Producers Brad Fuller and Andrew Form Interview – THE UNBORN

     January 8, 2009




Written by Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub




A few weeks ago I posted a few highlights from my roundtable interview with the heads of Platinum Dunes – Producers Brad Fuller and Andrew Form. With “The Unborn” set for release tomorrow at theaters everywhere…I figured you might want to read the rest of our conversation. However, since I’m sure a few of you missed the selected quotes I’ve already posted, below you’ll find the entire conversation unabridged. And in case you’re wondering…they talk about making “The Unborn” and all the other projects Platinum Dunes are working on.


And for those who haven’t heard of “The Unborn”….it’s written and directed by David Goyer (“Blade: Trinity”, “The Invisible”, co writer of “The Dark Knight”). The movie is a supernatural thriller that follows a young woman pulled into a world of nightmares when a demonic spirit haunts her and threatens everyone she loves. Odette Yustman (“Cloverfield”) stars as the woman and Cam Gigandet (Twilight) plays her boyfriend. Here’s the synopsis:



Sometimes the soul of a dead person has been so tainted with evil that it is denied entrance to heaven. It must endlessly wander the borderlands between worlds, desperately searching for a new body to inhabit. And sometimes it actually succeeds.



Casey Beldon (Odette Yustman) hated her mother for leaving her as a child. But when inexplicable things start to happen, Casey begins to understand why she left. Plagued by merciless dreams and a tortured ghost that haunts her waking hours, she must turn to the only spiritual advisor, Sendak (Gary Oldman), who can make it stop. With Sendak’s help, Casey uncovers the source of a family curse dating back to Nazi Germany—a creature with the ability to inhabit anyone or anything that is getting stronger with each possession. With the curse unleashed, her only chance at survival is to shut a doorway from beyond our world that has been pried open by someone who was never born.



As always, you can either read the transcript below or listen to the audio by clicking here. Finally, if you’d like to watch some clips from “The Unborn”, click here.Again, The Unborn” is in theaters tomorrow.




Brad: Hey guys, thanks for having us.



Andrew: Hi guys, what are we doing?



Brad: What are we talking about? What movie?



This film.



Brad: Okay, we’re talking about this one? Okay, good.



It’s very creepy. Wonderful—the acting and everything. I just wanted to ask you because this is like the 3rd or 4th one you’ve done…



Brad: 6th.



Is it the 6th one? My God. What do you think the appeal is that people just love these type of films?



Andrew: Thrill.



Brad: Yeah.



Andrew: What’s that appeal? People want to feel something we believe. You go to the movie theatre and you want to feel. And a genre film makes you feel something and Brad and I love horror films. When we started our company I don’t think we ever thought we would be in the horror business. I mean I know I…



Brad: Specifically.



Andrew: Specifically. Maybe sure if you found the right piece of material that you fall in love with, you make the movie. We started the “Texas Chainsaw” and we loved that idea. We made that film and then we kind of fell into what we’re doing now and we love it. Like last night I was at the screening watching the audience. We were just talking about this and it’s amazing to watch an audience whether it’s comedy or a horror film because when the scare works it’s an amazing feeling and just like in a comedy when the joke works and everyone laughs it’s probably a similar feeling for people who do the comedies. But I think it’s really about feeling and we love the idea of scaring.



What about going to David for this type of material because obviously he has a huge reputation for comics before and sort of paving his way as a director in this genre?



Andrew: We didn’t go to David. I mean, we didn’t know about the material. I mean David wrote the screenplay and we got a phone call because hopefully if a horror spec is out there hopefully someone will call us and let us know and we wouldn’t miss one. But we got the call that David Goyer had written a spec script which we thought was crazy. Like David Goyer wrote a spec? Really? Well, do you guys want to see it? It’s like of course we want to see it. So, they sent over the script and that’s one of those calls you get, you get the script as fast as you can…



Brad: But there’s a funny story because I got the script…usually I do my reading on Saturdays and Drew does his reading on Sundays. So I had read the script and Drew calls me and he says “I’m in a restaurant”….were you in a restaurant or a store?



Andrew: I was at the pet store.



Brad: He was at the pet store and David Goyer was at the pet store. And I had met Goyer before but Drew had never met him. And he said, “Should I go say something to him?” I said “Yeah, the script’s really good. Go tell him. Go say something. Work him”.



Andrew: I saw this guy with all these tattoos. I’d never met Goyer and I said to my wife, “I think that’s David Goyer” and sure I was in line buying dog food and I’m like “I’m reading your script this weekend” and it was pretty funny.



How did he react?



Andrew: He was “oh cool” you know? Like let me know what you think.



Brad: It was cool. Goyer is cool.



Andrew: He’s like “Nice to meet you. Whatever.”



Brad: But when the script came to us Goyer wasn’t directing it so it was purely a writing thing and the writers strike was looming at that point.



Andrew: Days away.



Brad: Days away and as a company we felt like God if we’re going to get this movie going we need to put a director before anything else happens and “Why not David Goyer?” because he wrote it and he knows this material and we went to him and he said “No.” And then we went back and he said “No,” and “No,” and we just wouldn’t take “No,” for an answer. And literally in that one way the strike was helpful to us because I think that as you were getting closer and closer to the strike despite the fact that Goyer is immensely successful, I don’t think he wanted to be idle and I think that he felt that if he was directing the movie that he would be working and no one had any idea how long the strike was going to go at that point. And so in a moment of weakness he said yes.



What was his reluctance to direct?



Brad: He just didn’t want…because I think at the time he was dealing with “Magneto”. I think he thought there was talk about “Magneto”.



Andrew: And “The Invisible Man”.



Brad: And “The Invisible Man” so there were these big huge movies for him to direct and I think he was thinking about those. So the strike helped us get him in my mind. I don’t know what he would say but in our mind it did.



Did you think of Gary Oldman for that role?



Brad: He did.



Andrew: It was David.



And what about Jane Alexander which is incredible casting?



Brad: That was David. Yeah.



Andrew: David thought of both those.



How did he know Jane Alexander?



Andrew: He didn’t know Jane. You put the list together of all the women who would play that role and he said Jane would be amazing and then he was right.



She was amazing.



Andrew: She was amazing to watch when she…that accent. She worked very hard and she did great work.



You guys mentioned that you read scripts on Saturday and Sunday. About how many scripts do you read on a weekend as producers?



Brad: Can I tell you something? A lot less than you would think because the reality of it is, at least, we have not found that people are writing spec horror scripts all the time. That doesn’t really happen. I think that if someone’s going to write a spec script they’re going to look for a big win and they’re going to write an action spec or a comedy spec, so there’s just not horror scripts that are coming in unattached to producers. It seems that for whatever reason the horror scripts are all developed internally and the people go out and make the movies and certainly that’s…



Andrew: Or the remakes.



Brad: Or the remakes which is why we’ve gone to doing remakes or why we started doing remakes is that we really couldn’t find the material we were really looking for, so at least a remake gives us architecture from which to build.



What was it specifically in the script from others that you’ve seen that really makes it stand out?



Brad: Well, for us certainly it begins with the story and if this story is one that…I guess the test we like to try and apply is does the movie work, in our case, without the kills? And if the story is compelling without the kills then it’s something we’re interested in and then once you get past that hurdle, which a lot of scripts you can’t get past that hurdle, but if you do it’s how clever are those kills or the situations the characters find themselves in and will that, as Drew said, illicit an emotional response from the audience while they’re watching it? I think that our goal and the most fun part of the process for us up to the point of release—if it goes well—the most fun part is when you test your movie and you get that DVD of the audience watching your film. We always set a camera up to watch the audience and the most gratifying thing you can get is everyone goes back in their chair at the exact same time and it just looks like a wave, the scare. But the 2nd most gratifying thing is when people start covering their eyes and they’re sitting there covering their eyes and so….



Andrew: We’ve seen someone in an audience see 1 minute of a movie…



Brad: Where they’re hiding the whole time.



Andrew: …of 91 minutes.



Brad: She has no idea but she’s famous to us, this girl.



Andrew: She has no idea but we have her on video camera—even daytime scenes barely looking.



But there’s also a difference between laughing at a film and laughing with it, and I noticed last night people weren’t laughing at it, they were laughing with it which is because you scared them and then they had a reaction and they were embarrassed.



Andrew: We’re very conscious of a bad laugh. We work very hard to remove those because we’ve had them in movies. We’ve tested movies and something we may have thought was really cool…



Brad: Some of you people have interviewed us in one of our movies where there was horrible laughing and it haunts us. I’m not kidding. It’s the worst possible thing that can happen and you work your ass off and you put everything you have into the movie and then you show people and people are laughing where they’re not supposed to be. It’s not like what you’re talking about. It’s where there’s a line that someone says that’s supposed to be so earnest and it just comes out…



Andrew: And the delivery doesn’t work and people don’t buy it and you’re done.



What movie was that?



Andrew: We don’t talk about it.



Brad: The Hitcher. What?



The Friday the 13th footage got a great reaction at Comic-Con. Have you gotten any more feedback since then?



Andrew: Are you kidding me? I mean that movie, honestly is…not talking about “The Unborn” for a moment, if you want to talk about that I’m happy to discuss it. I would say that it is without a doubt the most…we’ve gotten the most feedback on that film out of everything we’ve worked on potentially everything all put together. It is insane. I think we all undervalued how big Jason Voorhees is and how much people love talking about him.



So what are they saying?



Brad: It’s been a really remarkably positive response.



I want to ask you about “Friday” and the test screening process on that. Have you guys tested the film?



Brad: Yes.



Where did you test it?



Andrew: In Long Beach.



Brad: Right.



Was it like a blind screening or…?



Andrew: No. It wasn’t.



And what was the reaction with the audience?



Andrew: It was an amazing thing to watch. Honestly.



Brad: I would say that for us, the two of us, our greatest test screening…our first test screening for “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” was kind of a magical thing. We kind of had no idea what we had and then we’ve been jaded by all the other ones we had and then this “Friday the 13th” test screening came and it took us right back to where we were with “Texas Chainsaw”. It was crazy.



So I have to ask you guys, you’re remaking an iconic character and there’s plans for you to remake another iconic character?



Andrew: Yes.



What’s the status of that project and how has this Jason…how has “Friday” influenced possibly what you might do with Freddy?



Brad: Well, we want to put Freddy in a hockey mask and we don’t know how people feel about that but we’re excited about it. I think that every iconic horror character you have to take on their own and kind of figure out what is appealing about that character and for Jason Voorhees, it’s one thing because for the most part in all the movies….



Andrew: He’s a silent killer.



Brad: Right. So Freddy Krueger is a much more challenging character and that is not something that we just kind of stumble into and say “Hey, let’s just make him!” and go do it.



Andrew: “Put the glove on—let’s go!”



Brad: It’s something that we are treading very lightly on and I can tell you for sure that we don’t’ have the answer yet. That is something that we’re going to work very hard to figure out just how much of the Freddy that you might know from the later movies as opposed to the Freddy from the earlier movies. I mean it’s a balance and we don’t have that answer yet.



What about those rumors that Billy Bob was cast?



Andrew: We have no idea where that came from.



But since that got out there have you had any word from him like maybe a…?



Andrew: No. No. I think that was just a crazy rumor.



Will Robert do a cameo if he’s not doing Freddy? Robert Englund?



Brad: We definitely want him in the film, without a doubt. I mean, I think it would be a travesty if we couldn’t have him in the film.



How far along in the planning process for “Nightmare” are you?



Brad: We’re in the earliest possible…



Andrew: We’re in the beginning.



Okay.



Is there a horror film that just cannot be done again and why do it again? I see that you’re doing “Rosemary’s Baby” and that seems like one.



Andrew: We are not doing “Rosemary’s Baby”.



Brad: No, no. I mean… “Rosemary’s Baby” was announced and it’s like a little bit like we’re taking about with Freddy. We went down that road and we even talked to the best writers in town and it feels like it might not be do-able. We couldn’t’ come up with something where it felt like it was relevant and we could add something to it other than what it was so we’re now not going to be doing that film.



Where is Martin Campbell’s “The Birds”?



Brad: Martin has been working on the script and we’re expecting a script in the next 2-3 weeks, but that’s another one where its not like Drew, Michael and I think that we’re just going to crap all over Alfred Hitchcock’s movie. I mean, Alfred Hitchcock in a company wide opinion is probably the greatest director of what we do and other things too. And as someone, that at least Michael and I studied in college and there’s a reverence for him. So that’s not a movie that we’re just going to step up and just go have birds attacking people and trying to throw that into the box office. If we can’t make that movie unique or add something to it, I don’t think we’re going to make it.



Well, Martin’s good at reinventing things.



Brad: He’s great. I mean, once you get a film-maker like Martin Campbell and you start taking to an actress like Naomi Watts a project can pick up momentum, but they’re not interested in making the same movie that Hitchcock made. And they’re interested in something that moves it along and shows different parts of the story so that’s what’s we’re hopeful that the script will be.



I wanted to know with 3-D and you guys because clearly I think “Final Destination” is going 3-D?



Andrew: Yes.



Brad: Yup.



And clearly 3-D is gaining a lot of momentum. As producers are you already thinking about the format/also IMAX for horror or thrillers?



Andrew: We have. We talked about it for a couple of projects. We don’t have any projects set up that we’re taking about definitely doing 3-D, but Brad and I have gone down and we’ve looked at the cameras. We’ve looked at the tests. We watched the You Too movie which is unbelievable and…



Brad: It presents a challenge for us in that our movies that the budgets of our 2nd movie and our 8th movie are virtually the same. Some production companies keep on wanting…I mean our budgets are the same. 3-D adds some money to your budget that could take us from a place of being very comfortable where we’re making our movie to the place where we might not be as comfortable and…



Andrew: You know “Bloody Valentine” went 3-D.



Brad: It’s a more expensive thing and if we have a story that lends…certainly “The Birds” in 3-D sounds like a very nice way to tell that story. Right. And so by the way, Drew and I went with Martin Campbell and we went and looked at the You Too film with him and we’re all doing our due diligence, we just haven’t been willing to commit yet.



You have a partner who’s at the forefront of technology. The guy’s a mad-man. With all respect I love his work. How is he as a partner maybe pushing the boundary, like trying to help push the technology into the movies?



Brad: You know what’s interesting is that we’ve never talked to him about 3-D in a real way. Have we?



Andrew: No.



Brad: Michael pushes….



Andrew: Some IMAX on Transformers 2.



Brad: Yeah, yeah. There’s definitely that. For Bay to get excited about it, it has to transcend being a gimmick and be a way to enhance the story. And I don’t know that we can convince him of that as of yet with what’s come out in 3-D yet. I don’t know. We didn’t see “Journey to the Center of the Earth” . We saw the You Too movie but beyond that, for Michael it’s about what makes the best movie that the most people can enjoy and I don’t know if he feels that 3-D fits into that. I don’t know.



Can I get back to “the Unborn”?



Brad: Yes, please. Let’s do that. That’s a good idea.



Andrew: Is that this junket?



A casual viewer of yours is going to see this movie’s description and think Jewish “Exorcist”. Is that…



Andrew: Shalom.



Brad: That’s what we went for.



Is that kind of the hook of it that caught you or what was it specifically about this thing that caught you?



Brad: I think it’s more a story about karma from generations coming back and biting you in the ass. I don’t know necessarily that Judaism was what got us interested in the movie. We are pleased to have the first movie in this millennium that has a shofar.



I think that should be your poster.



Brad: Listen, in other round-tables people have said there’s imagery here that we might have seen before and I think that’s true of a lot of films. You borrow from other films but the thing that is unique about this film is it’s rooted in the origin or one of the origins of evil and what happened at Auschwitz. And I thought that when David kind of came up with that, that was a really interesting thing that I’d never seen in a movie before. It just kind of made sense to us that that’s where some really horrible things not only happened but could have happened and you could believe it. So that’s what we kind of liked about it. Make it feel fresh. But I hope people aren’t calling it the Jewish Exorcist. (laughter) That would be horrible. And please don’t print that.



Do you have any trouble with the censors regarding violence in either this or “Friday the 13th”?



Brad: Yes, they love us. But you know what? I think, as a company, we try and push things for this level. Actually strangely enough on “Friday the 13th” we did not have a problem, right? I mean we were…



Is that R-rated though?



Andrew: Oh it’s very R-rated.



Brad: No, no I have problems with most of our movies with R’s we…



Andrew: We’ve had to cut back a few times.



Brad: This PG-13 was a challenge to get. We went back a number of times to get it and David was very cooperative and ultimately the ratings board was.



What did you put in that you knew you wanted to cut out in order to get the rating?



Brad: We always knew the hand going in the stomach was never going to be in the movie the way that it was when he shot it.



That being said, what’s going to be on the DVD that fans can look forward to?



Brad: There’s a radical sex scene where both kids are (inaudible—laughter). We haven’t dealt with it yet. Honestly. But it’s what you would think.



Are you envisioning unrated cut?



Andrew: Oh there’s definitely an unrated cut.



Brad: Oh yeah.



Andrew: You’ve seen the film. You see where it’s cutting. Everything goes. I mean, it’s not like we all cut shooting at that moment.



Brad: Yeah, we’ve got the footage.



Andrew: Yeah, the footage is there that goes way past that.



Like what for instance?



Brad: Both of them are there. We’ve got both of them.

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