EXCLUSIVE: David Slade Talks The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
The third chapter in this romantic vampire series comes to Blu-ray and DVD December 4th
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse finally arrives on Blu-ray and DVD tomorrow, December 4th. On the Eve of this rare Friday home video release, we caught up with the sequel's director David Slade, who managed to push the cinematic boundaries of Edward and Bella's on-screen relationship in new and exciting ways. As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings, a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, and Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is perhaps the most action-packed, and scariest entry in the franchise. It also happens to be the sexiest thus far. Here is our conversation with Mr. Slade, who offered us a fascinating behind-the-scenes peek at this bloodsucking blockbuster epic:
As an individual artist, how much actual input do you have coming into a huge franchise like this. Especially midway through the series?
David Slade: This film had to be different from the others. I was encouraged coming in to make a different film. I think we did make a different film. Besides the basic ground rules, which were to continue the story, and Stephenie Meyer's rule that said you couldn't kill anybody that she didn't kill in the book...From the script onward, I had a lot of input. I wouldn't say I was allowed to run riot and free. But I was absolutely encouraged to make the film my own. Which I seized upon.
The tent scene is the most iconic moment from the movie. It's the one that everybody remembers most, and it's the one the fans responded to the most. How did you go about choreographing that scene, and how do you feel about it being one of the scenes that you'll be most known for in the future?
David Slade: It's an odd one, that one. Because we shot it months apart. And we only had a day to shot it, which wasn't enough time. We went back and re-shot bits of it. We cut two of them together. It's literally months between one second to another. Really, it was a tough scene to shoot. All you have is words. It's a small space. There are only three angles you can really get. Essentially, the rest has to come down to the charisma of the actors. It wasn't something you'd really rehearse. They rehearsed a little. It was one of those things that we kept cracking at. It was one of these things we kept doing over and over again until we had it down to the right place. How do I feel about it being my contribution to cinema? I don't know. I don't know if it's entered the books. In terms of cinema, I think there are things of mine that are going to be remembered. This brings me to another point about the differences between a novel and a film. And the fact that they have different requirements. Part of my approach to this film was to pay the most attention to the requirements of the film, and not so much to the novel. As a result, I didn't pay attention to what the fans may perceive this to be. The most important things. As payback on the DVD, I thought it was important to talk about the deleted scenes, and why they were deleted. In cinematic terms. Through my point of view as a director.
What are some of those scenes? Will fans recognize them immediately from the book?
David Slade: Let me think...Gosh, it's been years. One of the scenes is from earlier in the film where Edward and Bella are having an argument. She wants to go off with Jacob. Its nighttime. And Edward is super nervous, he feels it's dangerous. They have a row. In the film, she goes back inside. Then we cut to daytime. We did shoot an extra scene where she paws at the window. She looks out, and the window slightly closes. Then she thinks about it some more. She reluctantly, but somehow, opens the window for Jacob to come in. Its one of those things that, in the book, it is quite poignant. But on film, it was a speed bump every time we put it back in. I am trying to think of the other scenes. There is this great long scene where, after the graduation, she is walking and talking with her father. I was so confident that was going to be in the film. But I didn't do coverage. I just did a single shot of that. A two-shot with a steady cam, using the focus to separate them from the crowd. It was essentially just two people hanging onto each other as the rest of the world continues on as normal. Going through the rest of the film, it just seemed, watching the film thirty odd times as you often do...It just seemed that everything that was said in those scenes is told on the father's face at the end of that scene. That scene seemed to have them over-talking it. So it was another moment that came out. There are two more deleted scenes, but I can't remember what they are.
Going from director Chris Weitz on New Moon, to you, and now to Bill Condon on Breaking Dawn, was there ever any talk between you guys in creating what should be a seamless narrative when this franchise is over and done with?
David Slade: No. (Laughs). I briefly met Chris Weitz. He was very courteous. I have not met Bill Condon. There is no kind of path we're walking, or anything like that. The way these things work is that we were in pre-production when Chris was in post-production. And we were in post-production when Bill was in pre-production. There is no overlapping, really. Well, there is overlapping, that is why we don't speak. The whole point of doing this with different directors is to have different points of view, and to have idiosyncratic, different movies.
What is interesting in watching the first three movies back-to-back is that each one does have its own distinct voice. And a style that is all its own. And that's because each director that comes into this has his or her own distinct style. These aren't cookie cutter auteurs that this franchise is employing. What do you feel your major contribution to the franchise has been thus far?
David Slade: Jesus! That's is a hard thing to reflect on...
That is sort of a loaded question. I'm sorry...
David Slade: Well? You'd like to think you are invited to the party because of your idiosyncratic vision. I was encouraged, as I said earlier, to make the film my own. For me, it was about making it cinematic. I wanted to make it as believable as possible. Certain things had to change. Chris Weitz put human eyes in the wolves. I took them out and made them look like wolves again. We upped the level of fur and texture on our effects work. There were more mature performances, but that was because of the storyline. To be quite honest, there was no looking backwards referencing. Working with the actors, two thirds of their performance, or the character itself, had been formed by the two films that came previously. But its that other third that you are working on in a film like this. In rehearsals, and in discussions. The discussions about the previous films were limited to what worked or didn't work. A lot of what didn't work was built upon what did work.
The first director was a female, then we had two male directors coming in to what has been a female dominated fanbase. Were there ever discussions about making this more appealing to that all important young male demographic that fuels ticket sales?
David Slade: Not really. No. It was inherently there, in the fact that there was more brutality to this film. I don't think its anything that has been discussed. I could be completely wrong about this. But I don't think that was a concern. Not really. There are a lot of men that like these films as well. I made no conscious effort either way. At the end of the day, we had a script that was based on a book. One of the nice things about a project like this is that you know what you are doing. There are no orange, yellow, pink pages coming in. There is no form of indecision. The story is already there. You are adapting it. So, no, really, is the short answer. I think women like horror movies as much as men do.
I think they like them a little bit more sometimes.
David Slade: Sometimes they do, yeah.
In Thirty Days of Night, you have some of the scariest vampires we have seen in the last decade. Here, you bring some of that ferociousness back to Edward. Why was it important for you to have Ed be this scary deadly beast, as well as this romantic icon? Its something we haven't seen in the previous two films, really...
David Slade: It was because of the closing scene. The closing battle scene. Without knowing the danger, and the fury, and the ferocity of what being a vampire is, which is something they always allude to in the books but don't address directly...They do go out and kill mountain lions, and bears...They don't kill people, but the lovely mother? She will rip open a bear and drink its blood. It's pretty grotesque. I felt that you needed to know that Edward was dangerous in that closing scene with Victoria. You needed to know that he was capable. You believed fully that he could bite someone's head off. But there was also the possibility that he could lose. That push and pull came from showing him be more dangerous in the film. Otherwise, its just a given. He is going to win the fight because he is the good guy. Without the tension of him barring his teeth, and fighting with Jacob...He was physically manhandling, and angry. These were things he hadn't really done in previous films. Without that, I don't think that end sequence would have worked.
Did you ever toy with putting that bear scene into the film?
David Slade: No. I never thought about putting a bear in the film. I saw a couple. In Vancouver. But I never felt the need to bring in a bear.
Its just interesting to me to think about. When I see it in my head, it could work. And I can see that it might be a little goofy to have Edward shirtless, fighting a bear as well.
David Slade: Tearing it a part, yeah. We talked about the backstory in character only, that these vampires are animals, and they tear things to pieces. There was so little time in the film to tell the story we had. The thought of going into backstory, and beyond that, the history of the characters, that was not feasible. But I do see the point. It would be great to see the mother...The somewhat virginal mother, tearing into a mountain lion.