If you’ve been reading Collider for awhile, you know last June I got to visit the set of director Samuel Bayer’s A Nightmare on Elm Street while the production was filming in Chicago. I was invited – along with a few other online journalists – to watch a night of filming and also participate in roundtables interviews with Jackie Earle Haley, and producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller. With the film getting released on April 30, Warner Bros. has released us from our embargo, and I can now post my complete set report.
Since I always like to give options, I’m providing two ways to get the info. The first is by reading about it…and the other is by watching a video blog I did with Peter from Slashfilm. Since Peter went on a different day, we have different takes on what it was like to go to set. Hit the jump for more:
Before going any further, I want to make sure you’ve seen the teaser trailer. So watch this:
As most of you know, A Nightmare on Elm Street is about a disfigured killer who goes after people when they’re sleeping. As you saw in the trailer, Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley) was chased by a group of angry parents and burned to death in a warehouse. They chased him because he possibly did things he shouldn’t have with some children. Years later, Freddy reappears and he’s after a group of teenagers when they’re sleeping. As long as they stay awake they’re safe…but how long can you go without sleep? The movie stars Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Kellan Lutz, Thomas Dekker, Rooney Mara and Katie Cassidy.
If you’re just interested in watching my video blog with Peter…here’s what you need to know. While we both got to visit the set of A Nightmare on Elm Street, I went a few weeks earlier and what I got to see was completely different. I went to a night shoot and got to see Freddy chase a girl through a tunnel. Peter went to a day shoot and saw Freddy do some unzipping (watch the blog to understand). Also, while I only got to speak with Jackie Earle Haley and Platinum Dunes producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller, Peter got to talk to most of the cast.
And that’s why we really wanted to do this video blog. Since we both saw different things, we figured our audiences would enjoy hearing about it. Also, I always think it’s better to hear about a set visit rather than read it. The only thing to know is…we had a minor tech issue and while the sound is perfect, the sync is a little off. I recommend just listening:
Hopefully you enjoyed the video blog. I think we’ll get better as we do more of them.
Anyway, if you’re still here it’s because you want to read about the set visit. Here we go.
Our set visit started after a group dinner at our hotel. After getting to meet the other journalists in attendance and sharing a great meal, we made our way to a bus and voyaged outside of the city to where they were filming.
When we arrived we found out it was day 27 of 46 and they were filming at Chicago Studio City. As we walked into the studio, we were taken on a tour and got to see a few of the practical sets. The one that was most impressive was the burnt out classroom set. Thankfully, I’ve grabbed a screen grab from the teaser trailer so you can get a good look at it. In the film, there will be a scene of Freddy teaching in the classroom (must be a dream sequence) and at some point the room gets flooded.
We were also taken into what was called Freddy’s cave and we saw candles all around the room for light. Looked cool. From there we walked over to some fake tunnels that were build for some filming they were going to do later. What was interesting about the tunnels is they were about 4 feet up in the air. You forget when they are filming a movie they can put a tunnel anywhere, so it doesn’t have to be on the ground.
After a little while, we were led to a room to do an interview with producers Andrew Form and Bradley Fuller. We spent about an hour talking with them about why they wanted to make the movie, how hard was it to get the rights to the franchise, and what they have coming up. While some on set interviews are rushed, this was one of those great extended interviews that only happens once in awhile. Click here to read it.
From our interview with the producers, we made our way to the make-up trailer and got to do something awesome: we saw Jackie Earle Haley getting made up as Freddy! Since the room was small we went in a few at a time, but we got to talk with Jackie and Andy Clement – who was doing the make-up. Here’s our brief conversation:
Andy Clement: We’ve gotten it down to three hours and twenty. Every day we shave a couple minutes off of it. Started at six hours. We were working it all out, we didn’t have the coloring, all of our choices done, so it was just seeing what it was all about.
Q (to Jackie Earle Haley): Do you ever have the temptation of just wanting to run around outside the neighborhood? In the make-up?
Haley: No… There’s a strong temptation to just rip it off my face though.
Q: Were you warned before you took the job that it might be, you know, a little uncomfortable?
Haley: It’s kind of obvious.
Andrew: I was going to print out some -we’ve been burning so fast that we don’t really – we’ve been doing daily continuities, we’ve been taking them but we haven’t been printing them out. I was hoping to have them up for you guys, but… It’s looking pretty nice.
Q: There have been so many effects artists that have worked on the franchise; did you work on any of the sequels?
Andrew: I never did. By the time I was out in L.A. and had my own shop, the franchise was sort of waning. It went from Kevin Yagher, and then it went back to David Miller for a while. But now this is just a great opportunity… Bart’s worked – Bart’s my key here.
Bart Mixon: I worked on the worst one… Which one would that be?
Q: Freddy’s Dead?
Bart: Say it out loud. Part 2… I worked on 2 and 4. The only merit to part 2 is that they kept Robert Englund. They almost didn’t use him. How many people know that? That they came real close to not bringing him back? That was ridiculous.
Q: Andrew, how many different designs did you go through before you settled on the one you’re creating right now?
Andrew: Honestly, countless. We spent months in the design phase. There were three of us doing all these designs, and we just went through all these iterations, and Sam sat with us and we went through books and we started to try and figure out what it was, and there was a whole long process of just throwing out these… just spit-balling everything that it could possibly be, and just finally honing it down. As we’re finalizing the sculpture, the design is still changing. I have a hard-drive full of hundreds of iterations of different things. And then it became a thing of, you know, doing twenty different eye designs, twenty different this and that. Just seeing how well these things might come together; can you plug this eye into that design… It just wound up being a huge, huge thing.
Q: Was there an inclination to go back to the “meatball” look that everybody is so familiar with?
Andrew: I came in with a really open mind, so I didn’t know what it was going to be like. I didn’t know if somebody was going to ask me to do a portrait, I didn’t know if somebody was going to ask me to do the same old stuff. So I didn’t really know what it was going to be. When we really started seriously talking about it, one thing everybody really wanted to step away from was the whole stretchy skin all over the place, which just thrilled me. There’s so much more opportunity for this; I’m just very happy.
As you might imagine, this was kind of awesome. After all, how many people get to see this up close.
From there we voyaged to the art department and got to see photos of all the various sets and locations they were going to film at for the movie. Like every production, you can learn almost everything in the art department. Here’s the list of locations I wrote down: Nancy’s house, Freddy’s cave, Freddie’s tunnel, cemetery (Bluff city 1889), funeral home, Deans house, Elm Street, High School, boiler room, pre-school, Marcus room, Police Station, hospital, abandoned factory grounds, Jesse’s bedroom, jail cell, bookstore. We were told the movie doesn’t have many locations, and based on the list, they’re not lying. I started to wonder how long the movie was going to be….
After the art department, we went back to our interview room and got to speak with the man who designed the new Freddy glove, William Dambra. He told us the back-story of how he came up with the design, all the challenges of making the glove, and how they built 4 practical working gloves for the movie. While I didn’t transcribe the interview, if you’d like to hear it, click here.
Then came the best part of the night…he passed around the actual Freddy prop with the very sharp knives and let all the visiting journalists try it on. Again, one of the best moments of the night.
It was around this point that we learned an interesting Easter Egg in the reboot of A Nightmare on Elm Street. We were told the jersey Katie wears in the film has the number 10 on it. That’s the same that Johnny Depp wore in the first film.
After our geekgasm holding the Freddy prop, we made our way to the craft service truck and ate some food. Soon after, we were back at the tunnel set from earlier in the night.
Like I said when I posted my preview piece last July, when we got back to the set everyone was having a good time. We were laughing and chatting with producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller when the room went silent. To our right, we see Jackie Earle Haley in full Freddy make-up walking in to film the scene. He looked like a burn victim and there was no doubt he’s going to look awesome on screen.
The thing to know about Jackie Earle Haley and when he’s in make-up is…since it takes him so long to get ready to film, once he’s there, no one is screwing around. Also, the make-up he’s forced to wear is extremely uncomfortable, and I’m sure his temper gets thin, so I got the vibe everyone is extremely professional and trying to make his job as easy as possible.
Once filming began, we saw Katie climb into the tunnel and then we watched Jackie try and chase her. The first take they realized the tunnel was too tight and his hat came off. The second take they tried again, but only made Jackie go in the beginning of the tunnel. We got to see a number of additional takes, and the final result will probably look fantastic.
A little while later, we went back to our interview room and we got to speak with Jackie Earle Haley. The thing that was amazing about the interview was Haley spoke to us while in full make-up, so it was awesome to get to talk to him literally as Freddy. What was also interesting is where we did the interview was right by the exit door and it was made of glass. At this point in the production last June, no one had seen a clear image of Freddy, and everyone was nervous with Haley sitting by the door that some photographer would land a picture. Needless to say, it didn’t happen.
If you’d like to read or listen to the interview with Jackie Earle Haley, click here.
After speaking with Haley, we were told to hang in the room for a little while as they didn’t want us watching whatever they were filming. While we were told it was only going to be a little bit of time, it turned into a few hours. After that, we all got back onto the bus and went back to the hotel for some much needed sleep. After all, it was the middle of the night.
A Nightmare on Elm Street is going to be dark and scary. This isn’t going to be another comedic sequel using the Freddy character. Not at all. Instead, Platinum Dunes and director Samuel Bayer are aiming to return Freddy to what he originally started out being: someone you are scared of.
While I’ve only seen the footage in the teaser trailer, the stuff on set looked very cool and everyone seemed to be working towards making a kick-ass movie. With an April 30th release date, Freddy will be back in your dreams soon enough. It should be a fun ride.
For more A Nightmare on Elm Street coverage: