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DVDTalk Interview - Eight Legged Freaks - Dean Devlin
by Phillip Duncan

DVDTalk Interview - Eight Legged Freaks - Dean Devlin

Producer Dean DevlinDVDTalk got to chat with producer Dean Devlin about the release of Eight Legged Freaks on DVD. With an obvious love for the genre, Devlin revealed how and why Eight Legged Freaks was study in low-budget filmmaking for the multi-million dollar producer and how what he learned can easily be applied to later productions.

While watching the movie, I kept thinking of Gremlins, as far as style and tone.

Definitely, I would say Gremlins and Tremors had a great deal of influence on this project. Listen to the response...

This was the first film for your production company Electric Entertainment. Why a film about giant spiders?

We wanted to just have some fun and we thought that every time someone tries to do one of these movies they do them as these $100 million, giant films. In doing so you have to alter them in a way that they can appeal to a much broader audience because you need them to make so much money. We thought, what if we used big budget movies effects but made a really smaller budget movie where we don’t have to compromise the story or the tone and we don’t have to worry about it being a giant hit. We make it at the right price. It was really almost an experiment for us to see if we could do this kind of film and maintain the integrity of the low-budget horror movies of the late 50’s and early 60’s. So, for us it was a really a love letter and an experiment. Listen to the response...

Were computer effects a big advantage in bringing that to the screen?

Absolutely. I think that there was an inherent kind of humor to these films. Today, you can’t reproduce that humor by just having bad effects. At the time those movies were made they weren’t considered bad effects. They were state-of-the-art effects. What we needed to do was create state-of-the-art effects today and somehow ingrain a sense of humor into those effects. Rather than trying to get the humor out of the effects being cheesy, we tried to get the humor out of the behaviour of the effects and that could only be done with digital animation. It was the only way to create character out of the spiders and give them personality. Listen to the response...

Were there any actual physical effects in the film? I think I noticed a few of the dead spiders were?

There were a couple like that. A couple of the legs bursting through doors we did as practicals, but for the most part I’d say it’s about 98% digital. Listen to the response...

Was there any other particular challenge in bringing the movie to the screen?

The biggest challenge was how fast we had to make it, because the budget was such an important issue for us, because we didn’t want to compromise what we were doing and the tone of it. We had to shoot this movie in 40 days. I’d say a film like this would normally shoot somewhere between 70 and 90 days. On a normal film I would make, where we did 12 camera setups a day, we would consider those really good, fast days. On this movie we had to do 50 camera setups a day. The pure speed of having to get it done that fast with that much energy was the biggest challenge of the film. Listen to the response...

Eight Legged Freaks has cool menus

What kind of work did you do to prepare for getting it done so quickly?

Well, the director did an enormous amount of storyboards and planning. We also used a divide and conquer attitude. Roland Emmerich really ran the second unit and Peter Winther worked on an insert unit and the director and I were trying to split up as much of the duties as we could on the first unit. It was really a team effort. Listen to the response...

Were there any shots lost due to budget constraints?

Oh sure, there are always a few effects shots that you’d love to do that you don’t get a chance to do. Those are always a little bit heartbreaking. For the money we had and the time in which we had to do it I’m really proud of what we were able to accomplish. Listen to the response...

Do you think some of the references to the older films were lost on modern audiences?

I think that the people who came to see this movie, who had a sense of the history, they got all the references. People who weren’t familiar with the older films, I think they were able to enjoy it on a different level, just for its own pure silliness and fun. Listen to the response...

Several of your previous films were also sci-fi, is it safe to assume this was your favorite genre when growing up?

They were of my favorites. I loved these kinds of films, science fiction and disaster films. I think you can see those influences in all of my movies so far. Listen to the response...

Are you going to use what you learned on this film for future productions?

Absolutely. I think the biggest lesson is that you don’t have to wait for a film to be finished to do the special effects. We’ve always had this traditional 2D mentality about making these movies. I think what this film really taught us was that by starting the effects even before the shoot, we were able to dramatically reduce the price of the effects and to get many more effects in the film than our budget would normally allow. Listen to the response...

Were you active in the production of the DVD?

We consulted with the studio. I can’t take anything away from them. This was really their baby, but they were great about letting us participate and suggesting scenes that had been cut from the movie to be added back in. The thing I like best is that little section that does give the history of monster movies that came before us. Things like that I’m really happy they added. But I always like the DVD because it really gives you a chance for the first time to get everything right. When you’re making your movie and you’re going out on your prints, there is always this frustration that not all the prints look the same. You get one or two prints that look exactly the way you want it to. Then suddenly you go to a theater out in the suburbs and you look at the screen and you go, what is that! With the DVD you’re able to nail the color perfectly. The best print of the film is the DVD. Listen to the response...

What’s next for you or your Electric Entertainment company?

We’re going to be doing a movie, which starts shooting in March, for New Line Entertainment called Cellular. It’s the story of a college kid who gets a call on his cell phone from a woman who’s been kidnapped and he has until the battery on his phone dies to find her. Listen to the response...

Ellory Elkayem's Short Film Larger Than Life

How did you find director Ellory Elkayem?

If you look on the DVD we included the short film he directed called Larger Than Life. It was actually seeing that film that inspired us to want to make this movie. We took some meetings with him and out of those meetings came the idea for this movie. Listen to the response...

Did you have the script or did it come from seeing his film?

It definitely came from seeing his film. Roland had wanted to a movie like Tarantula for a long time. He had mentioned it to me on several occasions. We’d never really figured out the tone or a way to do it. It was after we saw his film that we really got excited. This could be a really fun way to do it. Listen to the response...

What about casting, were you involved in that process as well?

You bet. We got incredibly luck, I believe, with the cast of this film. Scarlett Johansson is one example. An actress of her caliber, agreeing to do a movie where she just jumps off the cliff with us, so to speak, and just unabashedly went for the genre, it was a gigantic plus. To have someone like Kari Wuhrer, who can really pull off the action and yet be the hot babe that you used to get in these kinds of movies, was for me perfect casting. Then I think David Arquette really did something he’s never done in another film before. He abandoned the wacky character and went for a very, leading man straight role, yet he didn’t sacrifice his comic timing. I thought that was really quite remarkable. Listen to the response...

Kari Wuhrer

When you were writing the film, was it a conscious choice to make the action lead of the film female?

It came about as we discussed how you bring in that particular character from those movies. Traditionally that character was the character who was the victim. Usually she was the nurse, the nun or the virginal teenager. We thought that didn’t play today. So we thought how can we preserve the hot babe character from these movies, and yet make it feel relevant to an audience today. That’s when we came up with the idea of her being the sheriff. That presented its own casting problems because it is difficult to find someone who can be believable toting that gun around. Listen to the response...

Do you see another giant bug film in your future?

I don’t know. If the right script came along, the right story, sure, you bet. Listen to the response...

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