This past June FEARnet visited the set of Platinum Dunes Friday the 13th remake and had the chance to sit down with producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller. We got the scoop on all sorts of goodies including the sack, the mask, young Jason, Jason’s mom and how the hell Jason manages to consistently outsmart each and every one of those pesky teens. We’ll be bringing you much more from the set of Friday the 13th, which hits theaters Friday February 13th 2009 so check back soon and often.
What’s left to film tonight?
Andrew: Well we have two nights left and we’re shooting the sequence that leads right up to the last set piece of the film which takes place underground where Jason has a whole underground system that he works and lives in.
So it sounds like you’re taking some liberties?
Andrew: Yes. I think we’ve definitely added some stuff to the story.
But do you still draw from the originals?
Brad: There are things that we all loved in the originals, when we say the originals for us we really mean 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. It’s not really a remake of any of them per se; it’s just sort of taking some of those story boards and putting them together.
Was there some core that you knew if you got right, the rest would sort of fall into place?
Andrew: Well we definitely wanted the movie to take place at Crystal Lake that was really important to us. And it was going to be a contemporary film. It wasn’t going to be a period piece the way we made Chainsaw, where we went back to 1973.
Why did you decide that?
Brad: Because we wanted to get the clothes from the movie after we wrapped (laughter), we were sick of wearing 70’s clothes.
Andrew: We wanted the movie to feel different. It isn’t like a straight remake like Texas Chainsaw or Amityville. Amityville took place that year and [with] this one we drew from the first three and the fourth a little, and there was no reason it couldn’t take place in 2009. It didn’t have to take place in 1979 or 1980.
Andrew: But the important things are: Who Jason is, and to set it in Crystal Lake which I feel the franchise got away from.
Brad: 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 that had kids kind of hanging around and drinking and having sex and smoking weed. As a production company and as producers, Drew and I have spent so much time in basements dismembering people that it really starts to wear on you. And it’s nice to sort of get out of that, and get outside, and have hot girls running around.
Andrew: Yeah, I think our first three films are so dreary. That seemed to be something at the time that was kind of novel but now a lot of horror movies are dreary and we wanted to get away from that. We wanted to have a scary movie, but not have it dark and ditch and torture…
Brad: Yeah, not having fingernails being pulled off and have people not look at the screen because of that, I’d rather have them not look at the screen because they’re afraid of when Jason’s going to pop out. Or a meat hook going into the back and having insert shots of the back going in and all that. In a movie like this it’s not about the torture. The killings are fun, it’s not about the torture, it’s not a torture horror movie and I think that was one of the things that really attracted us to this film.
Andrew: He’s a very efficient killer.
Do you guys take Harry Manfredini’s Score?
Andrew: The theme has been licensed and of course, the Jason POV and when you hear that theme there’s no doubt. That is in the film. But I think Steve Jablonsky will draw from that because it’s a classic score.
Has there been anything that’s surprised you about how the film has evolved?
Brad: Everything has surprised me about how the film has evolved.
Andrew: This movie was so different for us because the films we’ve made in the past, the casts have been so small. Texas Chainsaw we had a cast of 5 actors, four in the second one. This movie has 13 young actors in it. Putting these two groups in it, there’s a group of five and a group of seven. And getting those groups to gel together and putting them all together in the casting and six month casting process that was a really nice thing to see on the set.
Brad: Normally when we have a cast, the cast gets a week or two to hang out together. But in this film, we were recasting up until a day before shooting. Richard Burgi who plays the sheriff in this movie, we literally cast him 12 hours before we started shooting. We saw him, we signed off on him, got the disc to Bay, and Bay had to sign off on him between 9 and 10 because his plane was leaving at 11:30. The casting was a Herculean task to get everyone together and in on time.
Andrew: You know what else was surprising. You’re making a Friday the 13th movie, Brad and I both grew up on these movies and the first time I saw Derek Mears put the mask and wardrobe on and walk onto set that was surprising. Because you talk about it and you see the mask and it looks great and you do a wardrobe fitting and still...
Brad: But you try to be professional and you try to act like it doesn’t effect you, but you can’t help but be a fan first and working second, and he puts the mask on and Derek Mears isn’t there anymore, then he takes it off and he’s back again. But almost every day when you see that you’re like “That’s Jason Voorhees”.
Is there a point to humanizing these guys who are supposed to be monsters?
Andrew: Well that’s up to the audience. We shot it both ways. There are scenes in this movie where we humanize him a little but then we pulled back and said maybe we don’t want to show [him] this way. At the end of the day we’re going to have to watch the movie and see if we are making him too sympathetic in this movie, but we do not want him to be sympathetic. He is not a comedic character, he is not a sympathetic character, he is a killer, that’s it. Plain and simple.
They have tried to humanize him in the past, where characters would try to trick him into thinking they’re someone else…
Brad: Right, and we do have those moments in this film, he’s not a robot. He is human.
Andrew: But when I talk about humanizing I’m talking about feeling sorry or empathy for him, that’s what we are never gonna do. Show flashbacks and be like “oh someone killed his dog”
Is there any temptation to throw in references to Tommy Jarvis or…
Brad: I knew that was coming! We really fought, and there was a big discussion of the Tommy Jarvis of it all. I think that at the end of the day this isn’t going to be Friday the 13th part 11 or 12. We’re trying to create or own mythology on the basis of the mythology that’s already been created. And we’re not going to burden ourselves with all of those characters. I’m not going to say whether or not Tommy Jarvis is or isn’t in this film, all I can say is you won’t see Corey Feldman strolling around the set tonight. But there were certainly a lot of incarnations of the script and there were scenes with that in there and it’s something we debate back and forth whether or not its something that will ultimately be in the film.
Andrew: And we didn’t draw it really past the third movie for anything in this film.
In your heads are you already thinking Part 2 and Part 3?
Andrew: No, I mean we really wanted to end this movie the right way, and that usually doesn’t lend itself well to a sequel. So our ending suits this movie perfectly and I guess if someday somebody wanted to make another one…I mean, they always find a way. Jason wasn’t even in the first one, I mean he pops up out of the lake at the end, and they made a second one and he didn’t even have the hockey mask in that one, he had it in the third. So they built that franchise as they went.
Brad: It’s a little bit of the same formula as we did with our first Texas Chainsaw. First of all we never thought it would get a theatrical release, let alone do what it did. So the fact that we cut his arm off at the end limited our ability to do a sequel. And I think that’s why the movie was good, it was a definitive ending, and you knew what was going to happen and the story worked on its own we’re striving for a similar thing here. We don’t have plans, in terms of our production company, the plan is not to go back to New line and say let’s make 2 and 3 and 4. And we have other stuff we want to do. So if someone wanted us to make another one its certainly something we would consider but there’s no game plan.
Is there a definitive origin for when and why the Hockey Mask comes about?
Brad: Yes. You definitely see where the Hockey Mask comes from and why he puts it on.
Andrew: And I guess its out there now, we have the sack and then he gets the hockey mask. He goes from the sack to the mask.
Brad: That’s our way of bridging 2 and 3, really. 2’s the mask, 3’s the hockey mask.
Where there any gaps in his creation that you guys made a concerted effort to fill in? Like with the mask?
Andrew: It is a story point and it involves a specific character, and when he takes off the sack and puts on the mask he becomes the Jason Voorhees that everyone knows and loves.
So in this one there’s a specific reason for the mask?
Andrew: Well it’s not like he’s playing hockey and he’s the goalie, it’s not anything like that. It’s more that something that he sees makes him realize that the mask is a better look for him.
How do you strike that balance between appeasing the hardcore fan and the newbie who may be coming to the series for the first time?
Brad: I think the most important thing is the story.
Andrew: yeah, that the movie can stand on its own.
Brad: Right and we wanted to tell a story that we all liked a story about a camp and these kids that go there and meet this unfortunate figure. That’s the guts of the movie, is that story. 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 upfront and not dismissing them or being irreverent about them. And that’s something we try to do is to respect all of those ground rules but at the same time we don’t want to alienate newcomers. All those kids who know the hockey mask but don’t know the third movie. I mean they don’t know that background so it is a delicate background but that balance totally doesn’t work if the story sucks. So that’s something we tried to do is make a good story and then fill in that background.
Andrew: 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.
Can you talk about what kind of kills you wanted? Did you want kills to have a comedic touch or super scary?
Andrew: Our taste is to go as far away from humor with the violence as possible. Our Jason is a brutal killer. There’s really not a lot funny in what he’s doing. That’s not to say that some of these situations are absurd and in that absurdity might come some laughs, but there will definitely be reactions from the audience when the deaths happen. And not a reaction in a gross way but in an “Oh my god!” kind of way.
Brad: I mean there’s a lot of deaths in the movie. In the chainsaw movies you kill three or four people. In this it’s in the double digits. He is a brutal killer but when he attacks it’s shocking, not in a disgusting way but in…well, in a fun way.
Andrew: He has a flair. You can’t do that on every killing because it becomes absurd, but we give the audience enough variety to keep them involved in the story.
Do you think audiences will necessarily care about the victims?
Andrew: I would say that if the audience doesn’t care about our characters then we have not done our jobs. We hired actors who we thought were excellent actors, not just people who we thought, just because it’s a horror movie we can get second rate actors who can just do the job. We got good people who elevate the genre. Aaron Yoo is a kid who’s in Disturbia and we put him in the weekend 21 took first place in the box office. It was a hoot to get an actor like that to do this movie. And we’ve got four or five actors who really don’t have to do a horror movie to elevate their career. And we did that so that we can really have characters that people can react to.
Is there a sizeable role for Jason’s mother in this film or are you trying to downplay that?
Andrew: I think we definitely downplayed the Pamela Voorhees character. I mean the film takes place in 2009 so her role is diminished.
Will that be the same for little Jason?
Do you guys for see any issues with the MPAA?
Andrew: Oh sure.
Brad: Sex, drugs and violence all the way! I mean we’ve always had problems with the MPAA, and I’m not saying that as a badge of honor, we’re not proud of that, our films are very violent, but we’ve never had all three in one film. We’ve had drugs and violence, but now we’ve got sex also.
What’s your plan of attack?
Brad: We go big and we see what happens. I mean, yes, we’re shooting a Friday the 13th movie, we’re not going to hold back.
Compared to the original, and the sexuality of the original, Do you feel like you’re able to do less now then back then?
Andrew: I hope not, because we do way more! We’ve never had sex in any of our movies we’ve never had nudity in any of our films before, but now…there’s enough in this movie to make up for the others.
Brad: But you can’t have a Friday the 13th movie without it, you can’t make one without hot girls running around in the nude. I think that has to happen. Fortunately both studios were supportive of that, strangely all of our executives were men. And we went after it in a pretty big way and we’re gonna see where the cards fall. Yesterday we were shooting a scene where a couple’s having sex in a tent, and it was in silhouette and a studio exec was there. And the male character was…having sex, and the exec turned and said “you can’t have him pumping more than three times, the MPAA’s gonna make you get rid of it” and I said “I didn’t know there was a pump limit!” Because we shot a lot more than three…and I don’t know if that’s actually the rule but we’ll see when we send it out.
Andrew: No one will be disappointed with the lack of nudity from this film.
You mentioned earlier taking some of the kills from earlier films. Do you quote those kills?
Brad: We don’t do them exactly, at all. We use the way the kills are done, we will mimic some of those, you know misdirects.
Andrew: Right, let’s say your favorite kill is a sleeping bag kill, we’ll have a sleeping bag kill but it’s not the same kill. If your favorite kill is Kevin Bacon with the arrow? We’ll have a similar kill but not exactly.
Would you say there are a large amount of kills in this movie?
Andrew: 13. We kill 13 people. The math works out perfectly. But to me that seems like a big number. That was surprising about it, too, how hard it was to kill and plan a kill.
Was Marcus always your first choice to direct?
Andrew: No, I mean its’ been all over, Jonathan Liebesman was set to direct originally. When we started this we were going to work with him. When scheduling and rights became an issue, then Marcus was our choice.
Did you talk with any of the original creators?
Andrew: Yes, we spoke to Sean [Cunningham] a lot, Shaun was very helpful and he’s been a great cheerleader. He was really very kind with us. We deal with a lot of rights holders when we make these movies and Shaun was the most supportive.