Interview: 'Paranormal Activity' Director Oren Peli

Ring in the New Year with a few scares and Paranormal Activity on DVD Tuesday Dec 29th.  We spoke to director Oren Peli to get all the dish.  While he remained steadfastedly tight-lipped on upcoming projects, including Area 51 and Paranormal Activity 2, he did clue us in on some Paranormal Activity DVD deets, and thoughts on how his “little movie that could” is changing the industry.

FEARnet: What can we expect from the DVD of Paranormal Activity?

Oren Peli: I think the main thing will be the opportunity for people to watch the film in their own homes.  Watching the film in a theatre is fun because you get to feed off the energy of the crowd, but watching it at home is different.  Since the movie takes place in a home, it makes the experience more personal.  I know that when people would watch the screeners at home, they would report that they found it nerve-wracking, especially watching it at night and going to bed right after.  I think that seeing it on DVD brings the story into your home, and that is going to make it a different experience.

Were there any deleted scenes we might see?

I think there is an alternative ending that might be on there.  That ending was only shown publicly once, so no one has really seen it.  I haven’t seen the DVD yet, so I don’t know what else might be on there.

Like 1999’s Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity seems to be launching a host of “spin-offs” and “rip-offs.”  How do you feel about this? 

Good luck to them!  I take it as a compliment for other films to be inspired by the movie, and hopefully the [spin-offs] will turn out well.  Blair Witch Project inspired a lot of films, like Open Water and even to a certain extent Paranormal Activity so maybe some of these movies will turn out good and benefit the audience.

Paranormal Activity has inspired a “microbudget” division of Paramount.  Were you involved in this at all?


What are your thoughts on it?

Yeah, I think it is a great idea.  It is a very limited budget and therefore a very limited risk for Paramount.  Even if most of the films don’t work out, two or three might, and it will be worth it.  It’s a great chance to encourage filmmakers who might not otherwise have had the opportunity.

You have mentioned in other interviews that it will be difficult to make any future films without studio involvement.  Can you expand on that?

I don’t think I said it exactly that way.  To create a film without studio involvement is definitely a possibility.  But distributing the movie without a studio is where it becomes tricky.  Even if you made a movie for $10,000, you still need millions to get it into theatres.  You need to print the film, you need the connections to get it into theatres, and you need advertising money.  No matter how good it is, if people don’t hear about it, they won’t go see it.  At some point, after the movie is done, you need to have the involvement of some kind of distribution mechanism, be it studio or something else.

But for the creation of a film, I think it can be done either with the studio or without.

Are you looking forward to doing any more extremely independent, extremely low-budget films?

I’m not ruling out anything.  It just depends on the needs of the specific project and what opportunities are available to me.

Were you at all involved in the digital comic book from IDW?

I wasn’t involved, but Paramount kept me informed of the progress.  I was not creatively involved, but I have seen it and I think it turned out really good.

Do you worry that you will be seen as a “one-trick pony?”

Well, after the success of Paranormal Activity, I don’t really have to worry about any other projects being successful!  But I guess it just depends on how future projects turn out.  If they are good, then they are good.  Time will tell.