Director and all-around swell chap Jonathan Liebesman broke into the horror scene with "Darkness Falls" (coming out on DVD on April 22, 2003) and I thought it would be kool to catch up and see how having put out his first feature changed him and what else he's got up his sleeve. HERE'S JOHNNY!
1- Which filmmakers have inspired you throughout your own evolution as a director?
I grew up in South Africa watching big Hollywood productions so I have to admit I’m inspired by the usual suspects. They’re almost three different generations of inspiration. In the first there's Lean and Kurosawa. In the next Spielberg, Scorsese and Cameron. And most recently filmmakers like Aronofsky, Shymalan and Fincher. Nothing unusual.
2- Out of "Darkness Falls", which specific scene would you say that you’re the most proud?
I’m thinking real hard here. I don’t feel that any filmmaker is completely proud of a scene they direct. There are all the constraints of movies (time, money etc.) that prevent you from materializing it as it was in your head. I think the great directors have the skill to make things look as they do in their imagination regardless of constraints.
3- Your next film is called “The Watch” for New Line Cinema. Can you tell us a bit about what the film is about?
Yes, it’s one of the films that I’m developing. "The Watch" is set in the Ardennes forest during World War 2 and is about a group of soldiers that are forced to fight a demon that the SS unleashed.
4- What stage are you at with the film? Have you hit pre-production yet? Is there a planned release date?
We’re still at the script stage. Hoping to be shooting before year’s end.
5- What would you say is the biggest lesson that "Darkness Falls" taught you and that you’re most likely going to apply on "The Watch"?
Make sure that you hire great people so that you become the least talented person in the room. Also, have the balls to stick to your gut – easier said than done when it isn't your money.
6- The "Darkness Falls" DVD will soon be upon us. Do you know exactly what the disc will contain? Have you recorded a commentary for it? Any word on a Director’s Cut?
It will have commentary with myself, William Sherak, Jason Shuman and our good friend and co-writer James Vanderbilt. On another track will be commentary by writer Joe Harris and writer/producer John Fasano which I heard was great. No director's cut because there are certain things I would need (visual effects, etc) that I don’t have. Perhaps one day I will be able to cut my version.
7- I had heard at some point that you were doing a film called "The Immortals" for Universal. Is that still going on?
Absolutely. “Immortals” is at Universal's and is also in script stage.
8- What professional and social perks have kicked in due to having directed "Darkness Falls"?
Not too many, to be honest. Perhaps I can get meetings with larger producers now and a few more calls returned. A few more party invites, but that isn't my thing.
9- What do you to relax when you’re not working?
10- Have you been invited to the Playboy Mansion yet?
Nope...but I do get the Playboy Channel!
I'd like to thank Jonathan for, once again, dropping by for a low-down and to wish him the best of luck with "The Watch" and "The Immortals". Crack some skulls dude!