Set Visit: Interview with producers Brad Fuller and Andrew Form from Friday the 13th
Platinum Dunes consists of three men: Brad Fuller, Andrew Form, and Michael Bay. While on the set of FRIDAY THE 13TH I got the chance to chat with two of those men, Mr. Form and Mr. Fuller. Now if you're a genre fan, chances are you know exactly who these guys are. They've produced the following movies: THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, THE HITCHER, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING, THE HORSEMEN and the upcoming THE UNBORN. Not to mention their name has been mentioned with several other upcoming movies including A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, THE BIRDS, THE BUTCHER CHRONICLES, and OUIJA. So as you can see, that's a whole lot of remakes! While none were really God awful, none were absolutely amazing either. Platinum Dunes are hoping to change the latter with FRIDAY THE 13TH. These guys love what they're doing and are no doubt huge fans of the genre. So read on to see what they had to say about anything and everything FRIDAY THE 13TH.
Brad Fuller & Andrew Form
So what's left to film tonight?
Andrew Form: Well we have two nights left and we're shooting not the finale of the movie, but the sequence that leads right up to the last set piece of the film, which takes place underground where Jason has a whole little underground system that he works and lives in.. which you guys will see tonight.
So it sounds like you've taken some liberties of your own with this?
AF: From the...
From the first, second or third.
AF: Yes we do. I think we've definitely added some stuff to the story.
But do you still draw from the originals?
Brad Fuller: There are things that we all loved in the original. You say the originals, for us it's really a lot of things that were in the first four. We took kills that we loved and story points that we really thought were great and kind of put those into a blender and that seems to be the back of this film.
So youre not remaking any of them per say, it's just sort of taking certain points and putting them together? What was the mandate for you guys when you started working on it?
BF: You mean like what was important to us?
Like some singular thing or core that you needed to get right so the rest would sort of fall into place?
BF: (laughs) Its never that easy.
AF: We definitely wanted the movie to take place in Crystal Lake. That was very important to us, to go back there. And we want it to be current. And it was going to be a contemporary film. It was not going to be a period piece the way we made CHAINSAW, we went back to 1973.
Why did you decide that?
BF: Because we wanted to get the clothes from the movie after it wrapped and we were sick of wearing 70s clothes. (laughs)
AF: No, I think we wanted the movie to feel different because it's not a straight ahead remake like TEXAS CHAINSAW and AMITYVILLE HORROR, especially AMITYVILLE that took place that year. This one, kind of like what Brad said, we drew from the first three, maybe number four a little bit also and there was no reason not to tell that story in 2009. It didn't have to take place in 1980 or 1979.
BF: There's nothing specific to this story that makes it have to take place in the late 70s-early 80s. And also, all kidding aside, practically every movie that we've made has taken place in the 70s and we did want to start having kids look like normal kids. Have cars that are normal looking cars and those things we haven't really had.
AF: The important things were: who Jason is and where he comes from, which to us is Crystal Lake, and to set the movie in Crystal Lake, which I feel the franchise got away from.
BF: There are some other things that are important. We wanted to have a fun horror movie. And when I say fun I don't mean funny, but just everyday kids that we all know hanging out, drinking, having sex, and smoking weed. As a production company and as producers, Drew and I have spent so much time in basements dismembering people. It kind of wears on you so we wanted to kind of get out of that and have a movie that takes place outside and have hot girls running around, a more fun type of horror movie.
Nothing wrong with that.
BF: I think that our first, especially our first three films and this film that we finished called HORSEMEN, a lot of these films are so dreary and seem to be something that, at the time was kind of novel but a lot of the horror movies now are very dreary and we wanted to get away from that. We wanted to have a really scary movie, but not just have it be like dark and dingy.
AF: Like having fingernails pulled off and having people not be able to look at the screen because of that. I'd rather them not look at the screen because they're scared of when Jason's popping out than someone being put on a meat hook and the insert shots, the back going in and all that. In a movie like this it's not about torture. The killings are fun... it's scary. The killings are fun; it's not a torture movie. It's not torture horror, I think that's one of the things that really excited us about this franchise and making this movie.
BF: He is a very efficient killer. (laughs)
You mention the scariness... the thing that made the first two movies so great was the score. That's what the scare was. Are you guys going for that same fear?
AF: Yeah. There would be no FRIDAY THE 13TH movie without that iconic music, so we've already licensed that music.
Great. FREDDY VS JASON went for more of a hard rock type of score... and it didn't really work.
AF: I think this movie is definitely more classic horror. Even though it's 2009, it feels classic horror.
BF: But our composer we've worked with on almost all of our films, he's well versed in this area and that was what we were looking for. He did the scores for both CHAINSAW and AMITYVILLE, it felt classic and they were referential of the original scores so we're going in that direction here.
Would you say this is like, sort of like John Ottman doing John Williams for SUPERMAN RETURNS? Do you guys take care of Manfredinis score or...?
BF: No, it's not that specific. Certainly the theme...
AF: The theme has been licensed and of course, the Jason POV and when you hear that theme there's no doubt. We've licensed that and that is in the film. I'm sure [composer] Steve Jablonsky will draw from that. It's an iconic score, it's very strong, there's no reason not too.
Now that youre so close to the end, has there been anything in particular that's surprised you about how the film has evolved from when you first got the script?
BF: (laughs) Is there anything...? Everything. Everything about this movie has surprised us.
AF: This movie was so different for us than the films we've made in the past; the casts have been very small. TEXAS CHAINSAW you had five actors, there's four in the second one. This movie has thirteen young actors in it. It's an enormous cast and the casting alone was extremely difficult. There's two groups in the movie, there's a group of five and then there's a group of seven. Getting those groups to gel together and putting them all together and the casting was really difficult. I think seeing that come to life, after that 6 month casting process that was a really nice thing to see happen on the set.
BF: Normally our movies are cast and the cast get to hang out together for a week or two before we start shooting and that happened in this movie, for the most part. We were recasting it up till a day before shooting and in fact, Richard Burgi, who plays the sheriff in this movie, we cast him 12 hours before he was working. It was that crazy. Literally, literally, we saw him, we signed off on him, got the disk to [Michael] Bay and Bay had to sign off between 9 and 10 because his plane was leaving at like 11:30. By the way, if Bay had said no I don't know what we would have done because we had no one else anyway. You asked what was surprising. Casting was surprising. A Herculean task to get it together and to get everyone here on time.
AF: You know what was surprising? Youre making FRIDAY THE 13TH, its Jason Voorhees, Brad and I both grew up with these movies and the first time I saw Derek Mears put the mask and the wardrobe on and walk onto set. That was surprising. Because you talk about it and 'Ok, great.' You see the mask like this 'Ok, that looks great.' And we figure the wardrobe out and we do a wardrobe fitting.
BF: And you try and be professional like it doesn't affect you but when you see it for the first time you can't help but be a fan first and working second.
AF: He turns around and looks at you and Derek Mears is not there anymore. It's psychotic. You just kind of stare at him, then when he takes the mask off there he is. He puts it on and truly he's gone. Almost every day when you see that youre like 'That's Jason right there...' He truly is transforming when he puts that mask on and just starts walking around.
So in your opinion would he be the best of the whole franchise thus far?
AF: Oh he's our favorite. For sure.
BF: He's a great guy. You guys will love him. You'll sit down with him, you'll love this guy. He's fantastic.
AF: You'll be amazed on how different he is with and without the mask.
BF: And his level of commitment to this.
AF: He is a fan first also.
You mentioned that in your blog, how he's so into it and the commitment.
BF: It's crazy. It's unbelievable. We saw him today out in front of the lobby and his legs are completely bruised up everywhere. And his face is so red. Did you read the blog?
Yeah, because the makeup.
BF: You'll see it. His face is so red.
Are there any lessons that you guys took from some of the other reboots or remakes that they've done?
BF: Yes, absolutely. We've learned a lesson from ourselves. That was when we made the second CHAINSAW, I think we made Leatherface... compassionate is the wrong word but zestful by showing his background and I don't think you can do that to Jason Voorhees. That's why this is not an origin film. We didn't want to spend a tremendous amount of time seeing him be ostracized so that you understand why he's killing. I think that really demystifies him in a way that doesn't help the film.
So pretty much what they did with the HALLOWEEN?
BF: I was going to say how we would never take a run at any other horror movie besides our own. I learned that lesson from our movie and some others too.
Is there a point to humanizing these guys who're essentially supposed to be monsters?
BF: Well you know what, the audiences will tell us because there are scenes in this movie we shot both ways. Where we humanize him a little bit and then we pull back and say maybe we don't want to show this this way. At the end of the day we're going to have to watch the movie in its entirety and see if we're making him too sympathetic or not. We do not want him to be sympathetic. He is not a comedic character. He's not a sympathetic character. He's a killing machine. That's it. Plain and simple. That's what he's there to do.
There are previous moments in the originals where they do humanize him. Like when characters try to trick him into believing they're someone else and then you see, for a split second, that there's something in there. I mean they've done it with Michael Myers as well in HALLOWEEN.
AF: We have those moments in this film.
BF: He's not a robot. You definitely can... he is human. When I'm talking about humanizing, I'm talking more about feeling sorry or empathy for that guy. That's what we are never going to do.
Like show flashbacks. Someone killed his dog or something...
AF: Right, or the kids kicking him when he's down and beating him up. That's not in this movie.
When you've had 11 previous films to draw on is there any temptation to throw in references like Tommy Jarvis..
BF: I knew that was coming! We really thought about it and it was a big discussion with the whole Tommy Jarvis and all. At the end of the day this isn't going to be FRIDAY THE 13TH Part 11 or 12. What we're trying to do is we're trying to create our own mythology on the basis of the mythology that's already been created and not burden ourselves with all of those characters. Does that make any sense?
Of course. That's tricky.
BF: It is tricky. I'm not saying that Tommy Jarvis is or is not in this film. I can tell you that you won't see Corey Feldman strolling around the set tonight. It was certainly in a lot of incarnations of the script. There were scenes that we did that in and it's something that we debate back and forth whether or not it's something that will ultimately be in there. We're aware of all of it and we just don't know how it's going to work. Wouldn't you say that's fair?
AF: I would. I think it's also safe to say we really didn't draw past the third movie for anything that's in this film.
BF: So Tommy Jarvis is not... whatever. But there were a lot of Tommy Jarvis conversations.
AF: Yes. He's a favorite.
So in your heads are you already thinking onto part 2 and part 3? Do you have a plan?
AF: No. There's no plan. We wanted to end the movie the right way and that usually doesn't lend itself to a sequel automatically. So our ending I think suits this movie perfectly. If someday somebody wanted to make another one... they always find a way. I mean Jason wasn't even in the first one. He pops up in the lake at the end. They made a second one and the hockey mask didn't come on till the third one so they built that franchise as they went.
BF: It's a little bit of the same that we did with the first CHAINSAW whereas we were never thinking... First of all we never thought that movie would get a theatrical release (laughs) much less do what it did, so the fact that we cut his arm off at the end really limited our ability to have a sequel and I think that's one of the reasons why the movie was good. It was a definitive ending and you knew what was going to happen and that story kind of worked on its own. We're striving for the same thing here. In terms of our production company, the plan is not to go back to New Line and say let's make two and three and four. We have other stuff that we want to do and if we're lucky enough to have this movie hit and someone's interested in us doing it, it's something that we would probably certainly consider because we love the characters but it's not anything were going into as a game plan now.
AF: Yeah we definitely love that character. I mean we love Jason.
You guys mentioned the hockey mask. Is there a definitive origin for where and why...
AF: Yes. That is a definite. You definitely see where the hockey mask comes from and why he puts it on and all that.
BF: We have the sack in the movie and he goes from the sack to the hockey mask.
AF: That's like two to three for us. Like two is the sack, three is the hockey mask. So we took from both.
Were there any specific gaps in the mythology of this creation that you guys made an effort to fill in? Like the mask just kind of appears in the third one and there's not really a story point.
BF: It is a story point and it involves a specific character, like it did in three. Hopefully we've shot it properly in a way where the audience will fully understand that when he takes off that sack and puts on that mask that he is the Jason Voorhees everyone knows and loves.
So there is a reason he puts it on? Like in the third one there wasn't really a reason, it's just kind of convenient.
AF: Well it's not like he's playing hockey. It's not anything like that. Something that he sees makes him realize that maybe that's a better look for him.
Talking about the mask, the sack and Tommy Jarvis, how do you strike that balance between appeasing the hardcore fans that want to see something. And then you have the newbies coming in who may have not seen all the FRIDAY THE 13TH films but just know Jason as being a psychotic character like Marilyn Monroe or James Dean and from the T-shirts and action figures but may have not seen the movies. How do you strike that balance between the hardcore fans and new fans?
BF: I think the most important thing is the story, right? The story is the most important thing.
Yeah but the movie can live on.
BF: The movie lives on. So you go from that place. We came up with a story that we were all interested in telling about a camp and the kids who go there meet this unfortunate figure. That's the guts of the movie, is that story. Then when you talk about making sure the fans are happy, I think that's about being respectful and true to the things that have been established up front and not dismissing them and being irreverent to them. That's something we really tried to do, to be very respectful of those ground rules. But at the same time we don't want to alienate people who haven't seen the movie. There are kids out there who know the hockey mask but don't know that it came in the third movie, they don't know that background. It is a very delicate balance. But the balance totally doesn't work if the story sucks. So to answer your question we started with the story and we tried to layer things in.
AF: But I think we kept very true to who Jason is. The machete is the weapon. We know who Jason is; we've seen all the films. To the die hards, you get Jason Voorhees. Youre not getting some new character wearing a hockey mask, except that he sings and dances in ours. (laughs) He's a good dancer.
Can you talk more about what kind of kills there are? A Jason kill can be funny, like punching the guy's head off in Part 8. Do all the kills have a comedic touch? Or more scary?
BF: We tend...our tastes tend to go as far away from humor when it comes to violence as possible. Our Jason, the way that we've envisioned him and the way that we've all agreed to make this movie is that he's a brutal killer. There's really not a lot of funny in what he's doing. That's not to say that some of the situations are not absurd and in that absurdity there might be laughs, but Jason himself is killing in a brutal way.
AF: There will definitely be reactions from the audience when the deaths happen. Not in a gross way but in an 'Oh my God' kind of way. There's a lot of deaths in the movie. It's hard; in the CHAINSAW movies you killed three or four people. In this one it's double digits. There's a lot of people who die in the film. Like Brad said, he is a brutal killer. When he strikes, some of the stuff is shocking. Not in a grotesque torture kind of way but in a fun way. Not funny like 'oh my god laugh out loud funny' but you will smile.
He's a more creative killer than Michael Myers, who sort of just strangles you or just knifes you. But Jason's like..
AF: Yes, he has a flare.
BF: And not all of our killings take advantage of this flare but some of them do. You can't do that with all the killings because it just becomes kind of absurd and we wanted to stay away from being absurd. Because when it becomes absurd then you don't care about the characters and the whole thing kind of comes off balance if people are just waiting for the next kill. We know that there's an element for that here, but we're hoping that the variety that we give the audience gets them really invested in the story.
One of the criticisms about the other movies is that they are a doomed teenager movie where it is more about the protagonist being Jason. Is that the case here or do you think the audiences wont necessarily care about the victims? Is it just a matter of the creativity being entertainment value?
BF: I would say that if the audiences don't care about our characters then we haven't done our jobs. When I talk about the characters, I'm talking about these kids. It was great. We hired actors who we thought were really excellent actors. We were not going to settle and say just because it's a horror movie we can get second rate people and we'll just do the movie. We really fought hard to get people who elevate the genre. Aaron Yoo is a kid who was in DISTURBIA and is coming off.. we put him in a movie the weekend 21 opened to number 1. It was kind of cool to get an actor like that to do that, to do this movie. I think we have four or five actors who really have credits where they don't have to be in a horror movie for their career. We did that so we could have characters.
AF: People really seem to respond to it, even if they get killed.
This is going under the title of FRIDAY THE 13TH?
Is there like a subtitle or anything?
AF: Just FRIDAY THE 13TH. With CHAINSAW they were both called that. That's going to be a marketing issue. That's about a thousand problems from now.
When do you expect to drop a teaser?
AF: I don't know. ... Comic Con?
BF: Yeah hopefully Comic Con. At Comic Con we'll show some stuff.
AF: Wow, I didn't even think about that.
What's sort of the power of the film in terms of its look? Obviously the first TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE was really successful with that sort of disaturated look. Is this like that?
AF: It's not dis-saturated, no. It does not look like the first TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. I guess you should ask Marcus [Nispel] that question; I don't want to answer for him. But it definitely does not look like the first TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE; it does not have that look.
Is there another horror movie that it maybe more closely resembles?
BF: You know what's interesting; so much of the movie takes place at night. You can't have bright colors necessarily because so much of it takes place at night. The way that CHAINSAW looked felt really dreary to us and we don't want to have that feeling and I suspect that we don't know what the look's going to be until we're in the edit room or until Marcus sits down and we all put our heads together and figure out what it's going to look like, but it will not be dreary the way that CHAINSAW is.
AF: Yeah, and we'll show you some pictures tonight so you can get a feel. We'll show you kind of what it looks like, but it's definitely not that desaturated bleach bypass movie.
Is there a sizeable role for Jason's mother in this film? Or was that your challenge to downplay that?
AF: Yeah, I think we definitely downplayed the Pamela Voorhees character. The movie takes place in 2009, so her role is not that big but she's definitely part of the film.
Would that be the same with little Jason?
BF: Yeah.... They work together. Yes.
You guys foresee any issues with the MPAA?
BF: (laughs) Sure. Sex, drugs, and violence in one movie. We've never not had issues with the MPAA and I don't say that as a badge of honor, we're not necessarily proud of that but our films are very violent.
AF: We've never had all three in one film. We had drugs and violence but now we have sex also so it's a plan of attack. We go big and we'll see what happens.
BF: We're shooting a FRIDAY THE 13TH movie, we're not holding back.
Have you guys found that in terms of the sexual content of previous films that you have not, say your comparing it to what was in the original FRIDAY THE 13TH. Do you feel like your able to do less now than maybe then?
BF: (laughs) No. I hope not. It's violent.
AF: Let me tell you something, we've never had sex in any of our movies. We've never had nudity in any of our films before. But now we've had... (laughs) There's enough in this movie. You can't make a FRIDAY THE 13TH movie without it. You can't not have hot girls running around nude.
BF: That has to happen. Fortunately both studios were very supportive of that. Seems that a lot more executives were men and we went after it in a pretty big way and we're going to see where the cards fall. Literally, the night we were shooting a scene where a couples having sex in a tent. It was in silver light and the studio exec was on set and... the characters...
AF: They're having sex.
BF: Thank you. They're having sex and the studio guy turns to me and goes 'You can't have him pumping more than three times. The MPAA said that's all you can have.' And I said I didn't know there was a pump limit... (laughs)
AF: (laughs) We shot a lot more than three and I don't know if that's a rule, that you actually can't pump more than three times... but let them tell us. That scene... you know, cut the sex in half. We'll cut our version of it and we'll send it and see what they respond to.
BF: No one will be disappointed with the lack of nudity in this film. It's quite an achievement. Yes.
You mentioned earlier referencing kills from the first three movies. Do you actually sort of quote any of those kills and do them over?
AF: We don't do them identically at all but we definitely use the way the kills are done. We mix some of those. Like Mr. X and stuff like that.
BF: So it's kind of like, let's say a favorite kill was in a sleeping bag, we'll have a sleeping bag kill but it's not the same thing.
AF: Like if your favorite kill is Kevin Bacon with the arrow... yes, then we will take something from that kill and put that twist on it.
BF: And we've heard from everyone about their favorite kills. We put that all in a blender and tried to figure out how we could piece as many kills as we can.
Would you say there's a really large number of kills in this movie compared to other FRIDAY THE 13TH movies?
BF: There's 13. We killed 13 people. The math works out perfectly. I haven't gone through and counted but to me it seemed like a big number. We're shooting for 40 days, that's basically a kill every two and a half days. Which is a lot of work. I mean it was a lot of work.
AF: That was surprising by the way, how much work it was to kill 13 people and to be in Starbucks talking about dismembering people and having people all around us while we're figuring out how we're going to kill someone.
Will we be seeing any kills tonight?
BF: What're we doing tonight? ... No.
AF: Leading up to one. There's a kill tomorrow night, but it'll lead up to one.
You guys said that the marketing is still a little ways off but have you thought about it? Like the original trailer...
AF: We love the original thing.
Like the counting. Is that going to be part of it?
AF: We've talked about it. I think the countdown was brilliant and we happen to have 13 in this movie but.. we're all talking about it. The movie comes out February 13. Comic Con is right around the corner. I'm sure we'd love to have a teaser out sooner than later, even a teaser poster if possible. And a trailer of course ready for the Halloween season, to get us ready. We're all talking about it but I think the first thing we talked about... we looked back and looked at the marketing for the originals.
BF: It's a great campaign.
AF: Great campaign on that first one. Haven't really seen anything like that in a long time. So maybe there's a take on that for us.
Was Marcus always your first choice to direct this?
AF: No, there was another director attached at one time.
BF: Jonathan Liebesman was always a fan. When we started this we were coming off of CHAINSAW that we did and Liebesman was going to do it with us.
AF: Schedules didn't work out and we got purged on the rights issues and then when he couldn't do it then Marcus was the first choice after that.
Did you talk to any of the guys who fastened the originals? Like Steve Miner, Sean Cunningham...?
BF: Yes. We spoke to Sean a lot. Sean was very helpful and he's been a great cheerleader. He's offered his services and said if you need me I'm here and if not that's great. He was really very kind to us. We had dealt with a lot of rights holders when we made these movies and for us Sean has been the perfect partner. I'm not just saying that... if you had asked me those questions about the other movies I would not have said that. He was just great and so supportive.
BF: We've got two movies that we're trying to get going right now. One is at Paramount, called THE BUTCHERHOUSE CHRONICLES. And then we're working on this movie at Universal called OUIJA.
AF: Based on the Ouija board.
BF: Thank you.
AF: Thanks guys.
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