Micah Sloat Talks <strong><em>Paranormal Activity 2</em></strong>

Micah Sloat talks Paranormal Activity 2, 3D, the Demon, and More!

Paranormal Activity was the thriller phenomenon that captured America's attention last fall. The film built on strong word of mouth to become one of the biggest surprise smash hits of all time. It was about this time last year that the "tiny little indie that could" started to make some noise, slowly building itself into the must-see movie event of Halloween 2009, with a Demand-It campaign that eventually ushered it into theaters throughout the country. Now its leading man Micah Sloat is up for a Teen Choice Award in the Choice Movie Actor: Horror/Thriller category. The choice wont be made until August 6th, but we managed to catch up with Micah to find out what he's been up to, where his future lies, and if he knows anything at all about Paranormal Activity 2, which arrives under a shroud of secrecy this coming Halloween. Here is our conversation:

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So, what has your day consisted of so far?

Micah Sloat: I made a trip to the dentist. And I have been preparing for a new movie, which I will be doing soon.

Really! What movie is that?

Micah Sloat: I can't give you specifics about what it is. But it does look like I will be starring opposite John Rhys-Davies in a new project that will be shooting in Prague. That happens in a couple of weeks.

Wow! Have you visited Prague previous to this upcoming trip?

Micah Sloat: Yes. Prague is amazing. Though, the last time that I was in Prague, I got sick on the plane. I spent most of my time their in the hotel. It was actually quite anti-climactic. I am really looking forward to going back there and actually seeing and experiencing the country.

That sounds horrible. That's almost an eleven hour plane ride, and to get sick in mid-air must be absolutely miserable.

Micah Sloat: That is pretty far to go to get sick. It was pretty rough.

What does it mean to you to be nominated for a Teen Choice Award? And is it strange to have this come so far after the movie was actually made?

Micah Sloat: It has been a long trip. Its always fun to see how much more icing the cake can take. It was amazing to have this film premiere at Screamfest. To have people see it at all. Then every single thing to happen after that, from Steven Spielberg seeing the movie to having him rewrite the ending, and then having the movie go wide after a million people Demanded It. After that, everything, being on Jay Leno, getting nominated for the Teen Choice Awards, it has all been part of a trip down this rabbit hole. That is the best way I can describe it. I am enjoying every minute of it.

Do you have anything special planned for the show on August 6th? And are you looking forward to the prospects of getting slimed?

Micah Sloat: That would be amazing. That would be tremendous icing on the cake. It gives me a great reason to pick up surfing. Yeah! I am just glad to be nominated, and to be mentioned in the same breath as Leonardo DiCaprio. That is a real honor.

Are those surfboards real?

Micah Sloat: I think so. I think Jennifer Love Hewitt won a couple years ago, and she uses hers. That's what I heard. I think they are costume made surfboards. They do work.

I last spoke with you the week Paranormal Activity went wide across the country. What has the journey been like from that moment until now?

Micah Sloat: I don't even know if I can put it into words. The best way to describe it would be: If you were a baseball player, and you were playing pick-up games in your neighborhood. And the next day you are playing on the Yankees. You skipped all of the minor leagues, college ball, and everything else. That's what it felt like for me. To be thrown into this mix with all of these great actors I have been watching for my whole life. To be able to go out on auditions I never would have dreamed of before. It has been an incredible journey and a learning experience. It's also been very humbling at the same time. I think there's a lot of responsibility. At least for me, that comes along with all of these great opportunities and this success.

Paranormal Activity falls into the same category as The Blair Witch, and for those actors it was hard to continue getting work after the huge success of that film. Because a lot of people thought they were dead. Have you had a similar experience? Is it hard to line up another job when people have so wholly bought into the concept of this film?

Micah Sloat: That is a real common thing that happens to me, at least. I have friends that I grew up with, or went to college with, and they have to tell people, "I know that guy. He is alive." Their friends don't, or won't, believe them. (Laughs) They end up calling me, and I have to say, "No. I am not dead." That is true. It's a testament to the effectiveness of the movie. What we did, and what Oren Peli accomplished. The Blair Witch Project comparison? We lucked out in a sense. Because they came first. The audience saw those actors more as real people. We never tried to sell our footage as real footage. We were never trying to put one over on anybody. Because they already did that with The Blair Witch Project. I think we have an advantage, where people look at us a little bit more as actors.

So it hasn't been frustrating for you to get auditions. You're actually doing quite well for yourself?

Micah Sloat: Yes. Yes.

Where do you stand as far as Paranormal Activity 2 is concerned? Are they going to bring you back? And are you at all a little jealous that Katie Featherston got to live while you met an untimely demise?

Micah Sloat: (Laughs) I am just happy that we got an ending with a real bang. The original ending carried more of the original film's tone. But it didn't have that really good pay off that it needed. Luckily, Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks were able to come up with something that really popped. As to how it ended? I am totally okay with being the guy on the floor. Dead or not. Paranormal Activity 2 is definitely coming out. So everyone gets to see the next one. I am not allowed to say anything about it. But I believe that it is scheduled to come out on October 22nd.

They are being really ambiguous about who is in the film. I haven't heard word one about any of it. Where does that leave you? I get that you can't talk about it. But are we going to see you in some capacity?

Micah Sloat: When I say I can't talk about it, I mean that I can't talk about it at all. (Laughs) It is very secretive. I wish I could give you little hints, but I can't.

You can't even give me a hint as to where they are taking this story? Is it going to be bigger? Is it going to still be filmed with a handheld camera in the first person?

Micah Sloat: I can't tell you anything about it other than the fact that Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 wasn't very successful. Everyone behind this project was aware of what didn't work with that project. We are making an effort not to make those same mistakes. I think everyone involved is very keen on being true to the heart and spirit of the original project. I think everyone is going to be very surprised about what we came up with.

Is this frustrating for you? You're not allowed to say anything, yet you have to sit here and field this question all day long.

Micah Sloat: I kind of like it, actually. Anticipation is a huge part of the movie going experience. I'm the type of guy that doesn't like to see the preview before I see the movie. I don't want to hear any reviews. Give me the premise, and I'll go or I won't. That's what I think worked as far as the first movie, success speaking. People went in not knowing what to expect. It was this weird little indie film that everyone starting talking about. I think that's a great way to go in. With a blank slate. Then you can experience the movie for what it is. So, I am onboard the C train. (Laughs)

Are you ever worried that you might actually slip and say something you shouldn't?

Micah Sloat: Yes. I had that experience on the red carpet. I thought I was being very diplomatic at the MTV Movie Awards. They took this very strange interpretation of what I said. Oh, wait...It wasn't at the MTV Movie Awards. It was at the {no_TV| Independent Spirit Awards. There were some headlines about me giving away hints. But I didn't really say anything. It's a delicate topic. The truth is, I can't tell you any details.

Do you guys have a spoiler swear jar? Where if you let something slip, you have to put some money into it?

Micah Sloat: (Laughs) I'm sure if I ever had an impulse, a swear jar is a good idea. I'm more inclined to call Katie Featherston, "Hey, I want to talk to you about this!" I don't think a swear jar is necessary.

People certainly want to know more about the Demon that is the third member of this love triangle you share with Katie. Did Oren ever have conceptual drawings of what this thing looked like? And do you think we might catch a glimpse of it in the sequel?

Micah Sloat: It was pretty key that this was open to interpretation, even in our minds. If Oren Peli did have an idea of what this demon was or what it looked like, he wouldn't have told us. Because we really needed to be in the dark about what was happening in the house. A lot. We did look at that book you see in the movie. It explains what some of these demons are. We did go through that and discuss over lunch which demon could be haunting us. We did pick one of them out of the book, as the closest, or a strong option, as to what is haunting us. And you can see his picture in the film. Actually.

Where does that photo come in at in the film?

Micah Sloat: It's a completely unofficial thing that we talked about over lunch once or twice. Its not cannon. And I'm not going to tell you which one it is. It is in that book. That is all I will say.

Did you ever look at the first film as an allegory for the dissolution of a relationship in that you have this outside force entering your wife, who doesn't like you? And how do you hope some of those themes and ideas continue to play out in future sequels? Are you at all worried about this potential franchise losing its charm? Or do you wash your hands of it at this point?

Micah Sloat: There were a number of brilliantly written analysis of the film from film students, other directors, and writers on the internet that I read. They gave me some amazing dissections on what this film is really about. Its underlining themes. Every time I would read one of these, I'd think, "Yeah, this guy has got something!" It wasn't something we had in mind when we created the film. Because we had a very simple understanding of what was going on. And because these were simple relationships, there were all these undertones and realities. They were there, but we didn't plan them. I think that stuff is in the movie. Its stuff that we didn't deliberately stir in, its just a result of the naturalism of the film. This is based on real relationships. We can all archertypally experience this as human beings, especially in terms of fear. The degeneration of relationships as they go. I think a lot of that stuff will be carried over into the sequel. Just because it's about human relationships. That is what drives any really good movie. If we succeed in making Paranormal Activity 2 something worthwhile, those same elements will come up again.

What about you and Katie? You shared great screen chemistry in Paranormal Activity. Removed from the prospects of that sequel, do you hope to find a way to work with her sometime in the future?

Micah Sloat: I am open to anything. I think Katie Featherston is a fantastic actress. One of the best I have ever worked with. She's a real pleasure to work. I don't know what the future holds. I can't even tell you if I am involved with Paranormal Activity 2, so...We'll see what happens around the corner.

Has Oren Peli talked with you about working together again sometime in the future? Do you get to have a cameo in Area 51?

Micah Sloat: Again, that is something I am not allowed to talk about.

You mentioned not wanting to watch a movie trailer before you actually see the movie. That's one of the problems I had with Paranormal Activity. Once this thing started to pick up speed, I thought the trailers coming out gave a little too much away.

Micah Sloat: Yes, that was a struggle. Especially in terms of marketing this film. One of the keys we thought was important was to keep people fresh. We didn't want them to know what to expect in the theater. We wanted to give them as few facts as possible. That is nearly impossible in terms of traditional, wide-release movies. Pretty much the whole arc of the film is given away in two minutes, or ninety seconds. Whatever it is. We had to find a balance there. Thankfully, the brilliant people who were marketing this film found out how to put audience reactions in. They removed a lot of the scares from the original trailer, which was something no one ever saw. They took those out and replaced them with audience footage. That really helped. Taking away the scares. It's like a comedy movie, where the trailer gives away all the good jokes. You go and see the movie, and you see it, and you go, "All of the jokes were in the trailer!" You feel robbed. Hopefully we avoided that in with the first trailer.

You did a fare share of the camera work in Paranormal Activity? Has cinematography become a passion of yours? And do you think you might do more of that in the future?

Micah Sloat: Definitely. I was very interested in it before. I did a bunch of TV shows and short films when I was in college. This is one of the reasons Oren Peli cast me in this part. Because I had experience with the camera work. Interestingly, when we were on set, I got so involved in the camera work, as far as the panning and doing slow zooms, that Oren told me not to look in the viewfinder, and to shake the camera more. Because the shots were coming out too perfect. He didn't think anyone would buy it as real footage. I definitely am thinking about doing a couple of short films. Just to get test footage. To run some of my own ideas. We'll see where that goes.

It's cool watching the movie, because there are some very interesting shots that a trained cinematographer would never put in their film. It looks like someone setting the camera down without a thought to where it is. Yet, it is quite artful in its placement. These shots work in an artistic, stylistic sense. Was that a collaboration between you and Oren? Or did that come from you just acting in the moment, setting the camera down?

Micah Sloat: I don't think I ever filmed anything...My brain was always acting in those scenes. In character, I think I was able to be the boyfriend who wants really good footage. Whatever I was shooting, I was always conscious of the framing. Even when I would sit down the camera. Or, there is a scene where Katie Featherston is crying. I put the camera down and comfort her. Even the placement of that was all consciously engendered. The only time the camera is flying around unconsciously is when I gave it to Katie, because she didn't care. (Laughs)

So you were setting up a lot of those shots in character. Thinking about how Micah on film would do it as opposed to real-life Micah?

Micah Sloat: For the most part, yeah. At certain points there was a part of me that was being a cinematographer. I thought, "Okay, the audience needs to see this." Maybe my character would have turned the camera off. Or thrown the shot away. That would have been in character. But a little part of my mind was still in control of the character. Maybe. I was trying to be an actor and a cinematographer at the same time. It was a delicate balancing act. But hopefully it worked.

Now, you have this other project you are jetting off to Prague to shoot. Yet, you can't talk about it either. That's three projects you can't talk about. Let me ask you this, though...Are you going to continue to work in the sci-fi/horror genre? Or are you branching out. Will we see you in a straight drama, or something that is comedic in tone?

Micah Sloat: I will tell you that the film I am going to Prague for is going to be a horror film. I feel safe in saying that. It's a different project. It's a chance for me to show that I can take a script, and that there can be a real camera. And a real film crew. And I can pull that off, too. It's exciting on that level. Also, the project is high quality. There is a great director attached. I am really thrilled about the character. The whole project is right up my alley. I am very excited about that, too. As far as what I am going to do after that, or where I am going to go? I don't have any ideas. Preferences about projects and how they are classified? I just want to do good work. With good people. That is the bottom line.

Well, I'm sure Paranormal Activity 2 will be huge no matter what happens. I know people are going to be interested in seeing it go up against Saw again.

Micah Sloat: I'm sure that will be an event to watch. I am excited to see that, too.

Its kind of cool to have that rivalry. Especially since the horror fans seem to love both projects equally.

Micah Sloat: Definitely. I think rivalry only makes things better. It makes things more fun. Especially this year, with this whole incident where the director who did Saw VII 3D was attached to Paranormal Activity 2. Then Lionsgate exercised their contractual obligations to get him to direct Saw VII 3D. I don't think he was too happy about that. This rivalry has all of these different angles. All of this intrigue. I am excited to see what Paranormal Activity 2 looks like.

And speaking about what it looks like. We have SAW VII 3D. Is Paranormal Activity 2 going to be in 3D? Or is that something you can't speak on?

Micah Sloat: I cannot give you any of these details. At all. A lot of stuff, I just don't know. It's not like I'm in the middle of it all. And I'm just not telling you. I don't even get it.

They have those new 3D cameras for the home. They are hitting the market soon. Its quite possible that alternate universe Micah could pick up a 3D camera and start filming the strange occurrences in his apartment.

Micah Sloat: That would be great. I think at some point that needs to happen.

I'm sure it will happen soon enough

Micah Sloat: And those 3D TVs are coming out, too.

Those are already in the store. I just looked at one at Best Buy. They'll let you test drive the glasses.

Micah Sloat: Can you imagine a horror movie in your home, at night, and its in 3D? You'd have these alien demons surrounding your body. That would be totally crazy.

Or, we could have the 3D Micah goes to the Dentist movie, too.

Micah Sloat: (Laughs) I somehow think that would be a little less interesting.

Don't sell that concept short. If you're squirming around and screaming while the dentist pokes you in the mouth with needles, it might be pretty scary. They could have that saliva suck hose spray the audience with Micah spit.

Micah Sloat: It would be the new Little Shop of Horrors.

The Teen Choice Awards airs August 6th on Nickelodeon.