Impulse Gamer Interviews Paul W. S. Anderson - -

Question's & Answers with director Paul W.S. Anderson from the ďSummer of SonyĒ International Press Junket - Cancun, Mexico

Q. Resident Evil: Afterlife did huge box office around the world. What is it about this series that makes it resonate so strongly with global audiences?

A. Itís going to sound a little cheesy but [these movies] are really made with love and with a passion. The people in front of the camera and the people behind the camera are all there to make the best possible movie. In moviemaking, that doesnít always happen. People are there for different reasons: they want to make money; they think itís a good career movie; itís the only movie they could get. These movies only get made because we really, really want to make them. I think that shows. I think theyíre incredibly well made movies made with passion and energy. Whatís happened slowly over time is that, as the movies have become more successful, Iíve had more resources to make them, so theyíve actually become slightly bigger movies as well, which I think has suited the way the franchise was built. I did a movie called Alien vs. Predator, which Iím happy about because Alien is one of my favorite franchises. The jump that happened between Alien and Aliens is an object lesson on how to develop a franchise. I think that when James Cameron looked at Ridley Scottís movie, I imagine he went, ďFuck it. I canít make a better movie than that. Thatís as good as that movie could ever be. How am I going to make a movie that follows Ridleyís movie?Ē What he smartly decided to do was make a slightly different kind of movie. He didnít make the monster/haunted house movie that Alien is at its heart. He made a combat action movie with aliens in it. That was the start of a very successful franchise and thatís what Iíve always tried to follow in my rationale for building the Resident Evil franchise: to make each movie slightly different so the audience gets a different experience. We never rest on our laurels and we never repeat what weíve already done. 

Michelle, Paul & Milla

Q. If you and Milla had a martial arts fight, who would win?

A. I wouldnít stand a chance. Iím beginning to think I wouldnít stand a chance against my daughter, either. Sheís only four and a half but she goes to Taekwondo class. ďTae-Kwon-Do! Yes I can!Ē Sheís got the white outfit. Itís hysterical.  

Q. How powerful are you at home?

A. I have no power at home. Thatís why I have to direct movies. Itís the only way I get any kind of power. Itís the only way I get any kind of respect.

Q. Do you think Milla could direct one of these movies herself at this point?

A. I donít think she wants to direct.  

Q. But could she do it?

A. Sheís very accomplished. Sheís a very smart woman. She knows a lot about scripts and a lot about camera angels and a lot about lenses. On set, she said to the director of photography, ďMove that light over there a little bit.Ē And sheíll be right because sheís spent so long in front of the camera. I think thereís nothing she canít do. Being a director is a different kind of discipline. Itís a year and a half of your life. Sheíd be crazy to want to do my job. 

Q. Len Wiseman and Kate Beckinsale are another director/action heroine couple. Are you friendly with them?

A. Iíve known Len since he made Underworld. I went to his cutting room when he was cutting the first Underworld in London because he used Martin Hunter, who had cut Mortal Kombat and Event Horizon and Soldier for me. So Iíve known Len for years. I bump into him all the time. Weíre both on the Sony lot right now cutting movies so Iíve been very friendly with him. Actually, Milla and Kate had never met until this yearís Vanity Fair [Oscar] party. I saw Len. He saw me. The girls were there. So they met and they got on like a house on fire. 

Q. Who would win in a martial arts fight between those two?

A. I think weíd probably have to make that movie. I donít want to give it away. The big argument is, would it be Underworld vs. Resident Evil or Resident Evil vs. Underworld

Q. Are you planning to wrap this series up soon?

A. We made a trilogy of movies with the first three. You dream about making more than one movie. Although I may talk about making another movie, I never assume weíre going to. I think itís incredible hubris to just assume you can make another one and another one and another one. If this movie doesnít work, there wonít be another Resident Evil movie and I know that. Thatís why every movie I make I put everything into it. For most movies I assume itís going to be my last movie and Iíll get fanned out and no one will allow me to make another movie so I throw all the shit against the wall to try and make the best possible movie. But, you canít help but kind of imagine it. What I would like to do is kind of bring the franchise full circle with the end of the second trilogy and literally come back to the very genesis of the franchise and the very first film. Thatís why, in this movie, youíre starting to see characters return that you havenít seen for ten years. Itís all headed back to that inception point. 

Q. How far along are you in writing the next one?

A. Itís all fleshed out in my mind. I know exactly what it is. This movie is a stand-alone movie. Iíve always felt that, with Resident Evil, you should be able to go see the film and have not seen any of the previous movies. I try and make it so it works for you. If youíve never seen the first four, it doesnít matter. You can still go and see this one. I think that worked with the last movie because we basically doubled the international audience for it. So there must have been a lot of people going to see it who had never seen the others and they enjoyed it. I want you to be able to watch each movie out of context and have it still work as a movie. But if you watch the whole thing then you get more out of it.

Q.  When youíre writing these films, do you have total creative freedom or do you have to work with Capcom, creators of the game series?

A. I have great respect for Capcom and the creators of the game. The very first thing I did before I shot a frame on film on the first movie was I got on a plane and went to Osaka and I spent two days in a window-less room with terrible jetlag pitching how I saw the movie and the franchise. I heard what their opinions were and I listened to them. Of course, I changed some things. Thatís been our relationship ever since. I have tremendous respect for them because Iíve been involved in Resident Evil for a decade. Theyíre the people who created the whole world in the first place so you have to have respect for them. But I also think theyíre smart enough to understand that a successful movie adaptation cannot just be a slavish adaptation of the video game, frame by frame. One of the things that has led to some of these video game adaptations not working is that sometimes they take too many liberties and sometimes they donít take enough. Itís a fine balancing act between the two. The creators of the game at Capcom trust me enough as a filmmaker to know that theyíre in good hands and that Iím not going to do anything thatís disrespectful to their franchise. Iím going to do different things in the world of the movie but Iím never going to contradict anything they do. Iím not going to go kill a character that theyíre like, ďDonít kill him! Heís in the next video game.Ē Theyíre on parallel paths, the video game franchise and the movie franchise, but theyíre not contradictory. 

Q. At what point did the movies start to make more than the video games?

A. I have no idea. I donít get any money out of the games. Maybe the games make more money. 

Q. How do you come up with the monsters for each film?

A. Thatís easy. I just look at the video games. One of the things thatís incredibly strong in the games are the creatures, the zombies, the monsters. So I just take them straight from the game. We have a very open conversation with fans and we find out which are the most popular creatures. That also has an effect on what we put in the films. 

Q. Whoís a better gamer, you or Milla?

A. Me. I came to the franchise because I lost a month of my life. I was locked in a room at home just playing the first three games back to back, whereas Milla would watch over the shoulder of her little brother as he played. So I know that if it came down to a battle on the video game consul, thatís at least one battle I could win. I could win the virtual battle.

Q. So at this moment, do you think thereís one more film in the franchise?

A. At this moment, I think itís this film. For me, itís all about this movie and if this movie does well, I would love to make another movie to round everything off. 

Q. Did the 3-D technology change a lot between shooting Afterlife and this film?

A. Yes. Weíre kind of on the bleeding edge of technology because itís a relatively new technology and the cameras kind of reinvented it with Avatar. So the rigs and the cameras change every time I make a movie and Iím making a movie every twelve months. The unique thing for this film is I got the opportunity to have cameras built for the way I shoot by the director of photography that I use, whom Iíve used on my last few films. On this one, he said, ďLook, Paul, Iím tired of hearing you complain that you canít do things. So Iím going to build you a rig where you can do everything you want to do.Ē I think the 3-D on this film is going to be pretty spectacular. I think itís going to take 3-D to the next level because itís custom-built rigs that are doing things I donít think any filmmaker has done before with a 3-D rig.   

Q. Event Horizon is turning fifteen. Is this movie still special for you?

A. I love it. We did some of the photography for this movie in Toronto and while we were there, a cinema there showed Event Horizon on the big screen and I did a Q & A before it. It was on a work night so I turned up for the Q & A and then I was going to watch the first two minutes of the movie then go to bed because I was sort of tired. I started watching it and I just hadnít seen it on the big screen in ten years. It looked so cool. So I ended up staying for the entire movie. So I love that film. It was a pretty unique time in my career. I had just come off a huge hit [Mortal Kombat] and when you have a huge hit, the studio trusts you. And they had Titanic, which they were obsessed with. So all of their effort was going to Mexico to get shouted at by James Cameron so no one came to London to visit me so I just kind of made this movie and I made it exactly how I wanted to. Then they saw it and were just horrified by it. ďWhat were you doing?Ē Iím like, ďDid you watch the dailies?Ē It became obvious that they didnít because they were just concerned with Cameron. So it was a rare opportunity to make a studio movie where I had total creative control to make something that was truly so much more horrific and dark and edgy than they ever would have wanted. 

Q. Maybe you could convert it into 3-DÖ

A. It would be pretty horrible, all that stuff coming out at you. 

Q. You mentioned that you are an Aliens fan. Are you excited for Prometheus?

A. Absolutely. Unless Iím working, Iím going to be the first in line.


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