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INT: Alex Proyas

I just got a chance to chat with the director of the upcoming KNOWING, Alex Proyas. In the film, an elementary school opens a 50-year-old time capsule. Amid the pictures of what the kids from the 50's think the future will look like, is a page with nothing but numbers. When young Caleb (Chandler Canterbury ) brings the page home to his dad, John Koestler (Nicholas Cage), he discovers that the numbers are a code that have predicted all the major disasters in the past 50 years...and a bunch that haven't happened yet. Along with the daughter of the now-deceased girl who wrote the code (Rose Byrne), John must discover if there is a way to prevent the end of the world and what role his family has to play.

Shot with the famous digital red camera and featuring some pretty spectacular disasters (check out the trailer), KNOWING looks like quite a ride. Proyas told us about his digital experience, the code and his upcoming vampire flick, DRACULA YEAR ONE. It's an origin story so he's going to cast it younger than we've seen. He promises to turn the story on it's ear and do some unexpected casting. Anyone have any ideas about who should play a young Drac? And of course, I asked him about the upcoming remake of his film THE CROW.

KNOWING opens March 20, 2009.

Alex Proyas

Where are you in production with the film right now?

We're scrambling like crazy trying to get it finished, before it's ripped away from me to be turned into many prints for many theaters. So we're literally about a week away from finishing.

I was watching the trailer again and the action shots look incredible. I know you shot with the RED (digital) camera. How did that affect what you were doing?

Well, this is the first time I've shot digitally. I've always been a film guy until now. And I've been really impressed with the camera. I think it's been really, well, there's no going back for me. It's the future, certainly, as far as I'm concerned. We used it for many reasons. The image has an incredible clarity about it. It's hard to describe. It almost feels three dimensional. You can almost touch the actors. You feel like you can reach into the screen and because my movie...there's a sort of reality factor, an almost documentary factor about the style of photography, how the sequences are done.

I've sort of offset that by having this...sometimes that goes hand in hand with, like, a grainy, gritty image. I didn't want that. I wanted clarity in the image so you really felt like you were part of the scene so I think that's worked out very well, that sort of stylistic contrast there, you know? And it's great in available light...I'm getting more and more into simple imagery. How it's lit should be done in a very simple way and a very real way. And I feel that the closer we can approximate to the way the human eye sees, the better. And I think the red technology is really a step in that direction for sure.

The trailer contains some pretty intense action scenes. I hear there was a two minute shot that took you two days to film...

Yeah, the plane crash that we did. It's literally just one continuous take where Nick Cage's character sees a jet airliner come in and crash into a field and explode into flames. He sees the fuselage flying and he runs in...and he tries to save people as much as he can. And he's confronted with some pretty horrific images of people on fire and having to duck and weave around exploding sections of the plane. It's a really visceral sequence. It's really fun because, when I screen it for people...who didn't know, no one realizes it's one shot. It's so disturbing that, I think, people are too busy hanging on to their seats. And no one really realizes that it's done without a cut. But I think it does add a sense that you are very much in the action, as opposed to being able to hide behind cuts and edits.

It's one of those things. It's like great fight scenes, great choreographed fight scenes, in like Hong Kong action movies are in a single shot, because the performers are so good at what they do that they don't need cuts. And you don't realize it but it does have that intensity. Or a great Fred Astaire dance number often was one shot. Again, because he was so skillful at being able to not make any mistakes and have to hide behind them, you know. So I guess we were pushing the envelope a little bit to try and create that sense of peril and reality.

So this is another one that's going to make people want to take the train instead of the plane?

Unfortunately we sort of destroy all forms of transport in the film. I don't think there's any incidences with pedal bikes, so that's probably going to be OK for people.

How much of that scene and the movie in general is done with CGI?

You know, again, the key was really to make the CG invisible and to have it weave into reality and into the real mechanical stuff so well that you don't really notice one for the other. Because I guess people being cynical now, they're pretty much seen everything happen on the screen. I think that the only thing that's left to us is to blur the boundaries so we don't really know clearly what...we know there's some form of trickery, obviously, it's a movie after all. But we're not exactly sure how everything is working.

I'm really intrigued by the code. In the trailer he (Cage) has them all up on a board and some are circled in red and some are circled in blue...is there anything you can tell us about it?

I really can't because it's really part of the mystery of the movie. And the characters kind of decipher how the numbers function in the movie, so I'd rather it was left for people to discover. Having said that, a few people seem to have already cracked the code a little bit. (laughs) You know, from just what's available in the promotion of the movie. It never ceases to amaze me how much thought people put into some of the stuff that's out there. And manage to decipher things so cleverly.

So you've got a Dracula movie coming up...

Yeah, it's not a done deal at this stage but it's a script that I'm very excited about and I think it kind of puts the legend on it's ear. It's ostensibly a prequel of Bram Stoker's Dracula. But it has a very intriguing premise.

Are we talking the same style as BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA? Really gory? A little more psychological?

It's essentially a medieval epic. It's really about the birth of the legend. So it's set in 13th century Transylvania. So it's quite different to the movies that have been made and also the Bram Stoker story.

With everyone who's played Dracula in the past, what sort of look would you be going for?

Yeah, well, it is the sort of origin story to an extent, so I guess it may be someone a little younger than we've seen. You know? I can't really say a lot more because I'm not at that stage yet. Hopefully from a casting point of view, we'll put the notion of Dracula on it's ear as much as the story is going to be doing. So I can at least promise an unexpected approach to casting.

There's also been some talk about you doing THE UNPLEASANT PROFESSION OF JOHNATHAN HOAG (based on a novel by Robert Heinlein). Where are you on that? Both movies are listed as being slated for 2011.

JOHNATHAN HOAG is a story that I've always loved and I've been wanting to turn it into a film for a long time. And I'm supposed to be writing that and I haven't. I'm just starting at the moment so I'm really on my first draft. It's probably a little way away yet.

I know they're doing a remake of THE CROW, one of my favorites.

Thank you.

I have to ask you what you think about that.

I think it's kind of premature, really. It's seems like, um, THE CROW is only like 15 years old maybe. It's seems, early. (laughs) I always thought that remakes, you shouldn't be given license to remake something for at least 25 years. I don't know. It just seems kind of odd to me. Just rerelease the original movie. (laughs)

Source: JoBlo.com

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