David Slade on directing 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse'
How did the British director of '30 Days of Night' approach teen vamp juggernaut 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse'?
Did you get the job because you have previous with both teens and vampires?
‘It can’t have hurt. I’d done videos for Muse – ['Twilight' author] Stephenie Meyer’s favourite band – I’d done a vampire movie and a strong teen drama, so I had the résumé.’
Was it a surprise, considering the violent tone of your other work?
‘When you go in to meet for a film you very quickly get past what you’ve done and get on to what you will do. They look at your craft and your ability. I’m sure there were several directors in the running who had the same skills, if not better, but I talked about my vision for the film, and before I knew it they were sending me to the set of “New Moon” to meet Rob [Pattinson] and Kristen [Stewart], then off to meet Stephenie.’
Were you wary of agreeing to work on such a tightly controlled franchise?
‘It’s like jumping into the abyss. I think if you have too much fear you’re never going to break ground or develop. So I said, maybe I’m going to have the shit kicked out of me, but I’m going to learn loads. Plus the material’s really interesting and I’m not going to get offered another romance any time soon, so I jumped.’
Did the rabid fanbase add another layer of pressure?
‘I took on this film before “New Moon” came out. “Twilight” was a cult film, and the books were huge, but after “New Moon” it really blew up. So when I took it on, it wasn’t everywhere, it wasn’t the biggest phenomenon in the world. It was more in the back of my mind than on my shoulders. But I can’t forget that this is beloved by probably a billion people.’
How did you go about putting your own stamp on the material?
‘I had a really clear picture of the film I wanted to make. We had a very tight schedule, so I wanted it worked out. I wanted everyone to agree on what we were shooting. The actors have done it twice before, and you’ve got to have respect for that. I met them all one-on-one and heard all their thoughts, what they liked or didn’t like about their performances, their experiences on the previous films and suggesting things I’d like them to consider changing. It was a very collaborative process. Then when we’re on set we don’t have to sit around discussing motivation. We can focus.’
Do you feel responsible for the way the film’s audience might respond to some of the material in it?
‘Ah, the Victorian values issue. The abstinence. I think as a filmmaker you’re always responsible for your film. But me and the screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg did want to justify Edward being a bit of a prude. He’s just stuck in the era he was born in. “I really want to fuck you, but...” Which wasn’t really in the book. But for me it’s less about abstinence than about finding the natural rhythm to a relationship, which I think is important. We’re in a culture which overly sexualises young women, and perhaps this film sexualises young men. But it’s not so much saying sex is bad, because in the next film they have sex, more that there can be a natural rhythm, that it’s unhealthy to rush things.’
Would you like to come back to make a film in the UK?
‘I’d love to make films in England, and I tried to. I think there’s a wealth of amazing talent and astonishing writing over here, there just seems to be more of a culture of developing films than actually making them.’
Read our review of ‘The Twilight Saga: Eclipse'.
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