Screamfest LA 2012 Interview: Marcus Dunstan & Patrick Melton Talk 'The Collection'
It’s opening night – ready to get your Screamfest on? That’s right kiddies, we’re all set for SCREAMFEST LA 2102 being held this year from Oct. 12 thru Oct. 21 at the Regal LA Live Cinemas Stadium 14 at 1000 West Olympic Blvd. in sunny Los Angeles, California (go to www.screamfestla.com for more details!) and we’ve got a tasty teaser to prove it! Making its Screamfest debut tonight is the highly anticipated flick “The Collection”, from writers Marcus Dunstan (who also directed!) and Patrick Melton and we’ve got an exclusive early interview for you! A sequel of sorts to their previous fabulous outing "The Collector," Starpulse got a chance to chat one-on-one with both Dunstan and Melton about everything from getting the greenlight for the sequel to the Collector’s master plan. So read on and then head over to the theater and check out the work! Here are the gore guys behind the mayhem...
I read somewhere that the first film was originally titled "The Midnight Man", but "The Collector" is such a fitting moniker. What is the real story behind the two titles?
Marcus Dunstan: The title "The Midnight Man" was credited to that way back when it was probably geared to be more of an action thriller.
Patrick Melton: I think we picked "The Midnight Man" at the time because we thought it sounded cool. It also had double meaning – Arkin and the man I think he was called in the original script.
MD: As the horror movie started to take over in the DNA of the story the title "The Collector" was more fitting just to market this character. Because "The Midnight Man" was really about Arkin and "The Collector" was really about the villain.
I also read that the script was intended to be a "Saw" prequel – true or false and if so what did they object to?
MD: It was written just to be low budget, serious thriller and then the gentlemen over at the "Saw" camp saw it and felt like there is a universe where it could potentially be that. But really it served as an audition piece for Patrick and I to participate in the "Saw" franchise.
PM: We were looking for funding and one of the places we went for funding was Twisted Pictures who made the "Saw" movies. They really liked it and they brought us in and said it was probably too close to what "Saw" is, but what if we make this the origin story? Make it "Saw 4" and it would be the origin story for John Kramer – John would be the little girl in the house. The only survivor and completely affected by having seen this ordeal, but it was just an idea at the time. It didn’t happen, but because of that we got the "Saw" movies.
MD: We didn't really take anything from it at all when we participated in the "Saw" universe where we continued it. If it was to start maybe before it, there were a few threads that could I guess have been a prequel. But it was never I don't think in serious contention to be a "Saw" chapter.
So how did "The Collection," a sequel of sorts to the great "The Collector" get the green light?
MD: It’s because of fans. It’s absolutely because of fans and the attention the movie still gets. It still plays like crazy all over the world and it’s one of those that when it came out during the summer of its initial release a few people saw it, but it just has kept building. So Mickey Liddell over at the company said, ‘What if we revisit those characters? Is there a proper fertile ground for a new story?’
PM: Mickey has always liked the movie and the way the Collector operates, so he’s funding his own movies now and this was at the top of the list of the ones he wanted to do. He said he wanted to do something bigger – a lot of the movie takes place in this house of horrors inspired by H.H. Holmes’s House of Horrors from the Chicago during the World’s Fair in the 1800’s. To make that you have to build it and that takes money.
MD: We had a blast coming up with something that could stand on it's own legs, but was actually a wolf to the first one’s pup. It was also trying to make a different kind of movie and a different sort of feeling at the end. If the first one ended on a note of despair, well this one ends on a note of absolutely bloody satisfaction.
I sense that’s why you’re calling this one "The Collection" and not "The Collector 2?"
MD: Yes, absolutely. Which was a nice victory in the sense of how different this movie is from the first one and that "Collector 2" wouldn't have been fitting. It’s absolutely its own beast and "The Collection" is a much bigger premise – everything about it is jacked up.
I loved that on the DVD commentary track for "The Collector" you guys mentioned inspirations of Tom Noonan’s Tooth Fairy via "Manhunter" meets James Caan’s Frank from "Thief" – can you talk more about that concept and how does that dynamic now play into "The Collection?"
PM: That was all Marcus! When we were getting ready to shoot I guess he watched a lot of Michael Mann movies. (Laughs) The lens flares and the soundtrack and the slow motion and all that. But those movies weren’t horror films really, but they certainly were scary when we were younger and we saw them. It was a reach back to those movies that were inspirational to us as young men and trying to do our version of that in the modern era.
MD: With "The Collector," Arkin’s name is also taken right from Alan Arkin the actor from "Wait Until Dark," the thief looking to poach some heroine from the blind gal, played by Audrey Hepburn. We wanted to create a female character that could stand up next to Arkin and with that we create Elena. Elena has the same pixie haircut that Audrey Hepburn had in "Wait Until Dark" and she also has a handicap. We needed her to see, so she has a hearing impairment. When those two face off in the grinder, you’ll see. It was an exciting way to go about it.
Josh Stewart is thankfully reprising his role as master thief Arkin, but when we last saw the character he was in a rather vicarious position – what can we expect?
MD: Well, my goodness at the tail end of the last one we saw the box slam and the world go to black. In this instance we see things from the moment that box opens up and it takes off from there.
Was Josh at all surprised when you guys asked him to reprise the role?
MD: I hope not! (Laughs) It’s felt so wrong to take that character, that husband away from his family.
PM: We know him pretty well now. The only tricky part was when we shot the sequel he was right in the middle of his Dark Knight stuff, so we had to work around that.
Marcus, what was the difference for you directing the first film vs. the second?
MD: The first one was all about fighting for a toy or two or some time. This time the budget was so much bigger - it’s five times the size of the last movie, which never happens. Usually with sequels they get tinier and tinier till they disappear, not in the case of this one. This is a big old movie – with explosions, machine guns, wild dogs and everything. So the discipline of this one was we had access to all the toys, it was just the discipline of when to put it down.
Also, you have two different actors playing the part of the Collector from the first to the second film – any reason for the change?
MD: Just the enormous amount of physicality from one story to the next. A straight element of danger and having to pull things off in the realm of safety. The role was so much more physical this time it definitely required someone with a stunt background. An actor, but somebody that had a lot of stunt work and the ability to still adopt all the insect like behavioral tics that our killer has. So that was a big part. When you have knife fight in a room of fire, you need somebody that has the ability to do that and keep us all safe.
Does the Collector have a master plan or is he just an ordinary snatch and grab bad guy?
MD: I don't want to spoil it. It’s been a joy to watch unsuspecting audiences when they see something that is three times as big as the first movie in the first ten minutes alone, they're like...now what? There’s another eighty minutes of that, damn! But there’s always a plan though for these diabolical folks.
PM: You’ll see – there is a method to his madness to a certain extent that becomes clear.
"The Collection" debuts tonight, Oct 12, 2012 exclusively at Screamfest LA 2012 - go to www.screamfestla.com for more details! And stay tuned to Starpulse.com for continuing coverage of Screamfest LA 2012 – more to come!