Paul Anderson the director of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter talks about the experience and pressures of making the final film of the franchise
This is the sixth and the final instalment of this franchise. Was there any pressure on you to make it spectacular, is there any added stress considering the previous successes?
Yes, it was definitely. Knowing that the franchise was coming to a close I wanted it to be really strong. As in any franchise, some of the movies are ups and some are down and you can have different opinions which you like and don't like. But for me, I had to try and deliver the best movie for the fans. Like bring the franchise to the close with the strongest possible film.
The sound effects of the movie are really strong. Is it something that you made on purpose?
Not really. It is very interesting, you know the movie I have really worked closely with. I am a very technical director and I work closely with the team. I have a good sound team that I use who only overlook my movies. But what was different about this film was I worked with the editor Doobie White, who I have worked with during my commercials, in between movies I have commercials and you know making commercial is sometimes a different experience because you're telling a story in 30 seconds and it's why commercial directors frequently find it difficult to crossover into movies and vice versa because although on the surface it feels exactly like the same, you take pictures and you make it look pretty it is not the same thing at all because you are trying to tell a story in 30 seconds when you're supposed to tell in an hour and half and those are different disciplines and I used Doobie who cuts commercial for me because I think he's a genius and one of the things he does is - in commercials you quiet often rely on sound very heavily because the cutting pan can be quiet fast and you are relying on sound to tell the story that you sometimes you are telling it with the picture but if the editing is quick , you need to punctuate the visuals with particular sound effect so that the audience can continue to follow the story. So for example, there is a car chase with Milla being chased with the flying dragon, there is a great thing where she pulls the hand break and tosses and her car skids around. All of the sounds of pulling the hand break and hitting the pedal, the sounds are accentuated and we dropout all the other sounds because some of the edits are like 8 frames long and the less you have, you hear the sound strong that go with the visuals, you'd never see a shot just blur of images and your brain wouldn't be able to process the information properly. So, I think it's a very fresh and modern way of working. But what it does is it means you're basically editing the sound and picture of the movie simultaneously which is a new way of working because normally in movies what you do is you do the picture and then lay the sound afterwards. Whereas the way I constructed, this picture was with sound was just as important as the picture.
How do you see the future of video games? Is it still a difficult marriage or..
I think it's always going to be difficult. I don't know if it's a marriage or I think it's more of violent fair. You know because they don't necessary stay happily together and I think because Hollywood studios are interested in making money right? Video games, people watch video games therefore you can grab those people, put them into a movie theatre we can make money based on it. But just like in commercials, just because movie and commercials both have images they are not the same thing and video games and movies are not the same thing. You play a video game it can take 15, 20, 25, 30 hours, it's a completely different time period. You play it all by yourself rather than watching it with an audience. You actually interact, you make decisions whereas when you watch a movie you are on a riot, you are on a set of rails, and you are being directed in a certain way. They are fundamentally different and don't necessarily mesh and it is hard to make a good video game adaptation and that's why you see so many fail
Just as a follow-up, have you seen World Warcraft, assassin's creed, have you seen those movies or not?
I saw World Warcraft. Both of the movies have been directed by very talented filmmakers. Do the movies work? Other people have said more than I need to. It's hard because you have to please two different audiences. There's a hardcore audience that know and love the games and you have to please them but then they can't make a hit movie because you need the other audience - people who don't know the games and the problem is if you make something that just pleases the hardcore audience you alienate everybody else because they see and go like "Umm, I don't really know that. It doesn't feel like it's for me". And if you change it too much, so you make it all for those people who don't know anything. But people who go, love the games go like "Fuck you that is not the game. It's like what is this shit". And it's hard. We in Resident Evil World are famous have struggled pass successfully but that doesn't mean we haven't had bricks felling on our head because of it. You murder people, you fucked up Resident Evil because, you didn't do this, didn't do that, that's not Resident. Milla's Alice Character isn't in Resident Evil. She is totally my creation. Red Queen isn't in Resident Evil but Raccoon City is. The Hive isn't in Resident Evil but Jill Valentine is. My World measures those two audiences and its clearly 6 weeks of billion dollars done successfully but it's not easy and I was associated with another video game franchise 'Mortal Kombat' - I did the first one. I didn't do the second one and that one didn't work and I think it's hard. It'd hard bouncing actually.
What do you think about this new atmosphere of Raccoon City, whether you like it? The Bad guys - the new cast of this story. What do you like about this new story?
I like the people that you meet at the Raccoon City. They are all survivors; I think they are really great. You know we have assembled for this movie the best cast we will ever have for Resident Evil movie. Sometimes, you make a movie and you go "You know everyone is great apart from that guy - he's the weakling and I honestly feel in this movie we don't have a weakling. I think they are all just great. I love William Levy, Ruby Rose, I obviously love Ali - keep bringing her back, Milla's great. I think everyone is just terrific. Iain Glen is a fantastic bad guy. Because you know everyone say your Hero could be as good as a villain because unless you have a great villain, how can your hero be heroic and this movie have two Iain's . That's even badder. So, I love the cast and I like going back to Raccoon City because it's a different city this time around. Raccoon city was just deliberately anonymous American City. It felt like anywhere USA. So there's certain bindness to it. But now of course it feels like what it is - post nuclear city. We based it on very much on shots actually from the end of the Second World War. So we looked up - what Berlin looked like , after you know completely bombed out, we could still see the shells of the building. So it's completely a different location in many ways.
Paul, after 15 years of this franchise, what have been some highlights for you around the film?
Meeting Milla - That was THE highlight. And that actually happened before we even started shooting. That was amazing working with my daughter in the last movie and it was truly memorable. Being in the desert for extinction, that was the most extreme location we ever went to and directing 3-D for the first time on my fourth installment 'Afterlife' was really a revelation. I love 3-D. I think it's been badly handled by filmmakers an studios. I think it could have been a revolution in Cinema and it think it's become kind of pretty degrading cash grabbed, just squeeze money out of the audiences. But I think when well used, Its terrific for filmmakers to be more immersive and yes I had lots of great memories.
Was is it your decision to bring your daughter in?
Did you sense from the beginning that you wanted to do that?
No, I wrote it and then I just as a father, had been taking my daughter to acting classes because she's been asking and she pushed us. I love movie making. I think it's a great profession and it's a wonderful thing to make me happy. So I would never stand in the way of my daughter wanting to be worked in the film but equally I just wouldn't want her to just because that's what her Mummy and daddy did. And it's kind of seems like fun. So she had to earn it. She asked us years ago "Can I, I would love to act!" Milla is like "What you know? You know if you want to act, you have to read, you have to be a really good reader. A year later, she reads like two grades above where is she right now and she became a great reader. And came upto us like "Mom and Dad I can read now. Can I do it? And Milla said "NO, you want to learn to act. You have to go to acting class!" So she went acting class for a year and every week at acting class, they gave you a script, like a scene or two and six pages of dialogue. They had to memorize it and then perform it and if you did a good job at the performance, next week they would give you another 6 page of dialogues and she was the only one in the next that every single time she got the next 6 pages. Because sometimes, some of the kids wouldn't have learned their lines, forgot things or they didn't go to class and also she did good. She clearly has talent and also a great technical awareness. In the funeral scene at the opening at the opening of the movie, where her father is being buried and she's standing behind Iain Glen, we were shooting on very long lenses, so the cameras were really backed away from the actors and we were on the closeup of Iain Glen; so literally like that and I was talking to all the camera team through a little microphone -they say tip down to Ever (Ever Gabo Anderson). So we tip down to Ever and just as we get to her face, she looks up at Iain and tear falls of her eyes and people at the monitor went like 'HOOHH' (Surprise reaction - taken aback). You know it's like really emotional and then the camera team tip back up to Iain , go down again and she looks up again and second tear rolls out of her eyes. For me, I was blown away because not only was she so in the moment that she could generate the emotion to make yourself cry but she was technically aware what the camera was doing and I have worked with loads of adult actors and I have no idea what they do. They are in the moment, doing their thing and I am like "But Michael you have got your back to the camera, we can't see what you're doing" and then they go like "Oh, Sorry!" But she (Ever) was completely aware of, she didn't waste a tear. She was ready to cry but she waited until the camera had come down and found her before she delivered it. I didn't know that she was going to cry. I told them not to get to emotional in the wide shots because it will be wasted. So now in the close-ups, it was a shock to me.
So how much of a father of an actor are you going to be? ------. You are going to go with her everywhere, controlling her, what are you going to do?
(Laughs) Take all her money, sprinkle it over Martinis. I'll be a real stage father.
(Serious) Atleast I'll support her in whatever she wants to do obviously.
You know what I am trying to say, you know how the actors are, would you let?
Listen, I have a go to a plenty of peoples' sets, I keep my math sharp. I love going to movies sets, a lot of directors don't like doing it because they don't like going to other people's set, but I love it. I love seeing some other poor guy/ woman work hard when it not any of it is my responsibility. I was on set Milla recently where she was acting , it was just my job to take care of kids cum visitor on set and it was in England and I knew the crew. I had worked with them before and I'd must have dozen people come out to me and said the same thing "Paul Doesn't it drive you crazy to be on set and not being in-charge?" and I go like " Are you kidding me? I mean it's a dream, it's fantastic!" And there is a guy dealing with the crane, the sun is coming up, behind schedule and ME, I am just having a cup of tea. It's great. I happy to go to the set.
So, this is the end of Alice character .... What do you feel?
I think it's a great ending for her. Because I think it's a wonderful conclusion to the character. The woman, who didn't know who she was, finally discovers. it gives a great resolution .
Paul have you ever been to India or consider visiting the country?
My best friend is an Indian. I do go over to his house and eat great food and watch Bollywood movies. I grew up and pretty immersed in Indian Culture and lot of his family not immediate ones are still in India and we keep talking about going to India. He keeps saying " I'll take you there!" Of course he never has done. I would love to go to India, I haven't till now but I would definitely love to.
Any Bollywood movies that you recall or standout in your mind or any actors?
(Struggles to remember) When we were doing Three Musketeers and we were shooting in Berlin , there was an Indian actor staying in the same hotel as us and it was funny, we would turn up , pull-up at the hotel and literally 100 fans outside the hotel and when we pullup "I Said Milla get ready." and get out of the car, no one was interested in us and it was so funny.
Interviewer: Was it Salman Khan?
Paul - It might have been. Because increasingly a lot of Indian movies have been shooting in foreign locations. Anyway he was in Berlin shooting this movie. But what I hadn't realized which is very interesting is when the wall was still up - the east and the west separated and east Germans didn't get a lot of foreign movies , they certainly didn't get any western movies but they were allowed to see Bollywood movies because they weren't considered harmful in anyway. They weren't pushing any western values. So, Indian stars are huge in Germany. And that incident was quite interesting yet humiliating. We were all prepared to sign autographs and no one was interested.
Are you planning on doing any other video game into movie?
I have a video game that I have auctioned called 'Monster Hunter' , which us created by the same people who've created Resident Evil - the same company called Capcom . I am developing at the moment.
Interviewer: Writing the script?
Paul: It's kind of early days at the moment. That's something I would definitely be excited about?
Interviewer: What are you looking for in it?
Paul: Monsters. I am hunting. What else do you need?
Interviewer: Is it the same kind of type?
Paul: it's amazing creatures, wonderful world and visually fantastic. I am very taken with it.
Interviewer: Are you going to write it for your daughter?
Paul: I don't know, it funny because I would work with her ever again definitely. She's really good. But I don't tend to make movies with kids in them and this movie is such an exception, that character is such an exception. Although the it looks like a child - The Red Queen not the child, its artificial intelligence which is very challenging forever because she having to deliver dialogue like she is an adult, which for a 7 year old is not so easy. Because a lot of what she talks about, it's interesting. You can teach people to say words and I have done that because I actually don't speak very good English but doesn't make any sense. You can say the words but unless you understand the concept of what you are saying, you can't really deliver a performance and that was very challenging for her and I was very proud of her because she really did have to wrap her head around and she would say "Daddy, what does this mean?" And we've had to have lots of conversations about what the Red Queen was articulating so that she would know what these concepts were when she was speaking about it. And that is hard. She is 9 now, she was 7 when we made the movie. I mean she's got dialogue probably 3 times as much as some other in the film. When you think about it - Milla's like "C'mon, Lets go. Move." And everyone is like "blah blah blah" And she is like she's got tons of dialogue.
Paul if you had the power to clone someone, who would it be?
Who would I clone? ME. (laughs) I'd gamble movie for that. I will be at all outside for work and go on a school run everyday, which I love doing. It is a great thing about filmmaking. It's a good thing and bad thing. When you work , you work exceptionally long hours , you have to go away from home but when you are not away you can be like full time parent and I love doing all it - taking EVER to school, doing family stuff . So a clone of me would be great