I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but we’ve been giving a little bit of coverage to this upcoming Friday the 13th movie. While I can’t really talk to you about the actual film yet, I can tell you that you’re going to be glad all this coverage is around once you’ve seen the movie, because it’s awesome and is going to get your Jason Voorhees senses tingling. I was fortunate enough to join my fellow journalists in sitting down with the cast and crew of the upcoming franchise reboot and I’m willing to share. Also, if you haven’t already, check out all the fun we had with the cast and crew at Comic-Con back in 2008.
While most people would write off (heh) the script as paling in importance next to the quality of woman taking her shirt off or the variety of bladed weapons cutting through jocks, but as I recently discussed here, the script is important. Even if you want to discount any deeper meaning, Mark Swift and Damian Shannon are responsible for coming up with the kills, the ways in which women reveal their breasts, and help set the mood of the film. Fortunately, Shannon and Swift are big fans of the originals who wanted to bring the series back to the fundamentals. If their names sound familiar, you may recognize them from the credit roll of Freddy vs Jason.
With that film, which I and many others enjoyed, they had problems with studio and director intervention. Remember how Jason was scared of water? Not in the script. If you’ll recall, Jason spent tons of time in, out, and near Crystal Lake his entire life. This time around, the writers were intent on doing justice to Jason and distancing this installment from those parts of the series that had clearly drifted away from what would be called “good film making.” Around the table, Jason Takes Manhattan was joked about and then quickly and thankfully forgotten.
Perhaps the most amazing fact about the script for this recent installment is that it was written in only 3 1/2 weeks to beat out the writers strike. While that may seem like a fairly decent amount of time to the uninitiated, consider the fact that the following list of people all had to approve the script: Andrew Form, Brad Fuller, Marcus Nispel, New Line Cinema, Paramount Pictures, Platinum Dunes, and Michael Bay. A tough act, but one in which they managed to stick the landing.
When you talk to producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller, director Marcus Nispel, and the writers Shannon and Swift, and all five of them stress how important the tone was, you’ve got to talk about it. Shannon and Swift mentioned that it was difficult finding the right balance of tone, but were pleased with how much comedy and funny stuff they managed to get into the movie while still having brutal kills. Fuller and Form seemed especially intent on getting away from a torture type film and making a fun horror movie, where people could laugh and scream and watch people get offed.
Director Nispel described the film as a film about youth and their culture, rather than the raw dread of his previous effort, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This bearded, hyper movie-loving machine understood that the film had to examine the collective pool of waht makes a Friday movie a Friday movie. Thankfully, he described the writers as insiders (citing their work on FvJ) and fanboys, which helps when you’re making a film that needs to appeal to diehard enthusiasts.
Everyone seemed pleased with the direction the film took. There was levity in the right moments, a terrific comedic performance by Aaron Yoo, sexy women, and of course, brutal kills befitting the franchise.
There are days when it’s good to be an entertainment writer – sitting down with Amanda Righetti and Danielle Panabaker is definitely one of those days. Neither of these young ladies had even been born when the first film came out (though to be fair, neither had I) but they both were proud to be a part of the experience. Righetti had previously dabbled in horror with Return to House on Haunted Hill while Panabaker had conciously avoided doing horror. The perfect scheduling opportunity and the ability to work on a Voorhees film managed to convince her that now was the time to get in on the slasher action. They described the 9 week shooting experience as exhausting, as they mostly had to be either terrified in a scene or running full speed away – or both.
In this facelift that pulled the best elements of the originals, they described the cast and screw as one big happy family working in Texas. Andrew Form kept tabs on their emotional check and would help get push up contest going at 3am to keep the actors pumped up. Jared Padalecki, who was described as the perfect All American Hero by Nispel, loved working in Texas – his native state. His working conditions were a bit more difficult though, even being closer to his old women. Padalecki finished work on Supernatural on April 28th and had his first scene filmed on Friday the 13th on the evening of April 29th. Friday filmed from April 15th until June 16th, with Jared back on set for his television show on in July. Sometimes described as the Generation Y David Duchovny, a title he doesn’t mind, you’d a liar if you said he wasn’t working hard. He works so hard, in fact, that in one scene near the climax he struck his head and started bleeding. He was assured it was just prop blood, so he finished out the scene, finding out only afterwards he had cut a gash into his forehead. Jason takes few prisoners.
Derek Mears is one of the sweetest guys you’ll ever meet. He’s also a tall, muscular man who looks like he could hit you with an axe from 70 yards. And he can. You may have noticed a scene in the trailer where Mr. Voorhees whips an axe across the screen. During filming, Mears had a bet with Nispel that he could actually hit the actor with the prop axe, after being challenged. First shot, he clipped him in the foot from the full distance away. Deciding to play it a bit safer for round two, the bet next moved to a tree so as not to kill anyone. First toss – WHAM. Mears drills the tree. Sufficed to say, you do not want to get this guy angry if he has any sort of projectile around.
Mears chose actor Ted White, from Friday the 13th Part IV, as his favorite actor to take over the role before him. For his own casting experience, he mentions that his name was getting tossed around to producers when they began the process of finding the man behind the mask. Mears was hired for his ability as an actor, not only for his size. During the interview process, he talked about acting and Greek Mask Theory and how the energy comes through the mask and that even regular facial and neck movement can be conveyed through prosthetics. So the next day the called him and gave him the job. Sweet.
As for Voorhees himself, Padalecki described him as an awesome villain. Mark Swift said I just don’t think you can keep the guy down, indicating Jason’s ability to return over and over and over again. Does this mean a sequel is in the works? Let’s see how it goes, they all say. But everyone we talked to was interested in pursuing a sequel should there be demand. Mears is signed on for a second picture. Though Fuller and Form will be tackling A Nightmare on Elm Street first. I can tell you at least one of the actors would be willing to come back in whatever capacity they deemed necessary, but revealing who would reveal a survivor. Needless to say most of the cast won’t have the opportunity to return due to unfortunate stabbings.
Friday the 13th comes out in theaters tomorrow, Friday the 13th. Stay tuned for our review and be sure to check out all our previous coverage, including our great video interviews.
Are you going to see Friday the 13th this weekend?