Producer Michael De Luca has been involved with some of the boldest genre films over the last 21 years. His producing career began on Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3, and from there De Luca has now worked on over 50 different films including Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, In the Mouth of Madness, Dark City, Blade II, Ghost Rider and last year’s Drive Angry 3D just to name a few.
As one of the key figures behind getting the new Fright Night film off the ground for DreamWorks Pictures, De Luca stopped to talk with Dread Central, as well as the other journalists on hand for last year’s set visit to the Hard Rock Hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico, about assembling the creative team at the helm and in front of the camera for the upcoming Fright Night remake, why the decision came through to shoot the film in 3D, and why he feels like the three-dimensional film-going experience won’t be going the way of the dinosaurs any time soon.
De Luca started off his interview discussing how unusually easy it was getting the Fright Night remake off the ground, most of the credit for that going to writer Marti Noxon and her script for the film. “Fright Night got set up, developed and into production on the inside of seven months so this was definitely an unusually fast project for me. Things don’t usually go this fast, but Marti’s pitch and her script were really galvanizing, it’s true. It came really close to everything we were looking for and Steven (Spielberg) loved it. So immediately when that response comes in, all the gates open, the angels come down and the trumpets blare, flowers grow, and we’re all off to the races.”
When it came time to find someone to helm Fright Night 3D, De Luca said it was a case of director Craig Gillespie being in the right place at the right time.
“Craig was in the lobby at DreamWorks and I think he asked Stacy Snyder ‘what do you have that you’re excited about?’ and they started talking about the script for Fright Night,” said De Luca. “Then I had a subsequent conversation with him about the project and he was, for whatever reason of his own, coming off a period in his career where he really wanted to explore darker material. He was very influenced and kind of affected by No Country for Old Men and was talking about this kind of palette and this kind of lighting and this kind of story content. He was just kind of up for something dark or darker, and he also thought Marti’s script was really good.”
Once they had a director secured, De Luca discussed DreamWorks’ approach to assembling the cast for Fright Night- to find established actors outside of the genre that could deftly handle both the dramatic and comedic elements of the film.
“Anton Yelchin is such a great actor and seemed to have gone through a similar transition just in terms of watching his movies; from boy roles to man-boy roles to heroic man roles, he seemed to fit right into our ambition for Charlie. Then there’s Colin who was just coming off of Crazy Heart and just consider all the different character parts he has played in his career. Colin is someone with movie-star charisma who’s got incredible acting chops, and it seemed to be an easy call to think that he could give us a vampire that would distinguish itself from ‘True Blood’ and Twilight.”
“Imogen just blew us away with her audition. She’s got such a fresh face but is also a really good actress that could also deal with the humorous parts of the script in addition to the dramatic stuff. And we also are lucky to have Christopher Mintz-Plasse in Fright Night because the first Evil Ed is so iconoclastic that I thought we needed someone with almost their own brand of performance to plant the flag on that character, and Christopher brings that to the table,” added De Luca.
Even though it seems like almost everything these days is being showing in 3D, De Luca discussed DreamWorks’ decision behind making Fright Night a three-dimensional experience for fans was more about immersing them in Charlie’s fear rather than about bringing delivering action-packed moments filled with explosions and spectacle (think the polar opposite of Transformers: Dark of the Moon).
“On Fright Night, we thought that with some movies you notice the 3D is more friendly with like a steadicam or a static camera because it gives your eyes a chance to adjust. Sometimes with action films, it’s a challenge to keep the kind of frenetic cutting pattern that you want to keep and not give people nausea. You want people to have the time for their eyes to settle and clock the 3D and we thought what could be neat with a horror film in 3D is that you’re kind of in the frame with the people onscreen. So whether you’re tracking down a hallway, even though you feel like you’re moving, you’re actually sitting still in your chair.”
“You have a chance for the 3D to really plant you in the scene. In horror movies, it’s all about dread and anticipation- so if you’re in that corridor on a steadicam shot as you’re moving down the hallway, you really feel like you’re floating into the movie because of the 3D. Then, when you finally get the ‘boo’ pop-out scare moment, we think it can be that much more effective because the 3D plants you in the scene, which we think made us think that 3D might be oddly really well suited for a traditional horror film,” added De Luca.
And even though it seems like audience’s interest in seeing 3D movies might be on somewhat of a decline recently, De Luca seemed optimistic about releasing a 3D horror film in late 2010. “I read all these articles about how the sky is falling on 3D, there’s been too many crappy ones and the audience is dwindling per screen, like return on the investment and all. But I keep thinking there are so many crappy movies every year and people still go to the movies so I keep thinking if it’s good, whether it’s 3D or 2D, it’ll get an audience. And if it’s bad, you know, good 3D won’t save a bad movie and vise-versa. Maybe that’s a naïve way to think but I hope not.”
We’ll find out soon enough if De Luca and DreamWorks’ gamble pays off when Fright Night 3D hits theaters on August 19th. Look for more set visit interviews for the film coming later this week!
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