LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Exclusive Interview With Director Adam Green - Part 1
By James Whittington, Thursday 5th August 2010
Adam Green is one of the most celebrated directors of recent times. His movies Hatchet, Spiral and Frozen (due in UK cinemas September 24th) have had movie goers salivating for more and critics clambering over themselves to heap praise on them. With Hatchet II getting its world premiere at FrightFest 2010 we decided to chat to this talented guy and in this, the first part of a two part interview, Adam discusses the reason for bringing Victor Crowley back to the big screen, casting the movie and even reveals his middle name!
HC: We first met back in 2006 when you brought Hatchet to FrightFest; how do you think you've developed as a director since then?
AG: I've had five years of growth and made several very different types of movies since making Hatchet in 2005. With each project I've gotten better opportunities and the knowledge from the previous films as to how to really stretch a budget. I'm happy to say that my work keeps getting better and better and if you look at Hatchet, Spiral, Grace (which I only produced), and Frozen - they are all completely unique to each other. It's also a world of difference having such a great fan base now. When I made Hatchet I was making the type of movie that I wanted to see and until the movie came out in theaters, I had no real outside stress or pressure. It's certainly different when you're hearing from the people you're making the films for on a daily basis with fan mail, convention appearances, signings, etc. Sounds funny, but with great fans comes great responsibility.
HC: Hatchet has become one of the most celebrated slasher movies of the last decade, why wait four years to do the sequel?
AG: The powers that be wanted to make a sequel right away and I had even planned the sequel long before even shooting the first one. But by the time Hatchet came out I was so over it and just wanted to move on. I had made Spiral right on Hatchet's heels and while it was a completely different style of film (a jazz-infused psychodrama) I still needed to spread my wings and get further away. Not just because I didn't want to forever be pigeonholed as the "slasher guy" but because I didn't really have the fire burning in me for Hatchet anymore. When you make an independent movie (especially your first) it's like this horrible abusive relationship. For years and years I struggled and struggled with that movie and every little step was such a battle. By the time it came out I was so beaten up from it and I just never wanted to see it again. I finally understood what bands mean when they talk about how much they dread performing their big hits night after night. I'd be doing a Q&A for one movie and the first three questions would be about Victor Crowley or if there will be a Hatchet II. As flattering as that is, inside I'd be screaming "Did you not just see the film I showed you? THAT'S your first question?!" But then something happened on the set of Frozen where the itch came back. It wasn't just a "Oh, it would be so fun to step back into that world again" it was like a full-on sickness where every time I thought about it my palms would sweat and I couldn't sleep. That was when I knew it was time to bring Victor Crowley back. Secret phone calls started being made and slowly the band was put back together. That was so important to me. That the original crew return to make the sequel. I don't know if that's ever happened before. But this was our victory lap and our moment together to finally celebrate what we had accomplished with the first film that we made with good will, lots of tears, and scotch tape. On the first day when my A.D. yelled "Pictures up on Hatchet II", I swear you could hear us cheering in the next city. It was actually quite emotional.
HC: Were you ever tempted to let someone else take over the reigns?
AG: Many times. There were a few instances where I was told that if I wasn't ready, then the film would go into production without me. And I fully supported that. At the time I felt like that was what slasher franchises are for, to give a new director a shot. But in the end, I think the folks in charge realised that this film is one of the few cases where the director was a more important star to the fans than the actual actors in it. So they waited. In the end it all worked out for the best. The Hatchet II that I'll be playing in London this month is a very different movie than I would have made 3 or 4 years ago. This one is not made by a director who is burned out and going through the motions to deliver a sequel. This is a film that is a giant love letter to the fans who gave me a career and a huge middle finger to everyone who didn't believe.
HC: It must have been difficult to retain the feeling of the first movie yet inject enough originality into the plot to make sure it wasn’t “just another sequel”?
AG: Part of what made that a non-issue was that the sequel was set-up before we shot the first one. Even some of the weapons Victor Crowley uses in this film, if you go back and re-watch the first one you'll see glimpses of them in his shed and by his house. There's an amazing kill in Hatchet II involving a 6-foot long giant Redwood forest chainsaw which my production designer and make-up effects coordinator were both in on 5 years ago. Characters such as Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd) who only briefly appeared in Hatchet 1 now take the spotlight and so very many things are explained, such as who/what Victor Crowley actually is. The film even starts on the exact same frame that I abruptly cut to black to at the end of Hatchet 1. It's truly the next part of the story as opposed to rehashing the exact same thing. You could actually physically cut the two films together and they would make one awesome movie where everything is perfectly set-up and it all works together like a well oiled machine (Aside from the fact that "Marybeth" is now played by Danielle Harris instead of that other girl... but hey, sequels are supposed to improve over the original, right?) It's fun like the first one (there are so many stand up and cheer or laugh your ass off moments) but it's not as fun-ny, if that makes sense. It's a bit darker in tone, a bit more emotional, and there's a much better story going on whereas the first one was quite simply "bunch of jokesters get killed" when you really get down to it. We retained the original feeling by constantly keeping ourselves in check and not taking things too seriously. As much as this film might be better made or slightly more serious, we never let it get pretentious or started thinking we were making art. It's Hatchet II. Is it going to win an Oscar? No f*****g way. But is it going to have slasher fans clapping, screaming, and leaving the cinema with big f*****g smiles on their faces? Hell yes. I'm confident that we trumped the first film in every way and that there is no way that fans of the first movie won't like this one even better. If you didn't like the first one... well this isn't for you, so f*** you and your opinion. That was what was so great about Dark Sky (ArieScope's partner on making this film and Hatchet II's domestic distributor) is that never once did they say "This time make it a bit broader to please more people" or "Maybe tone it down for a lighter rating this time". They were right there with us trying to make the ultimate slasher sequel for the Hatchet Army. To me that is so ballsy and so rarely done. I mean, to make a sequel that is truly catering to the fans and the fans only? I am so grateful that I got to make the movie this way and I truly thing we succeeded.
HC: You must be very proud of the cast you’ve assembled, was it hard getting the likes of Danielle Harris on board and Kane Hodder to return?
AG: The cast is amazing. What was unique about this film was that I cast it before I wrote it. I had the story and characters in my head and so what I did was call each actor that I was thinking of into my office at ArieScope (my production company) under the guise of a "general meeting". Once they were there I started telling them "Look, I'm gonna finally do the Hatchet sequel and I want you to play a role". I discussed the character with them and then I wrote the part FOR THEM. So, so rarely does it work that way. Normally you write a movie and then search to find the right actor for the part you wrote. In Hatchet II each part was custom tailored to each of these actors. Only like one person in the cast actually even auditioned for their role (only because the person I wrote the role for had to bail over a schedule conflict at the last minute), everyone else is a friend of mine or an actor who's work I am very, very familiar with. The "heavy hitters" like Kane and Tony had been waiting for this movie and they were so excited to get the call that it was officially happening and that I was returning at the helm. Kane, as you may know, pretty much works on every movie I do whether he is acting in it or stunt coordinating. He's a very dear friend. All of them are close friends of mine though. Tony, Kane, Danielle, Tom Holland... they were among several of the "horror greats" at my wedding this past June. It's sort of to the point now where we all like working together so much that it's never really a question as to whether or not they'll do a project. And as someone who used to stand in line to get their autographs at conventions... I can't tell you what it's like to be so respected by the heavy weights of the genre now. Danielle and I became close during the many years of convention and festival touring that I've done with the various films I've made. Our autographing tables would wind up next to each other from time to time and I think because we're the same age and because we have so, so much in common (we have the same neurosis, ailments, illnesses - it's kind of creepy) we sort of have this brother/sister relationship where I can pick on her pretty hard but she can give it right back. Little known fact, but my middle name is actually "Harris".
In the second part of this interview Adam talks about the importance of playing FrightFest and his plans for the future.
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