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Set Visit: The Hitcher (2/6)

Nov. 8, 2006by:

After checking out the sweltering hot set of THE HITCHER remake (read part 1 HERE), it was time to sit down with first time film director Dave Myers, who's been rockin' the music video circuit for the last few years. Upon arriving at his trailer, I came to the conclusion that he was a film geek like you and me... except he's actually making movies, and having a blast doing it. Curious about what he has to say about his first feature film, and a remake of a beloved classic at that? Of course you are! Read on!

David Meyers

Dave Myers: Welcome to the trailer. There are four seats and a pillow. I stole it.

From?

DM: The Four Seasons.

So it's the best!

DM: Yeah!

So how's it coming along here on what, week three?

DM: Ah, week four I think. Yeah, we're in week four so... maybe even week five, no! it's week four. It's all a blur!

I know, any surprises or...

DM: Ah, it's you know just from my personal journey it's just from commercials and videos that are like sprints. This is much more like a marathon. You wake up and go "I've got to go back again?" Like you feel great and the end of a week, like "Wow, we did some great stuff this week. Ok, lets go back home." Then it's like "No we got more problems next week." so. I mean that's on the back side. What we're getting on camera has been really exciting. There has been some really great just you know. One of my primary goals throughout the film was to make really make characters with depth and try to avoid the horror cliche.

It's interesting because I don't think I'm able to view the film as a horror genre as much as a thriller. I guess by virtue of the producers doing horror films and just that I felt like part of a machine that was very horror based, remake of horror films. So one of my main identities that when I met with the producers a year ago I was like "I'll do the Hitcher because there's great characters in it. It's a great billing and there's a chance to upgrade you know we had the whole take of making the Jim Hallsey (sp)character from the original turn into a boyfriend and girlfriend making it less of a quiet movie and more sort of a love triangle thing going on and I say that metaphorically because there is sort of a weird relationship with the girl in the middle of these two guys. That doesn't lose a lot for me to sink my teeth into in a long winded way of saying what I'm actually enjoying is watching even the sub characters, the clerk in the convenient store was hilarious.

We have Neal McDonough as playing the Esteridge character and he... it's just becoming a really interesting element and it's going good. It's better than I actually expected. I'd heard so many horror stories about the first movie that... yeah, those horror stories were true the first week. As far as the kind of crunch they put on you and um... I now have the full trust of everybody and we're really jamming and making great stuff. Sean Bean is amazing and Sophie is really made a... I feel blessed to have... These young actors sometimes have... I shouldn't say actors but young characters in movies especially in this genre tend to do inhumane things like "oh, why did you trip and fall?" and "They're fake crying!" or they're young and I guess it's always not so believable and so I've just been really blessed that Zack and Sophia have really made it believable.

That their age group and the whole college vibe that they're bringing to it or starting from and just you know they're stronger characters than what they know. They're what I had hoped for and then didn't know if I would get and I'm really impressed with them. That we get to do...well I would say but I can't tell you about the set. Let's say that we're doing some exciting stuff in the next couple of days. Do you want me to tell you about those things?

Ah, well we have inklings because we know some things from the first movie are being carried over. Some of the more gory ones.

DM: Yeah, there's elements to it. Well I mean you guys are going to sort of know but it's stuff that I don't want to be quoted as saying it. I'll leave that to your guys editorial discretion but you're going to see later today kind of one of the twists...

How long is the whole shoot supposed to be, if I may ask?

DM: Nine weeks shoot for 44 days and ah, a lot of action. Our exteriors are done in New Mexico, interiors are in Austin with the thought process being that there's solid crews in Austin and we can get all the night time and the interiors done here and it's going to make a more efficient production. More value on the screen for the audience. We've got some pretty big action scenes in New Mexico. I rewrote the ending from the original.

Oh, did you?

DM: Well just the, I mean my main approach to the original was solving some of the logic flaws it had. You know I think it was a very good film for what it was and if you really study it like I have, I've kind of pinpointed certain things that really bothered me in... just in the believability of it all.

Such as...

DM: Such as, why is Ryder trying to... What is Ryder's deal? Sort of embrace the idea that he's a looking to kind of end it all for himself and trying to choose the proper opponent. Like if you were... It's kind of a back story kind of thing and we don't really talk about it and we like keeping him mysterious. It's the idea that he's looking to die. He's looking and he's trying and he chooses one of the kids as sort of that person and that's the reason he's obsessed on them. He's not just a random dude just chasing people popping up out of nowhere. He's really you know actually... He doesn't start the movie that way, he kind of evolves into that and learns more about the kids and starts to realize that they are the ones, kind of like if he was a demon and looking to retire. He's looking for one of God's creatures, the most purest person he can find to corrupt. That's part of his secret fantasy.

That was one and you know I thought that there were just little things that were in our first drop that were in the original like just the prison transport goes one way and C. Thomas goes the other way. He pulls a gun on a cop and just the fact that he goes so far overboard, it just...I think we tried to keep a... I don't... maybe at the time, that was realistic but right now it feels like if you're a teenager in this kind of shit you're always going to the cops even when the cops die in the first scene. You're still going to be like "You know what, the right thing to do is to get the cops." So to believe the middle part of the movie where you actually become a criminal was a very difficult and very specific sort of thing that would have been, you know, we kind of approached...

It has the inspiration from the original but we've reblocked it so that it hopefully plays more believable and more intelligent as far as what you would really do and I'm hoping that that subtlety upgrades it from kind of a cold TV film to something that's actually an A level thriller. But it's all theoretical at the moment. It's working so far, the scenes we've shot are really, really intense. Like them sitting in the car and when they first pick him up. That was another thing, is I don't think anyone would pick up a hitchhiker these days especially one in the rain that's wearing a trench coat. So we have a whole approach with that that we started taking a different spin on. So there's echoes of the original in there.

I feel really good that we've taken new spins and there's a lot more spins that I won't spoil for everybody but they have just been about upgrading and making it contemporary and I hope that that will one, respect the original, you know since it'll then have some things that'll be unique things between this film and that one. It'll honor by being inspired in certain scenes where there are things flying out that are the same kind of beats and they just sort of allow us to have a fighting chance to make the Hitcher you know a scary billing for now days cause I'm one of those guys that the first thing I said to the guys , I said guys is there even an audience for a movie called the Hitcher you know.

No ones going to pick up a hitchhiker. We started with that as a big predicament. Had like fifty different ways that teenagers would pick up a... I just saw the edit of the scene where they decide to pick him up and it's perfect. It's weighing on their guilt as humans and the older you get, the more you'd be like "Uh uh!" You know, I'm not doing it! When you're young your put in a weird situation where you know and it's that guilt where you're like "Oh, you know... We passed him on the road." Now we're certain in a very safe environment he seems like a very normal guy. Most people would probably give him a ride. I'll leave it at that but there's a real lot of effort that we've put into it that's really making things believable.

Had you seen the original prior to taking this project on?

DM: No I hadn't. It was just funny. I'm a huge horror film guy and I certainly know Texas Chainsaw and all the other movies and Re-Animator is one of my favorites and I Spit on Your Grave and like all these like... I was a big horror and... those were more culty but it's ah, you know. Certainly Poltergeist and movies like that I've watched a billion times over. But the Hitcher is somehow escaped my childhood. I was sort of aware of the HBO series when that came out and that was my only real... and it was a fuzzy thing. I didn't have HBO when I was a kid so I never saw it and so it was more the producers had wanted to do a movie with me and they asked me to watch it and I'm like you know, it's pretty good.

Really well directed. I looked up the director and I don't know that guy's name right now and I just sort of got pregnant with it you know. I was just sort of like... I went in with all these reasons why I didn't want to do it. All the logic problems like "Well this would never happen." and "I don't know if this is really going to work." and blah blah blah and they're like "Yeah, those are our problems too, let's solve them together." and I was like "Oh! All right, this is collaborative. All right." It began there and we started solving them in ways you know we introduced the boyfriend and girlfriend. One of my biggest issues with the original was I didn't know how much character you could get out of a guy who's alone on the...there's a nice... the original did it well but I wasn't really drawn to it.

Like I like the love story that's going on in the middle of our movie here and the contrast that creates. It's not a real love story, it's not like Titanic or anything but like Titanic is another good example. You have this base of... it's like the heart of the movie is proceeding forward while you've got the big action and suspense going on all around it. I think that's a really great sort of... I mean I'm an audience member first before I'm any sort of filmmaker and so as an audience member, that's what I like to watch, the multi layers and lots of depth and sub characters are doing stuff and like I watched Thelma and Louise a lot for this movie and I watched Sugarland Express and those were like two movies that really inspired me even down to the cops in those movies and all the sub characters are really rich and that's where we... I've answered your question I think.

What has been your favorite part so far?

DM: So far?

Do you have a favorite scene, or...

DM: Well, my favorite scene so far I think is the one that just slid off the...I mean the "I want to die" scene from the original, the first ride with the hitcher was just you know we had the right amount of time to shoot it and we have tons of angles in there and it was my first scene with Sean and he was just ah... I mean I sort of saw the preview. Like, up until that day I was bugging the producers. I'm like, "How do you market this film?" Like, what is it without showing the whole movie. What do you do? I'm bugging them cause I can't see the preview, I don't know if I'd go see the movie.

So I'm like how am I making a movie I don't know how to convince my own self to go see it and then I saw that scene and I'm like "That's the fucking preview!" you know then I just showed it to the producers tonight cause there's some comic book convention they wanted to do a little teaser at and they're like "We don't have enough footage." and I'm like "Just watch this!" and then they watched it and they were like "Can we finish this in a week?" and I was like... Cause it's really good. you know the tension and the... and I really think that having three of them or the boyfriend and girlfriend is really going to upgrade the experience cause just that there's someone in the back seat too and what their doing and how it all kind of plays in and it's all in a four-four-two classic muscle car and there's a lot of fun elements that make it really good. So that's been my favorite so far.

Is this Comic-Con, you were talking about as far as the preview for...

DM: Yeah, I think it is. Yeah, yeah! I'm new to it all so I'm just trying to take it all in but that was what they said. Comic-Con?

Comic-Con. Yeah, it's a great place to preview stuff for fans. Get a lot of buzz going.

DM: Yeah, I think we've been... I mean always there's a naysayer somewhere in the equation but I think from the hard core fans that I've been exposed to you know a lot of the... There's a delicacy to it, and I think that we're bringing an inspiration to it and revitalizing it as opposed to being sacrilegious.

Well the Hitcher doesn't really seem like a untouchable kind of classic anyway do you think?

DM: No I agree. That's actually one of my main... Yeah! give me a couple of minutes. That was actually one of the other things that I felt was that I felt that it was an extremely well done B movie. I was like so it's B in my head and I'm like al right so maybe there's a chance to make it an A. If we come out with a B and it's well it's acceptable then it's cool. You know I have a much bigger issue with like Psycho being remade. You know movies that are still A thirty years later, are still watched on TV constantly you know and still studied in film school and still A. Those are much scarier to go anywhere near and are much scarier to take deviations. Then you really piss off people if you change a scene. There's no shower scene and you go see Psycho! I mean it's like that would really piss people off. Whereas the Hitcher is sort of like ready to be remade for a young audience and for the older audiences that sort of have kept it's cult appeal going, I think that we've sort of reinvigorated the characters and done some new things that should make it a worthwhile remake for them to attend.

Sounds good to me.

I'd like to say a big THANK YOU to Dave for his time, and the opportunity to check out some of the cool shite they're doing on the set. Stick around for my interview with Platinum Dunes producer Brad Fuller in a few days!

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