Neill Blomkamp's District 9 was one of my favorite movies of the year. Blomkamp is an extremely talented and imaginative filmmaker, and after I saw District 9 I knew he was going to be a driving force in the film industry and Hollywood. District 9 was an original story with no name actors, and it was still a huge success at the box office. This proves a point that I have made several times... that movies don’t need movie stars for a great story to be successfully told.
I recently read an interview Blomkamp did LA Times, and after reading it I am convinced that this guy is going to be a huge part in saving filmmaking and Hollywood.
He has said several times now that he does not want to do big budget films because he does not want to bend over to the pressures of the studio system. He wants to make his movie, not the movie the studio wants.
In fact, Blomkamp doesn’t want to have anything to do with the Hollywood system. For example, here is his view on casting and movie stars:
I'm not particularly interested in working with movie stars. It depends on where you come from, I suppose. Why are you making films? The reason I want make films is because they convey ideas. I think some directors make films because they want to hang out with movie stars and be part of Hollywood. They want to be a star themselves. I'm not interested in that at all. I think the reason you use an actor is if they are right for the role. Most of the high-profile stars tend to be good actors. That's probably what led to their fame. So if they are right for the movie, you can certainly use them. But I don't want to, not at all. Stardom and Hollywood overpower the ideas and the film. That being said, it's hard finding very good performers who aren't well-known.
If there was a test that filmmakers could take on this kind of thing his answer would be 100% correct! Everything he say’s here is exactly what I believe filmmaking should be about! So to find his actors where does he go, the stage?
I have thought of that. I have one idea for the lead guy [for the next film] that I actually haven't told to anybody yet because it's been brewing in the back of my head. Everybody knows him but not really as a star. I think that would fine. It's a situation where people are benefiting from an unusual pairing with the material. But I'm not interested in putting big-name movie stars into my movies.
I wonder what this new movie he’s got in the back of his head is all about. So why in the world is this guy not interested in working with big name actors? His answer makes so much sense it’s ridiculous.
I don't want egos and personalities on the set that make it more difficult to make the film. I don't want people who take the focus away from the movie and the ideas behind the movie.
Finally someone says it! Yes! I couldn’t agree more! How many movies have been made where the actors have to have a say in everything. There are so many stories of actors making life on the set of a film miserable. Who wants that!? Keeping the focus on the movie, that’s what it’s all about.
As for his views on the Hollywood marketing machine he says:
I don't like it. I don't like it at all. I like where we're going with technology and global integration but the fact that corporations and dollars rule everything in our lives, I don't like it. This isn't the Hollywood I wanted to be part of. This isn't the version of it that I saw when I was a kid..."District 9" and every other movie is treated like fast food. It's promoted relentlessly and then it's gone. Everything is a flamethrower-intensity and milked for everything it can give and then it's just chucked away. Everything is judged instantly, too. You look back at something like "Blade Runner" and wonder how a film like that, which doesn't do well at first, would be treated today.
This guy is a film purist and I love it. This is why he is going to be good for the industry. He is going against the grain. He is going to make the films he wants and he is going to do it his way. This is incredibly bold for someone how has just broken into the industry. Most people trying to break in would throw all this integrity out the window and sell out.
He goes on to talk about the future of District 9 in depth and his outlook on a sequel, TV show, and video games.
Ultimately the person with the most control is Peter [Jackson, producer of "District 9"], but I for sure would have some influence over whether that happens or not. I play a lot of video games. The idea of "District 9" as a video game stresses me out a little bit because games based on movies rarely work. And movies based on games don't work -- I don't know what's up with that.
"District 9" as a game would be fascinating. And I don't want to see it happen for any sort of corporate reason or profit thing. I used to be involved in computer graphics and I love virtual environments. That's why I like video games, really. And I think a virtual environment of the slums of Soweto is an appealing idea to me. The weapons are cool, too. I photographed the film in a way that isn't that different than video-game perspective in some parts. So a game would be interesting to me. There's nothing happening with it though.
A television show I wouldn't really want to do. That would be…well, I just don't want to do that. But a sequel might be interesting. I know what I'm doing next so it wouldn't be right away. But the concept of aliens in Johannesburg is such an appealing idea to me and the issues of race and how they meet. All of the things that I had going on with it. I wouldn't mind messing around with it again. I'm open to it if the story works and there's a reason to do it. And [Copley's character] Wikus is so funny to me, I'm very interested in a sort of passive racist like that. If you go forward [with his story beyond "District 9"] it's more of a traditional film but if you go backward I'd be intrigued in that. I'm not so interested in aliens coming back and blowing things up but [a prequel] might be interesting.
The setting for the next film takes place 150 years from now. There are two cities that I'm choosing between. They would play as themselves. They are not in South Africa. The success of "District 9" has made things a lot easier. I can get other things made. The thing I won't forget though is that you're really only as good as your last film. The whole flavor-the-week thing -- that’s how Hollywood works. If I screw up the next one it will be like I never made "District 9." I’m totally aware of that. It can all disappear in 30 seconds.
So what are you thoughts on Blomkamps views of Hollywood and filmmaking?
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