Written by Eric Yee Sunday, 11 December 2011 22:14
Remember that great BioShock movie trailer that took the internet by storm a few weeks ago? The visionary director behind the BioShock project as well as other Halo fan film properties, Jared Pelletier recently took some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for XboxEdge.com.
Hey Jared thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to sit down and answer some questions for us.
Looking at some of your work it is clear that some of your projects have leaned towards adapting video game properties, give me a general picture of your history regarding video games.
Surprisingly I say I'm a gamer at all. I'll play casually for the social aspect, or if I hear about a game with a really great story. The reason behind my frequent game to movie adaptations is the opportunity for viral success. I'm in a position now where I'm trying to expand my career and the reach of my content.
With the award winning film, In the Hearts of Men, already under your belt what drew you to bringing live action versions of these video game franchises to life?
I had a few films go on to be successful at festivals, including "In the Hearts of Men", but I never found myself fully satisfied. The recognition is great, but I'm interested in making films for wider audiences. What really fills me up is the opportunity to see mass reactions to the work I create. On the film festival circuit, these reactions are far more minimal. Ignoring box office figures, I'd much rather make a film like "Avatar" than "The Tree of Life". I have a great amount of respect for both films, but I love to transport an audience and immerse them in a world they couldn't otherwise realize. This is also a reason game adaptations have interested me, as they're all about immersing the gamer in a different world.
How did your experience directing the battle scenes of In the Hearts of Men, influence the way that you planned and filmed other projects like Faith?
That shoot was a huge help. We literally had five hours to shoot the battle, which was originally scheduled for three days. We had to go without storyboards, and essentially place the camera as we went along. We knew what the scene had to do in terms of the overall narrative, but it was a matter of filling in the massive blanks in a short period of time. This logistical challenge informed all of my decisions on "Faith" in the planning process, along with how I direct on set. I look at every day on set as a learning experience, but none have been more valuable than our "In the Hearts of Men" shoot.
Looking at your body of work it is apparent that you currently have several ongoing projects, such as the recently released BioShock movie trailer. Why did you decide to adapt BioShock?
I've always been a big fan of BioShock. The story is fantastic, and the world has such a unique feel. I rarely see such imaginative and original content nowadays, so BioShock was really a breath of fresh air. I instantly felt that it would make a great movie, and I've frequently compared the sense of wonder in BioShock to "Jurassic Park". There have been a number of very poorly designed game to movie adaptations, but BioShock always felt natural, and I always had a clear vision for what it could be on screen.
What kind of reaction have you received from the community regarding the trailer?
The reaction has been absolutely incredible. This was posted with the intention of generating some views for a prospective producer along with some local commercial houses. Never did I expect it to blow up the way it has. The community backing this project has been very humbling.
The trailer is a great tease and really captures the essence of Bioshock. Is the script that you’ve developed for the movie a prequel, similar to Faith, or is it a retelling of the Bioshock story?
The script I wrote is kind of a mixture of prequel and a retelling of the game. Without going into too much detail, we jump around from Rapture to Andrew Ryan's story before Rapture has been inhabited. I think it would be important to give a background on Ryan, establish his character, and tell the story of him doing things such as convincing corporations to add to the infrastructure of Rapture. With any adaptation, things need to change, but I would want to keep this entirely true to the established fan base. At the same time, it's important to bring new audiences into it who have no idea what BioShock is all about.
Looking at the behind the scenes video for Faith, you shot that feature on a very tight budget. What kind of budget and requirements will you need to shoot your vision of Bioshock?
This is true, Faith was essentially shot on no budget (intentionally) to show how much can be achieved in the visual effects realm with no financing. BioShock is a different story. Complex sets need to be built, and a period piece always poses a budgetary challenge. We've put together some rough budgets, and estimate a 23 minute film (split into three parts) would run us $50,000-$70,000. These are actually relatively small figures considering what this production would entail. Going off on a tangent here, but that's really what our team has always been about... stretching every dollar, every penny, thinner than one would think possible.
Have you been contacted by any of the people at 2K or Insomniac Games regarding the trailer? If so what kind of response did you get?
I haven't yet heard from them or Irrational (fingers crossed)!
It is not uncommon for directors of fan films to be looked at by studios into adapting these franchises on a larger scale. With the recent problems with the development of official BioShock movie, they need a new director to take over the project. Would you be interested in the job?
Absolutely yes! Not for my own personal benefit in taking a massive leap career wise (well, maybe a little)... but more than anything, because I have a specific vision for the film that has been very well received as seen with the trailer. I think these adaptations would work best from filmmakers closely attached to the source material. So more than anything, I think that I could execute BioShock the way audiences and the game developers would want to see it. I also happen to agree with essentially all of Ken Levine's comments on what the BioShock film needs to be.
Can you elaborate on the parallels between your vision of a BioShock movie and the comments made by Ken Levine?
As Levine stated earlier last month, he says, "there's no burning desire to have a movie just to get it made." I couldn't agree with this statement more. Video game adaptations are so often poorly executed, and Levine needs to keep the integrity of his product and brand alive. That's what a good developer would do.
More specifically, however, he speaks of making something that fans will embrace, but also bring in a new audience. This would be a careful balance, but certainly achievable with the BioShock source material. The fact that Levine would even make these statements tells me that there was a discrepancy between him and the filmmakers behind the project. The film needs to have the creative approval of Levine, at least in the concept stages. Do I agree that it needs to carry an R rating? Maybe not, but simply because I would want to bring as many people into this world Levine created as possible. I don't think a slightly less graphic or violent film will equate to a less honest adaptation. That being said, I'm sure Levine would be able to convince me otherwise.
What is the current status of the Red Dead Redemption project you are currently developing?
RDR is currently on hiatus, actually taking a backseat when we went off to shoot BioShock. I've always loved the look and feel of Western's, going back to the Sergio Leone and John Ford days. I would love to shoot a Western today, shot in the style of a 50's or 60's classic.
If you haven’t seen the BioShock fan film trailer make sure you look at it here. Also check out some of Jared Pelletier’s other work such as Halo: Faith and In the Hearts of Men!