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Clint chats to Bloody Patrick Lussier!

If your only memories of 3D cinema are those god-awful amusement park shorts, or for that matter, the ruse that was Freddy’s Dead (there was, what, 3 minutes of actual 3D footage in that!?), then it’s time to revisit the format. These days, there’s no need for those ear-raping blue-and-red glasses (there’s niftier glasses now!) and filmmakers can do much more than just poke you (that is not a Roman Polanski dig, I swear) in the eye with a long object. Director Patrick Lussier invites you to experience the third-dimension like you’ve never seen it before (but will undoubtedly experience again soon – thanks to Jeffrey Katzenberg, and James Cameron) with the slaughtery sweetness of My Bloody Valentine 3D.

Lussier, a former editor for Wes Craven (Lussier worked with the horror-meister on such films as Scream and Red Eye) whose since gone on to direct films like Dracula 2 : The Ascension and White Noise : The Light, tells CLINT MORRIS that mastering the 3D process for his remake of the Canadian horror classic was harder than giving a stray cat a bath.

Pat, When and How did you get involved in the project?

Lionsgate and Mike Paseornek approached me while I was working on another project for them.  I think I happened to walk into the office the day they got the remake rights which was really lucky.  Mike and I had circled a project or two together and suddenly My Bloody Valentine was the winner.

But these horror remakes of recent times have exactly wowed audiences over. Were you at all wary?

I think there are some great remakes and some bad ones as there are great films and bad ones. Three of the greatest horror films of all time are remakes:  John Carpenter’s The Thing, Phillip Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Cronenberg’s The Fly.  In remaking My Bloody Valentine, Lionsgate was really clear about the elements of the original – keep the mine, the miner and the setting.  We all wanted to keep the love triangle, and the fact that the characters weren’t teenagers but rather adults with lives, people who were dug in with something to lose.  And Todd Farmer and I really wanted to keep the mystery, an element that had not only worked in the original My Bloody Valentine but that was a staple of so many slasher films of the ’80s, from the original Prom Night, to The Prowler and Terror Train and was also a huge component of the Scream deconstruction of the genre in the ’90s.  Todd and I did a lot of research about what fans of the original like best and made a list of elements we should and shouldn’t pay homage to and how to incorporate that into our retelling.

The 3D element really makes the movie. When do you decide this would be the way to go?

Lionsgate started talking about possibly doing the film when I came on board in the early fall of 2007.  But it still wasn’t decided either way at Christmas.  And in January it seemed more and more likely that it would be a smart way for us to go.  Jack Murray, the producer, and Director Photography Brian Pearson and myself met with the three major 3D vendors in LA and it was very clear that ParadiseFX were going to be the best partners for this film.  But it was the 3D test we shot with them in early February that clinched the deal.  That made it incredibly clear that not only was 3D going to be amazing, but that 3D was actually perfect for the story and setting of My Bloody Valentine.  So from that, we became MBV3D.

And how long did it take to perfect the 3D process for that super-abbreviated MVV3D?

We did that one test with a HUGE old 3D rig.  But knowing that we were only going to shoot on stage for a tiny fraction of our shoot, Brian Pearson worked with Max Penner (our 3D stereographer) and ParadiseFX to build a new, leaner, more powerful camera rig.  That rig was amazing and made our lives so much better.  It was finished the day before we started the main shoot on May 8th.  We tested it on day one of photography on May 9th.  And luckily for all of us, it worked beautifully.  Everyday we worked with the 3D we learned more and more about it and go more aggressive and specific with how we utilized it as a storytelling tool.   We deliberately started the shoot with some dialog heavy scenes so that by the time we hit the big suspense/action sequences we were well versed in 3D and knew how to maximize it for our story.

Guess it goes without saying you were you working with a bigger budget here than say you were on White Noise 2?

Slightly bigger budget than White Noise 2, but the bulk of the ‘bigger’ part was sunk into the 3D technology.  So it probably comes out to something very similar.

Tell me about your cast – were they all your first choices?

Jaime King auditioned for Sarah Palmer on the first day of auditions, before we even had a finished script.  But we could all see how she instantly got the character and how passionate she was about being part of the film.  Even though we still auditioned others, they were all held up against Jaime and before long the studio was ready to agree that she was our first and best choice.  Kerr Smith auditioned first for Axel, then for Tom.  He did an amazing job at both but there was such a cool, conflicted tension to his Axel that he very quickly become how both Todd and I saw the character.  Todd  and I would watch the auditions over and over as we were working the script and certain actors, Jaime and Kerr especially, would begin to alter the script was written because of their auditions.  That’s pretty much a clincher that you’ve got the right actor in mind for the part.

And Jensen? Who I think is the one of the coolest young actors working today…

Jensen Ackles we had talked about early but at the time we were supposed to start shooting too early and he wouldn’t have been off Supernatural.  But thanks to the fact that we were going to be waiting on that 3D camera to be built we ended up pushing and suddenly Jensen was back in the running for Tom.  I had great conversation with him while scouting (he was on the set of Supernatural at the time) and knew he’d be the perfect Tom Hanniger.  Jensen has such an incredible physicality to him and such great filmmaking savvy.  He was essential in getting the movie done and made our lives easier every time he was on set.

Edi Gathegi auditioned for us and was instantly perfect – we started retooling Deputy Martin based on his audition.  Megan Boone auditioned along with countless other Megans. This is her first movie and it took a little to convince the studio – but once they saw her in dailies they instantly were thrilled that she was in the film and knew she was perfect.  Betsy Rue WAS Irene – her audition was hysterical.  From the moment Todd and I watched it we knew we’d found her.  She was THE one.  She has such a kinetic spark and is utterly fearless (and utterly naked in the movie).  To play Frank the Trucker, Irene’s combatant in the film, both sexually and otherwise, I wanted someone who was gonna be cool with the nudity and someone who would make the scene all about Betsy.  Someone who had done prosthetic work before and someone who would play it more as an amusing dick instead of a miserable asshole.  I didn’t tell Todd, but he was the only one I thought of for the part.  I  asked Todd sheepishly if he’d play Frank and he was a little taken aback… asked his wife Melanie who was probably a little more taken aback, or at least I thought she would be.  Turns out she was very cool with it.

And power to you for bringing some cinema greats back, too. Kevin Tighe, for starters..

Kevin Tighe was suggested by Nancy Nayor and I’d loved Kevin from Matewan and his recent stint on Lost.  He and I spoke and he had such a great take on the character of Ben.

And finally we’ve got the amazing Tom Atkins.  I LOVE Tom Atkins.  Not ashamed to say it.  Tom is brilliant and one of the best humans I know.  I’m proud to call him friend and honoured to have him in the film.  He lives in Pittsburgh, where we shot the film, something I didn’t realize when were prepping.  But a good friend of mine, Tom Piccirilli, the novelest, knew Mr. Atkins and urged me to put him in the film.  It didn’t take much urging because the second I found out I got hold of Tom Atkins and met him for coffee. We hit it off like we’d been friends for years.  Immediately we offered him the part of Sheriff Burke, then beefed up the part because we had Tom playing the role!

The kills are another star of the film. Tell me, what are they using for blood these days? Is it still corn syrup?

Gary Tunnicliffe’s Secret Recipe.  If he told me he’d have to kill  me.  So all I know is that it looks awesome and smells like a pancake house in hell.

I think I’ve been to that restaurant. Have you had any contact or feedback from anyone involved in the original My Bloody Valentine?

Actually no.  We were so barelling ahead on MBV3D that I had no contact with anyone from the original. I do that Mike Paseornek was in contact with the original producers throughout and from Mike I learned they were very excited about the resurrection of The Miner, the great slasher villain they had created so long ago.

One of your next films is, well, the one that I’m producing with you – Condition Dead. We’ve discussed recently adding some kind of 3D element to it.

Condition Dead would be a perfect 3D movie.

Tell the audience a little bit about it..

It’s an aggressive gritty zombie movie with the tagline:  When the Dead Rise… Leave it to the professionals.  The story centres on a team that polices ‘outbreaks’ of a certain kind all over the world.  But this time, the outbreak proves to be different than expected.  It’s a great script by Dave Davis and would be a blast to make and even more fun to watch.

And I suspect we will be seeing a Bloody Valentine sequel after those impressive figures at the U.S box office. Have you got any ideas for one yet?

Todd and I have a great concept for the continuing adventures of those who might survive.  But we’ll have to stay tuned and see if we’re lucky enough to make that.

MY BLOODY VALENTINE commences in Australia cinemas Feb 12

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