Speaking of Blomkamp…

Posted by · 9:59 am · January 6th, 2010

Neill Blomkamp…who just popped up in my DGA predictions, in case you’ve missed it, do yourself a favor and give Geoff Boucher’s three-part interview with the “District 9” director a look.  Boucher did a similarly all-encompassing series with Christopher Nolan last year, and this one is every bit as insightful.

What we get is a profile of a fresh-faced filmmaker (just 30 years old) who, at least so far, hasn’t taken the Hollywood, sell-your-soul bait. He was only interested in returning the investment of “District 9” to investors in exchange for the room to be creative, rather than eyeball a big profit margin (though boy did the film turn a HELL of a profit). And he’s clearly savvy enough to understand the caveat of tent pole filmmaking and how to hang on to creative control of his projects with modest budgets.

I’ve gone through and pulled some talking points from the interview, which you can breeze through after the jump. But definitely give the full series a read. Here is part one, part two and part three.

On the necessity for original sci-fi:

If you look at the most meaningful science fiction, it didn’t come from watching other films. We seem to be in a place now where filmmakers make films based on other films because that’s where the stimuli and influence comes from. But go back and look at something like [Joe Haldeman’s 1974 novel] “The Forever War” – that is very much rooted in his experience in Vietnam, that’s where the stimulation comes from. And that’s my goal, really, is not to draw from other films in terms of the overall inspiration and stimuli. You can in terms of design and tone and stuff, certainly, but not in terms of the idea and the genesis of that idea.

On what he learned from “District 9” producer Peter Jackson:

My process, typically, is to work within parameters. I kind of like that. I like knowing what the game is and figuring out moves based on that. What I mean is I like knowing the number of shooting days, I like knowing the script is locked, the budget is set – I like knowing all of those factors aren’t going to change. Peter’s process is the other way around. His process seems like very pure creativity so budgets change and duration of shoots are very fluid and there are rewrites. His mind doesn’t fall into a state of “I’ve been creative and now I’m executing this way.” His mind is in the creative state throughout. It’s constant. His approach is 180 degrees away from mine. What it yields is an environment of hyper-creativity. No matter how much stress it’s going to produce on the production or the crew, if it’s the right idea for the movie he’s going to do it. It can be all of a sudden saying, “I don’t want to film in L.A. Now I want to film in New York.” So if I had to sum up what he taught me it would be that spirit. He taught me not to be so buttoned-down about how to go about making a movie…I actually can’t get away with that right now. You have to be a very successful world-class filmmaker to get away with it, so I can’t get away with that. But it’s a good lesson.

On the film being positioned as an awards contender (such a refreshing, if borderline naive take):

Sony has kind of pushed for awards and, really, if I feel like people are watching the film because they are interested in the film, then it’s fine. I’m fine with that. But if I feel even remotely like I’m being asked to be a salesman, I have a problem…I don’t like it at all. I like where we’re going with technology and global integration but the fact that corporations and dollars rule everything in our lives, I don’t like it. This isn’t the Hollywood I wanted to be part of. This isn’t the version of it that I saw when I was a kid…“District 9” and every other movie is treated like fast food. It’s promoted relentlessly and then it’s gone.

There’s much more, of course, from Blomkamp’s perspective on using movie star talent to thoughts on a sequel, prequel or video game spin-off of “District 9.” Go ahead and start digging in here.

1 Comment Tags: , | Filed in: Daily

1 response so far

  • 1 1-06-2010 at 10:16 am

    Morgan said...

    Hate to say this but I just don’t see any practical way you could repeat or extend District 9’s success as a sequel without (as Blomkamp rightly notes) turning it into either a more traditional film, or something so experimentally way-out that it wouldn’t be commercial enough. A prequel would be interesting, but I don’t know how you could make Wikus an interesting centerpiece to it. I don’t really see any practical way to make another D9 film starring Sharlto Copley… if it was a sequel you’d have to have him offscreen for a good chunk, or bury him in a ton of CG. There’s a sequel story to be told, but I’m not sure it involves Wikus as a focus (although it could involve other humans).

    Certainly there is ample material both prequel and sequel to be explored. This is one movie that could support a veritable truckload of tie-in books and comics to explore the backstory, etc (and yet… we haven’t got any, which is frustrating.)

    He’s made a 1980s sci-fi film about 30 years too late.