If youíve been
around the ďArrow in the HeadĒ site long enough, you should know that Iím a big fan of Paul Andersonís
stuff. Event Horizon and Resident Evil were a blast and I even mucho enjoyed
Soldier! Well, Arrow finally got the chance to spend some time chitchatting with the man behind the thrills and the
spills and got a couple of groovy bits of info in the process. So check it out!
( Part 1 - Part
ARROW: Iíd like to begin by saying that you must be one of the most underrated
directors on the block.
PAUL: Well...my mother likes me!
PAUL: She thinks Iím excellent, not underrated!
ARROW: Well, I really dig your work and I wanted to put that out there.
PAUL: Thank you very much.
ARROW: Iíll start by addressing Resident Evil. While shooting the film, how close did you stay to the script? Were there a lot of re-writes as you went along?
PAUL: We stayed pretty close to the shooting script, but there
were a lot of changes from the first draft to what we shot. I went to Japan and consulted with Capcom about what they thought about the script and they gave me input. I also met with Shinji Mikami who created the game and he also had some input. We changed a few things because of that. Then, when we got particular actors involved, I did some very substantial re-writes for them. Michelle
Rodriguezís character, for example, was originally a man who died 20 minutes into the movie. Michelle was so up to do the movie that
once I got her onboard, and sheís such a phenomenal talent, I re-wrote the role to make it a lot bigger. I obviously turned the role into a woman as well. So the script changed a lot but the shooting script is pretty much what you see onscreen now.
ARROW: How did you want to approach the CGI once you started shooting?
PAUL: All I ever hear is how people hate CGI, that CGI ruined the
"monster movie" and how everybody is tired of seeing big CG creatures all over movies
because nobody believes them and they donít look real. But we knew there was going to be some CG creatures in
this film as well. For example, to get The Licker to move the way it should we couldnít
do it fully with animatronics. What we did was to try shooting the creature and editing it so that the CGI was onscreen for as little as
possible-- we took a lot of inspiration from Ridley Scottís ALIEN,
which is a film that I think is still terrifying today.
One of the reasons is that Ridley shows so little of the creature, the editing is very fast and we just get quick impressions of it rather than 10
big second shots of the creature. I think thatís the power of ALIEN, Ridley was stuck with a really rubbish monster basically, he had a man in a rubber suit that didnít look very
good, and as a result, he had to hide it and ended up with a movie where the audience had to fill in the gaps, imagining something much more horrific than what he actually had. We were trying to do that it in a way with the CG in this movie, keep the edits fast and use the CG as little as possible, so you didnít get to dwell on the creature, it was all a blur of claws, fangs and brain.
Were you surprised about the positive fan feedback that Resident Evil got after its release?
PAUL: Not really because Iím a big fan of the Resident Evil games so I set out to do a film that the fans would really like. It was something
that I was really concerned about (the fans) as we were making the movie. We had to make a movie that they would embrace and really like. I was like shitting my pants when we tested the movie for the first time.
PAUL: You know...to see if we actually achieved that. I have a saying that the testing process for movies is actually
worse than the filmmaking process for a filmmaker.
ARROW: Howís that?
PAUL: You work for two years and suddenly it all boils down to 2 hours with 350 people who donít give a damn about your movie,
whether they like it or not because they havenít paid to see it. Theyíll really let you know what they think of it. If they hate it, theyíll let you know about it. Itís incredibly nerve
racking. Because I felt so much pressure to deliver a movie that fans of Resident Evil liked, it was doubly nerve racking. The screening wound up being one of the best experiences Iíve
ever had. Nobody walked out of the theatre, the audience applauded in the end and we got huge test results. The focus afterwards showed us that 50 percent of people who weíre talking about the movie had played the video game and all of them thought the movie lived up or exceeded the video game. Everyday I was shooting the film I was thinking in my mind:
"Are the fans gonna like this, are the fans gonna respond to this?"
ARROW: Actually...for me, being an Internet movie critic, I was really surprised in the shift in attitude towards the film. Before its release,
fans seemed to be quite negative about it, especially since George Romero didnít wind up directing it. But after it was released, I saw so much positive fan feedback online about the film. I was really happy that people were able to let shit go and just enjoy the movie.
PAUL: I think that there was a lot of concern from the fans
when we were making the movie, that we would deviate too far from the video game
because we were choosing not to use characters from the game. But as we were making it, I always
thought "wait till people see the movie", because what weíre making is 100 percent Resident Evil and it captured the spirit of the game. Also, each of the games featured different
characters at times. Like Resident Evil 2 which doesnít have any characters from Resident Evil
1. When I played Resident Evil 2, my first response wasn't like to throw my joystick to the ground and say
ďWhere the fuck is Jill Valentine? I hate this video game!Ē
PAUL: I thought it was damn cool and I think in a way that is the strength of the world of Resident Evil. It continues to expand and we get to meet new characters. I think that keeps it fresh. In a way, I feel the
TOMB RAIDER game became a little stale because no matter how cool Lara Croft was, just playing her became a little boring. So I felt when we did the movie, it was like making another installment of the video game franchise. It was gonna be within the world of Resident Evil, but we were gonna meet some new characters. But the characters are very much archetypes of the characters in the video game.
PAUL: You look at Milla Jovovich, her name and her character isnít Jill Valentine but she sure as hell looks like and acts like Jill Valentine and thatís true of most characters
in the movie.
EVIL: SPECIAL EDITION DVD
RESIDENT EVIL: DELUXE DVD
The Resident Evil Special Edition DVD
was released todayÖ
PAUL: I know, I have to go buy myself a copy.
ARROW: <laughs> How much input did you have in the making of the DVD?
PAUL: A lot. I wanted to really ensure that the DVD for Resident was as fully loaded as we can make it.
ARROW: I heard the commentary was a fun listen, I havenít heard it yet but how did you feel while doing it?
PAUL: It was a lot of fun. It was a blast! It was
me and Jeremy Bolt who was my co-producer on the movie with Milla and Michelle. Jeremy and I kept trying to say sensible filmmaker comments about the film and
Milla and Michelle just shafted us down, started shouting at each other and talking about each others underwear for an hour and a
half. I just actually listened to it recently and itís so funny. Itís not your traditional commentary, but for me I would go buy the DVD just to hear it. I think itís hysterical and really
great. Theyíre both remarkable girls and to have them talking in a room for an hour and half was just fantastic.
ARROW: I heard that there was some gore cut out of the film to get the R rating, is that true?
PAUL: Not really, we got the R rating the first time we showed Resident Evil to the boards. It was a little on the edge when we got
it, though I think with Event Horizon I got a lot of experience on what the
ratings boards will or will not accept for an R rating, so I kept that in mind while we were shooting the film. Like when the lasers cut up Collins, I knew when he fell apart, I wanted to see the inside of his head, to see what his brain looked like. And incidentally, everything in the laser corridor scene is anatomically correct. If someone was to chop your head off, thatís what the stump of your neck would look like and the inside of Collins' brain, thatís exactly the color and the consistency of what the inside of your head looks like.
I knew I wanted that but also knew that if we shot it and it would be in crisp focus we wouldíve gotten an NC-17 and wouldíve had to cut around it. So thatís why we did the focus towards
Millaís face in the background. You still see the brain and everything but its just slightly soft. That was really to ensure that we got the R
rating rather than having to re-cut and then not see anything. Yes,
there was gore cut out thatís not in the movie...but not a huge amount.
ARROW: Will it ever pop up on another issue of the DVD?
PAUL: Maybe in the future, but I am very happy with the cut of the movie as it is now, so
it's not something Iíd like to go back to.
ARROW: I donít know if this is official but I heard that thereís a Deluxe Edition DVD of Resident Evil coming out in like 3 months with even more goodies on it. Is that true?
PAUL: I donít know if it's going to be in 3 months but I do know theyíre will be another Edition. The reason for that is that I pushed so hard during the post-production of the film to generate material for the DVD and got so much stuff that they couldnít get it all on the disk. First, they couldnít get it all on one disk logistically and when thereís gonna be the next edition its going to be a 2-disc set. Also, in terms of hitting the deadline to get the DVD out-- they couldnít get all the material ready on time.
Like the DVD thatís out now, the material on it had to be locked 3 months earlier so they could go and press the DVD. So there was a lot of stuff that we did kind of after the deadline that will be in the next edition. But I think whatís in this first DVD is fantastic but I was aware that there was a lot more material to showcase so over the past few months Iíve been working with Sony to kind of get all that in place so they could do the Special Edition later on.
ARROW: What kind of stuff will be on the next edition?
PAUL: Well, one of the things I did fairly recently was another audio commentary with Richard Yuricich
whose our visual effects supervisor. So that will be a completely different audio commentary than the one I did with
Milla and Michelle. Do you know Richardís work?
ARROW: Not off the top of my head.
PAUL: Well, heís like a legend of visuals effects, the first movie he ever worked on was 2001, he also did Blade Runner and Close Encounters, amazing landmark sci-fi movies. And this guy never talks to the press and I think the only interview heís ever done was a short one for the book ďThe Making of Blade RunnerĒ. He just doesnít like talking about his work and I finally persuaded him to do a commentary for Resident Evil. So he came in and we did the commentary together but when there wasnít any visual effect shots on the screen, I
wound up pumping him for info on all the other amazing movies heís made like Blade Runner and Close Encounters.
Iím just a real fanboy when it comes this stuff so THATíS gonna be a really fantastic commentary
because it's not only going to be about Resident Evil, it's also going to be about this manís amazing career as well. He knows so many super cool things about Close Encounters, all this shit heís never told anyone ever before. That commentary was done recently so itís not on the DVD available now but it will be on the next edition.
ARROW: Anything else on the next DVD Edition we should look forward
PAUL: Yes, we had a behind the scenes guy shooting us on set every day, so there will be a lot more documentary footage on the next edition. There will also be a deleted ending on the
disc. We initially shot another ending that was totally different than the one thatís in the film now.
ARROW: What was the other ending like? I gotta ask!
PAUL: Itís not as good as the one we got at the moment obviously.
ARROW: Yeah, that one kicked my ass!
PAUL: Thanks. The other ending is more in keeping with the ending of the video game, more of a kind of tie-up where the ending we got now is a more open-ended kind of a bleak
70s nihilistic ending. The other ending was also pretty cool and we spent a lot of time shooting it.
Milla was wearing a different costume for it and it's set seven months after the bulk of the movie is finished. It was kind of like the last frames of T2.
EVENT HORIZON SPECIAL EDITION DVD
Do you have any insight about the Special Edition "Event Horizon" DVD?
Well, Iíve always been disappointed in the past about the number of extras that were on the DVDs of my movies. I mean, Event Horizon is a case in point, itís a real shame that all thatís available is not on the
DVD. I keep talking to Paramount with the idea of doing a Special Edition for that.
ARROW: So itís NOT official yet that thereís going to be a SPECIAL EDITION of Event Horizon coming out soon on
PAUL: No. They approached me to do a Directorís Commentary on it but I was in the middle of shooting Resident Evil so I was unavailable for it. At that point they said: weíre just gonna wait and talk about doing a Special Edition later down the road. Now that Iím back in LA full time, Iím gonna get in contact with them again and see what we can do. But
it's not official and I think if it's gonna happen...itís a long way off.
ARROW: A lot of Event Horizon fans are really hoping that it happens. I know that for a fact.
PAUL: I hope so too, thereís a lot of great stuff that we cut out of the movie that I would like to see back in and thereís also a lot of cool behind the scenes stuff, like an HBO special on it which I think would be great to stick on the
DVD, I donít understand why they havenít done it.
ARROW: Maybe it's a copyright issue or something like that...
PAUL: Maybe, I also think that when Event Horizon was done, DVD was sort of in its infancy, so I didnít pay a lot of attention to it. I didnít understand what the possibilities of DVD were yet. Now I very much do, so I paid lots of attention to it while we were shooting Resident Evil and when we were in post-prod, I wanted a DVD that was fully loaded. I personally buy a lot of DVDs and Iím always disappointed when the extra features
are "you can watch it with French subtitles or watch the trailer"
ARROW: Youíre telling me!
PAUL: I think WOW you know...theyíre really giving me my
money's worth here!
ALIENS VS PREDATORÖOH YEAH!
ARROW: Well, Iím moving on to the BIG NEWS, which is Aliens
vs Predator: is it official?
ARROW: Are you writing the script?
PAUL: Iím just finishing the script for Resident Evil: Nemesis and as soon as thatís done, Iím gonna begin to work on
ARROW: So how do you feel about the
project...are you excited?
PAUL: Iíve been waiting to do a movie with Aliens in it since I was at school, since the first Alien movie came out, since I fell in love with Sigourney Weaver and since the Alien scared the hell out of me. Iíve been obsessed with ALIENS for a while, itís the coolest cinema franchise out there and Predator is the baddest hunter in the
universe, so the idea of combining the two of them is just phenomenal! It will be a stand-alone franchise; it will not be a continuation of the Alien franchise.
ARROW: So we wonít get a Sigourney Weaver or an Arnold Schwarzenegger cameo then?
PAUL: Iím not telling you that!
<laughs> I had to try.
PAUL: I havenít even written the script yet!
RESIDENT EVIL: NEMESIS
let's move on to Resident Evil 2.
PAUL: Electric Boogaloo.
ARROW: You bet Electric Boogaloo! You just finished writing the
ARROW: Do you have any casting ideas, there was a Mira Sorvino rumor floating around recently.
PAUL: We havenít approached any cast for it yet, although theyíre a couple of people from the first one that we would like to return.
ARROW: Will the sequel be a bit like what ALIENS was to ALIEN? More of everything?
PAUL: Yes, itís definitely more of a fully loaded action movie. Where the first one was sort of claustrophobic horror, Nemesis will be a lot more expansive. Nemesis will take place in one night in Raccoon City after its been overruled with the undead. You have a group of survivors fighting for their lives and trying to get out of the city.
Milla returning? I assumed that she would.
PAUL: We would like her to return, yes. And it will also feature characters from the Resident Evil Nemesis game.
ARROW: Nemesis will be played by Eric Mabius right?
PAUL: Yes, thatís the idea...at the end of the first movie he becomes the Nemesis.
ARROW: So he mutates.
PAUL: Yes, he becomes the main villain of the second feature.
ARROW: Are you aiming for a trilogy with the Resident Evil series?
PAUL: Yes, I would like that. Iíve got the idea for the 3 movies mapped out already, they
were always in the back of my mind. Now that the first movie did the business it did, the trilogy might become a reality.
HERE FOR MORE ON RESIDENT EVIL AND
AN IN-DEPTH RETROSPECTIVE ON ALL OF PAULíS FILMS
( PART 2 OF THE P.A. INTERVIEW )
READ ARROWíS RESIDENT EVIL REVIEW HERE
READ ARROWíS EVENT HORIZON REVIEW HERE
READ ARROWíS SOLDIER REVIEW HERE