The Arrow interviews Paul Anderson
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!
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.
RESIDENT EVIL: THE MOVIE
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.
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 to?
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
ARROW: 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 DVD?
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 AVP.
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!
PAUL: I havenít even written the script yet!
RESIDENT EVIL: NEMESIS THE MOVIE
let's move on to Resident Evil 2.
PAUL: Electric Boogaloo.
ARROW: You bet Electric Boogaloo! You just finished writing the screenplay?
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.
ARROW: I assume youíve been a huge horror/sci-fi fan for a while now?
ARROW: Whatís your favorite horror movie?
PAUL: I think my favorite horror movie has got to be "The Shining".
PAUL: It's just "The Shining", isnít it?
ARROW: Yeah, thereís not much more you can say about that.
ARROW: It's Kubrick...itís the ShiningÖthatís it!
PAUL: Itís the Shining.
ARROW: Iím assuming that Kubrick was a huge inspiration for you in terms of visual style?
PAUL: Yes, absolutely. He was a master, I think all through my work, thereís definite influences of 2001 and The Shining, he was a huge influence on me absolutely. I mean, how can you watch a Kubrick movie and not be influenced by him?
ARROW: True. Youíre getting bigger into this movie game, getting larger budgets for you work. Now does this increase in cash flow allow you more freedom in regards to the studios or are they tightening their grip on you, since thereís more money involved?
PAUL: Well, it's interesting, the way "Resident Evil" was made, I actually had more control over it than other movies Iíve made before. It was a really good experience for me as a filmmaker. For example, the final sequence in the movie is very 70s, very bleak. You know the idea that Mila survives the whole movie and then rather than an uplifting payoff, what youíve got is the suggestion that everybody else is dead. If weíd financed the movie in a more traditional kind of studio route, that ending would have been very difficult to force through. I don't think any studio would have allowed us to go with that. But because of the amount of control I had over Resident and the way that it was financed, thatís something we didnít have a problem with.
ARROW: Letís do a brief retrospective of your past movies. You down?
ARROW: Iíll start with ďShoppingĒ which is a very little known film that I havenít seen yet. It starred Jude Law. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
PAUL: Itís all based on real life events. When I was growing up in New Castle, my home town in the North of England, there was a big trend of what was called ram-raiding, where kids would steal high performance cars like a BMW or Mercedes and at 3 o'clock in the morning, drive them at high speed through department store windows causing lots of damage. And then theyíd just steal something totally meaningless like a T-shirt and wait in the car inside the department store with the alarms going off until the police turned up. They'd then proceed to have a high-speed car chase. And it was all done for kicks!
ARROW: We all need to relax.
ARROW: Does the film have a wide distribution over the world?
PAUL: It didnít get much of a theatrical release, but itís available on DVD and video.
ARROW: How did the Jude Law casting come about?
PAUL: We discovered Jude, it was the first thing heíd ever been in. It was interesting because the choice for that role was between him and Ewan McGregor who were both unknowns at the times. We had a hard time deciding, but we went with Jude in the end.
ARROW: So looking back...are you proud of that film?
PAUL: Yes, very! It did very well for everybody really. It's got a terrific supporting cast, it's got Jonathan Pryce in it, Sean Bean, Sadie Frost, it's where her and Jude met, they fell in love on the set. It also features one of my regulars: Jason Isaac, itís the first movie Iíve ever done with him and he proceeded to be in everything else Iíve done.
ARROW: I didnít see him in "Resident Evil".
PAUL: Heís in there but uncredited. He does the narration at the start where he tells you about the Umbrella Corporation and he appears at the end where Mila is in the viral tent outside the mansion, sheís being restrained and heís the guy saying to take her to the Raccoon city facility and put Eric Mabiusí character in the Nemesis program. You also briefly see his face, heís one of the doctorís leaning over Mila, examining her with the bright lights behind him and his clear blue scary eyes. I didnít want to make a movie without him, so we just grabbed him for a day of shooting.
ARROW: Is he going to be in "Resident Evil: Nemesis"?
PAUL: I actually wrote a part for him...yes, to expand on that character. We didnít pay him for the first movie so I figured I owe him.
ARROW: Letís move on to "Mortal Kombat", which was your break in the American market. Would you say that MK was your school of filmmaking in terms of dealing with special effects?
PAUL: Yes, very much so. I hadnít dealt with visual effects before.
ARROW: How hard was it to be a director used to a more classic type of filmmaking, to hop onto a flick with CGI and other assortments of complex effects?
PAUL: I found it very exciting. Although I had never done them before, I had actually grown up watching movies that were very effect heavy. What I wanted to make with Mortal Kombat was basically a cross between "Enter the Dragon" and "Jason and the Argonauts" so when I made that movie I completely immersed myself in visual effects and by the time I came out of it I knew a hell of a lot about them. Also, since I was really into them, I spent days working with the animators. You know, a lot of directors, when they work on a visual effects film, they get sent a tape of the effects, then they make comments on it and then they send it back. They never actually go to the visual effects company. Since I was keen on them, I wound up spending days and days on a one-on-one basis with the animators and the people responsible for putting these shots together. I now have a huge knowledge on how visual effects are created and put together. Probably more so than most directors. Not more than Jim Cameron though, he knows everything I think. The man knows more than Einstein!
PAUL: To do the sequel?
ARROW: Yes there is one, itís very crappy.
PAUL: I know...Iíve seen it. Immediately after the first one was released, literally on the Monday morning after our big opening weekend, the studio asked me if I would be interested in doing the second one. And I wasnít really interested. You know for a director, it's really 2 years worth of work and they wanted to go straight into doing it again and I just felt that Iíd done it and I wanted to do something different rather than return to do the same thing again. I had no involvement in the sequel whatsoever.
ARROW: With the script and production values they hadÖGOOD MOVE!
ARROW: Letís move on to one of my favorites: "Event Horizon". The first hour of this film is classic in my opinion, but it kind of fell short in its last act. What happened? I heard rumors of studio interference...how much of that is true?
PAUL: We just never had a satisfying ending to the movie. Even in the scripts that we had and we had several different endings, it was always the weakest thing about the movie. The setup was fantastic but it never had a satisfying payoff and when I started doing the movie, we said to ourselves, weíll fix it and we never fixed it. We tried but we never pulled it together. It needed something at the end; it needed like a big twist that wouldíve pulled everything together in my opinion. I think the movie still works and Iím very very proud of it, but I feel script-wise, that was something that was lacking.
ARROW: Were some of the alternative script endings ever shot?
PAUL: It always ended roughly the same way, with Fishburne sacrificing himself and the Event going to the other side. The real changes were what Sam Neill would stay in the burning containment while the gateway was opening.
ARROW: So if thereís a "Directorís Cut" that might come out, what will be added? What was snipped out?
PAUL: The postproduction on that movie was very compacted. Paramount set a release date on the movie and we had to hit that release date. I was cutting in London and I was testing in LA, so every time we had a test, I had to fly all the way to America and weíd lose lots of time. Me and my editing team were also exhausted while making the movie due to all the traveling. I think we cut things out to speed the movie up, but in retrospect, I wish we hadnít. There was a lot of very good stuff before the mission started. There was a whole scene where Sam Neill was briefed before we met the crew of Lewis and Clark that I thought was a very good scene with amazing visual effects.
Because weíre on the space station and we see the earth moving behind you and it was really cool kind of like the 2001 space station scene. But the studio felt it slowed the film down and they wanted to get on with the mission, so we took that out. I think it's kind of a shame because I always liked those briefing scenes and I think audiences do as well. We also cut a lot of stuff where Fishburne and his crew are exploring the Event, again to speed the movie up. In retrospect, those were the bits in the movie that worked really well and we could have done with more of them. There was a great bit where Fish sees this thing floating in zero gravity and you think it's something really huge but weíre playing a trick on perspective, and the more he comes to it, the more you see that itís a tooth spinning in zero gravity like a mini-space station.
PAUL: And itís got a bit
of gum stuck to it. It's somebodyís tooth thatís been ripped out of
the jawbone. It's really horrific, Fish goes up, grabs it and it
stops spinning. Thereís also a really cool conversation between Fish
and Jason Isaac where Jason is describing what he thinks is
happening with the tooth ripped out of somebodyís jaw. It was a
scene that Kevin Andrew Walker
ARROW: Oh yeah?
PAUL: And there was no payoff to it, which is why the studio wanted it out. They said: ĒWe donít even see whose jaw it came out ofĒ. And I didnít think that was the point...it was just a cool and unsettling scene. Andy Walker is very good at that. I would love to put that back in.
ARROW: And I would love to see it back in. Any other juicy bits that got cut out?
PAUL: There was also more of what happened to the other crew that went on the other side. That orgy of destruction was originally a lot more graphic than what exists at the moment. We had a lot of morbid and beautiful images that we took out and that Iíd love to put back in.
ARROW: Just the brief moments of those visions were very effective; I can just imagine the whole thing.
PAUL: There was a lot in there. For example, we had one where this guy had a big spike shoved up his ass and it came out his mouth.
ARROW: Well, I definitely second that motion. BRING IT ON!
ARROW: Letís move on to "Soldier", which got a lot of flack upon release but is a movie that I really enjoyed. How close did it wind up being to the picture that it was initially supposed to be?
PAUL: Itís the script, word for word. It's David Webb Peopleís script. It didnít deviate from the script at all. But in terms of making the movie, it was a hugely difficult film to make for a lot of different reasons. I had originally planned to shoot the whole movie exterior, it was gonna be my ďLawrence of ArabiaĒ in outer space. After having done "Event Horizon", which was an entirely claustrophobic movie, I wanted to do an exterior, big epic kind of location picture. And then the weather in California was so bad; it was that year when they had El NiŮo and the studio became scared and said we had to move the whole picture indoors. So we ended up building a version of everything that I wanted to build outside, but no matter how big the stage is, it never captures the proper feel of a big exterior location, which is what the movie shouldíve had.
So visually, it was compromised because of that. The few exterior shots we did do were a nightmare because it did wind up raining a lot. We shot in a big quarry outside of L.A. and at one point we had to leave it because the rain was coming down so hard that the road was actually collapsing. So it was logistically a very difficult film to shoot. Also, Kurt Russell broke his ankle literally in the first weeks of shooting and we proceeded with the picture. God...Kurt worked so hard on that picture! I have the utmost admiration for him. Because what your watching in that movie is an actor whoís making an action movie, heís in every scene, heís performing all of his own stunts and heís moving on a broken foot.
ARROW: That must been so painful!
PAUL: Yes, he did have 4 days off, but then we had to start shooting. He was very badly injured during the whole shoot. And as a filmmaker, that made it very difficult for me because I come from very physical movies and there was a limit as to what Kurt could do. Heís like the toughest actor Iíve ever worked with, the guy would just grit his teeth and just do it. Heís the toughest and bravest guy Iíve ever met. If I ever have to go to war, Iíd like to be under the command of Kurt Russell!
PAUL: Actually Kurt Russell and Fishburne, these are the men Iíd want to go to war with...they are real warriors. Kurt went through so much pain doing that movie and I think his performance is magnificent as well. He had about 75 words to say in the picture, but the emotion he managed to convey was just exceptional.
ARROW: I totally agree.
PAUL: We got fucked by circumstance. I was also not too fond of the marketing campaign Warner Brothers did. They seemed determined to sell the movie to teenage boys as if it was a teenage action movie, but it was never that. Thatís why it didnít do much business. The young genre fan said ďI donít really think Iíll fancy this, I donít think it's for meĒ and the audience that it wouldíve worked with, the audiences it tested well with, which were older males and females who responded to the relationship between Kurt and the child, never went to see the movie because Warner Bros chose to sell it as a teenage action movie. It fell between the two stools.
ARROW: In retrospect, how do you feel about the film?
PAUL: I Ďm very, very proud of what Kurt achieved, and I think itís his finest performance. Iím very happy with what we did with him, but visually it couldíve been and shouldíve been a lot better than it was. It was circumstance; we got fucked in the ass, you know?
PAUL: To go from shooting a big location picture to shooting the picture on a soundstage is a huge change that we had to do very quickly and it was detrimental to the picture, I think. Having said that, Iíve read some really horrific reviews of the picture that I really didnít think it deserved and I think it's got some kool stuff in it and that the performances are very strong.
ARROW: I think that the emotional content of the picture went over a lot of peopleís heads. Iíve reviewed the film and I state that there's a lot of stuff going on emotionally, especially in terms of Kurtís character, and I canít believe that people didnít pick up on that.
PAUL: And thatís what the movie is about. Yes, it's called ďSoldierĒ but apart from an action scene in the beginning and the action at the end, the second act has no action in it...itís a relationship picture, it's about this man coming to terms with the fact that heís had no emotions and thatís what the pic is about. Thatís why when we tested the picture, it tested through the roof with women because they really got the relationship with the child, they found it touching. It was never going to work with the same audience that say, Mortal Kombat, worked with. But yet I think because I directed Mortal Kombat, the studio said "well, thatís the audience weíre gonna try to sell it to".
ARROW: How does that happen? They organize the test screenings, they see the results and then they decide to concentrate on a whole different type of target audience. How does that work?!
PAUL: In studios, thereís a division that makes the movie and thereís a division that sells the movie. And quite often one hand is unaware or disinterested on what the other hand is doing.
ARROW: Well, thatís a shame and a waste.
PAUL: Thatís why when I made "Resident Evil", I wanted more control over it because I was very disappointed in the reception that "Soldier" got and in the way it was sold, and I thought the next time around, Iím gonna try to have more control over this. It will either work or it won't but at least Iíll know that I have done my best and done justice to a film that Iíve spent a year and a half making...which I really felt with Soldier justice wasnít done.
BAD PRESS AND THE RULES OF GAMES TO MOVIES
ARROW: As a director, I assume you read the reviews once your movies come out?
PAUL: When I made "Shopping", I read every single review. I was so excited that someone was writing about something I was doing. I would read everything and anything. That movie was a big lesson for me and it's been pretty much the same with every movie Iíve made. For "Shopping", I got insanely good reviews, people would love the picture and then I also got reviews that said: "This guy should never direct another movie ever" or "The movie looks ugly, the actors can't act"Öwe got reviews saying that Jude Law was too pretty to be an actor...
ARROW: You gotta be shitting me?
PAUL: Can you believe it? Thatís the kind of abuse we got in Britain. It was a big lesson for me, I kind of went "wow!", you got two people who saw exactly the same movie and one thinks itís the biggest piece of shit in the world and the other thinks itís the best movie theyíve seen all year. From that point on, I read some press, but I donít really go through the press I used to because it really winds up being about peopleís opinions and Iíve always perceived myself as a popular filmmaker, I make movies for audiences...not for critics. For me, itís more important what an audience will think than what Ebert will write about it.
ARROW: Do you sometimes go on the Internet where you have younger and hipper folks roaming about that are more in tune with the material you put out than say...Ebert?
PAUL: Certainly when we were making Resident, we were listening to what the fans would say about what they thought the movie should be or shouldnít be. I was dropping by Resident Evil sites and listening to what peopleís concerns were about the movie, so I did find that very helpful.
ARROW: For my last question, in your opinion what does a genre film have to deliver to be solid?
ARROW: Solid, great, awesome, da bomb?
PAUL: What I'm really passionate about is that if you make a genre movie and base it on a source material...you really have to be respectful of the source material. For me, I think it really helps that Iím a fanboy. I love "Mortal Kombat", I played it so much at the arcades, I love "Resident Evil", and I played all of the games. I think loving Resident Evil and loving the toys, the games, just being totally immersed in that world definitely helped me make a better Resident Evil movie. Thatís something that's very necessary. I think if youíre gonna go into a universe thatís already in existence, you have to obey the laws of that universe and be aware on what the rules are. You canít contradict them and say "fuck it, it's just a video game...this is a movie and I could do whatever I want", because you can't.
It's like "Alien vs Predators", you have to be totally aware of every scene of every moment in every Alien movie, in every Predator movie, in all those comic books because your opening weekend audience have read all the comic books and seen all those movies and you can't afford to make stupid mistakes where someone can go ďget the fuck out of here, cause I know based on Predator 2...thatís bullshitĒ. You have to be respectful of the universe while giving the audience something fresh as well, something new. If the Resident Evil movie didnít give you something above the game, they might as well just stay at home and play the game. AvsP is gonna give you something above and beyond an Alien movie or Predator movie, it's gonna be AvsP PLUS, it's gonna be enhanced because it's gonna stay true to those movies while giving you something new, something extra.
ARROW: Well, thatís it for me dude, Iíd like to say keep up the great workÖ
PAUL: Iím tryingÖ
ARROW: And Iím really looking forward to "Aliens vs Predator".
PAUL: Yeah, Iím really excited about it.
ARROW: I canít wait to see what you do with it...go nuts!
And that was that. I'd like to thank Paul for this badass interview, it made my day. Say what you will about PA, but for me the man is an inspiration. He's a fanboy, genre nut and video game freak that MADE IT! I for one, aim to follow in his footsteps. Keep 'em coming, Paul!