“They killed my daughter. They kidnapped her baby. I am going to get her back.”
Patrick Lussier is a name you’ll be hearing a lot more of in the future. Jedi-trained by horror master Wes Craven in the ways of fright flicks (Lussier edited several of Craven’s films, including “Scream” and “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare”), the gifted apprentice has since gone on to write and direct some of the genre’s most applauded efforts, including last year’s “My Bloody Valentine 3D”.
Lussier’s next film is “Drive Angry”, a high-octane, blood-spattered road trip through hell about a vengeful father (played by Nicolas Cage) who escapes from hell to hunt down the people who brutally killed his daughter and kidnapped her baby.
Moviehole had the chance to chat to Lussier at this past weekend’s San Diego Comic Con.
What inspired you when creating this story?
When we created “Drive Angry”, Todd Farmer and I were very specific with the kind of movie we wanted to make. We loved these 70s road movies which actually started in 67 with “Bullet” and go up through “Vanishing Point” and “French Connection” and “The Seven-Ups” and then also “Dirty Larry, Crazy Mary”, you know it was such an interesting time of film making and the anti-heroes that are in these movies, particularly “High Plains Drifter”, which isn’t a car movie, that was something we also wanted to fold into the story and that gave us the supernatural element and the sort of relentless force of nature that the main character would become. That and coming up with the idea on “Groundhog Day” and talking about Bill Murray, “Don’t drive angry” as he says to Punxsutawney Phil and then embracing the “drive angry” portion of that phrase and going from there.
You mentioned you co-wrote with Todd Farmer, you wrote with him on ”My Bloody Valentine” as well?
Yes, Todd and I go way back, we’ve been friends for almost ten years, we get along, we’re very different, we have an amazing partnership and then best friends, he’s an amazing guy and he was on set with us every day and he was in “Drive Angry” like he was in Valentine and I couldn’t ask for a better partner. I’m so lucky to be working with Todd.
You’ve filmed this in 3D, it was 3D from the concept stage?
From conception, from the very first conversations we had sitting in the computer room in my house we were like hmmm, yeah, should be 3D, want to make a 3D movie, and it’s a car movie, yeah, from the get-go it’s a 3D movie.
What are the things you need to consider, especially from the conception stages when you’re approaching a 3D movie?
A lot of it is environment, you know so much of 3D is immersion and environmental and how are you going to enter those environments and how are you going to bring the audience in, so there’s a lot of things we think about. One of the things that worked so well in Valentine was the claustrophobia nature but you know, when you’re driving out in cars nine million miles an hour down the road there isn’t necessarily a lot of claustrophobia to be had so there were a lot of intercuts between that and then somebody inside an RV that was very tight and compact so you could feel the space and feel the confines in 3D and then yet still see outside the windows and the dimensionality of that . So they were things we wanted to incorporate and as we were working on the film we found different venues and environments in location scouting that were 3D friendly, that had different 3D dimensional lines. We found this amazing location, our Production Designer Nathan Amondson found this amazing location for one of the set pieces in the film which was a hotel in Shreveport, Bossier City and it was obviously from the 50s or whatever and it had a perfect design but it was also under the flight path of B-52s so we literally shot in five minute bursts in between the loudest planes ever that were coming in so low because they were landing across the street and you can’t hear any of it in the film but when we were shooting it it was deafening and the cast thought we were crazy to be shooting it there but when you see it you’ll never know.
Since ”My Bloody Valentine”, and of course ”Avatar” and other 3D films, that have come out there have been a lot of films that were converted to 3D, what are your opinions on that?
You know, I’m sure there’s a place for those films, I think conversation, the process is getting better, I think the more time and more money that is devoted to that process it will become better and better but right now I don’t think they can duplicate what it is to shoot in 3D with 3D cameras to get the full spectrum of dimensionality that you get when you actually shoot stereoscopically. When you do the break down the math may be there but the money, the time to do it may not be there. That’ll change over time and become better but right now there’s a difference between what you shoot in 3D, how much more depth you get, how much more range you get, how every single facet of dimensionality is actually captured ,you get that when you capture it with stereoscopic cameras.
Other than the obvious 3D effect as you’ve just talked about that comes from the conception stage, what’s going to make “Drive Angry” different from other action-horror films that are out there?
[Laughs] Attitude. The film has such a specific attitude, you know we would talk about what we lack in budget we’ll make up for in sheer attitude and audacity of the film itself. There are some things in the film that haven’t been in the teaser trailer and that haven’t been discussed that are sort of just jaw dropping, things that when we were shooting people would just put their hands over their face, “I can’t believe you’re shooting this, what would your parents thing of you shooting that”, yeah, you’re going to get an amazing roller coaster ride. That has at it’s core an incredibly visceral story that has a heart, that has an emotion to it., that on top of all the action and the ruthless and relentless nature of the characters there’s also a human core that bonds them together that you can really identify and latch on to these characters and completely embrace their journey and no matter how bad or vicious they are we tried to create a movie where you can fall in love the people who are on the journey.
A while ago I heard you were working on a film called “Condition Dead” what’s the status of that one?
“Condition Dead” is with Clint Morris and Dave Davis – who wrote the script. It’s a really fun, great script and right now its in the process of looking for financing which can be a really long winded process at times, it’s not a cheap movie so we’ll have to see what happens and how that all comes together.
Do you have anyone in mind for the characters for that one?
Yeah, there’s great parts in it, we’re talking about getting Nathan Fillion for one of those parts depending on his availability; there’s a couple of parts he’d be great for so we’ll have to see how it goes. (Update! Hey, Clint here. Just a side note to Ellyssa’s interview with Patrick below – wanted to address the bit about Nathan Fillion’s involvement. We love Nathan, and would be proud to have him involved, but Nathan is not “signed” (as some have reported) or even in talks – casting is such a long way off, that we haven’t even begun discussing the project with actors. And Nathan’s name is merely someone whose name has come up in internal meetings between myself, Patrick and Dave. Casting is a long ways off. When we have official news, believe me, you’ll hear it first here. Meantime though, enjoy this terrific interview with the 3D visionary that is Mr Patrick ‘Never Drives Angry’ Lussier – Clint Morris, Producer).
It was written by Dave Davis, we haven’t seen anything from him before, how did you discover him?
Clint Morris sent me the script and I really liked the script, especially the beginning part, and we worked with Dave to do another draft of the story and make to it even more aggressive than what he’d done – he’d written the beginning to be huge and then it got quite small and contained in the middle and we were like, ‘No, No, if we’re going to do it we might as well pull out all the stops!’, if we’re going to do it we might as well go all the way, so we did!
– Ellyssa Harris