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INT: DJ Caruso

09.12.2008

D.J. Caruso hit a home run with DISTURBIA.  He had a rising star by the name of Shia LaBeouf and he had a movie that spent some time at the number one position in the box office numbers game.  But before then, his films didn’t see that type of success.  Although THE SALTON SEA garnered a bunch of critical acclaim, and has gained a sort of cult status.  Yet things seem to be getting hotter for him.  With the success of DISTURBIA, he and Shia are reunited for a much bigger explosion called EAGLE EYE.

I did not get the chance to see the completed film before this interview, but it wasn’t because the studio didn’t want anyone to see it.  In fact, it was barely finished before D.J. and I got to chat.  Yet from getting the chance to see the first thirty minutes, I am very excited about it.  It looks like it should be exactly the film Mr. Caruso promises, an action flick with some smarts too it.

Whenever I’ve had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Caruso, I always enjoy the experience.  He may very well be one of the nicest guys in Hollywood.  He is also a talented director that is able to tell a pretty captivating story.   We even talked about Y: THE LAST MAN and of course thoughts about casting Shia, and even the heat he is already getting out on the world wide web.  He seems to take with stride… so read on and remember, EAGLE EYE will be landing in a theatre near you on Sept. 26th.

DJ Caruso

The last time we spoke, you weren’t quite finished with EAGLE EYE, where are you at now?

Well we just finished the movie on Friday [Sept. 5th].  I haven’t seen the full composite or the answer print yet, but we’re getting close.  And we just did the IMAX mix because IMAX saw the movie and they wanted it for their fall.  So we’re going to get some IMAX releases which is nice.  But that required us to go up to Toronto to do a little bit of a different mix because their speakers are set up a little differently than the standard Dolby.  So that was fun actually.

How complicated of a process was it?

It was fairly complicated because we had to go listen to our mix, the 5.1 mix versus the IMAX sort of, adaptation of that and you realize with the IMAX theatre for the center speaker, there’s a speaker above the center speaker which is called like, “The Voice of God” speaker.  So we had to make some decisions about where we’d put dialogue in this speaker and “The Voice of God” speaker as well, and the surround… the left and right speaker are so far from the center speaker, almost in a good way, that you realize, God you can push up some of the background effects a little bit because the dialogue is really well protected as opposed to the side one, which is a little bit closer.  It was really, actually educational for me a little bit to see that.

That’s one thing I’ve noticed about you is that you seem to be well versed in all aspects of filmmaking.

Well you have to be,  it’s sort of the responsibility I feel.  And also I find it so fascinating, it’s really interesting.

With EAGLE EYE, and with DISTURBIA, you deal with paranoia and the effect that it has on society.  Although this time it is on a much bigger scale but still kind of that same theme.

It is actually part of that same theme and I think the conclusion that I’ve come to is that basically, 1984 is really here, you know, twenty some odd years later.  And the interesting thing is that we’re inviting “Big Brother” into our lives because we love our technology so much.  With our BlackBerrys… it’s the security cams, it’s the credit cards that we stick in the parking meters now instead of putting coins in.  It’s all the stuff and every Google search and everything that we do, and Gmail sort of flagging our e-mail memos and realizing what the content of those memos are and trying to get advertising to us, hooked with what the content of our e-mails are.  And so I feel like as much as we love our technology and how much it sort of improved our life, we have basically invited “Big Brother” into our lives unbeknown to us.  And I think that is sort of something that freaks me out a lot.

It also seems to be detaching us from each other with things like Facebook and MySpace and such…

It definitely is… I mean, it’s great and these are great tools and they are great things to do but the less human interaction, the worse off we are for it obviously.  And particularly in EAGLE EYE, it’s one of those things where again, it is slightly cautionary, but I think its really weird… and I always kind of wondered ‘cause I know Kubrick was always fascinated with how man, how much we love our machines you know, and how the machines turn on you and how it can… you know, I really understand that, it’s interesting.

This is also a much bigger film than what you have done before effects wise.  How was that experience for you?

I think it’s a lot more pressure than when you are trying to make the little movie that you hope people catch on to.   I mean, there’s a lot more expectations from everyone that you’re working for to deliver a certain thing.  But then as a director, the good thing about it is you take it day by day, scene by scene, and moment by moment and try and make each one as good as you can.  That’s the fun and the challenge of it.  It’s just instead of doing it for forty days, you’re doing it for eighty days.  You have a lot more hardware and you have a lot more things blowing up and cars and crashing.  And at the same time, you know you’re making a big popcorn movie but you want it to have a little bit of a social relevance.  And so that is where I felt my job is to weave that in.  So you know you’re having  a good time, but it’s just a little bit smarter than most of those movies, which I enjoy too.  But they just aren’t quite making any sort of social commentary.

Yeah, there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with making those types of movies, but…

Oh yeah, no I love it.  I mean, it’s a great escape from this thing, you know, it’s fantastic.

But with your films it seems they often have a darker undercurrent if you will.  Is that something you look for, the sort of dark nature of humanity?

Well I find myself attracted to the dark nature of humanity because I think, through the darkness you can… when your characters see the light, it becomes that much more rewarding.  You know, even going back to THE SALTON SEA, where Danny, Val’s [Kilmer] character was so hell bent on revenge, and it just became something that, you know, he didn’t know what he was bent on revenge because it was part of the plotting of it.  But ultimately when he realizes that revenge isn’t gonna get you anywhere, and even though he just acted out the revenge, everything he thought it would be, it’s not you know.  And through all that darkness,  there is sort of a moment of light that comes through.  And dealing with the gambling in TWO FOR THE MONEY when Matthew’s [McConaughey] character realized it’s all, you know, at the end of the day you think you’re a genius but it’s really about flipping the f*cking coin.  And same thing here in EAGLE EYE, you have Shia’s [LaBeouf] character who comes from a dark place… there is a light where these characters have to fight a lot of the darkness that we fight everyday to see that light.

And again you are working with Shia who seems to be obviously a favorite of yours.  Is there any interest in casting him in Y: THE LAST MAN?

Yeah, no, I think Shia would be a great Yorick, I think… one, because Yorick is a really grounded real guy and at the same time has a really wild sort of pop culture sense of humor, and he’s self-deprecating and he’s a really interesting guy.  The thing about Yorick in “Y: The Last Man” is, what I’m fascinated with is  that the last man on earth isn’t really a man yet, you know.  He’s sort of a man-child.  And I think Shia would be a perfect Yorick for all those reasons.

Well are you a little nervous going in to that because there is going to be a lot of fan boy criticism.  Already there is a lot of, ‘Oh no, he’s going to do this… he’s going to do that…!’  Does that bother you or…?

You know it doesn’t bother me because I really firmly believe everyone is entitled to their opinion.  I think that everyone has the right to do that so I try not to get too upset by it, and you just kind of go with it and read it, but you know, if you’re a true fan of “Y: The Last Man”, obviously Brian Vaughan is because he created it and he’s been working with some screenplay, you realize that you can’t put everything in.  You have to make decisions and part of it, the movie has not been made as of yet, and that is because every screenplay tried to put too much in you know.  And you have to really make some tough decisions.  And you know, sometimes it kills you, the things that can’t be in, a lot of times you’re excited so you know… everyone’s entitled to their opinion.  The beautiful thing about it is, is because “Y: The Last Man”, like a good song, people personalize a lot of the stuff in there and it becomes very important to that individual.  And if that individual sees a slight change in that, I can understand why they’d react the way they’d react.

Now stepping back to EAGLE EYE, it opens on September 26th…

Right, the 26th.

I know you had mention that there were no test screenings, do you feel that you had a little more freedom because of that?

Yeah I think it did, but I also… we did kind of do some really great friends and family and formals… you know friends and family are always going to be a little bit nicer to you than a test audience.  But you really did learn a lot about the movie, particularly pacing and certain things like that.  But in a weird way, the reason I say like a “test screening”  could really help a movie or help a studio get excited about a movie because they go, ‘wow, when we tested DISTURBIA and it got a 96, people went crazy…’ and then it actually made the studio believe in it.  Paramount went like, ‘wow, look what we have here… if we can get people to go to this movie, it’s gonna play for awhile because it’s a good movie.’  I think EAGLE EYE, we already had a good response from Paramount when we showed them the movie and it was really more about fine tuning it.  The movie is what it is, it’s not one of those, well hey let’s go back and shoot this scene… it’s tough to explain but that’s kind of the way it worked out.

Let me know what you think.  Send questions and/or comments to JimmyO@joblo.com.

 

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Source: JoBlo.com

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