#SDCC16: Lawrence Grey Talks Lights Out; Potential New Project/Sequel - Dread Central
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#SDCC16: Lawrence Grey Talks Lights Out; Potential New Project/Sequel



Lights Out

When you schedule for Comic-Con, you ideally have everything set weeks in advance. This works well for shows you have yet to catch up on or newly launching series. What it doesn’t work so well for are films launching the same weekend. Even as an extra special press person, I still don’t get to screen it until at most a couple weeks beforehand, and in many cases only a few days. I didn’t get to see Lights Out (review) until Monday, but booked today’s interview with producer Lawrence Grey weeks ago. So going into seeing Lights Out, what was at the forefront of my mind was, “Please don’t suck, or this is going to be awkward.

Lo and behold, the film was great. Amazingly soIt’s incredible that a new director working on his first major motion picture was able to pull off such an extraordinarily scary, innovative, and quality project. So naturally, I had a number of questions I wanted to ask Lawrence about the hit he had on his hands. He had a lot to say in our brief time together, so here’s the juiciest bits.

lawrence grey

Right off the bat, my first question was just how exactly Lights Out turned out so well. With a first time director who had previously only worked on short films, you’d expect the studio pushback and control to mess everything up. So I asked, what was it like getting the film together? What was the adjustment like for David Sandberg?

Lawrence Grey: When I first started talking to David [Sandberg] about getting this made, I told him, ‘If you want to get anything done in Hollywood, you’ve got to bring an armored battalion to a knife fight.’ And that’s how we approached this right from the start. So I first approached Eric Heisserer about writing the screenplay, and he was already on board because of the short film Lights Out is based on. From there, I had the confidence to approach James [Wan] and say, ‘Hey, remember 15 years ago when you showed me your short for Saw? Well, we have the next James Wan on our hands.’ He was skeptical at first, but after I got him to watch the short he got very serious and asked, ‘Is he really this good?’ I said, ‘Better.’ So with James on board, we got together the best team that we could to realize this vision.

He continued on to explain what the process was like for Sandberg:

Lawrence: You know, David is a really hands-on, do-it-yourself kind of guy. He’s going from making short films himself in his apartment with his wife to millions of dollars of budget. He’s used to setting up the lighting, the shots, the script, doing the editing, everything except being on camera, which of course Lotta [Losten] did. So when he shows up in Hollywood and I’m showing him around his first set, I’m pointing out the first camera with the first cameraman that union rules dictate he can’t touch, and then point out the audio guy all the way on the other side of the room, it was a bit of a culture shock. He wanted to get down and dirty and do it all himself. When he got all the assets finally and got to put the movie together, he was right in his element.

He went on to elaborate on Sandberg’s journey as a director:

Lawrence: It’s fun to see how far he’s come in such a short time. I just visited him on the site of Annabelle 2, and he was the lord of his domain. He was comfortable getting everyone in line and making sure this vision came to life. I think that this one is going to do much better than the first [Annabelle film]. You look around the set and just see how much this reflects and breathes Wan’s vision of The Conjuring. It makes me really excited to work with him again.

Lights Out

Intrigued, I pushed this point a little more:

Lawrence: I can’t talk about the project at this point, NDA and all of that, but we have an undisclosed project in the works. I’m definitely excited to work with him [David] again in the future.

Trying to get some insight, I asked about the future of the Lights Out franchise:

Lawrence: We put a lot of work into making this world real and interesting. We didn’t have any throw away characters. Whereas most horror films would have a throwaway boyfriend character, Bret was a real, strong person with his own opinions. As for Rebecca, she went from being a selfish, angry person to having to sacrifice to save what was left of her family. Now that these traumatic events have happened, where does that leave them? The decision not to allude to a sequel was a conscious one, but not because there’s nowhere for the story to go. There was originally an epilogue where we saw that Diana was still alive, but decided to take it out because it undermined the climactic finale. Sophie, for love of her family, gives her own life in a very visceral and final manner. She doesn’t want to die, and as a victim of mental illness the whole film takes her life into her own hands in a final and noble way. To then cut to a scene where we find Diana was still alive would just suck all of the emotional weight and impact out of it. I was afraid audiences might find it to be a downer, but we found in test audiences that it was one of their favorite parts of the film.

lights out

I said that this totally hypothetical second Lights Out film would make the perfect undisclosed future project that an NDA would prevent him from talking about. So I asked when we might hear more about this. Here’s what he said:

Lawrence: Well the film opens tomorrow, and already the public reception is through the roof. The success of the film will of course be up to audiences. We really hope fans will go and see Lights Out, and we hope that means we could possibly have more information soon.

My final question was about the future of the industry, James Wan, and David Sandberg:

Lawrence: I have no doubt that David isn’t going to just be regarded as one of the greatest horror directors, but one of the best people working in the industry period. With the establishment of Atomic Monster, James Wan is ready to take over the entertainment world. He has so many ideas that he wants to realize himself, but also a real passion for giving new directors their chance to shine. With what we saw from David, you can expect a lot of great things to come from Atomic Monster in the future.

With that, my time was up, and I had to make my way to my next appointment. With how great Lights Out is, I expect more news about this “I cannot confirm nor deny that it is a sequel” project any day now. Go see Lights Out if you haven’t and check out Annabelle 2 in 2017. Stay tuned for more Comic-Con 2016 coverage!

Lights Out




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