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An Interview with Oren Peli

Oren: "Itís always tricky when you are trying to recreate an actual location".

Oren Peli
Interview conducted by Steven Davies
16 October 2012

Oren Peli, the man who helped the revitalisation of the found footage movie with the creation of the hugely successful horror franchise 'Paranormal Activity', is always looking for ways to expand the genre into new realms of terror. He is, of course, also behind this years hit horror experience 'Chernobyl Diaries'. It arrives on DVD and Blu-ray here on 22 October and we snatched a few minutes of Oren's busy schedule to discuss the project.

Where did the idea for 'Chernobyl Diaries' come from?
One day I was just browsing around on the internet and stumbled on blogs of people who visited Pripyat. I didnít realize that people can actually visit Pripyat and started looking for any material I could find about Chernobyl and Pripyat and I found fascinating videos and photo blogs. I started thinking that this could be a great setting for a scary movie.

What difficulties did you and fellow producers face when trying to plan to shoot 'Chernobyl Diaries'?
Itís always tricky when you are trying to recreate an actual location. We had a limited budget and could not shoot in the real Pripyat so we had to find locations that were somewhat similar and rely on CGI to augment the setting. Luckily, our director Brad Parker is a genius when it comes to visual effects, and many people donít realize that we didnít shoot in the real locations! The other tricky thing was that even though this is not a found-footage movie, we wanted to create a very realistic style. We let the actors improvise and gave them a lot of freedomÖ and filming in Serbia and Hungary in the winter was cold!

What response do you have to those critics that feel the movie was simply sensationalising the tragic events?
I do not think itís sensationalizing anything, and it was not our intention to. We simply thought itís a great setting for a scary movie. Much of the noise from ďcriticsĒ was from people who havenít even seen the movie. We are working with the Chabad Children of Chernobyl charity and they like the movie and donít find it offensive at all. In fact, they appreciate the fact that because of the movie people are now talking about Chernobyl again.

Oren: "Because of the movie people are now talking about Chernobyl again".

Later this month sees the release of 'Paranormal Activity 4'. As the creator of the series do you still get involved with the franchises continuation and what are your thoughts on the direction of the recent sequels?
After the successful release of the first Paranormal Activity, I would have been happy to let it end there. I was doubtful that we could create a sequel that makes sense. Then, when we heard Michael Perryís idea of doing a prequel about Katieís sister we all thought thatís a really smart idea and could actually work! After the success of PA2, we all liked the idea of revisiting the sisters in their childhood for PA3. Now, with PA4 we are moving forward in time and trying to keep things fresh for the audience while still staying true to what makes the franchise scary.

Although I obviously donít have as much control over the sequels as I did over the original Paranormal Activity, I am around and stay involved.

What can we expect from 'Paranormal Activity 4' that fans haven't seen before?
This is the first sequel in the franchise thatís actually a sequel that moves forward in time. I wonít go into any details that might spoil the plot, but there will be some questions answered, some new questions raised, and hopefully lots of good scares!

Oren: "This is the first sequel in the franchise thatís actually a sequel that moves forward in time".

Having been quite a new-generation pioneer of the 'found footage' horror movie do you think there's still areas and filmmaking styles to explore in the genre?
Yes, I think that every once in a while a creative filmmaker will introduce us to a new style or a new twist of a style and surprise the world with a unique film.

I really enjoyed ABC's 'The River' of which you co-created along with Michael R. Perry. Sadly it was cancelled earlier this year after just 8 episodes. There have been rumors of a potential VOD revival but do you think we'll ever see the continuation of the story in the future?
Not as far as I know as of right now.

Could you tell us a little more about your 'Area 51' project, which sees your first return to the directorís chair since 2007's 'Paranormal Activity'?
Sorry, but I never discuss any details about other projects.

"Thank you ever so much for taking part in this interview Oren.
And we wish you the very best of luck in the future."


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