‘Fright Night’ Set Visit Interviews: Crane Shots, Hair Shirts, and Mormons with Craig Gillespie and…

By  · Published on August 5th, 2011

‘Fright Night’ Set Visit Interviews: Crane Shots, Hair Shirts, and Mormons with Craig Gillespie and Anton Yelchin

I visited the set of the new Fright Night movie last September and wrote about the experience here. That post covers my thoughts on the whole process, but it’s not all I have to report. No siree, while I was there several members of the cast and crew took time out of their clearly busy schedule to chat with the press.

Unheard of you say? It’s true! And here are some words to prove it from the likes of Anton Yelchin and director Craig Gillespie! [These are excerpts from group interviews conducted during the set visit.] Be sure to check out all of our Fright Night coverage here.


I notice your using a crane in a really small location, is that what you’re doing for the rest of the film? Doing really cool shots?Craig Gillespie: No actually I got the idea for this from that U2 3D video, it was awesome with all these crane shots going over a crowd. We’re in a packed environment here so that’s where the quality looks great so we’re doing it here. Also the 3D camera weighs about 85 pounds, so the crane kinda helps. We have a steadycam, but the steadycam operator gets pretty damn tired lugging that thing around, it’s usually 28 pounds for the camera. For 3D it’s always nice to have the camera moving and the background always changing so we do have the camera moving all the time. (To Anton) What do you think about that crane idea? (Laughs)

Anton Yelchin: Aaaah We’ll talk about it later (laughter)

CG: He’s being nice but he wanted lockoffs.

AY: No, it’s fine, I’ve gotten used to it.

CG: He never knows where the eye line is.

Can you guys talk about what attracted you to this project, what really appealed to you?

AY: I read it and I thought it was really great and I wanted to work with Craig and I just thought it was really cool. I think just as a story it’s really well written. It’s a very legitimate vampire story in the sense that the vampires are actually dangerous. They play the “monster” role as opposed to whatever it’s been recently. Its a legitimate, frightening, destructive, chaotic being that just wants to fucking kill everything… which is great! It sounds good to me, it’s something I’d want to see. I just think it’s a legitimate way to portray a monster. I mean look, you know, they’re monsters, that’s the point, they kill things. Also I think it’s interesting that Jerry in addition to being destructive sexually preys. In the original especially, but this one as well. It’s not like he just destroys, theres a complexity to the way he preys on people which I thought was really cool.

Can you talk about your twist on the character of Charlie Brewster and how it’s different from the first one?

AY: Um..

CG: I think you’re using a Russian Accent…

AY: Yeah, I’m doing an accent… I’m… no, I think they’re pretty… I think they’re in similar situations, you know and there’s the same kind of desperation and then fear and then desire to survive that’s in the original one, you know?

CG: The thing that’s in Marty’s script, there’s several genres going on here, I mean she’s written some great character development in terms of the classic teenage angst and coming of age and turning into a man and just the choices you make going through your teenage years choosing between your friends and what defines you as a person. Charlie makes mistakes throughout the movie which he then pays for which is a whole subplot going on that really invests you in those characters because you can relate to them. On top of that we have.. his line in the movie is “this guy is like the shark from Jaws” you know, that he has to come up against and it really defines the choices that he’s made throughout the movie, and the regrets. That’s part of what he has to do is come back over the bad choices he’s made throughout the film and sort of rectify those choices, and part of that is coming up against the vampires.

AY: Yeah, I think if you look at the vampires very simply as “Death” then that is what makes him realize what he values and what the people around him really mean to him when it all gets threatened… basically the vampires just destroy his reality. I think there’s more of that (in this movie) in the last one there’s less of an arc to Charlie.. he just freaks out then continues to freak out until he defeats jerry.Whereas here it’s just what Craig says: he really goes on a journey to become a person that is able to actually fight vampires.

CG: And he’s got several great relations, his relationship to Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who was his best friend, and the choices he’s made there and how his relationship develops with Amy (Imogen Poots), and then there’s the classic teen thing of the son breaking away from his mother as well. All those different plots are going on at the same time.

Are there any classic horror movies that you use as a template for the horror movie you want to make?

CG: Ha! No. (laughs) -The horror part of this wasn’t the tricky part for me, the tone of this is the hardest part. We’ve got some scenes that are just classic horror and I think they work great but there is that balance that we’re trying to get, which I guess is from the 80’s where they try to mix comedy and drama and the thriller aspect like American Werewolf in London and being able to make that change and do that shift. Being able to go to these scary moments and be invested in that but then still being able to have levity at times and then some really emotional moments, that was the tricky part, it’s not just one genre. It’s hard to find modern day examples of that, they did that more in the 80s.

How has it been since you’re shooting in 3D, planning for 3D and mapping it out?

CG: What I like about 3D is it’s a little more like classic film-making because you can’t be as frenetic in terms of the hand held stuff. So you’re really doing these scenes that take longer blocking out and it’s more fluid, it’s like old school coverage. One movie that I like a lot that is remarkably simple in it’s coverage is Dark Knight. Even though it’s a big film a lot of the time you’re in front of the actor or behind the actor. Even some of Spielberg’s stuff like War of the Worlds there’s amazingly long tracking shots in terms of blocking that goes on that I love and the 3D lenses add to that.

Anton, does that change things for you as well if he’s able to do longer takes and block things a little more openly, does that change your approach to doing scenes?

AY: No not really, but it is as Craig says, it is like more traditional. I really enjoy doing the longer takes where I can move around.

CG: Like we had that scene we did upstairs that was three and a half pages but basically took two shots.

AY: Yeah, it really evolved in a really interesting way because it’s much more natural as opposed to keep having to stop and shoot this bit, or moving to this corner of the room for a different setup. It grows in more interesting ways and you have more freedom to really let the interaction grow. So I’ve been enjoying that, definitely.

So Craig we’re seeing you do a spin on a theme that we’ve seen many times before (in this shot) you know of the vampire not being able to appear in the mirror. Has it been challenging trying to re-imagine things like this, do you say “oh man how am I going to put a new spin on this?”

CG: Honestly I try to keep it as part of the storytelling and not try to make it a big event, there’s actually only two shots where he deals with the mirror, it’s actually been harder trying to keep him out of reflections… elsewhere where we’ll see him like “uh oh we see him in the car window or we see him in a window in the background” ‐ there will be a couple of other moments but really we just keep it part of the storytelling… Amy will see herself in the mirror and it will be very brief but I just try not to make a big moment out of it, just stay with the characters all the time.

What was the decision to not have Colin Farrell wear lots of low cut sweaters like Jerry did in the original?

CG: Because Colin has a really hairy chest and it wouldn’t have worked (Laughter). Sorry guys I have to go. [Craig leaves]

Can you tell us more about what it was like to work with David Tennant?

AY: We actually haven’t started with David yet. I’ve met him and I’ve spoken to him and he’s great I mean I can’t wait. His character looks so cool. It’s really exciting and I can’t wait for all those scenes.

So how much improvising has there been, we heard there was a little with you and Christopher.

AY: There’s actually quite a bit, it’s been really great, everyone’s really cool about us playing with the dialog, we don’t rewrite it, but… I mean in that scene we shot upstairs, the way we shot it really allowed for all that improv to come out. They were longer takes with a lot of space and movement and room to let things develop naturally instead of blocking every tiny little moment out.

Why do you think the vampire genre is so popular right now?

AY: I… hum… something to do with Mormons I guess, I don’t know (Laughter) -I don’t know, but I think the reason this is very cool is because it’s “classic vampire” you know, going back to that. It’s exciting to me and the reason it’s so great is that there’s that dangerous predatory quality to the vampire, I don’t know what the sociopoliticaleconomic relevance of the vampire is to modern day culture aside from the current phenomenon that’s going on, but I think that this film is a great traditional vampire genre film, you know like the original, the guy was a predator, he moves in next door and just starts fucking killing people. It was exciting to watch and the whole time you were concerned for all the characters because there was such an immense danger that you felt.

And if anything it wasn’t’ romantic, it was either very overtly sexual and predatory in that way or just dangerous in a more physical way. I think that’s what makes the original exciting, aside from how great and self conscious and campy it is, but in this one there’s always that danger and that tension that’s exciting to witness. Like Craig says there’s all this subplot aside from the vampire, the vampire becomes this sort of life changing experience that you focus on you know, and you really do go on this really intense ride with these people.

As someone who seems to be pretty familiar with the vampire genre have there been any moments that have made you geek out or that will make horror fans geek out?

AY: Yeah, I mean the look of the vampires is beautiful, that’s a weird way to put it, but it’s really cool and it’s really dark and menacing and they’re doing such an amazing job with all the visuals and all the effects and the makeup. Every time I see their eyes and their teeth and their veins… everything is so intricate and specific. It’s really beautiful in how menacing it is. I’ve really enjoyed it. Thanks guys! (leaves)

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.