Director Michael J. Bassett, star Adelaide Clemens talk SILENT HILL: REVELATION 3D at Comic-Con 2012
Successful video game movie adaptations are few and far between, but the film version of "Silent Hill" did well enough to guarantee a sequel. This time around, Michael J. Bassett took on both screenwriting and directing duties, and shot the movie, which stars both Kit Harington and Sean Bean of "Game of Thrones," in 3D. The film also features the Australian actor Adelaide Clemens as Heather Mason, who is the person that Sharon Da Silva, the heroine of the first adaptation, has become. Six years have passed, though, and unfortunately for Heather, Silent Hill is getting louder. Bassett and Clemens screened footage of the new film, which is due out in October, at this year's Comic-Con, and took questions from journalists afterwards.
This movie reunites Sean Bean and Kit Harington from "Game of Thrones. What was it like having both of them on the set together?
Michael J. Bassett:Well, I didn't know at the time. Kit came in to audition for me and "Game of Thrones" hadn't been shown and nobody knew who he was. He came in as a talented young actor for the role. He's fantastic in the room. He was one of the first guys I met, and I knew it was going to be him. I showed the audition to Samuel [Hadida] and then suddenly "Game of Thrones" came out and suddenly we've got Jon Snow. Oddly, I said to Kit - and Sean Bean's in the movie - 'Dude, that's just weird.' It's actually quite a small industry. Everybody knows everybody else. I said to Sean, 'Are you doing season 2 "Game of Thrones?",' and he went, 'Nope.'"
How much of the world of "Silent Hill" do you have to know to understand this?
Michael J. Bassett: None at all. The whole point of this was that we created a sequel to the first movie that continues the story of young Sharon Da Silva, who, for reasons that are explained in the movie, becomes Heather Mason. So, it's a sequel. It's an adaptation of game number three - it's an adaptation of that story, the mythology and the ride that you go on, but the truth of the matter is I had to make it a movie which completely stands alone. If you know nothing about "Silent Hill" and you're not interested in the mythology and have never played the game, this story works for you because it's basically about a strong, young heroine who has to find the truth of herself. It works, hopefully, fingers crossed, on every level.
Can you talk about the sets and what we can expect from this film that's different from the first movie?
Michael J. Bassett: The difference is that my aesthetic is applied to the "Silent Hill" world design. One thing we didn't really do, we didn't do a lot of greenscreen stuff at all. We built the world as much as we possibly could, or we found an environment which we could retrofit or apply that "Silent Hill" aesthetic to. What we do in this movie, I think a bit more than perhaps in the first one, and certainly than the games, is that we spend a little bit more time in the real world. We ground the audience in Heather's home life and her environment before we start dismantling that, and sending her to first the fog world and then the other world. Then the peeling begins and the monsters appear. It's a horror journey, but it's a psychological journey as well.
Adelaide Clemens: Yeah, I think that's what really attracted me to Michael's script, was that we set up Heather's world in the real world and the reality that we as audiences can relate to. Eventually, we kind of get sucked into "Silent Hill." I think you really have a lot of empathy for the character, and you kind of hop on her ride and then suddenly you're in "Silent Hill."
Michael J. Bassett: The thing of it is that the first movie is such an artistically and creatively successful film. It's beautiful. Everybody worked at the top of their game. You can like it as an adaptation of the games or not, but you can't deny the fact that aesthetically and technically, it's an incredible film.
Adelaide Clemens: It's incredible.
Michael J. Bassett: So, we really had a very high benchmark to try and achieve. And one of the things we've done is we shot this in 3D, to try and give you another level of immersion. 3D is batted around and people like it or don't like it, but one thing it can really do is it can draw you into an environment. And as a game adaptation, I think it's quite a successful thing to have done. And the 3D is really, really good.
One of the best effects of the original film is the ashes raining down. Are we going to see that again?
Michael J. Bassett: You're going to see it in 3D. It really is fantastic to watch. 3D really works when things are slow and the drifting of the ash, you just watch it on the screen and you're kind of a little bit hypnotized by it. I can understand why people don't want to shoot in 3D and they want to do it in post-conversion, because 3D is slower and it's harder. It's a new language of filmmaking, so one of the challenges for me, I come from 2D, who knew I'd ever do a 3D movie? I initially said, 'I don't want to do this! I don't want to do this!' And then we thought about how it could work for the aesthetic of the movie and how it could involve the audience. The thing about 3D is that you can make it more or less 3D. It's like pulling focus now. You can say, 'As this scene changes, we can psychologically just draw the audience in a little bit by just changing the parallax of the 3D, the intraocular. Not everybody's played with that, and we do that a little bit in this. I think that was kind of an interesting way to go.
Adelaide Clemens: I think, personally, 3D goes hand-in-hand with a video game adaptation. As an actor, I felt like I was there with a console, playing, having my options of where I'll go. You get to experience that when you watch the film.
The first film used basically the video game's score. Can you speak a little bit about the score for "Silent Hill: Revelation 3D" and what is inspiring it?
Michael J. Bassett: Akira. It's not "Silent Hill" without Akira [Yamaoka]. I'm a gamer and I played these games when I was starting out. Akira did the sound design and music so it became that kind of singular audio identity, and that is massively unique. He's a really talented guy. And Christophe Gans from the first movie who was a huge fan of "Silent Hill" and really obsessively knows his stuff, he took that and ran with it. There was no way I was doing "Silent Hill" without Akira being involved, and he has been. We have Jeff Danna, who's taken Akira themes, and Akira came in and helped and gave us some new stuff as well. So we have original Akira, we have re-workings of his old themes. It's all there, and it's a really, really good score.
Adelaide, what was it that you found most challenging about playing your character?
Adelaide Clemens:To be honest, I think it was the physical challenge of being Heather Mason and of what working on "Silent Hill: Revelation 3D: entailed. It was constant physical falling, running...
Michael J. Bassett: Sorry.
Adelaide Clemens: Endless. I just remember one of the final sequences shots of me running through the ashes. We'd have one walkie at one end and one walkie at the other, and I probably had like a mile or mile and a half to run. Then they'd have a technical glitch in the camera, but I can't hear because I'm running. [Laughing] I'd get to the other end and they go, 'We didn't get that one. You've got to go back.' So I'd have to run back and then do it again.
Michael J. Bassett: You've got to be fit. I did warn you. I did say it's going to be tough.
Adelaide Clemens: You did! But I enjoyed it; I loved every minute of it. As an actor, the psychological journey of Heather was just there was so much there to sink my teeth into. I was really satisfied on all levels. It was amazing.
Adelaide, were you familiar with the game?
Adelaide Clemens: To be honest, when I first came to the script I read Michael's version of "Silent Hill: Revelation 3D" and then I have two younger brothers and they kind of filled me in on the game and said, 'You've got to go play that. It's pretty scary, get ready!' But the franchise was just kind of this added bonus. I had all this stimulation to play with and to be inspired by. This film, Michael's version and the Heather I played is six years on from the original "Silent Hill." I think it was really important that I did just create that character and make it completely unique in her own right. I think the physicality of Heather in the game, that was what I really had to focus on and get my head around.
What can you say about the creatures in this film and are any returning from the first movie?
Michael J. Bassett: I don't want to give too much away because I think that would be unfair. There are creatures from the first movie and familiar creatures from the games which appear – fan favorites. We've created some new stuff. Technically, I like people in costumes on the set. I like that. I like the real aesthetic; I like to see it and cover it in gel and K-Y. I like the physical hands-on approach. We did some CG enhancement, because you can do that these days. you can rub out joint marks in the skin. But, the intention was always to create a real world and to put the monsters as far as we could, as real as we could, in front of the actors so they can respond to it. The monsters in the game "Silent Hill," that's what the games try and do. They get into the mind of the character and the monsters exist because they reflect some aspect of the character. Now with this, in my own mind I have justification for why they all appear and what they represent to Heather. And what they represent to the story, I guess the fans will have a different interpretation. But I can only what I think works for me and what works for that world. So, to summarize: new monsters, old monsters, very cool monsters, very frightening monsters.
Adelaide, what was it like working with Kit?
Adelaide Clemens: Kit is just so humble and down to earth. We had so much fun. He's fantastic and very in the moment. We really just got to collaborate. It was fantastic and really, really great.
Video game movies are not always successful, but the first "Silent Hill" film was. Are you worried?
Michael J. Bassett: The history of video games to movie adaptations is pretty disastrously poor. I'm trying to think of some that's worked, apart from "Silent Hill." I mean, they've all got their moments but there's nothing that as a gamer I've gone, 'Wow, that really nailed it.'"
"With this one, I came at it as just a piece of storytelling first. You immerse. You go back and say, 'Okay, we're going to do "Silent Hill." Game number three is what we've got to work with. I've got to make a sequel to the first story as well, and I've got to make something which works all by itself.' I think the notion of a movie that works all by itself is actually the single most important part of that. It can't be about an adaptation of a computer game; it's got to be a really rocking piece of storytelling which does its job first and foremost. I absolutely don't want to alienate the fans. I'm a fan myself, but to try and make a video game adaptation work it's got to not be a video game adaptation. It's just got to be a good movie that tells a great story. I think that's possibly the mistake that other people are making. It's hard to make any movie, let alone a good movie. I think we're there.