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Maniac Interviews With Elijah Wood

INTERVIEW


Interview I conducted with Elijah Wood and Franck Khalfoun in NYC in June of 2013

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Interview I conducted with Elijah Wood and Franck Khalfoun in NYC in June of 2013

Tony Tellado: It really seemed like a collaborative effort between the both of you. There’s a bit of a trade off since your’e not on camera all of the time. There were several techniques that you used to compensate like the out of body technique. I also noticed Elijah’s eyes. They served you so well in The Lord Of The Rings to convey Frodo’s doubts, hopes and fears. In this film, the first time we see Elijah’s eyes in the real view mirror, I thought that they were the eyes of a killer before any killing happened.

Elijah Wood: Wow. That’s cool.

Was that something that you both talked about or was that just part of an actor’s techniques to convey attitude and emotion.

Director Franck Khalfoun: It’s funny when you mention killer, but when I think of Elijah, I think of his innocence and the more loving eyes to me. They’re piercing and they are intense. And I thought that disalarming if anything. It’s terribly exciting for me to know that perhaps that still behind that is the Devil..this devilish sort of person.We never talked about your eyes but I remember when we started talking about you for the film, I remember saying, “Wow, that would be so intense, his beautiful eyes staring at you and how scary it could eventually be if its seen the other way.”

Elijah Wood: It wasn’t something that I was conscious of. I was conscious of playing the character. I don’t often think of my eyes of from that objective prospective. But certainly I thank that anytime Frank is on the screen because I only had those few opportunities so much had to be conveyed in those moments. I’m glad that the initial eyes in the mirror worked.

FK: When you see the eyes in the beginning in the mirror when you know he’s stalking for sure and bad things are going to happen. The next time we focus upon him is when he’s talking to Ana and he’s in love and there’s a real difference. There’s a real difference in what’s going on in those eyes.It’s interesting that you noticed that because they’re the same eyes but convey two different things. It’s the power of the actor to be able to convey different emotions. They say that it’s the windows to the soul.

TT: What was interesting too was that he only worked on female mannequins that perhaps under the surface he was trying to reshape the perfect woman because his mother was anything but that.

EW: That’s interesting. I think the mannequins are reflective of a lack of connection. It’s sort of ironic in a way that the family business was refurbishing these mannequins. And yet it’s so perfectly in tune with his bad relationship with women, his bad relationship with his mom and he’s surrounded by these perfect femine objects that he attaches his own idealism to. It’s very interesting and also makes for a fascinating environment to be surrounded by these things that further exemplify his lack of connections.

FK: The fact that these women are objects and that he wants so badly for them to be human.He doesn’t want to see them as objects as many men see them as objects.He doesn’t want that. He can’t help it. His attempt in making them human is devastating and ultimately brings on his demise..

TT:  Another thing is mentally in how he thinks of the women he meets and his victims.There’s little glimpses during the movie but the at the end as he is going down the hallway of his shop, you get to his inner thoughts and the bones were fed earlier is now paying off. And we don’t agree with what he is but we see why a bit more.

FK: Yeah.By the end of the movie we are in his delirium. It’s hard for me to understand what he’s going through. He wants the wedding. He wants to settle. He wants the killing to end. We get to the point for it to end he has to end.

EW: It’s really interesting too if you think about what’s literally happening. As he’s walking back there he’s suffered a mortal wound.He’s walking back amongst his mannequins and bringing this mannequin in a wedding dress with her scalp on it.The reality is that he is dying of a mortal wound and this is his cathartic experience of maybe self punishment.And if you want to get deeper into it, you see elements of that self punishment and through out the film, a little in his hands.He kind of flogs himself as a means of punishing himself.

FK: The fact that these women are objects and that he wants so badly for them to be human.He doesn’t want to see them as objects as many men see them as objects.He doesn’t want that. He can’t help it. His attempt in making them human is devastating and ultimately brings on his demise..

TT:  Another thing is mentally in how he thinks of the women he meets and his victims.There’s little glimpses during the movie but the at the end as he is going down the hallway of his shop, you get to his inner thoughts and the bones were fed earlier is now paying off. And we don’t agree with what he is but we see why a bit more.

FK: Yeah.By the end of the movie we are in his delirium. It’s hard for me to understand what he’s going through. He wants the wedding. He wants to settle. He wants the killing to end. We get to the point for it to end he has to end.

EW: It’s really interesting too if you think about what’s literally happening. As he’s walking back there he’s suffered a mortal wound.He’s walking back amongst his mannequins and bringing this mannequin in a wedding dress with her scalp on it.The reality is that he is dying of a mortal wound and this is his cathartic experience of maybe self punishment.And if you want to get deeper into it, you see elements of that self punishment and through out the film, a little in his hands.He kind of flogs himself as a means of punishing himself.

And cleaning and cleansing himself. So in some ways we took a realistic look at what happens at the end, he kind of imagines his demise by the hands of the women that he’s killed. I guess a sort of salvation.

FK: And also departing this world not alone. He imagines that he is marrying and has someone who will be with him forever is what is happening at the end. Always be alone, the line in the film, is tragic.

TT: The POV shooting really works for me. But I know for both of you that was a lot of work. Is that something you can plan for in pre-production or do you find getting on the set and having to start again from scratch ?

EW: Oh yeah. But that’s also filmmaking in general.You can plan as much as you like but there are always going  to be some surprises and problem solving on the day. The POV has so many limitations. Franck said that initially that he thought it would be easy and I probably thought the same thing.

FK; The thing that is difficult is to make to really make a beautiful movie which I thought was important for this. You have to have nice cameras and big lenses. Big lenses in the place of a human being’s head is very complicated. They’re heavy. They’re hard to move around. You have to choreograph that you have hands there, that’s what became very complicated.Certainley if you have a Go Pro you can do all kinds of stuff. It’s not going to look the same. It’s not going to be as enticing or look as beautiful. The image is not going to be as nutured. So to get that there’s a price to pay. Coming up with the right rigs and the right shots..conceptually they’re easy. When you’re writing I’d say,”We’ll do this this way” but the you realize, the camera needs four people. We need to operate it. There are things happening. And technically there are things happening with effects, special effects and make up effects and it becomes way more complicated then we anticipated. So the time we thought we were going to save because we were not covering scenes in the traditional way we were now using to try to figure out how to pull these shots off. And now panic sets in because this wasn’t supposed to take so long.

EW: The hardest sequence to figure out in the film, I’ll never forget it,because it was two nights was the scene in her apartment at the end of the film. It starts with me coming in consoling her. logistically so complicated because it’s a huge piece…a lot of dialogue. It also moves withing multiple spots within the context of the apartment. And there’s these escalations and violence and a lot of emotion.

FK: …Very changing emotion. Cat and mouse.

EW: Incredibly complex.

TT: Another thing that struck me is that I am fond of a film Orson Welles did called Touch Of Evil. Even though the film is in color, you washed it out and used shadows and contrast very well.

FK: Very important. I think movie making is imersing people into a world. It’s about visually doing that. When something is beautiful to look at we tend to get immersed in it. It is important in a beautiful movie, that there is a range of light and dark. And that range be manipulated at the right moment..at the right time. It was important that the movie be beautiful. That the art direction be beautiful. That it all be sort of sunken in darkness…dipped in darkness. That we are always on the edge of dark and light. A beautiful image for me is one that has both light and dark, no matter how small. There is a world within that. And how dark and light you have depends on the emotion you’re trying to convey. But it needs to have that range. Every frame needs to have that frame just like the entire movies needs to have that range..

just like an actor’s performance needs to have that range and the art direction. Everything needs to go from top to bottom in a film. And you need to use all of that. Maxime did a wonderful job. He’s a Great DP. His lighting..very simple..very moody and it conveys a real emotion.

TT: This is a genre film but personally, I think it’s much more. The genre needs a movie like this to evolve. The genre started this way but got away from with lots of blood and a high body count. This film helps advance it more. How do you feel on how this film fits into genre.

FK: Thank you. I have said this before, I love genre movies. But I love movies. I don’t categorize them. I think movies have to have strong character, good story, a compelling human story. How it turns is the way it turns. If it turns bloody it does. For the most part is all about the story and the emotion and if the story is compelling or not. There’s no difference for me. I also think it’s the same with the genre audience. They love movies across the board. the just love good movies and they dissect movies. The analyze movies and they live for those movies. The can appreciate Lawrence Of Arabia just like the original Maniac or Halloween. They can as opposed to the mass audiences which can’t. The core audience is the one that appreciates film. That’s when I’m doing a remake, I’m real careful to work hard that’s our job to work hard to give them something that they will enjoy.

EW: It’s got a compelling story with compelling characters like you said. Some of my favorite horror movies are movies where you can take the horror elements out and still have a compelling story. Look at Let Me In, you take the vampirism out and it’s about two children that become friends and its compelling of its own. Horror genre tends to run in cycles like anything. I really feel we’re in a really great upswing right now.A part of it is because we are an increasing global community. I feel we are more aware of film from other parts of the world and they are starting to have a deeper influence on us. The fact that movie in particular before it was remade immediately is a sign that of an interesting turn. And you see that in people making films like Insidious which I thought was a fantastic film. We have some great creative directors in the US that are doing some interesting things. I’m really hopeful for the genre. I think that run of doing remakes is kind of over. I think they have pilfered everything at this stage. Maybe (laughs) They’re still some dollars to squeeze out. But I feel that people’s standards are high. Horror fans and genre fans are savvy. They’ll take movies because they’re looking for the gold. They’re looking for the thing that they love about the genre but they’re savvy and appreciate when things are taken a little bit more seriously. They’re given to genuine great story telling.You strip away the genre and it’s filmmaking. It’s still story telling.

FK: And nothing pisses them off more of just an attempt of producers or studios to rob them of their ten bucks. It’s not cool to come up with schlock and pretend its entertainment or good filmmaking just so they can make money.

EW: I was impressed by and again I’m not a huge fan of remakes. But I was actually impressed with the Evil Dead remake. What was really cool about that film was that they took a director who had never made a feature film before. They saw a short of his. They believed in him. They took a chance and they took a risk. That’s exciting and that yields exciting results.

Special thanks to Brigade Marketing.

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About Sci-Fi Talk (735 Articles)
Tony Tellado, Host and producer of Sci-Fi Talk, a podcast and multi-media blog on sci-fi,fantasy and horror in various mediums. copyright 2010 Si-Fi-Talk LLC

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