The Arrow interviews Jeff Most
Producer Jeff Most has been with THE CROW franchise since the beginning. In fact he is the Godfather of the films where he's the one that got them off the ground to have them take flight. With the release of the more recent CROW sequel WICKED PRAYER (hitting DVD shelves on July 19 2005), I got the chance to yap it up with Mr. Most about the film, his creative input within the franchise and The Crow's future. Here's how it went down!
What’s your favorite horror movie?
Well, I have a few favorites: THE EXORCIST, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, PSYCHO, ALIEN and FRANKENSTEIN.
After Salvation went straight to video (the first Crow film to land there); did you have another The Crow in you right off the bat or did you for a moment think: “I’m done”?
A theatrical release is what you shoot for, but I know we can still reach a lot of fans through DVD. A theatrical release doesn’t mean the film’s good and a DVD release mean there’s something wrong with the film. Sometimes, it’s just a business decision about how the studio will make the most from the film, with the least amount of risk. I’ve always got ideas and the bottom line is I love to make films. As long as it feels right I’ll keep trying.
I never thought, “I’m done”. I’ve always felt that if people liked what we were doing with the franchise, that we should try and do more with it. Since SALVATION breathed new life into the franchise by veering away from the story elements that tied THE CROW and THE CROW: CITY OF ANGELS together, I wanted to dive into uncharted territory and try another anthology approach for a sequel.
You were more hands on with Wicked Prayer than the other Crow films where you have a screenwriting credit on it. What was it about the Wicked Prayer concept that stimulated you?
I’ve always been very “hand’s on” with the franchise. It may seem more so this time due to my writing credit. With THE CROW, I came up with many of the touch stone character and story element changes that were necessary to adapt James O’Barr’s graphic novel to the screen. John Shirley then incorporated the themes and character traits into his screenplay. For example, I came up with the idea that a Crow returns from the grave with few memories of the events that lead to his death. That way, The Crow bird, acting as the hand of God, could take him to the place of his and his loved one’s death to obtain clues pertinent to his journey of retribution.
I gave The Crow the power to touch things to receive flashbacks of empirical information in search of the truth. I added to The Crow’s character design by creating an Achilles heal, so that if the bird were injured, so too, would the man. I gave The Crow the power to see what the bird sees. I also set the film against Devil’s night and came up with the Villain’s Real Estate scam to clear tenants from their homes. I also made Eric Draven a guitarist, since he didn’t have a job in the graphic novel. A good producer wears many hats including generating story ideas, as well as creating and developing material with writers. I’ve always enjoyed the writing and development process a lot.
There were challenges with WICKED PRAYER that sparked my interest and got me more invested in the writing process. This was because Lance and I co-wrote six different treatments trying to faithfully adapt WICKED PRAYER from the novel by Norman Partridge. We built a great rapport while doing so. We had to change many elements in Partridge’s story during the writing process. We found that the story and characters lacked dramatic tension and the conflict necessary for the screen. We sparked off each other and created our own original villains, story lines and themes. When Lance asked if I would co-write the screenplay with him, I jumped at the chance.
Would you say that the finished film follows the script closely or were there a lot of changes from page to screen?
The finished film does follow our final draft closely. Lance and I felt strongly about many elements of our script and virtually all of them are in the finished film. Some ideas were tweaked and improved by Sean Hood, who came on at the end of the writing process, and polished and streamlined our vision.
What would you say was your biggest obstacle in terms of this particular shoot?
We wanted to break away from the previous films in terms of storytelling, locale and tone, but at the same time we wanted to respect the loyal fans and bring them along with us on the journey. We wanted to go deeper thematically with this one. It was important for us to find the right manner by which to express the differences while still maintaining a link to the previous films in the franchise. Every character in the film, except for the love interest, Lily, wants to be someone they’re not.
It’s a world in which everyone is evolving, trying to shake off the past and reinvent themselves. It was essential to us to try and capture the essence of these characters and this slightly off base world through the tremendously gifted cast we as well as the visual elements on display in the film. We also knew that we were taking some risks incorporating certain elements like some odd characters and some oddly humorous character turns. We wanted to keep the film tonally balanced and cohesive. Meshing all the themes and disparate character elements was a real challenge.
What was it about Edward Furlong that made him ideal as the next Crow in your opinion?
Eddie has an “Everyman” quality that made him the ideal choice to be Jimmy Cuervo. We wrote the role of The Crow with Eddie in mind. He’s a great actor who can create believability and take the audience right along with him. The role of Jimmy Cuervo is the first Crow who isn’t an innocent victim. In fact, he has a history of violence and is scorned by just about everyone. He can’t wait to escape his small desert town and leave with the love of his life, once his parole is over and he’s free to go. Eddie was able to make the pain and suffering of his character seem incredibly real. There are a lot of sides to Jimmy Cuervo and, other than Eddie, I don’t believe there are many actors who could have pulled it all off.
One of the highlights for me in terms of Wicked Prayer was David Boreanaz’ solid performance as Crash. Was he your first choice for the role and how would you describe him on set?
David was our first choice for Luc Crash. In fact, we never considered anyone else for the role. We needed someone with David’s strength to be a leader who could demonstrate conviction amongst his gang. We also needed an actor who could reinvent himself on screen and assume the mantle of another much darker character when absorbed by the devil.
On set, David was an incredibly inspiring presence. He’s funny, entertaining and a seriously dedicated performer. He’s immensely focused and professional and, when it was time to relax, a great prankster who left us all in hysterics from his practical jokes. He and Eddie Furlong, together, set the tone on the set and raised the bar for the rest of the cast and crew. They gave of themselves day and night on a grueling shoot and yet were incredibly uplifting, funny and cool to hang out with.
I have to ask, was the Dennis Hopper Ebonics marathon scripted that way or did that come up on the spot and Dennis ran with it?
All of Dennis Hopper’s Hip-Hop street lingo dialogue was scripted. None of his lines were ad-libbed, or arrived at on the spot. Dennis plays El Nino, a Satanic Cholo-Pimp. When we wrote those lines, we were trying to reinforce the idea that everyone in this world is pretending to be someone they’re not.
I loved Jamie Christopherson’s score for Wicked Prayer. Do you know if it will ever be available for purchase?
I totally agree with you about Jamie’s score. I’m very proud to have had the opportunity to work with Jamie at this point in his career. I believe he will become a star composer thanks to the effort he made on behalf of the film, which is his first feature. And yes, we intend to have his score album commercially released through Koch Records. Koch Records also released THE CROW: SALVATION Soundtrack album, and the Marco Beltrami Score album from the film.
Are you planning on another Crow sequel? If so, is it time for a “Female Crow” to happen?
So far, there are no firm plans for a sequel. Since I’m making RAZOR, it doesn’t really spark my interest to make a female Crow, right now.
There’s a lot of talk on the Web about an existing and complete City of Angels Director’s Cut. Is that a fact and will we ever get to see it?
I haven’t heard of anything being in the works.
What’s next for you? Any other projects cooking on the grill?
As I said, I’m producing the feature film version of Everette Hartsoe’s RAZOR comic book series. The film, about a great street-wise heroine, will be directed by the award winning, young director Zeyad (Z) Alhusaini.
Excluding the original, what is your favorite The Crow film?
It’s like asking which of your children do you like the most? I can say that I really liked the challenges on THE CROW: WICKED PRAYER. We took risks on WICKED PRAYER, which reminded me of the creative energy that surrounded the first Crow.
I'd like to thank Jeff for popping up on the site. I for one love The Crow franchise, even when flawed I still get something out of every sequel. All that to say; KEEP MAKING THEM! I'LL KEEP WATCHING!