Inspired by the beloved fairy tale, Red Riding Hood is a dark and edgy take on a classic story, that’s full of passion, mystery and danger. Taking things one step further, the DVD/Blu-ray combo pack (due out on June 14th) contains an alternate cut of the film that features an all-new ending not seen in theaters, along with filmmaker and actor commentary, behind the scenes features, casting tapes, rehearsals, deleted scenes, a gag reel and music videos.
During a recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, filmmaker Catherine Hardwicke talked about her decision to do an alternate cut of the film, instead of just including deleted scenes, why she thinks commentary is such a useful learning tool, what she enjoys about the casting process and finding the perfect actor for a role, and the impression that the story of Red Riding Hood made on her, when she first heard it as a child. She also talked about what it means to her to have been a part of something that was emotionally meaningful for people, as the director of Twilight, and how she’s in development on The Bitch Posse,which follows a trio of high school friends into adulthood, as their lives are torn apart by a terrible secret. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
Brought to life by director Catherine Hardwicke, Red Riding Hood tells the story of beautiful young villager Valerie (Amanda Seyfried), who is promised in marriage by her parents (Billy Burke, Virginia Madsen) to one man (Max Irons), but is in love with another (Shiloh Fernandez). Her troubles intensify when the local werewolf rejects its monthly animal sacrifice and kills Valerie’s older sister. When a werewolf hunter (Gary Oldman) tells the villagers that the werewolf is disguised among the villages in human form, Valerie discovers a unique connection to the werewolf. Their connection inexorably draws them together, making her both suspect and bait.
Since filmmakers usually just include deleted scenes in a separate section of the DVD/Blu-ray release, what made you decide to do an alternate cut of the film?
CATHERINE HARDWICKE: Well, it’s really just a few scenes at the end. When you’re in the editing process, you try different things and you get creative ideas, and we came up with two different endings. I like them both, but this one is a bit sexier and a little bit more intense, in a couple of the scenes, so we thought it would be fun to have them both. And then, we do have deleted scenes, also.
What do you enjoy about doing commentary for your films? Do you think it’s important for audiences to understand the work that goes into making a film, especially with something like this?
HARDWICKE: Yeah. I like doing commentary. As a filmmaker and film student, I think it’s really interesting to hear what a director did and how they figured out how to do things. I often like the technical commentaries myself, with the D.P. and stuff. We weren’t able to do a technical one, but you can hear myself and the actors speaking about the whole process of making the film, which can be very fun and interesting. When I talk to film students, I always say, “Buy the DVDs and listen to the commentaries, look at the making of, look at the behind-the-scenes,” because that’s such a great learning tool.
In going back through the film to do the commentary, do things stand out to you that maybe didn’t before?
HARDWICKE: Yeah. It’s interesting for me to do the commentary with the actors because, as a director, you’re so in your own world that you see it from your perspective, your issues and what you were trying to do, and then it’s really very fun to hear their perspective on how it was to do a particular scene or how they felt, and sometimes, I didn’t even know that, at the time. So, I like that. Usually, we have some of those nostalgic moments like, “Oh my god, I can’t believe we survived that day,” because filmmaking is such a wild roller coaster ride. It’s physical, crazy and fun, altogether, with love/hate feelings about the process. Just reliving it is quite interesting, and you sometimes do see things, like different layers or symbols that you didn’t pick up on before.
HARDWICKE: Not really torn because, as a director, when you cut scenes from a movie, you do it with the idea that it is making the story move forward and progress. Sometimes, you don’t realize that something is actually a sidetrack for the story, or it takes the tension out of a scene. Sometimes, a scene goes on too long and, with this being a suspense story and murder mystery that you’re trying to discover through her heightened paranoia, you don’t want scenes that take you on a tangent. Sometimes, you love those scenes, but you know that it’s better not to be in the overall film. So, I’m not sad that they’re not in the main movie, but I do think it’s fun for people to get to watch them, if they want to.
You seem to enjoy the casting process, as much as you do making the actual film. Does it feel like a magical experience to have that moment where you realize that you’ve found the person that’s perfect for the role that you’re casting?
HARDWICKE: Oh, yes! I can go back to my very first movie, Thirteen, and think about that exact moment when I saw Nikki Reed and Evan Rachel Wood do their chemistry read audition together. It just came alive. I was filming it with a video camera and I was like, “I know I can make a good movie now.” And, it was the same thing here. When I saw Amanda [Seyfried] and Shiloh [Fernandez] interacting and their chemistry, I thought, “Okay, that’s pretty sexy. That can be steamy. I feel something between these two characters.” You love those moments, as a filmmaker, or when an actress comes in and reads a small part, like the girl that played the mean girl in the movie. She was just so diabolical that I loved it. You’re like, “Yes!” I never expected it to be that way, but the actress might bring this whole other layer and just give you the chills. Those are exciting moments.
HARDWICKE: Like most people, I first became aware of it when I was a very little kid, like four or five years old. I appreciated it on the level of, “Oh my god, it’s scary!” It’s about going into the dark woods alone, and there’s a big, bad wolf there, which any kid can relate to. “I don’t want to sleep in my bedroom. There’s a big, bad wolf!” You have to get over that fear and be brave enough to go sleep in your bed at night and not worry about the big, bad wolf. That’s one level. And then, as you get older, almost every fairy tale has different layers of meanings, even though they seem so simple, on the surface. When you turn 12 or 13, you’ll notice another thing about Red Riding Hood. You’ll go, “Woah, why was she telling the wolf where she was going and inviting him in? What was she exploring with her dark and sensuous side?” Even in the simplest story, she does not do what her mother tells her. Her mother says, “Go straight to grandmother’s. Don’t step off the path. Don’t talk to strangers.” And then, of course, she does. She’s rebellious. By doing that, she does learn this incredible lesson and survive, but you start picking up all those different layers and symbols. What does the father figure mean? You have to get past the father figure to find your lover. In our story, she actually has to kill the father, symbolically and physically, to be with the man she loves. There are all those different layers, and it’s really fun. When I was just five years old, I loved the scary layer and the symbolical power of the red cloak. I made my mom make me that red cloak, and I had to wear it on Halloween, two years in a row.
Is The Bitch Posse the next project that you’re going to focus on?
HARDWICKE: That is a really fun one. As a director, you’ve got to have quite a few projects going because you never know which one will actually come together with the financing and get the green light. But, the writer and myself and Virginia Madsen have been working on that for the last few days. The writer came out from New York. It’s very interesting. The writer has to sit down now and really roll up her sleeves and do the hard work of putting pen to paper, so I’m not sure how long that will take. I have another project that looks like it’s going to go first. It’s in Sweden and Germany, and it’s really wild. I can’t quite talk about it, but we’ll probably do the announcement in a couple of weeks. It’s a very fun, very crazy story that goes back to more of my Thirteen days. It’s more indie, raw and gritty, and it’s a true story.
As a director, what does it mean to you that you already have this film legacy that includes launching one of the most successful film franchises of all time? Does that inspire you to continue to do work that makes an impact on people?
HARDWICKE: Yeah. As a director, you try to do things that are going to touch the human experience somehow, and emotions that mean something to people. You search for those projects and you hope to realize the potential in a project. We try and sometimes we succeed in a way that’s crazy, beyond our wildest dreams. You just never know what’s going to happen. So many factors are involved. Everybody puts their heart and soul into it. We put our heart and soul into every project. It’s our baby. You can’t really just think, “Oh, I want to make something that is going to appeal to every single person in the world.” You have to just try to make a movie that comes from your heart. For Twilight, I wasn’t thinking it was going to be a crazy success, or anything. It had been rejected by all the major studios. Nobody wanted to make it and they didn’t think it would make any money, but I read the book and I thought, “Wow, I want to capture that feeling of just being crazy in love. I wonder if I can do that in a film.” That was my challenge. I thought, “If I can make you feel what it’s like for that first super-passionate love, other people might like that too,” and, of course, they did.
As more and more female directors prove themselves in Hollywood, do you feel like things have gotten easier, as far as making the projects that you want to make, or is it just always going to be a fight because so much is on the line?
HARDWICKE: I would not say it’s easier at all. Even after I had just done Twilight, which made $400 million at the worldwide box office, I could not get financing for three or four projects that I really loved and I thought people would love because they didn’t fit some studio or investor’s model of thinking, “This will definitely make money.” It’s a business and a film does potentially cost millions of dollars, and they have to think that they’re going to get their money back somehow. Hardly any filmmakers can just make anything they want. Obviously, there are some exceptions, like Steven Spielberg, but he has that mainstream mentality and the kinds of films he loves to make are the kind that appeal to this big, mass audience. If he wanted to make the most crazy little indie film, even he might have trouble. He’d probably have to finance it himself. But, when you step away from the norm, it’s much more challenging. It took 10 years for Mark Wahlberg to get The Fighter made, and he’s a movie star. How long did it take between projects for other big directors to get their movies made? How many years did it take because it was a passion project that didn’t seem mainstream, at the time? It’s always a challenge, but it’s an exciting challenge.