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Set Visit: Final Destination (2/3)

May. 3, 2005by: Ammon Gilbert

by Ammon Gilbert

As I promised at the end of Part 1 of my set visit to the upcoming FINAL DESTINATION 3, I have the first part of my interview with director James Wong, writer Glen Morgan and producer Craig Perry here for your greedy eyes. I must say, as this was also my first interviewing experience, that these guys were great! They were eager to answer our questions, and were very open with everything (well, except for the details on the majority of the kills, but can ya blame them?). You can tell they were really excited about this project and they know exactly what kind of movie they're making- a fun flick that kills people in creative ways! But enough of my blabbering, and onto the interview!

NOTE: This interview also features 3 "first look" pictures from the film. Click to see them enlarged.

Why was this movie crying to be made- a second sequel to FD?

Craig Perry (CG): Well, look, there are a lot of factors that go into one of these things, one of them is I was very happy with FD 2, I thought it was a lot of fun, I thought it was very concise, very constituent, and it was exactly what you expected it to deliver on that end, and was both a successful venture both creatively and obviously commercially. But on the latter part of that equation, when the sort of DVD quarterlies came in, it was like ĎHmmmmm perhaps what youíve been screaming for Craig is a good idea?í.

So it is an economic decision, but with that economic decision comes that creative challenge of not screwing the pooch, you know? You donít want to completely obviate the good will hopefully generated by the first two. And to that end the challenge was finding filmmakers that would share that vision of triumphs that would end that entire thing on an up-note.

We actually went to Jim and Glen, as we did with the second one, which they werenít available, for the third time mostly out of respect, you know, they were the initiators of the whole series, and to our happy surprise they said Ďyou know what, thatíd be a heck of challenge, and they were really interested to see if we could pull it offí.

And to their credit they kind of jumped in feet first and in my opinion came up with what I think, hopefully, is going to be the perfect synthesis of the strengths of the first two, because hopefully we all know that the old adage that the third timeís a charm, and I think that these guys applied that strategy and tried to take the best of both worlds of the movie, because they are very different, if youíve seen them theyíre very different in tones and energy and by clinging them together, hopefully knock on wood, weíll make everybody who liked both of them individually or collectively, happy. Speaking of Happy- Glen Morgan.

So Glen, tell me, what can you do in a third installment that moves it ahead, makes it fresher, thatís different, surprising?

Glen Morgan (GM): Maybe when you see the film youíll feel that I did nothing (haha). I donít know whose idea it was, but Richard Brener said the third oneís a roller coaster. So, yup, ok, and Jim and I always like to come up with stuff that you come across, and you know, the idea that the camera, the digital camera that everybody has- either as a camera or on a phone, is giving you clues as to where you might go. And that seemed like a unique possibility.

CP: And thatís one of the things that we responded too as well, and why I think it does distinguish itself from the first two, and that is that we all have digital cameras, we all have pictures all over our houses, and imagine if you could actually, with a heighten sense of awareness, look at all those pictures, and analyze the geometry of whatís in those photographs and kind of say huh, this is shadowing something that is going to harbiture doom for later. And itís that infinite accessibility that I think distinguishes it from the first two and is commending of the best things of the first two.

GM: And weíre cheapÖ

CP: Yeah, and weíre cheapÖ (haha)

How is this one going to be like the first, or like the second, or like them both together?

GM: I donít know, I mean I liked the second one, and you know, Jim and I didnít work on that, but what David and the guys did on that, and you know there were these subtle differences depending on whoís making the movie I think. Craig and I share a kind of Galloís humor, so that will be back a bit and you know this one, I donít know if we always successfully pull it off, but we like to have themes and in this one the Wendy characterís theme is the loss of control.

With a roller coaster, psychologists will tell you thatís why people hate them or why youíre afraid of them, or why youíre afraid of flying because you have no control. And for when Iím going up any roller coaster I want out, and Iím not getting out, and thatís torture, I canít Ė itís unbearable. So the whole movie has issues, and that, when you look at death, you know what I mean, you might cross that street, and you don't know if youíre going to get it, and that feel that if it wants us, I think thatís why the franchise kind of works.

CP: I think thatís why horror movies work. When you go into the theater youíre sort of relinquishing some sort of control and willingly getting yourself in the story, and allowing these things to unfold and these sort of feelings of whatís going on and being infested in it.

GM: Except in a horror movie you can walk, where as a roller coaster youíre locked in and youíre not going anywhere.

Do you have a phobia about roller coasters?

GM: Oh yeah, itís just-- I have no means on going on them. Iím the dad now, when my kids go on them, I go ĎIíll be on the bench by the exití.

Will you be bringing any of the characters back from the first two films? Like Tony Todd?

GM: You know, I think Tonyís a great actor, and I liked that character a great deal, and I kind of felt that even both films that part kind of brought the movie to a stop. And I didnít know what to do with that character other than to make it Ďheís deathí or some kind of goofy thing like that and I just to keep the momentum going Ė really in the first movie he becomes as a means to explain the rules, to give you a little clue that guy at the edge of the dark forest kind of thing. And I think that now people kind of get what the series is and I donít know if heís needed.

Any other characters?

GM: No. My wife Kristin keeps going ĎI could play that partí and Iím like ĎYouíre dead. You got killed in the first one and thereís no ghosts', soÖ

CP: No, thereís no one coming back for us. Itís sort of the blank slate. The only person whoís back is Death, and he doesnít require a trailer.

How serious was the consideration in making this 3D?

GM: It was very serious. Jim and I liked the idea a great deal. Jimís friends with John Landau whoís with Jim Cameronís company, and we went down there, and we looked at TITANIC stuff. Yes. The problem and the cost comes to the exhibitors- they have to get a silver screen, and get a lens, and itís a $15K cost to the person, for each screen, and Jimís like ĎOh, thatís not too badí, but advertise over 3000 screens, and yeahÖ And so, the Red and Blue Iíve always hated. With the red, you canít film fire or blood, and thatís a problem on this film. Bob Shay had done it before with the Nightmare on Elm St.ís and hated it.

CP: Unless we could go all the way, collectively both the studio and the creative side, we realized that it wasnít worth it until the time the technology has been implemented.

GM: Itís possible that movies coming out in 3D could do it in that red and blue, they just look cheap. Which we are, but we donít want to look it (haha).

Can you talk a little bit about the opening roller coaster scene?

CP: Sure. Look, thereís a certain, not formula as much, but expectation the audience I think has for these. The roller coaster in many ways is no different. It has elements of whoís sitting where, thereís elements of who switches around at what point, and I think that the device of the camera, because the girl is taking pictures for the yearbook, allows of snippets to come back and sort of analyze, in turns of the characters and the audience later, which makes it a lot more interactive.

The coaster itself, you can only imagine the sort of terrifying things thatís happening. Thereís a lot of bodily harm inflicted at great speeds, and a lot of gravity doing itís job. We have taken the coaster thatís over here in Vancouver, and digitally extended it, added an enormous loop in it, raised the first accent from where it is now to about 200 feet up, and itís going to deliver a pretty impressive sequence for the audience.

And I want to make that clear, as with FD2, itís not going to bullshit out on the gore, without making it to the point where people are going to be running out of the theater, itís going to deliver what the genre people want, and mirroring that aesthetic with FD2, with the smarts with the first one, itís going to be a perfect synthesis of the two.

GM: When we had our first structure meeting when we were at the hotel, and usually when you start a movie, you go Ďwell, we have a car chase scene, and something blows upí and for this movie, we go Ďwell, weíre going to crash a roller coaster.. how do we crash a roller coaster?í and we kind of just looked at each otherÖ and itís something, not that itís really ground breaking, but it really hasnít been done before in this way.

CP: ROLLERCOASTER in 78í was the only movie that had any real kind of roller coaster issue.

Is it going to be done practically, or is it CG, or a combination?

GM: Itís really complicated.

CP: They had about 10 6-hour meetings just on that sequence.

GM: Itís really complicated, you know, the price of what these movies should be made at, and thereís the roller coaster, thereís going to be 2 weeks of green screen with hydraulics, thereíll be CGI, everything.

CP: Weíre going to have the actors hang upside down and yanked out of cars. With cars falling and flipping- itís good times.

Did you film all this in an actual amusement park?

CP: Weíll be shooting all matter of the stuff with them riding in the roller coaster on the actual coaster so we can see how their movements are, their hair, and seeing them not only act, but physically react, with lots of interesting camera angles, which are apparently new, we havenít seen a lot of these things. POV shots.

One of the things that I thought was most interesting was a device that actually keeps the horizon line, so when the coaster moves on an angle, you stay level. Thereís a POV going back, thereís helmet cams so the actors can look over at the characters sitting next to them, so they can get a sense of, not just the POV, but interactive POV.

GM: When we went down there we had two of our key grips building camera mounts out of Styrofoam to test where it would break, and it came back in just piles of broken Styrofoam, cause they would build it to where theyíd want the camera and send it on itís way and it would like smash into a pole, and weíd have to modify that. (haha)

Do you have, or expect to have any complaints or problems from theme parks or ride manufacturers that might fear that youíre going to scare people from roller coasters, if itís going to be as effective as you hope it will be?

CP: I relish the opportunity. If weíre getting to that point, weíve done very well for ourselves.

GM: The PreVis, which is what the visual effects guys do, which like an animated storyboard, is really well done. If we can capture that, itís going to be really-

CP: Bad ass--

GM: Itís going to be really neat.

(James Wong enters)

I wanted to ask James, and Glen both, itís a two part question, you didnít want to do 2, was it partially scheduling, and I seemed to recall that you didnít want to do a sequel at all in the first place. Was that true, or was it just a scheduling thing?

JAMES WONG (JW): Honestly, I didnít have anything to offer New Line, and Craigís a friend, and Richard Brener and Toby Emmerich, and neither one of us (James and Glen) wanted to take their money. And it wasnít until we went to the premiere of the second that we went Ďthis is really cool, someone made a sequel of something that we did', it was an honor. We just didnít want to take the audience or New Lineís money if we didnít have anything to offer.

GM: We donít have anything to offer now, butÖ (haha)

Is it a manner that you really wanted to reclaim the franchise, or did you want to bring it back?

JW: You know, there was some stuff that we were doing (WILLARD) and that made it less available for us to do. And in this case, for 3, I think we really came up with sort of a new angle on the series, and in this movie thereís sort of Ö You know, in the first one, thereís really no mystery as to what was happening. It was sort of, you knew that the characters that death was coming after them, but there was really no detective work in the way, and this one there is a little bit of that.

Thereís a new device that we use, which is the digital camera, that we use, and when Brenner said ĎI want to do a roller coasterí as the first, exciting sequence, and that would be really exciting, because when you think about a sequel you think about what youíre going to do now? A cruise ship? A train? (haha) We couldnít really think of the new thing, and then Brenner said roller coaster, and that really sparked off a lot of, wow, thatís really perfect, thatís really locking people in, thatís not like a plane where you can walk around, this here youíre strapped inÖ until the hydraulics break (haha).

Along with that, with the digital camera thing, you know, which sort of came into our lives, using digital cameras, and all that stuff, and what those images meant. We thought we had a new take on it and we were happy to come back and do this.

Why arenít you bringing anybody back, any of the survivors?

JW: In the first one, Devon and Ali both died (well, she died in the second one), so they were unavailable to come back, and once we thought about it, ...we wanted to get sort of do it over again.

CP: FD2 was a f*cking pain in the ass with all the rules with this and that and we said, you know what, letís start clean with people who donít know, because the audience at this point after two movies has a pretty good idea whatís going on, letís not have people yapping away trying to figure out what the heck is going on and going through the different permeations, letís get to the meat of the matter, and itís better to have the opportunity to explore the issue of interacting with those pictures, and actually have that be part of the investigation as opposed toÖ

JW: Itís sort of the character with history; itís a little different as opposed to a character coming to a new. Because you have the first two movies we can kind of skip over a lot of the exposition of whatís going on because another character can have said Ďoh, I read this on the internet, this happenedí and thatís it, thatís all you have to deal with it and you go on with your own story.

Is this the same age group, or are they younger?

JW: Theyíre high school age. Unlike FD2 where you had older members, we sort of went backÖ

GM: Itís the moment of graduation where you really kind of feel that your lifeís starting andÖ

CP: Öand then you take it (haha).

To be continued...

Ah, I know, you're hangin' on their every word and you don't want it end...but alas we got to stop somewhere, and what a better spot than this? Look for Part 3 of my set visit, with the second half of my interview as stars Ryan Merriman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead join the party! Until next time...

FINAL DESTINATION 3 will be released
in 2006

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