Oren Peli has taken a break from his directing work as he penned the script for Chernobyl Diaries.
The movie sees Pelli team up with director Bradley Parker while Jesse McCartney and Jonathan Sadowski are on the cast list.
We caught up with Oren to chat about the movie and what the inspiration was behind it.
- Chernobyl Diaries is about to be released on DVD here in the UK so can you tell me a little bit about the movie?
It’s a horror movie about a group of tourists who decide on a whim to go on a tour to the abandoned town of Pripyat - the ghost town that was evacuated after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.
They become stranded and have to figure out how to get out of there, and to make things worse, they realize that there’s something alive in the town, maybe animals, maybe humans, maybe something else.
- You have penned the screenplay for the movie so where did the idea from the movie come from?
It happened rather accidentally. I was browsing the web one day and run into some photo blogs and videos that people posted after travelling to Pripyat.
I became fascinated with the place and thought it could make a great setting for a scary horror movie.
- You serve as writer and producer on this movie so how do you find the challenge of balancing the creative aspect with the business side?
It’s always a delicate balance. You want to make sure that the story can be done properly within the budget, but you have to make sure that the budget doesn’t inflate. It goes hand in hand.
As the story is developed you always have to keep in mind ways to achieve the various scenes within the constraints of the budget, and if you can’t you need to modify.
At the same time, you have to be creative in figuring out the most efficient ways to shoot complex scenes without betraying the original vision.
- Bradley Parker is in the director's chair for the movie so how did you find working with him? And how did you get him aboard the project?
Brad was great to work with. Because of his background in visual effects he was great in figuring out how to use our locations and digital-extend them to look like Pripyat and Chernobyl.
He also worked great with the actors and was lots of fun to hang with!
- How collaborative a process was it between you and Brad as you developed the story and the look of the movie and so on?
Very. As soon as Brad came on board he was present and involved in all story meetings and had a lot of input in every aspect of development.
- In many of the movies that you have worked on there is an element of the unknown and you don't know what you are dealing with so how much is this something that scares you?
For me, the idea of being hunted by something that’s unknown and unseen is scarier than being confronted by something that’s clearly visible.
The less you know about what’s after you, the scarier it is for me.
- You balance directing, producing and writing so is there one area that you like working in the best?
They’re all fun in their own way. Directing is by far the most stressful, but there’s also more of a sense of ownership and accomplishment.
- Other than Jesse McCartney this is a cast that is pretty unknown so what were you looking for in the actors during the casting process?
Our main objective was to find actors that have a very natural quality and the ability to improvise.
- The movie does start off with some 'found footage' but how much talk was there to make the whole movie like this? Or was this a format that you very much wanted to move away from?
Very early in the development process we thought for a moment about making it found-footage, but as we developed the story we realized it wouldn’t make sense and if we went the found-footage route it’ll be forced.
Chernobyl Diaries is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now
FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw