Last week, we got together with executive producer, Jason Blum, to talk a little about the upcoming movie PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION! He talked about his experience on the franchise, how everything started and that he is scare of ghost... Wait what? Yes, apparently this Emmy award winning producer is scare of ghost. Who would've thought of that? He even told us a story of when he was younger and saw a real ghost. Spooky!
Mind you, this was my first time and honestly, I had a blast! I hope you all enjoy the interview:
In this movie, audiences, it's been said that people finally see the activity. What made you want to finally reveal it?
I felt like, after the fifth movie, it was just a feeling that audiences seem a little tired of keep getting a little information but not... keep withholding information. They've seen like, whenever we talked to the movie audiences, they had enough of that. It was just a judgment call. Like okay, let's try something different with this movie. But it was a resolve of at a kind-of-a-sense that the audience felt after the fifth movie.
This is the last movie of the Paranormal Activity series, is this a kind of bittersweet moment for you and everyone else?
It is! It's bittersweet. Paranormal Activity is the movie that started our company the way it exist now, so, I am very indebted and it's been fun to work on the movies over the last seven years. But it is sad that is it the last one but there are a lot of things that we are doing and I am very excited for. And those things wouldn't exist if it wasn't for Paranormal Activity. It's a happy and sad moment, but bittersweet as your word and that's the right way to describe it.
From Paranormal Activity to Jem and the Hologram, how do you set your mind to produce one from the other?
They do come out the same day. It's a different audiences. Jem and the Hologram is more for young audiences, you know, young girls, seven to fifteen. And Paranormal Activity is for older audiences. But there is a lot of cross over in the fans of Jem and the Hologram from the TV show, who watched it when it was on the 80s. There is a lot of cross over, since a lot those fans love scary movies. Jem and the Hologram is really about celebrating being different and weird and odd. Most horror fans, like myself, are weird, different and odd. So in my mind, there is a lot of cross over, even though on the outside it would seem very strange.
What' s your favorite scary movie?
The Shining. I really loved that movie. It's a great scary movie.
In this movie, it's kind of everyone's worst nightmare for their child to be affected by something evil. Is that a preference feeling for you? Evil vs. innocence?
I think that's a theme in most horror movies. Like, who is evil. There are a lot of evil children in horror movies and the reason why there're so many kids is because I think the most sacred human relationship is between a parent and a child. So when that's threaten, it's scary and it feels like the most vulnerable moment. I think, the reason why there is a lot of kids in many scary movies is because that is one of the most scariest thing that you can imagine. People always want movies to be scarier, so we often have kids to make it scarier. [EVIL LAUGH]
You've said The Shinning is your favorite horror movie, is this the movie that scared you to the bones? Was this the movie that has inspired you to produced these type of movies?
No, the movie that scared me the most was Friday the 13th. Which I saw when I was too young. I think I was ten or eleven when I saw at my uncle's house in California. I was alone and I too young and I was really scared. I didn't see any scary movie after that for three years. So that was the scariest one. And I think what inspired me to make scary movies is more of my liking of strange and weird stuff and Halloween, which was my favorite holiday as a kid. My mom and I would start my costume in August and work for it for two months. So it's not a movie that inspired me to make other movies. It was my liking of scary and weird stuffy that inspires me to make scary movies.
What specific qualities do you acquire on a project before you decide to produce it?
We look for two things. We look for, is it unique. Does it feel new? Does it feel original? Doe it appeal scary. I think these are connected. Like is it new, have I seen this before and is it scary? These are the two things we look for. And I think what makes the projects feel new and scary are three things. I think a good story. We are always look for a story that works even if it is scares in the movies. So if you take out everything that is scary is there a story that works without them. Then we look what's not on the script, so we look for good actors. Obviously, that's very important. And then, FINALLY, if you have a great story and great actors, then we talk about what the scares is going to be. But those are the ingredients we look for a great scary movie.
Do you believe in the paranormal? Or have you ever been affected?
I saw a ghost once. I was in my early twenties and I was living in an apartment in New York. I was living in the basement and I woke up in the middle of the night and there was a ghost on the end of my bed. And it was not a nice ghost and it was not mean ghost. It was just there. And this was the only time I ever saw a ghost. I don't want to see a ghost and I don't like to tempt fate to try to see them and I don't really believe in them. But I did see this one ghost this one time and I know it was a ghost. It wasn't a dream. But I hope I don't one any more. [LAUGHS].
Did it have a specific quality? (continuation of previous question)
It was like holding, it was actually holding a child. It was a ghost. I don't even know if it was a man or a woman but it was a figure holding a child, staring at me at the end of my bed. It was really weird.
What scares you the most ghost or demons? And which one is easier to portrait?
I think ghost are scarier than demons. Demons wear their evil on their sleeves. You see a demon and you run. A ghost, you don't know. They can be good or they could be bad. For me, a ghost is scarier than a demon. And a demons is easier to portrait in a movie. [LAUGHS]
So this whole franchise started with this one small indie film. Did you ever think of the amount of success that is today?
No we didn't. Maybe the director of the original movie. He had a lot of ideas of how successful it could be. No one else involved ever thought of how successful it would turn out to be. We all thought the first movie was going to be a fun, cult-y success, but not what it turn into. But then no one else would thought we would make five more. When making the second movie, I thought it would be like a Clare Witch Project. Which the second movie was very intuitively... It doesn't make any sense to make a found footage movie and have sequels that work because it's like what do they just find more footage? It doesn't make a lot of sense, so we didn't really think the sequels were going to work. So we've been happy surprise as we continue going on.
We've been in a scary journey with Katie. Are there going to be some type of revelation on her character on this movie?
Yes, there will be revelations about Katie but there will be many more revelations about Toby. [LAUGHS]
This is the last movie of the Paranormal Activity, do you have a favorite?
Which one is yours?
The first one. (We all said the first one).
What inspired you to start the Paranormal Activity movies?
I was doing whole different kind of movies before I started Paranormal Activity, a lot of little indie/art movies that no one saw and I was kind of tired of making movies that no one ever saw. So I wanted to try something new. I think that's what kind of inspired me. I thought it was more commercial than what I've been doing so I wanted to try something there were actually audiences to. I was making movies that were more people in the crew than actually watching the movies. It was fun to make a movie that people were actually going to go see.
Basically since all the questions will be answered in this final film, what does it mean for the franchise as a whole? Will there be a reboot?
We don't have any plans of reboot and we are not going to continue the Paranormal Activity. All these characters, Katie and Toby... that's done. In five years, if some amazing film maker that I love comes and comes and say here is a whole new way to approach Paranormal Activity that might happen. But we have no plans, we are not going out to pursue that. I think what will be special about this movie is that it is the end of this. We are not deciding it will be the end afterwards. We are deciding it is the end before it comes out. Even if it is a huge hit and makes a lot of business, it will still be the last one.
Speaking of Toby, how did you go by choosing names for the scary-scary demons in this series.
Choosing the name Toby?
You know, I was thinking about that today. I was talking about Toby. I don't know who came up with Toby. It wasn't me. But it's a funny and but I do not know who came up with Toby. So I cannot answer this question but I did have the same question this morning.
It's perfect though, it works so well.
It does. Doesn't it?
I think so too. I wish I could tell you who came up with this. I don't remember.
On set, is it ever completely freaky, or because you know how everything is not real, is it freaky for you?
When you film a scary movie is not scary. Not at all. In fact, the set up of a scary movie is actually a lot more fun than a set of a comedy. First of all, there are young kids and their are parents, their tutors, and their sandwiches... but people who make horror movies are kind of like the fans... We're not solving the world's problems, we don't take ourselves seriously, so there is a lot of fun in it. When I made Sinister, Ethan Hawke, he doesn't like horror movies and he didn't want to do a horror movie. His biggest reason he didn't want to do a horror movie is because he thought the set would be scary. When he found out what I'm telling you, the set is not scary, he had such a good time. At that time we were doing The Purge and right after, he was like "this is fun"... That's actually a long story. But the set of scary movies are not scary at all. Never.
When you're casting actors for scary movies, is there a particular skills they need to have different than other actors?
Yes! When you cast actors for a scary movies, they need to be good actors. I know that sounds obvious, but a lot of people who make scary movies don't love scary movies. They think it's commercials, because they make money, or whatever... They don't appreciate that. Usually, a lot of times, they will put actors that who are like I've done a lot of scary movies before and the truth is a great scary movie actor is a great actor, period. It's very hard to act in a scary movie because you have to be totally be petrified of nothing, right?! The sets aren't scary and you really have to. A scary movie isn't scary unless the actor, you really believe that actor is scared. And the quality of actors in a scary movie is such a crucial thing about scary movie. Most people in Hollywood don't under that. So it's a great question.