SDCC 2012: Writer/Director Michael J. Bassett And Co. Talk SILENT HILL: REVELATION 3D

Six years since the original SILENT HILL movie, Open Road Films has made the smart move in picking up and finally announcing a release date for the long awaited sequel, SILENT HILL REVELATION 3D.  The timing here is key.  With the announcement of the SILENT HILL themed maze at Universal Halloween Horror Nights, as well as the SILENT HILL: BOOK OF MEMORIES release for the Playstation Vita, the film sequel may even give RESIDENT EVIL a run for its money (a boy can dream).

Last week, we were lucky enough to attend the SILENT HILL REVELATION 3D press conference with writer/director Michael J. Bassett (SOLOMON KANE), producer Samuel Hadida (BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF) and actress Adelaide Clemens (XMEN: ORIGINS).

Does Pyramid Head return?  Is Akira Yamaoka back on as the score composer? How will the 3D aspect contribute to the story?  Check out the Q&A below for the answers!

The film reunites Sean Bean and Kit Harington from GAME OF THRONES, how was that experience?

Michael J. Bassett – Well I didn’t know at the time.  Kit came in to audition for me and GAME OF THRONES hadn’t been shown, nobody knew who he was and he came in as a talented young actor for the role.  He was fantastic in the room.  He was one of the first guys I met and knew it was going to be him.  I showed the audition to Samuel and was like, “This is the kid!”  Then GAME OF THRONES came on and suddenly we got John Snow.  And I said to Kit, “You know Sean Bean is in the movie.”  It’s a bit weird.  It’s actually quite a small industry where everybody knows everybody else.

How much of the world of Silent Hill does one need to know to understand this movie?

Michael J. Bassett – None at all.  The whole point of this was that we create a sequel to the first movie which continues the story of young Sharon Da Silva for reasons explained in the movie becomes Heather Mason.  So this is a sequel.  It’s also an adaptation from game number 3.  It’s an adaptation of that story and mythology and that ride that you go on.  BUT, the truth of the matter is, I had to make it a movie that completely stands alone if you know nothing about SILENT HILL, you’re not interested in the mythology and you’ve never played the games….this story works for you as well.  Because it’s basically about a strong young heroine who has to find the truth of herself.  So it works, hopefully, fingers crossed, on every level.

Samuel Hadida – And that was the mandate from the very beginning of his writing.

Can you talk about the sets and what we can expect from this film that’s different from the first film?

Michael J. Bassett – This world, the difference is that my aesthetic has been applied to the SILENT HILL world design.  One thing we didn’t really do, we didn’t do a lot of green screen stuff at all.  We built the world as much as we possibly could or we found an environment that we could retrofit or apply that SILENT HILL aesthetic to.  What we do in this movie a bit more than I think was done perhaps in the first one and certainly in the games is that we spend a little bit more time in the real world so we ground the audience in the realism of Heather’s home life and that environment before we start dismantling that and send her first to the fog world and the other world, and then the peeling begins and the monsters appear.  It’s a horror journey but it’s a psychological journey as well.

Adelaide Clemens – I think that’s what really attracted me to Michael’s script – that he set up Heather’s world in the real world and in a reality that we as audiences can relate to and then eventually she gets sucked into the world that is SILENT HILL.  I think you really have a lot of empathy for the character and you kind of hop on the ride and then suddenly you’re in SILENT HILL so…hopefully it’s a success.

Michael J. Bassett – The thing of it is, the first movie Samuel made is such an artistically creative and successful film.  It’s beautiful.  Everybody worked at the top of their game.  You can like it as an adaptation of the games or not.  You can’t deny the fact that aesthetically and technically it’s an incredible film. So we really had a very high benchmark we had to achieve.  One of the things we’ve done is shot this in 3D to try and give you another level of immersion.  You know, 3D, either people like it or don’t like it but one thing it can really do is draw you into an environment.  And as a game adaptation, I think it’s quite a successful thing to do and the 3D is really really good

Samuel Hadida – As we had produced the first one too, for a couple years, we kept all the iconic figures.  Like the board of SILENT HILL, the display from the town.  So we have unloaded a lot of trucks to bring back the elements from SILENT HILL that you will recognize.

Since you were just discussing the aesthetics of the film, a favorite effect from the first movie were the ashes raining down.  Will we be seeing that again?

Michael J. Bassett – You’re going to see it in 3D. It really is fantastic.  3D really works when the pacing is slow.  The drifting of the ash, when you watch it on the screen you can get sort of hypnotized by it, to be honest.

So you filmed it in 3D, it’s not post converted?

Michael J. Bassett – We filmed it in 3D.  Absolutely.  Post conversion?  Come on! Don’t do that.

Samuel Hadida – The DP can attest.

Michael J. Bassett – I can understand why people don’t want to shoot in 3D and want to do post conversion, because shooting in 3D is slower and it’s harder and it’s a new language of film making.  So one of the challenges for me, I come from shooting in 2D and no one knew I’d ever do a 3D movie.  When Samuel said, “You want to do it in 3D?”. I initially said, “Ahhh, I don’t want to do this!”.  And then we thought about how it would work with the aesthetic of the movie and how it could involve the audience. And the thing about 3D, is that you can make it more or less 3D!  It’s like pulling focus now.  So you can say as this scene changes, we can psychologically draw the audience in slowly by changing the parallax of the 3D. And nobody’s played with that.  We did that a little bit in this and I think it was a very interesting way to go.

Adelaide Clemens – I think 3D, personally, goes hand in hand with the video game adaptation because as an actor I kind of felt like I was there with the console playing, having my options of where to go.  You get to experience that when you watch the film.

If you’re not watching it in 3D, will the aesthetic and feel still work?

Michael J. Bassett – This is the thing, it’s equivalent to saying it’s gotta be a sequel, adaptation and a stand alone movie.  You’ve got to make the thing work in their own right.  If you flatten the movie and look at it in 2D, it’s absolutely beautiful.  The DP did a fabulous job.  The movie looks glorious.  Of course I’d like you to see it the way I intended it to be done.  It was such a pain in the ass to do it but I want you to know how good it looks….and what a pain in the ass it was to do.  But in all seriousness, it doesn’t make a difference to the movie.  The interesting this is, as technology is moving forward into the digital age and how file storage formats and all that kind of nonsense…you know film is film is film.  You really just need a candle to look at a piece of movie and that, the digital stuff, all these files that you’re creating right now…if it starts becoming an MPEG or a WAV or something, it’s obsolete.  And that obsolescence is what we all fear but you can’t think about it while you’re making it.

A lot of the reasons why the film and the game series have been so successful, was the phenomenal score.  The first film used the video game score.  Can you talk a bit about the score for this one and what is inspiring it?

Michael – Akira! Dude, it’s not SILENT HILL without Akira Yamaoka! The thing is, I’m a gamer, right?  I’ve been playing these games for like 10 years now.  Yeah, I was playing these games when I was starting out.  Akira did the sound design and music, so the sound design became that singular audio identity.  That is massively unique and he’s a really talented guy.  And Christophe Ganz from the first movie is also a HUGE fan of SILENT HILL and really obsessively knows his stuff.  He took that and ran with it so there was no way I was doing SILENT HILL without Akira being involved.  He has been.  We have Jeff Danna who has taken Akira themes and then Akira came in and helped, giving us some new stuff as well.  So we have original Akira, some reworkings of his old stuff, it’s all there and it’s a really good score.

Adelaide, what were the challenges of playing this character?

Adelaide Clemens – Honestly, the physical challenge of being Heather Mason and of what working on SILENT HILL REVELATION 3D entailed.  It was very physical.  You know, falling, running.

Michael J. Bassett – Sorry.

Adelaide Clemens – I just remember one of the final shots of me running through the ashes and we’d have one walkie on one end and one on the other and I probably had like a mile or a mile and a half to run. Then they’d have a technical glitch in the camera but I can’t hear anything because I’m running.

Michael J. Bassett – Stop, Forrest!

Adelaide Clemens – And then I’d get there and they’d tell me we didn’t get that one and you’ve got to go back.  So I’d have to run back and do it again!

Michael J. Bassett – Yeah, you got to be fit.

Adelaide Clemens – But that was also a part of why it was so exciting.  I enjoyed it.  I loved every minute of it.  As an actor, the psychological journey of Heather was just, there was so much there to sink my teeth into.  I was really satisfied on all levels.  It was amazing.

How much of the video games did you play?

Adelaide Clemens – To be honest, when I first came to Michael’s version of the script, they kind of filled me in on the games and said, “You’ve gotta go play that.  It’s pretty scary.  Get ready.”  And I was like, “…okay.”  The franchise was just this kind of added bonus. I had all this stimulation to play with and to be inspired by.

Michael J. Bassett – In a weird way, it was good that she wasn’t completely familiar with…there’s no sort of preformed concept she’d find through the script as a character driven piece.  This is great because it helped us work from the perspective of a stand alone story.  Her character experiences as an actor that she can really work with.  So retrofitting and having others tell her that this is really really cool to get involved with, that’s a bonus.

Adelaide Clemens – Michael’s version and the Heather I play is six years on from the original SILENT HILL so I think it was really important that I did create that character and make her completely unique in her own right.  I think the physicality of Heather in the game, that was what I really had to focus on and get my head around.

For the producer, have you played the game and how did you become involved with this production?

Samuel Hadida – Well I am not a gamer, personally but I have a son at home who was playing the game and he was very scared.  Every time he was scared, I would look at him and say, “Why are you scared?” And he’d reply, “It’s Silent Hill, leave me alone!”  And then I was a producing the movie, a long time ago, called BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF. I was on the set and every night the director would say, “Okay, I have to rush!” And I’d say, “We have the dailies.” And he’d reply, “I will see you tomorrow, I have to continue my game!”  And now I understand why he was so frightened.  Christophe Ganz was in the office playing the game and writing the story and I was immersed in this world.  Then we got together and made THIS movie and we did our best to find the beats that would frighten you the most.  And you will find, it’s very scary.

Can you tell us what creatures in the first film will be appearing in the new one?

Michael J. Bassett – I don’t want to give too much away.  I feel that would be unfair.  There are creatures from the first movie and familiar creatures from the games that appear that are fan favorites. We’ve created some new stuff.  Technically, I like people in costumes on the set.  I like that.  I like the real aesthetic.  I like to see it and cover it in gel and KY and make it slimier.  I like that, the physical hands on approach.  We did some CG enhancement because you can do that these days.  You can rub out joint marks in the skin and whatnot, but the intention was to always create a real world and to put the monsters as far as we could and as real as we could in front of the actors so they can respond to it.  The monsters in SILENT HILL, from a psychological point of view – that’s what the game’s trying to do.  Get you in the mind of the character and the monsters exist because they project some aspect of personality of that character.  Now with this, in my own mind, I have justification on how they will appear and what they represent to Heather and what they represent to the story.  I guess the fans will have a different interpretation but I can only do what I think works for me and what works for that world.  So to summarize, you’ve got some new monsters, old monsters, very cool monsters, very frightening monsters.

There’s a lot of pressure in making video game adaptations.  Many have been made that have failed.  But SILENT HILL was a huge success.  How do you make a successful film based on a video game?

Michael J. Bassett – I came at it as a piece of story telling first.  You go back and say, SILENT HILL game number 3 is what we’ve got to work with.  I’ve got to make a sequel to the first film’s story as well.  And I’ve got to make something that works all by itself and I think the notion of a movie that works all by itself is actually the single most important part of that because it can’t be about an adaptation of a video game, it’s got to be about a really rockin’ piece of story telling which does its job first and foremost.  I absolutely don’t alienate the fans.  I’m a fan myself, but to try and make a video game adaptation work, it’s got to not be a video game adaptation.  It’s just got to be a good movie that tells a great story and I think that’s possibly the mistake that other people have made.  Listen, it’s hard to make any movie let alone a good movie. You know?  So, I think we’re there.

SILENT HILL REVELATION 3D stars Sean Bean, Kit Harington, Malcolm McDowell, Carrie-Ann Moss, Radha Mitchell and Adelaide Clemens.  It was written and directed by Michael J. Bassett.  The movie will be brought to us from Lionsgate and hits theaters nationwide on October 26th.



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