Set Visit: Friday the 13th (2/2)

Before I get into my visit to the FRIDAY THE 13TH set, let me give you an idea of where I stand in regards to this remake/re-imagining/reboot. When it was announced last year, FRIDAY THE 13TH quickly became my most anticipated movie of 2009. It still is today and for even more reason now that I’ve visited the set. I agree with the majority that all these remakes are not needed and are usually terrible, but I see FRIDAY THE 13TH as a perfect opportunity to remake a classic. I say classic... but I’ve never been a huge fan of the first FRIDAY THE 13TH film, hence my excitement towards this remake. Don’t get me wrong, there’s always negatives to go with the positives, and who knows how this movie will actually turn out, but so far it’s looking pretty awesome and I can’t wait to check it out! With that being said... let me tell you exactly what the run down is.


FRIDAY THE 13TH centers on Clay (Jared Padalecki), who’s come to Camp Crystal Lake in search if his sister Whitney (Amanda Righetti). Whitney had gone up to the lake weeks before with a group of friends and never returned. Clay refuses to believe she’s dead and decides to go and look for her himself. When he arrives at the Camp, Clay meets Jenna (Danielle Panabaker) and another group of young teens looking for a good time. Needless to say there’s drugs and sex a plenty, all of which attract that machete wielding maniac known as Jason Voorhees.

The film is produced by Andrew Form and Brad Fuller, from Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes, with Marcus Nispel directing. A couple of Nispel’s other credits include THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE remake and PATHFINDER. So he’s no stranger to a maniac doing lots of killing. He does have a pretty unique vision though... and it’ll be interesting to see if it pans over well for a FRIDAY THE 13TH film.

 Jared Padalecki will be playing Clay while the breathtaking Amanda Righetti will star as Whitney, with the equally gorgeous Danielle Panabaker playing Jenna. Putting on the hockey mask for the first time will be Derek Mears. Other cast includes: Travis Van Winkle, Aaron Yoo, Willa Ford, Ryan Hansen, Nick Mennell, America Olivio, Julianna Guill, and Nana Visitor along with many others (double digit body count remember!). The script comes from Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, who happen to be the duo behind Jason’s last adventure, FREDDY VS. JASON. So there’s the just of it... so time for the set visit!


June 13. Friday. I find myself landing in Austin, Texas to visit the set of Platinum Dunes’ FRIDAY THE 13TH remake. But is this really a remake? We’ll get into that. First just let me state how awesome and convenient it was that my set visit landed on this infamous day. I was gleefully happy such coincidence happened... just because. It’s Friday the 13th and I’m watching a FRIDAY THE 13TH movie in the making... can’t get much more perfect than that. So the journey begins. I’m catching some much needed Zzz’s in my hotel room when my phone rings and it’s the movie’s publicist, John Pisani. He asks if I want to interview the producers of the movie before heading to the actual set... hell yeah I do!

So I make my way over to the Four Seasons and wait until Brad Fuller and Andrew Form join our party. These guys were great. There’s no secret that they get a lot of heat for some of the remakes they’ve made, stuff like THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, THE HITCHER, and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING. They know they’re treading on thin ice with these projects, so going in to FRIDAY THE 13TH, they knew what they were in for. And they went at it full force, with confidence and excitement. Both of these guys are huge fans of the entire franchise, so they want it done right as much as we do. If FRIDAY THE 13TH has to be remade, why not by guys who know all about Jason Voorhees and his history? Just seems logical to me. 

The interview with the producing duo was great, they dropped a lot of information at us. Interesting information too. Stuff about the history, the score, a nice chunk about what we can expect with the deaths (some nods to prior kills in the franchise and ranging in the double digits!), the cast, Derek Mears portrayal of Jason, we even talked about Tommy Jarvis... No scoop on that but they did say we wouldn’t be seeing Corey Feldman walking around set. Well there goes that. They also straightened things out with what exactly it is they’re making. Ever since the film was announced, people questioned what it was. Are we looking at a remake? More of a sequel? A re-imagining ala HALLOWEEN? Yes, yes, and yes. All of the above it seems. Jason’s mother, check. Little Jason, check. The infamous sack from Part 2, check. The hockey mask, check. Form and Fuller explained it as taking elements from the first four FRIDAY THE 13THs and making their own movie with it. A movie that keeps to the formula and doesn’t tread upon the foundation set up already. Worry not though, they don’t delve into what makes Jason tick and try to explain why he has this need to interrupt hot chicks having sex to brutally murder them. They depict Jason as a savage killing machine... at least that’s what we’re told.

Form and Fuller have to give their PA a ride to the set, so the interview ends and they take off. After the interview we kill some time before heading over to Austin Studios around 8 PM, where the actual set visit begins. We make our way into this huge warehouse where they’ve constructed this huge set to depict some tunnels underneath Camp Crystal Lake, tunnels that lead to a little spot Jason considers a ‘home.’

"Time for hot dogs!"

They’re currently filming, so we don’t get a tour just yet. Instead we take a seat in front of some monitors and watch as Clay (Jared Padalecki) and Jenna (Danielle Panabaker) descend down into Jason’s tunnels and proceed to find one of Jason’s victims. Clay then grabs a nearby hammer and breaks the chain holding the person captive while Jenna alerts them that Jason is quickly approaching. They filmed this scene a couple times, with Jared’s grunts and vulgar language ringing through the warehouse. We’re then told we can get an interview with Jason Voorhees himself, Derek Mears! So we leave the set and head over to Mears’ trailer, where the large man is waiting for us already geared up in the Jason makeup, minus the face and mask.

People seem to over exaggerate when they tell you how mean or nice a person is. Let me tell you though... Derek Mears is, quite literally, the nicest guy I have ever met! It’s actually ridiculous how nice and pleasant he was. To have a guy like this playing Jason Voorhees? Apparently the producers thought the same thing, and they were iffy on Mears after meeting him solely because how nice he was. But worry not, once that mask comes on, Mears clicks into psycho mode and depicts a savage Jason Voorhees. Mears interview was a fun experience filled with great stories and laughs. From some fun deaths, to how he prepares, to stunts and everything else. Like the producers, Mears is also a huge fan of the entire franchise, and actually passed on some other jobs, hoping he’d get the role as Jason Voorhees. Obviously it worked out for him in the end, and hopefully that means it works out for us too.

After this we set off to the set again, where producer Brad Fuller showed us a different set. It was of a small shack, which holds a very interesting decoration. Holes in the floor of the shack show where Jason’s machete shoots up with lightning speed to try and pierce whomever has stumbled into the shack. Fuller then spoke to us candidly about some of his other projects and about the genre as a whole. An extremely cool guy. Some of the other journalists were yearning to pull out their tape recorders, I was just enjoying this obviously interesting conversation. Time for hot dogs! Really good hot dogs too! And ice cream! No lie. Hot dogs and ice cream on the set of FRIDAY THE 13th. Heaven, yeah. Especially when Amanda Righetti and Danielle Panabaker are running around!

After the hot dogs and ice cream Fuller spoke to us a bit more on this and that. After this he took us on a tour through the entire set they were currently shooting. It’s a long, dreary looking tunnel that seemed to once serve as a mining tunnel. Debris is littered in every corner and you have to crouch down to walk through some parts. From discarded backpacks Jason has collected through the ages to a wheelchair and wheel barrels. Everything but the kitchen sink is what they say. In the middle was the small .. ‘room’.. where Jason seemed to call home. Various weapons of his choosing, more debris, and a small cot for either himself or certain victims. It’s all there and it all looks awesome! Fuller mentioned how he personally thinks this is the coolest set they’ve had ever.. And it did look pretty damn cool. Very gritty and undoubtedly realistic. After this we head back to the monitors where they film the same scene as before again, with Clay and Jenna finding one of Jason’s victims. This time from a different angle and such. So we sit around and watch until this towering maniac comes walking over. I’m talking about Jason Voorhees in all his glory! Mask, jacket, machete holder, he’s all done up. As soon as Derek Mears sees us he comes over and pulls off the mask, exclaiming how cool it is and offering it to us.

"You haven’t lived until you have Jason Voorhees towering over you, machete in hand, ready to slice and dice."

This is when I got to hold the famous hockey mask worn by Jason Voorhees. The mask was actually pretty heavy, thankfully serving as a head guard for Mears as well as a tool to scare millions of youngsters worldwide. After reluctantly handing the mask over, we were directed back to the monitors to watch another part of the same scene they’ve been filming. This one though stars Jenna and Jason Voorhees. We see Jenna looking down a long tunnel, watching as Jason lumbers closer and closer before she finally turns to flee as Jason continues to stalk after her. It looked like a cool scene, where Jenna is full of terror and Jason is completely emotionless, ducking and weaving as he makes his way through the tunnel. It should be said that Fuller and Form are going with a more leaner Jason. Don’t worry, I don’t think we’ll be seeing Jason joining the 100-meter dash, but he moves much more smoothly than his huskier counterparts. After this scene is filmed a couple more times, we sit around before being told that we’ll be able to interview Danielle Panabaker next.

So we make our way over to another, quieter warehouse where we sit down with the beautiful actress. She’s all smiles and seems to be running on pure adrenaline and excitement. She exclaims sadly that Friday the 13th is over, having just passed midnight. We share a frown before starting the interview. She basically talks about what we can expect from the film, in regards to sex, drugs, and violence. She even shared a fun story with us on how she ended up in the emergency room one night. She collided with another actor as they both rushed through a doorway and ended up banging her chin pretty bad. Yeah, these actors are getting beat down! In conjunction with Danielle’s hospital visit, Amanda Righetti was sporting a huge bruise on her leg and Derek Mears’ face was red and raw from makeup coming on and off. These folks are dedicated!

After our interview with Danielle we were led back to the set, where Derek Mears approached us once again, this time offering us a chance to hold his massive machete. It was a made of a hard plastic but looked very much real. Mears told us how they had several different types of machetes for the filming, from soft rubber to the real thing. This thing was huge too, like the size of a sword. After this we were brought to Jason’s ‘lair.' Here we all got to take some snapshots with Jason. I almost didn’t participate when a crew member (jokingly) pulled me aside and refused to let me through in regards to my Boston Celtics hat (guess he was a Lakers fan). Well I did get through and let me tell you, you haven’t lived until you have Jason Voorhees towering over you, machete in hand, ready to slice and dice. So after we all get a couple pictures with the horror legend, it’s lunch time! ... at midnight. So we head over to the lunch tent. As we sit and talk Derek Mears comes walking over. Still in his husky shoulders and partial makeup. It was a kick sitting there watching Jason Voorhees, one of the most brutal killers in film history, eating broccoli. So we sit around and discuss some of the summer movies coming out, from WANTED to THE DARK KNIGHT. After lunch filming starts again, but we’re not brought back to the set, instead we’re led to the large quiet warehouse from before for another interview. Except this time it’s not so quiet.

"Shut the f*cking phone off! Haven’t you ever been on a movie set?!"

As we sit with effects artist Scott Stoddard we find that this particular warehouse is used to construct things and it’s not so quiet anymore. So now we head to a quiet spot in the parking lot and start our interview again. Stoddard was a great interview, giving us a lot of info on what to expect effects wise. He mentioned there will be some use of CGI in the film, but not overkill. Another cool thing Scott mentioned was that he actually had the mask from FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 in his possession, to help in constructing the new mask. So if this new mask is a resemblance to any of the series... it’s the one that started it all! He also talked about some really cool shots, like a certain kill where you get to see it through the weapon’s point of view... well something along those lines, and that sounds awesome! And don’t worry folks, we won’t be seeing any geysers of blood ala FREDDY VS JASON in this one, Stoddard mentioned how the kills in the script, though very creative, were kept realistic.

After this we were brought back to the other warehouse to watch another scene being filmed on the tunnel set. This time we get to watch as Clay and Jenna discover the hatch to Jason’s underground network. Like all the horror movie characters before them, they decide to investigate. So Clay drops down into the hatch then helps Jenna before quickly examining what they’ve stumbled upon. A seemingly abandoned tunnel littered with debris. They start to travel down the dark tunnel before the scene ends. While filming this seen we were treated to an entertaining little joke producer Andrew Form and another crew member were involved in. It consisted of getting one another’s phones to ring while they shoot. The crew member first nailed Form with it, but he quickly retaliated which prompted Jared Padalecki to yell "Shut the f*cking phone off! Haven’t you ever been on a movie set?!" Following which everyone erupted in laughter and the crew member accepted defeat.

They soon started filming a couple smaller scenes. First we watch as Whitney scrambles down the tunnel to the hatch in an attempt to get away from (assuming) Jason Voorhees. She reaches the opening and quickly pulls herself out. Then, after a minor dispute between producer Andrew Form and director Marcus Nispel, we watch as Jason opens the same hatch and drops down into the tunnel. He shuts it then lumbers down the tunnel. During these scenes we were able to chat with legendary director of photography Daniel Pearl. Mr. Pearl has a very impressive resume, starting with the original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. So Daniel sat and talked to us while they filmed, all the while whispering to not interrupt filming. He spoke about some of the equipment he used, different shots in the film, and his favorite kill. The kill involves a lightbulb swinging in the darkness as it blinks off and on with Jason’s victim frantically trying to figure out what’s going on. Pearl also asked if we’d seen ALIENS VS PREDATOR: REQUIEM, that he’d heard the DVD quality appears to be very dark but hadn't had a chance to see for himself since he was working on FRIDAY THE 13TH. When we confirmed this to him, he seemed genuinely upset seeing how he worked on the film. As we watched Amanda Righetti climb out of the hatch, we caught an eyeful of light from one of the lamps on set. Needless to say Mr. Pearl had to go to work, so we thanked him as he went to fix the shot.

Nerf gun battles, cell phone pranks, ice cream, and an awesome FRIDAY THE 13TH belt...

After this we’re showing a bunch of stills from earlier shoots. Various shots of Jason, shots of the groups of actors already filmed, partying and having a good time, potential victims of Jason in the water, screaming and running. My favorite still was the shot of Jason donning the famous sack from FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2. Though this time the sack is not as shabby. This sack seems to be securely wrapped around Jason’s head, moisture obvious all over, especially near the mouth, and not to mention the one eye hole where Jason’s ‘good’ eye peers out at his victim. Very cool.

Now it’s going into the early morning hours, around 3 AM, so everyone on set is feeling hints of exhaustion, but the crew are very used to this so they keep on pushing. After checking out the stills we’re lead outside to interview star Jared Padalecki. Regardless of it being 3 AM, Jared seems upbeat and excited. He walks over munching on a bag of Doritos, singing praise about all the snacks on set. He answered our questions involving several aspects of the film as well as a lot of SUPERNATURAL talk. From the FRIDAY THE 13TH cast to the death scenes to whether or not he keeps his shirt on, Padalecki touched on a lot of subjects. After the last question was answered, Padalecki was happy to hear he was wrapped for the night... but that wasn’t the case for Amanda Righetti and Derek Mears.

We headed back to the warehouse to learn that Righetti and Mears were still set to be there for another four hours, filming shots of Amanda presumably running away from Mr. Voorhees through the narrow tunnels, some filled with fresh and rotted bodies. Unfortunately we weren’t going to be staying to watch these scenes. Going on 4 AM, it was just about time to call it a night for us. But not before catching an interview with the beautiful Amanda Righetti. She was able to talk to us about the obvious aspects of the film as well as her character and such. Regardless of being obviously exhausted, dirty, bruised, and in for another few hours of running and screaming, Amanda was able to break an amazing smile for us as we thanked her and finished the interview. I can’t think of any better way to end this amazing set visit.

So we thanked producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller and made our departure. From nerf gun battles, cell phone pranks, ice cream, and Brad’s awesome FRIDAY THE 13TH belt, everyone was having fun on the set of FRIDAY THE 13TH and it showed. They’re all extremely excited about the film they’re making and it’s safe to say I am too. From what I saw it looks like Form and Fuller are keeping true to the slasher genre we know and love, only time will tell if the final product delivers. We’ll all get to decide on February 13, 2009. Which just so happens to be a Friday....


Source: JoBloAITH



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