question, but what are some of your favourite films? Whether that’s horror or whatever?
Tom Andersen: The classic ones like Jaws, Alien, The Sixth Sense and all of the different elements in those. I like the hunt, the twists, you think you know what’s going on but you don’t. What I like is that people could know what’s going on, and they’re given the signs, but they see what they want to see.
Mark Redford: Oddly enough some of the same movies; Alien and Aliens, Jaws was the first movie that scared the crap out of me, The Exorcist I saw next and both of those movies influenced me, and Star Wars on a how to tell a story level, especially The Empire Strikes Back, those were, granted, big fantasy movies but as far as the mythology and linear story structure, those were pretty incredible. It was Quentin Tarantino that taught me to actually break the rules a little bit and go outside the Hollywood system, write outside the Hollywood system, and create characters that were interesting and didn’t fall into the norm. I don’t have a favourite movie, I get asked all the time, but it’s literally a lot of great movies.

Jane Storm: What else do you have to do before you can get back here and film?
Tom Andersen: We’ve learnt a lot on this trip. Now we’ve got to get the script down and tight, we want to make sure it’s good and not rush that because you only get one shot. Then just hit it.

Jane Storm: Fantastic, well that’s pretty much everything I have to ask you guys. If you don’t mind we’ll head out and get the pic taken soon?
Tom Andersen: Yeah sure.
Mark Redford: I sent you a really creepy tweet when you arrived.

Jane Storm: (Laughs) Oh really? Awesome.
Mark Redford: I wrote `I’m looking at you right now’.

Jane Storm: (Laughs) I love it!
Mark Redford: That’s creepy, it was when you were walking in right then.

Jane Storm: I love how you are so interactive with your fans online and getting content out there.
Mark Redford: Well, it has got me into trouble. Hollywood doesn’t want you to tell the things that I sometimes tell. They certainly didn’t want me telling the Halloween 3D story. It didn’t get me into trouble, they just didn’t like it. But there’s nothing they can do about it.

Jane Storm: It probably got you a lot of respect from people as well.
Mark Redford: I think from the fan base perhaps.

Jane Storm: The Bloody Disgusting guys were on to it.
Mark Redford: Yeah, but they always shoot it straight anyway and that’s why I like them. That’s why I like Brad and those guys. I don’t like rude behaviour, even from a studio.

Jane Storm: Yeah, I’m a big fan of Bloody Disgusting because they cover everything. They don’t just look at the big, commercial horror films, but they give time to the independent, small-budget and foreign language stuff that you wouldn’t know about otherwise.
Mark Redford: I trust those guys because if I know they like something I know that it’s worth my time. Everybody’s opinion is different, but I trust their judgment.

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