Coming Soon got a chance to sit down twice with District 9 director, Neill Blomkamp, both before (at Comic-Con) and after they had a chance to see the movie. We have some of the pre-interview for you here which therefore doesn’t contain anything we haven’t seen in the trailers, posters or images (i.e. there’s no real spoilers).
District 9 represents Blomkamp’s first ever full-length feature film directing gig (and the first he’s ever written). It is based on his first short film from 2005 called Alive in Joburg. Set in South Africa, the film is about a race of alien creatures who are forced by humans to live in slum-like conditions on Earth, but help in a “sympathetic government agent.”
In his interview with Coming Soon, Blomkamp talked about various aspects of District 9, from how it got started, what the film is like, to what he wants people to get out of it. First up, here’s what he had to say about how long it’s been in the works:
“We spent 2007 just writing it and developing all the artwork and the design and everything, so I guess that was very quiet, and it was financed… a little bit outside the studio system, but then Sony picked it up really quickly. I guess we were just laying low by the nature of how the film was structured. Just being left alone to make it. Most of 2008 was really shooting and then the later part of 2008 was editing. We only started ramping up all of the press stuff or the media stuff probably eight months ago.”
The film is done in a sci-fi documentary style, but Blomkamp explains that it’s also like a normal, narrative movie, too:
“It’s kind of docu real life footage of all means–news, documentary, security cameras–but then a whole bunch of it is just cinematic, so you kind of bounce between traditional cinematic storytelling and then real found footage and back again.”
Since Blomkamp comes from a visual effects background (he’s worked on Stargate SG-1, Smallville and 3000 Miles To Graceland), it’s no surprise to find that there’s a fair amount of that kind of thing in District 9. Here’s some of what Blomkamp had to say about the effects within the movie:
“The practical stuff is a lot of the inanimate stuff that’s lying around like alien weapons or vehicles are practical but for the most part, anything truly alien, like a ship or the creatures, they’re all visual FX, they’re all digital. I love in-camera stuff. I love that kind of 1980’s sci-fi edge to things where it feels like it was captured in the camera, but unfortunately with how well-versed audiences are now on movies. If you give them some sort of animatronic creature that doesn’t move as well as a CG creature, they’re going to be pissed. The key now is to try to make the CG feel like it’s in-camera as much as possible.”
Finally, Blomkamp talked about what his hopes are for audience reaction:
“I hope it finds an audience, Jesus… yeah, I really hope it does. I mean I honestly have no idea how people are going to receive it, but one thing I was hyper-aware of was the fact that if I come out of the gates with a first film that just tanks, it’s not going to be good for me, so that in one side of my mind and then on the other side of my mind, I had a whole bunch of science fiction ideas and concepts and just themes and imagery that I wanted to have realized. I think this film is a pretty good merge between the two. It still is a ride and it’s still something audiences hopefully will be engaged with, but it’s not totally conventional.”
For the rest of the District 9 interview, where Blomkamp talks about other such things as the designs of the movie’s aliens and his thoughts on working with producer Peter Jackson, head over to Coming Soon.
Some movie fans were a little apprehensive about Blomkamp (being a first-timer, and all) when his first film popped on the radar, but as more and more great stuff gets released, those doubts have been diminishing substantially. The lucky few folks who saw the film at Comic-Con last month have all raved about the film and I trust that we’re in for something awesome.
As a little bonus, he’s a brand new video of District 9. Enjoy!
District 9 is certainly one of the more intriguing and interesting sci-fi films to come along in a while (it came third in Screen Rant‘s “Hottest Things To Come Out of Comic-Con” poll). Don’t worry – It won’t be long before we’ll all get to find out if it’s as good as it looks.
For more about the film visit the District 9 Official Site.
What do you think of what Neill Blomkamp has said in the above interview?
District 9 opens next Friday in the US, and on September 4th in the UK.