Today we have the overwhelming pleasure of chatting with the director of films like The Crow, Dark City, Gods of Egypt and so many more, Alex Proyas! So sit back and listen to Jeff and Alex chat about his career and more!
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Alex Proyas – Interview
[00:00:00]Jeff: hello listeners, a spoiler country today on the show. We have a fantastic and special guest. Mr. Alex.
How’s it going, sir?
Alex Proyas: Hi. Hi, Jeff. How are you? I’m well, I hope you are too.
Jeff: I’m doing very well. How are things in
Alex Proyas: Australia? Look, we can’t complain where we’re we’re doing just fine, certainly compared to a lot of the rest of the world. And I know specifically the U S right now we We’re doing just, okay.
You know, w w w we’re seeing, you know, touch wood every time I say this, I touch wood, but we seem to be on top of this mad pandemic that’s affected the soul everywhere.
Jeff: I would definitely say from the perspective of the United States, Australia definitely does seem to have his shit together.
Alex Proyas: Yeah.
Yeah. Look, I don’t know whether it was just a fluke that, that this has happened because obviously. In the early days, no one really knew how to deal with this. We’re looking at w w we have some advantages here, some natural advantages [00:01:00] in now we are in fact, a, an Island where an Island continent Island.
But you know, it’s the, the, the international traffic was shut down very early in the piece. And I think that’s really what made the biggest impact is we just didn’t bring enough of the. Of the virus into the country for it to spread as rampantly as it’s spread in other parts of the world. You know?
So I think that was really what saved us, you know,
Jeff: I would say so. And I would imagine Australia, Australia lacks the. Level of incompetence and maybe ignorance of the United States is what I’m finding
Alex Proyas: might be hard to match the level of in competence. But look, I, I don’t, I don’t hold any politician anywhere in the world with very much regard, really in, in any esteem at all.
So. You know, we’re we’re we’re. We, you know, we suffer from similar levels of [00:02:00] incompetence.
Jeff: Yeah. I would definitely say the thing that maybe helped this country be. Accomplished so much, which is the idea of our exceptionalism is the same thing. That’s hurting us now with the idea that we will not be told what to do.
We will do what we want to do, and which is fine when you’re trying to maybe create things and maybe trying to enter the, you know create an enterprise. But when you’re trying to do something sensible, like stop yourself from dying of a virus, it doesn’t work too well. It’s a very bad philosophy.
Alex Proyas: Yeah, absolutely.
I think it certainly doesn’t help the cause at all, you know? Anyway, look it, look, we all keeping our fingers crossed for you guys. And you’ll you’ll turn the corner soon.
Jeff: I definitely would hope so, but I mean, his perspective on things is probably relatively unique. I mean, you were born in Egypt, your mother is Greek.
You’ve moved to Australia. You’ve lived in Los Angeles. You you’ve been, you’ve traveled quite a bit of different parts of this world. How has [00:03:00] that maybe given you a unique voice and a unique perspective on things.
Alex Proyas: Oh, look, I think it’s definitely affected me. I mean, growing up in a culture where the language is different to what my parents, I was very young.
I was three years old when I came, when we came to Australia. So I didn’t really know much different, but certainly seeing my parents as immigrants in a country, which was not their culture, different language and seeing the difficulties that they faced. Kind of adapting to that new, that news, that new culture has certainly made a huge impact to me as a, as a filmmaker and as a person, you know, I, I tend to see things as an outsider very much so.
And, and, you know, it’s all, it’s all, even the secret to my visual storytelling, my, my, the way I view things just on, even just on a purely visual level, let alone a kind of conceptual narrative level. I tend to see [00:04:00] things kind of from a different perspective. And I think that that’s be my, my, my, my, you know, personal life experience.
That’s kind of given me that viewpoint to the point where, you know, I remember when I first went to the States and started doing, I was doing music videos in Los Angeles. You know, this is back in the eighties now. And people were kind of remarking at the time. I remember a lot of people saying.
It’s really cool. How I show, like, I’d use the same iconic Americana kind of staff, but I shoot it in a peculiar way. And I, and I think even that was a result of my sort of outside of viewpoint to things, you know?
Jeff: So how old were you when you moved from Egypt to Australia?
Alex Proyas: I was three when my parents came to Australia.
Jeff: So basically, so you remember much of your time from Egypt or
Alex Proyas: I have fleeting images. I, you know, memories but nothing, nothing [00:05:00] substantial. You know, you don’t remember a hell of a lot. I have, you know, for a long time I’ve had memories that I wasn’t really quite sure where they, you know, which country they existed in.
And I I’d have to ask my parents. About certain things. Like I remember one particular image I had of this lion by river. And of course I asking my parents, it turned out that it wasn’t a real line. Of course it was a statue of a line. And it was, this was something I would have seen in Alexandria because there was exactly this statue there in Alexandria.
So they eventually, and they eventually remembered themselves. They’d sort of forgotten about it as well. The, for some reason that image. Made it had a lasting impact on them. And it’s clearly now located, you know, before I was three years old. Cause that’s obviously when I saw it. So, but other than those sorts of like, you know, ephemeral images is really not a hell of a lot that I remember about, about [00:06:00] that time.
Jeff: when you moved to Australia and you were three, so did you feel like your S as yourself was an outsider or more how maybe your parents felt as immigrants into Australia?
Alex Proyas: Well, we have, I mean, both mainly my parents. Cause as I got older and I became more aware of this stuff, I could see their struggle to adapt to this culture.
And they’ve, you know, they’re, they’re both, they’re both gone now, but they were very you know diligent about adapting to this new, this new society in this new culture. They were very grateful for the opportunity to. Adapt to us, to the, to Australia and, and, and Australian culture. Because partly I think because they, we were the Greek, w we have a Greek Egyptian and our, our culture, all the great in Egypt were basically removed.
They were kicked out by the, the regime. There was a military coup in the, I think it was in the [00:07:00] late fifties. And slowly they, that society was. Th they were, they weren’t so much showing the door, but they were shown the door and all sorts of ways. Businesses were kind of you know, they, they made it in, you know, tech tax and business and everything was made a lot more difficult for the great the great community too.
Kind of flourish and survive there. So everyone was leaving. My, my parents were like one of the last people of that, of that culture to go, you know? And it’s partly because my. My dad was such a kind of, you know sort of stick in the mud kind of guy. He he’s friends had left long ago and they told him that he should go, but he hung out right till the very end.
And you know, his bank, all the bank accounts were shut down. I, you know, they owned a house. They weren’t, you know, my parents weren’t wealthy, but they were middle-class, you know, he was a merchant and, you know, so he, all of his assets were frozen. The house was [00:08:00] taken from them and eventually, you know, they had to leave with.
What they could carry and not much in the way of cash assets. And so Australia became this kind of promised land, but that gave them another, another new life and other opportunity to, to to flourish. And, and they w they were always very grateful. So they, they try to very much fit in, but of course the culture didn’t allow them as much as they wanted to, to fit in.
And it was a very. Racially troubled culture in that era. This is, we’re talking about the seventies now in Australia, that it was a very, very white bread and very opposed to anyone who wasn’t from a Anglo-Saxon background, you know ideally directly off the boat from, from England, you know so I’ll go ahead.
Yeah, no, that’d be an, I can go on forever. So
Jeff: but is your experience moving to Australia? Is that kind of why I love your [00:09:00] movies? Do you seem to have an element of the outsider in it? Between John Murdock, a little bit and a dark city Sonny and I robot we could go on. Is that kind of why you have that connection with those things?
Alex Proyas: think so. Yeah. I think, I think, I think so. And, and You know what I mean, growing up my, my, you know, chosen path of being an artist and filmmaker is very much, I considered, I considered that itself being an outsider, but it’s like, it’s a chicken and egg thing. It’s like, you know, did I pick it or did it pick me?
Or, you know, is it a result of, of just my, my psyche or is my psyche a result of my. My, my history, you know, my, my life experience, I think it’s all convoluted and interrelated, and it’s hard to know what comes first, but I know I’ve always been drawn to those sorts of characters. And I I’ve been drawn to sane characters in a mad world.
You know what my basic [00:10:00] construct is, you know, in almost all of my movies, you know you know, with the, the, the hero always knows. Or at least he’s searching for the truth in a world that’s completely insane, you know, and, and where the truth is, is hidden or realities is not what it seems to be or whatever.
It’s all, it’s all versions of the same kind of obsession. And, and look, I think it’s absolutely supported by my experience, you know,
Jeff: so, yeah. So all in Australia you attended the Australian film, television and radio school. What, what kind of skills. Did you learn from going there and what you and your talents now, can you directly connect to your time at that school?
Or do you think it just kind of, kind of harness abilities you already
Alex Proyas: had? Look, I was a filmmaker well before that, and in fact, I’m. I think still to this day, I’m the youngest S film school student in ever in Australia, in Sydney, in the Sydney [00:11:00] film school here. I actually lied about my age to get in.
I got in you weren’t, you, weren’t supposed to be able to, to apply until you’re 18. And I was actually 17 when I applied, because I clearly knew. What I wanted to do and they, and they believe my age and they let me in, you know, foolishly for them. But now look, it was you know, it’s it’s, and it, obviously, this is ancient history.
Now. I’m not, I don’t really know what the film school is like now. I mean, I go back there to lecture occasionally, but it’s not like I’m not having the student experience. I don’t, I don’t really quite know how well it serves students in those days. It was Yeah, it was a bit hit and miss, I mean, they didn’t really know what they were doing.
They, they, you know, but the whole industry is like that here. You know, the Australian film industry is still to this day, there was no clear pathway to success, you know? I mean, you guys in the States have a massive industry backing your film schools and what you do. And so all those, there’s a great deal of [00:12:00] cohesive discourse between the, the community, the film community industry, and film schools, you know here there’s no, sir, there was no such thing, you know, here you were lucky to.
Come out of film school and maybe, you know, get a job as a, I dunno, as a camera operator for a TV channel or something like that. There just wasn’t an industry as such. So for, for people like me and most of the students were like me, you know, we wanted to direct, we wanted to make movies, you know, make films.
You come out of the film school in Australia and you go, well, what do I do now? So my, my response was to set up a little company to make music videos for friends in bands, you know, and one of the, we were three guys doing this. One of them was also an ex film school guy, you know? But the, you know, to answer your question, the actual experience of the film school was still great because for three years we got to.
Just make films and, and [00:13:00] pretty much not worry about where our next meal was coming from, you know, and where the rent was coming from. Because you know, the one incredible thing about the film school here is that they paid the students to go to film school, right. As opposed to anything that goes on in other parts of the world.
So we were literally being paid up. Yeah, amazingly wage. I mean, nothing kind of like you know, w what unemployment benefits were socialist purity, but enough for a student, you know, we’d all be living in, share, share houses together. So the rent was pretty cheap in those days and we could eat and we could, we could you know, we could pay the rent and that’s all, any of us cared about it.
And the rest of the time, we just got to play with film, you know, Point cameras and edit and all that sort of stuff. And that’s all, any of us really wanted to do. So it was a wonderful experience. And I made a lot of friends, met a lot of people through that era. Of course it is still good friends to this day.
You know, [00:14:00] students mainly,
Jeff: well, I mean, it, it led you to easily what can be described as an extraordinary successful career. Indirectly. I mean, even your first feature film spirits of the air gremlins of the clouds was nominated for two Australian film Institute awards. I mean, just right off the bat in your career, you just got started with immediate recognition.
That must have been a huge help for you psychologically to move on to your next project and deed and do so with confidence.
Alex Proyas: Glad you, you think so, but then that’s the outside impression you might have of my career, but believe me, it hasn’t been as easy and it continues not to be as easy quite frankly.
Look, you know I mean, for me making music videos was really my, my kind of solution. The only one I could see immediately in front of me, as I say, out of film school because really to make a film here, the only thing you could hope for is that you get some kind of, you know government grant, Or, [00:15:00] or you know, incentive or support, you know, much like the way the, kind of in the kind of Canadian indie film kind of industry works, you know there wasn’t really any such thing as like runaway Hollywood productions shooting here.
So. The, the, the whole infrastructure was really minimal here, you know? So, so that was my why my one and only way forward the music videos and you know you know, we rented an office. I mean, as I say to other two other guys we rented a very inexpensive office above the train tracks in a very low rent area.
And. We managed to, you know, have a phone landline was the only thing in those days. And, and we had, I had a real showreel that I’d cut together in, at film school. And you know, we’d occasionally get some INR guide, some record companies. To have to have us [00:16:00] go and visit and we’d play the show reel and we’d get some kind of, you know, promise of some possible future opportunity, you know?
And in the meantime, we were making music videos for friends. We had a lot of friends in dance, none of whom had a budget. I mean, we were lucky to get any money even just to buy the film stock in those days. Cause it was no. Such thing as digital film, then it was all, you know, chemical based acetate that you had to shoot through a camera and process, and that costs money, you know?
So we, we managed to make a, you know, a few videos for like, for nothing, you know, just for the favor. And and the film stock and, and and that got me a contact. We then, you know, this is a few years later now where we got to a point where we were making some pretty big acts locally. One of them became one of them was in excess.
And we made a a very successful video for them. And then through that I was riding. This script for what was going to be a short film. [00:17:00] And the manager of inaccess at the time said, are you would you, do you need dumb investment? And I hear you’re writing a film. Would you like me to invest in the film and would, could Michael Hutchins being in it?
And I went, yes. For both of those two things. Absolutely. But I said, you realize this is a short film. It’s not a feature. And he went, Oh, and he had, he’d already read the script and he didn’t realize he never read a feature length script in his life. And so he thought you know, I’ve a 50 page, 40 page script, whatever it was was a feature length film.
He had no idea. So I said, you know, look, you’d be mad to put your money into into into a short, let me add to this and make it a feature. And that’s how we got some spirits going. We’ve got to just enough money from them, too. To get the F to get some of it shot. And then we had to go looking for other funding to complete it, you know, and Michael and Michael audience, unfortunately didn’t end up in the movie because he became, by the time we were shooting the movie, we [00:18:00] became, he became a, him and the band had become so successful that he was somewhere else touring or something, you know, some other part of the world.
Jeff: I mean, it that’s amazing. I mean, what, what video did you had you shot for? NXS.
Alex Proyas: The song was called kiss the dirt. Nice. Yeah,
Jeff: that is awesome, man. I mean it, I know, I know when you, you commented when I said you’re, I mean immediately subtle. I mean, you have directed two of my favorite movies of all time.
The CRO and dark city to the movies that I go to regularly all the time, they help inspire me as I’m a writer. And I, I mean, they’re, they’re extraordinary films and I heard that your connection to music videos is, and also the, the short film is what directly led to you getting the director job of the Crow.
Is that correct?
Alex Proyas: Partly, partly correct. But I I’d say by the time I [00:19:00] was. By the time the Crow came along, I was I was on and off living in Los Angeles. I’d made a bunch of music videos in, in LA. And I was also doing a lot of commercials, you know, and in fact, my commercials probably more so than my.
Music videos. I got into the sort of higher echelons of the advertising world and started doing some pretty out there, big budget commercials. And I think probably those had even more of a, of an impact, you know, at the time all the, you know, cause to get a, a Hollywood movie. I mean the first thing you’ve got to have as a filmmaker, as an agent, you know, and at the time.
The agents were very the big guy just says we’re all, all kind of out there. They could see that there was this thing called a music video happening in a lot of young you know, exciting Phil ma filmmakers were coming out of that medium. You know, I was working through a company [00:20:00] called propaganda films in LA, which a bunch of, a bunch of us came out of that.
Like David Fincher and Michael Bay and spike Jones and a bunch of you know, it’s more established film directors. Now. We were all doing videos at that same time, you know, And so they were on the hunt. They were looking for people, you know, once they napped Fincher and dye and whoever else I nev they, they went who’s this guy let’s have a look, let’s have a look at his rail, you know, and, you know, CIA got, you know, basically said they’d rep new, who are the biggest, you know, most powerful mob at the time.
And and that’s how I started getting into, like, I started getting scripts and, you know, Stuff that I didn’t really want to direct. I started getting things like nightmare on Elm street, four or five or six or something. I don’t know what it was. And and you know, eventually this thing, the Crow came along and that piqued my interest.
Jeff: where w when you [00:21:00] received the script to the Crow, had you been familiar with the CRO comic book at all?
Alex Proyas: No, not at all. I mean, I like comics, but the CRO comic book was a very underground indie comic comic that, you know, I just, there’s no way I would have known about it really. And I, they sent me the script as a draft and they sent me the comic book and I didn’t really actually, like, I read that.
I mean, I’ve flicked through the comic book. I didn’t really read the comic book and I went, wow. The pictures are nice, but I’ll just go straight to the, to the script. And I read the script and I hated the script. I just thought it was terrible. I was about to like go, maybe not, but then I thought now I better look at this comic and just say how, you know, how authentically they’ve translated this across and found.
That it was almost a completely different story in the
Alex Proyas: So I went back to the producer and said, look, you know, I don’t care for this script, but if you can let me might align this [00:22:00] closer to the comic and you know, then, then we’ve got something, you know, I think then we might have something and.
And I also want to shoot it in black and white, which he’s kind of nodded and smiled at the, at the time that that was never going to happen, you know?
Alex Proyas: but there you go. So,
Jeff: so what was wrong with the original CRO script?
Alex Proyas: Oh, he was, you know, it, it, it had the same elements, but it was kind of It was sort of overly developed for one of a better word.
And it’s not, that’s not to say that it was not, it was, it went through many, many drafts. I don’t think it did, but it was kind of, it was adapting something that into a more film friendly. EDM, which it didn’t really want to go into, you know, it’s a very pure, very simple story, you know, as it, as it’s told in the, in the comic, you know, it’s really, it’s this very [00:23:00] uncluttered with all the kind of conceits and, and.
Requirements of commercial, you know, movie-making and, and that’s what, what I really that’s what really struck me when I, when I looked, when I looked at a comic book more carefully is it’s a very it’s like anti it’s a, it’s an anti comic book hero, right? It’s not, it’s not like you know, So many other superhero, top comic book superheroes.
It, it’s not even that man, you know, it’s something other than that, it’s a very grounded, real world story, you know? And the supernatural aspects are almost kind of, you know, coincidental. They’re almost like, you know, subplots rather than being the main plot, you know? So I think this, the original draft that I read seemed to struggle.
With making it more kind of, you know, fantasy comic book friendly [00:24:00] or something. I don’t know how else to describe it, you know? And it’s a wall it’s a while ago. Sorry. Maybe I’m not even remembering it very well.
Jeff: Well, the interesting thing about the Crow, especially looking back now about 30 years, Is that even though the CRO was met was very successful.
It was extremely risky. It was in our rate ACOM book movie at a time when already comic movies just didn’t happen. It was actually the precursor in my opinion, to every RA movie in the combo realm. Since did you think the CRO gets enough credit for changing how combo and how audiences view a common book based on a movie?
Alex Proyas: Oh I mean, look, you know, who knows, but it’s it definitely was the, the it’s R rated furnace was definitely an important part of it, you know? I mean, it’s like, I w I almost made a movie about Dracula. The, the original kind of lead tip is kind of the origin of, of the Dracula character, you know And I would, I would [00:25:00] have these ridiculous conversations with universal, who were the studio where they were saying, well, does this have to be an R rated film?
And I’m like, fuck, yes, it has to be an R question. It has to be, as I said, how do you do Dracula? Without, you know, how do you do people being impaled on, on spikes? You know, like you know, with, without an hour writing, you just cannot be done, you know? And it’s like, why would you even want to do that?
Because you’re going to piss off everyone. Who’s a Dracula fan and core market, you know? So that was always my argument with the CRO is like, don’t try and come up with something that appeals to. You know, the four, what is it? The four quadrant demographic, right? Which every film these days apparently has to appeal to matter what it’s budget ranges.
But, but, so, so don’t appeal to that, to the, all those people appeal to exactly [00:26:00] a very specific core group of people who are exactly between. You know what, however young you can be to get into an R rated movie in the States, which I forget what that is and you know, and 20, 23 or whatever, you know, and that’s it.
And people who like, you know, hardcore industrial music you know, And don’t don’t, you know, don’t care about anyone else. And in fact, if you can offend all those people, all those other people offended as much as possible because you’re never going to win them over. And in fact, the more you offend them, the more your core group are going to love, love the movie.
So that was my passionate play too, you know, just as music does. I mean, music works on exactly that same level, you know hard core. Rap music or, or a heavy metal music, partly appeals to it’s core demographic because it’s pissing off the parents who hate that [00:27:00] shit, you know? And that’s, that’s what I wanted to make a movie that kind of embrace that same philosophy.
So to be pure and true to all the stuff that made that comic book call and the grounded-ness of, you know, being in that world of. Of urban decay and drug views and, you know, people burning down the city and wallets sort of stuff, which w w definitely delineated it from being another Batman movie, because Batman was really the closest parallel you could make to anything on screen at that time.
And so I know, I know I definitely wanted it to not be, you know, to be that.
Jeff: Now were there serious discussions about making the CRO PG 13 movie at any point?
Alex Proyas: Well, there wasn’t really no, there wasn’t in, in a crow’s sake. No. I don’t know whether we even talked [00:28:00] about the writing strangely enough. When we were making the movie, there was a whole thing that happened. Of course, when you releasing the movie and we had, I mean, we, we’ve got an end, we’ve got an NC 17 for the original cut of the movie writings, board, and we had to make certain cut cuts.
But look, I think it was th the, well, there was one particular scene. But it was also because obviously the film was colored to say the least because of the tragedy that occurred. So people were looking at the film in a whole different context, but there was one scene that was removed that they got us from an NC 17 two, and now NC 17, as you know, it was like, that’s like really hard.
The film’s going to be really fucking hardcore to do that. And I don’t think if it had been any other. Time and place that this would have been an issue, but there was one scene where these two kids there that are like maybe I forget how old they actually were. They were definitely not teens. They were like [00:29:00] nine and 10 years old or something.
Rob day were robbing a a liquor shop. Right. And in fact, the character, I don’t know how well, you know, the movie, but the character is skank comes into a liquor that comes into this liquor store. I think as the, he comes in to try and Rob the liquor store and then, and then these other, these two kids come in with guns and Rob him and the liquor store and he runs out and get shot just before he gets hit by his own car or something.
And he gets, he gets hit by the car that he eventually steals. Right. But he shot, he shot by those kids in that liquor store. So the, the whole idea of kids with guns just became something untenable for the For the writings for the, for the, for the writings board at that, at that point in time. And we had to.
Drop that scene and then numerous other bits and pieces, you know?
Jeff: So that would have occurred at the moment around the time when Thunderbird when
Alex Proyas: it tapered T-Bird just go in and get some road beers or whatever. Gotcha. He goes into the liquor store. [00:30:00] He, I can’t remember exactly. Look, I haven’t seen the movie since we made it, so this is all completely from him.
But yeah, he robs that. He, I think he, I think he robbed the. The liquor store for beers or something. I don’t know. Anyway, he gets the bees and these kids immediately come in and Rob him and the liquor store and he’s somehow he gets away. He runs out of the store and they shoot him. Just before he gets shot, you know?
So his arm is messed up, not because of the not because of the the car that hit him, but because he actually has a bullet in his arm from the gunshot, it’s pretty ridiculous. You know,
Jeff: that is awesome because when, when you watch the movie, cause I said, I seen the movie minimum of maybe 30 times, maybe a little bit more.
And when you see, usually have that scene plays out. Is that it just looks like he went in, bought something at the store and then came out. There’s not even, you don’t even seem Rob the place.
Alex Proyas: Yeah.
Jeff: So that’s amazing.
Alex Proyas: And if you look, if you watch the movie again, now you’ll see there’s a bandage around his arm [00:31:00] and he’s on his upper arm.
That’s bloodied. And that’s because he’s, he’s that’s because he’s being shot in the arm, you know,
Jeff: do you think there’ll ever be a release with those edits brought back in.
Alex Proyas: Look, I don’t know. I, I have no interest in, in going back into the film. But, but you know, maybe someone one day will resurrect that stuff.
I don’t know.
Jeff: So, and another interesting part about the movie is that the cast is brilliant. Brandon Lee was brilliant. The interesting about Brandon Lee was that before that movie, he was mostly known as an action star. However, there’s so many heavier L dramatic elements. In the Crow. What was it about Brandon Lee that you saw and said he can definitely do these more, this more heavier material?
Alex Proyas: I got to hang out with him a lot, you know, and we became very good friends and certainly through the production as well. But he, yeah, I look at it now. It’s going back a while. And as I say, look, it’s hard to talk about the grow [00:32:00] because. You know, I’ve, I’ve blocked a lot of it. Cause it was a lot of it’s been so, so painful to remember.
So it’s just the way that the way your brain works after a while. So I dunno, I can’t really answer that question apart from the fact that he was he truly was a great guy, really good actor, and I know that he was very conscious of of not being seen on that martial arts level. Just like his dad.
I mean, he, he, he had enormous respect for his dad obviously, as you would. But he wanted to be, you know, he, he above everything wanted to be a an actor, you know, considered acting. So for him, the whole action genre, as much as he liked it, I mean, he loved the love, the genre. He, he very much wanted to be same, you know, as an actor about everything else, you know?
Having said that he was also obviously brilliant at the action and, and you know, for me working with him, we spent a lot of time in prep together. We’d hang out, you know, for days on end and [00:33:00] we would watch a movies we would watch. We were looking at a lot of John woo movies at the time. He was a real, Brandon was a real authority on, on particularly Hong Kong action movies.
And. I think he might’ve even introduced me to the two John Lewis movies at the time. And no, no. I was aware of them. But we would watch all this stuff and discuss the, the, the blocking of the scenes and how the action was going to work. And, and and he also had a lot of ideas in terms of the overall narrative in the script as well.
So he became very much a collaborator, you know, more, more, I think, than I’ve ever had. With any other actor, you know, he really that’s when I became aware of this kind of collaborative storytelling that we do. And, and, you know, I’ve tended to work with other actors who I’ve been fortunate to work with other actors in subsequent movies where I’ve, I’ve also found that nothing on that scale, but I found similar collaborative storytelling [00:34:00] skills, which I think are really.
I think it’s the key to a, why? A lot of really big movie stars achieve the success that they do more above and beyond their kind of charisma, their on screen persona and all that sort of stuff. I think they are fully storytellers as much as the director, as much as the author, the writer, and they’re aware of that.
And they kind of embrace that the whole. Movie rather than just their part in the movie, you know? So I think Brandon was very much that guy and that’s why I know you know, regardless of the gray worky, he didn’t the Crow. I know he would have gone on to do amazing stuff. You know?
Jeff: Do you mind answering just a couple more questions about the Crow that’s
Alex Proyas: okay.
Jeff: Well, one of my favorite scenes in the entire movie. It’s a very quiet scene. It’s the one with when Eric is talking to officer Albert in his in his apartment [00:35:00] or house it’s a very, it’s such a, it’s a very strong to me, a very emotional scene. And, and I love the lines. When Albert asked, are you just going to vanish into thin air again?
And Eric responds, I thought I’d used the front door and I always wanted to myself. Is that, was that Eric? Showing a sign of respect to Albert, or was that Eric wanting to feel human and normal in that moment
Alex Proyas: to know your guess is as good as mine. I honestly don’t remember. I mean, I remember the line, but I don’t remember what the, what the intention was.
So I’d say you can read that either way. I think you’re going to ask about oldest smoking and stuff in that film, in that scene. That’s something that a lot of that stuff came from from Brandon himself, you know? And I think that is that where the line, he says that line about nothing is trivial.
Is that, is that in that sense?
Jeff: Yeah. It’s, it’s this? Yeah. At the moment, right before he says, believe me, nothing is trivial. And he talks about how his, his wife talked about the importance of the little things.
Alex Proyas: Yeah. That’s actually Brandon, he [00:36:00] wrote, he wrote that that’s his stuff, right? Oh, wow. Yeah. So he came up with all that stuff.
He was very, very specific about it. Wanting to put that into that scene. And I thought it was a really good idea. So I’ll go ahead. Yeah. So that’s all come from him, whether the door line came from him or not. I I’m not sure. Well, that is also good. Go ahead.
Jeff: I would say that also is a scene where he holds a cigarette and goes, these things will kill you.
Was that also branded Edmond? The comment about cigarettes.
Alex Proyas: Yeah. I’m pretty sure that it was Brandon as well. The trivial thing was definitely Brandon. I know that he brought that. I remember he came to me with that idea, you know, that notion. And there’s, I think the cigarette thing probably was what was his line as well?
Jeff: Like I said, I mean, I, I truly do love that movie and I, the only thing I found fantastic about the movie is that it, in some ways early in the first, maybe almost three quarters of the movie, it’s almost like a horror movie in reverse where instead of. Rooting, you know, instead of the killer being the bad guy, who’s killing the innocent [00:37:00] people.
It’s the hero. Who’s kind of like the invisible monster, that moment he’s going after the guilty people. And the part I was wondering is because the film was three-quarters of the movie, Brandon not brains, Eric Raven’s character is virtually invincible as a storyteller. Is that. A difficult thing to handle.
And so keep the audience invested and feeling tense about the outcomes of these scenes.
Alex Proyas: Yeah. That’s really hard to do in it. And it’s critical that he loses his power in the third act. That’s absolutely necessary. You know, you can’t just make a movie about that’s why it’s so hard to make a good Superman movie, quite frankly.
And that’s why the, the notion that kryptonite is so important to Superman, because without that, it’s like, who cares? You know, characters like Omni powerful. It’s like, what’s the point of that? The, the emotion that drives the CRO though for the first two acts is the one of vengeance. For a, you know for an unspeakable crime has been [00:38:00] committed and the sort of vengeance that no one can actually ever achieve in the written.
The normal world. So that’s, that’s enough to, you know, where you can literally come back from the dead and avenge your own death, as well as your beloved Steph, you know? So, so that, just that emotion functions that’s enough to sustain the first two acts quite well, particularly as you, you know, particularly, and this is again, a Testament to Brandon because that was.
That’s a tenuous idea right there that I’ve expressed. Right. You know, and I, and going into the movie that my trip I was trepidatious going, will, can that sustain? Can that, is that enough for an audience to like, have this guy kill one after another, like work through the work, through all the, all these guys, when, when.
He’s not going to save his, his, his girl is [00:39:00] dead. Anyway, his, his girlfriend is already dead. There’s nothing he’s going to be able to restore. So is that enough? But what, but what happened and something I wasn’t even really aware of until I actually saw the cut of the film and why, you know, mainly why we finished the movie is that Brandon himself had such a.
Strong, there was such a strong, like about this guy, even through the makeup, even through the, through the rain and the hair and the, all the stuff, the trappings of this dark world that, that you really got to like this guy and you were really rooting for him. And that’s something that really was an eye opener to me.
And as I say, a Testament to Brandon’s. What made Brandon so special, you know? And so, and that’s, you know, he, he sustained it, you know, that he made, he made it work a, an arguably [00:40:00] somewhat flawed con you know, dramatic concept. He managed to, to sell it to the audience, you know? So, so that that’s really the key, I think.
Jeff: And the character of Sarah, was she always a part of the script? And how important was she to get the audience or to act as the audience surrogate throughout the
Alex Proyas: movie? Oh yeah, she was there. She, you know, her role didn’t change at all. They the only thing that was added on after the, the when we had to finish the film, What was the voiceover that is that she says which, which I’m pretty sure I wrote.
I think, I think I wrote that voiceover. And the T I think it’s just a tile voiceover, isn’t it? It started, I think it starts the movie. I think it just AIDS with her. Does she? I don’t know. I can’t remember whether she starts the film and ends the film, but, but anyway, that was the, that was the only really the only change we made everything else.
Other than that, there were scenes, like there’s a scene where [00:41:00] she goes back to the loft where she finally connects that character connects. Eric drive into this, this weird guy was going around killing people in neighborhood. And she goes back to the, to the loft and sees the cat, I think. And, and, and she’s talking like I think she’s talking to like mid air, like she knows he’s there.
That same was completely rewritten. Cause obviously that’s the same was intended to have. Brandon appearing, you know? And we couldn’t obviously do that. So we had to make it that he’s sort of hiding from her for, so for whatever reason, you know, but other than that, I don’t think we changed anything much at all.
Jeff: So since the Crow has been was released, it obviously had been, people have tried making sequels to it, a TV show about it. I mean, I don’t know if you ever watch those, do you kind of sense why the other version has never worked the way?
Alex Proyas: No, I have not watched those and I, in fact, I’ve not watched the, the original film, my film [00:42:00] because it’s just too, too pleasant.
So I don’t certainly don’t want to see anyone else dressing up as Brandon’s character, you know? Cause I do think, I do think that that film is Brandon’s film and I think it should. Stay that way. And I’ve been quite vocal about potential remakes too. Because I just, I think it’s, it’s disrespectful to remake that film and that character.
Exactly. I think they want to reboot the franchise or whatever crap they’re talking about doing. They should come up with a different cap because Eric driving is Brandon’s character. Sorry.
Jeff: Yeah. Another movie that you made once again, that’s one of my favorite of all time is dark city. I think that movie it’s absolutely brilliant.
And I even, when, when I was in college, I was, I went to college for to become an English teacher. And I was in a film class and I showed the dark city to my professor to show it to class because he was showing different films every, every week. And we watched the, you know, in dark city was one of the films that was watched.
After I showed it to the professors, like you got to watch this movie, this is the thing we’re talking about. Atmosphere. And I think, [00:43:00] I can’t remember the other things we were covering, but was something that darks had just hit so well, like right on the money and I, and the professors liked it and showed it.
How did the creation of dark city come about? And which part of the movie was it? You know, the visual, the city changing the strangers or John Murdock being the killer that kind of ignited your interest in the idea of it?
Alex Proyas: Well, I, I wrote dark city before the Crow. In fact, I was writing it, you know, we wrote many, many drafts and then.
When it started becoming a a more possible reality and we we’ve got to develop it. It’s the various studios is when I brought in David Goyer and Lem dogs who were my, eventually my Coco riders that I did many drafts before before the Crow. And so it’s hard to say exactly what. You know, where things, certain things came from is I was such a long period of time.
I think I was probably riding it over about 10 years dark city and I know [00:44:00] one thing is the the Mo the idea of moving buildings actually came to me on the set of the Crow. In fact I was sitting there, we had these, all the rooftop sets in the CRO. We built on a sound stage. So we had complete control.
Plus there was nothing in in the city of the, we were shooting in. Oh with the town, we were shooting in Wilmington, North Carolina like that. So we had to like recreate it. So the way we did that is we had a bunch of rooftop set pieces. And then these a quarter scale building. And so all the, all the the buildings that you see across the street or whatever.
You say you like lit windows and stuff. They’re all like a quarter scale. So they quite small, but because they’re a long way away from the lens of film, it looks at them as like, you know, big scale. And the way we’d create a V a land and environment that we could, you know, we only could afford to build so much.
I think we had three of those buildings built on [00:45:00] Wheeler, bulls, scaffolding. And then we had we had to redesign everything. So, you know, so Brandon would run over one bit of the roof and we’d like re reconfigure everything. And it looked like he was running over a new bit of roof, but it was actually exactly the same, just everything shuffled around.
So between setups I’d get the, the grips to, and the art department to, to juggle those three buildings in the background. To again, to create a different, a different scene in the background. And so I would S I would be waiting on the set, like literally between setups. I was working out my shots or whatever I was doing.
I think I was smoking on the set in those days. And and I’d be aware of this building moving slowly from one point to another. And I thought, what a great visual I’m going to use that in something, you know? And of course I ended up writing it into, into into dark city. But dark city came about really because I you know, the success of [00:46:00] the Crow allowed me to make dark city.
But years people would say, you know, what do you want to make? And I’ve given this script and they never returned my calls, you know? And eventually after the CRO I had, for one of the, one of the rare experiences in my career where studios were calling me up and saying, you know, anything you want to do give us, you know, let us know, you know, within certain limits, of course we, you know, they would, they would be happy to make it and.
And even with doc city, we had to develop the script rewrite in many, many ways and reduce the budget and all that stuff. Even under those circumstances to get that movie made.
Jeff: Well, I mean, one of the great things about dark city, I mean, the visuals are incredible. Obviously the entire moving to the very end happens at night was that.
For visual purposes or was it to build up the idea of shell beach and the sign. And do you remember do you know, do you remember the day, was it a bit of that concept or [00:47:00] was it more of the visual aesthetic?
Alex Proyas: No, I liked the idea that they, these people were, these characters were so many populations by, by this this construct by these, these, these people, these, these beings, there was so many related that a fundamental.
Part of their world, such as Diane Knight could be manipulated without them knowing. And that the detective who was his quest is truth above all the other characters really can actually, you know, we can get to a moment in that, in that interrogation scene where, you know, the hero can say to him, you know, do your.
When was the last thing, what was the last thing you remember doing in daylight? And he could suddenly go fuck, you know? Yeah. Which is think not to be able to remember. Yeah, I just, I just liked that that can seat, you know, and that was a conceit that we never quite knew. Of course, whether we’d pull it off.
But I, for [00:48:00] me, I love that kind of storytelling where you push you’re pushing the envelope severely to breaking point over what. You think an audience might accept and often I’m I’m I push it beyond where an audience wants to go, but I go, well, that’s filmmaking. That’s a sort of filmmaking that I like, you know?
And, and, you know, so I keep trying to find those moments in films that really pushes something to within two to two breaking points. No, I think that’s one of those moments.
Jeff: And, and another interesting thing about the story as well. Come think about characters like detective Bumstead and the way the movie ends.
It ends with every character other than a Murdoch. Either being dead. Or not Schrieber or not remembering what was before. And I was wondering, especially characters, like Bumstead could. And do you [00:49:00] think any of these characters could go on existing knowing that the city was manufactured?
Alex Proyas: Well, of course the thing is Bumstead in a way gets what, he’s, what he wants. He dies, but he, he also achieves what he wanted, which is to, is to know the truth, you know, that’s his question. And so he, he sees that, unfortunately, the truth is something so horrific that he can’t. Really process it, but he fully sees the truth by the time he dies, you know?
So I, I say that that’s a life fulfilled, you know other people it’s a great fulfilled, you know, and of course there is a whole subtext about the. You know, the power, power, you know, ultimate power corrupts ultimately. And one that I w w w I always talked about embracing, we were talking about this on the set of doc city.
We were, we were like, I remember with Rufus, I was saying, well, he’s, this guy is going to go bad. I said, [00:50:00] at the end of this movie, if we, if we’re lucky enough to make a sequel of this movie, Murdoch’s going to go bad, because he’s like, suddenly at the end of the movie, he has. Complete God-like control of his world.
Right. And he knows, and even more. So he knows that world, there’s a fabrication and it’s effectively a kind of, it’s a, it’s a a construct of his own mind, his own will. Right. So if that isn’t, if that isn’t God like powers, I don’t know what he is, you know, and that’s going to fuck someone up, you know, I, I know how much, you know, I know how much, like being a rockstar can fuck someone up.
That’s like being God, that’s going to really fuck you up, you know? And so, yeah. So I always thought that would be an intriguing thing to explore. If there ever was a sequel.
Jeff: Now, what would Murdoch still possess that power if he had left that city and gone someplace else, or is it the machine that did enable him to have it?
Alex Proyas: dunno, I don’t know the answer to that. I, I look, I, when we were making the movie, it was always about the machines, you know? [00:51:00] And, and, you know, but he clearly has it. Whatever has happened in that world has left the machinery intact. We see that clearly operating at the end. He makes the ocean, he makes the whatever.
So he’s still obviously very much in control of that world, whether or not he ever gets off that world. I mean, who knows? That’s that’s. That’s that’s the trilogy AREC and you’re you’re now you’re now talking about a trilogy rather than a seek or, you know,
Jeff: well, as a fan, I would love to have seen a trilogy from it.
I mean, honestly, I, that movie it’s such a fantastic movie for me. The, the other thing I thought was interesting too, is the character of Mr. Han by, I believe Richard O’Brien played Mr. Hand.
Alex Proyas: Yeah.
Jeff: And there, and there’s a part where they’re talking about there. They seek the humans in many ways to learn what makes us unique.
What makes us special? And Mr. Hand, before he even gets the memories of Murdoch does seem to be somewhat divergent from the other strangers in many ways, he had already [00:52:00] had some level of individuality to him. Would you know, was that always for the potential of individualism always exist with Mr.
Hanwood? Did he kind of, sort of have the answer a little bit before he even got the memories? Because he was kind of different at that moment.
Alex Proyas: Yeah. Look, I don’t know. I mean, I think that’s an interesting question. I’d never really considered that. Whether it came, his individuality came before he got the memories or whether it was a kind of a kind of an offshoot of the memories and actually living as, you know, inhabiting a mindspace at least as a kind of human character, even if it is a murderer, you know I dunno.
I mean you know, and look, it’s like the whole co the whole conceit of of doc city of course, is that the strangers don’t have individual souls. And that’s what they, that’s the fundamental. Thing that they are researching that they’re trying to understand, you know [00:53:00] now why they don’t have souls is, is unclear.
It seems like a bizarre thing that they would ex want to explore a human soul when they don’t even really know what that means. Right. So my feeling is there’s gotta be some part of their civilization, their society, that. Has some knowledge of of an individual identity and individual soul.
And I, and I believe, I mean, this is not in the movie, but this is kind of behind the scenes. Now we’re talking about subjects. I believe that, that this is an alien race that once did have individual souls and they lost, they lost connection with that. So maybe once a long time ago, they were more like, Human beings.
And I tell you, as our society evolves, I feel like maybe we’ll end up like the strangers ourselves. One day we lose, we lose our sense of individual identity and we’ll become this [00:54:00] kind of group mind. I mean, I think that’s what social media does to us. Already, you know, so, so that’s, I guess, you know, and this is reading between the lines.
I think I, I did think some of this stuff through, I believe but a lot of it is I’m now kind of kind of coming up spitballing stuff, you know, but I think that maybe that would make sense to me that they did once have this thing and, and, you know, we do make a thing in the movie of like their species is dying.
Right. That’s why they haven’t, there’s an urgency to understand the human soul soul, the human individual soul because their species is dying, but you go, you go, well, if they never had a soul in the first place, why is this species dying? I feel like it’s, it’s a, it’s a, this is an end end result. This is the end game of this trajectory that their species took one day.
They started, they took that first step towards that group mass mind, but they weren’t that originally, you [00:55:00] know, they weren’t like add, so we weren’t born into this, their species wasn’t born into this mindset. It’s something that they decided to, to be, and that this is what slowly eroded their species.
And. And made them these kind of poor, lost alien sort of spirits, you know beings rather. So I think that probably is the best, the most sensible approach to them.
Jeff: Yeah. I mean, the other interesting concept about the strangers that they need to exist in the dead bodies of humans. To survive. So you would, I guess the assumption is that they have always been parasitic in that way they needed a host or would there have been a moment where you think they’re at the islands were aliens and it was until they got to the city that he needed the
Alex Proyas: bodies?
Yeah. I don’t know that that’s the case. I think they’ve, that’s, they, they, you know, they’ve become these again. It’s like evolution, like their souls have gone through an evolutionary. The mastermind has been produced through this and it evolutionary. Process. And I think they’re, again, their [00:56:00] bodies, as you see them in the film are probably bodies that have evolved into something that needed some other, like a post or some kind of thing to be able to function.
Now, I look, I think it’s an unspecified. Whether that, you know, I think the human body is just one thing that may be. Service that alien body. I don’t know that they need the human body to survive maybe in the, in, you know, in a fabricated manufactured environment that has air, that humans can breathe.
They need some, some aspects of that human body to keep them functioning in, in oxygen or something. I dunno, it’s, it’s sort of Unspecified, but again, reading between the lines of my feeling is that they they you know, it’s a, it’s a science, it’s a, it’s [00:57:00] a tried and trued science fixturing concede that as, as we evolve, as we evolve our bodies atrophy, and, you know, maybe I was thinking of like war of the worlds or something like that, where they, you know, they need these mechanical base to move around in, in our, in our, without gravity in in our atmosphere.
But. The human body in dark city has kind of the equivalent of a Marsh and warmer shades, you know?
Jeff: Yeah. And I think the other thing that another aspect the mood has really, it was just tremendous is the casting of that movie is so good. And it’s almost counter-intuitive, I mean, keep her Southern, Southern, and we know more as the hero, he plays him at more of like a, this nebbish kind of building this guy.
We’ve assumed something kind of, almost very odd about him and he’s the hero. And I was wondering if you tend to look for those types of actors and play them a little bit against maybe the type you would have initially thought about them.
Alex Proyas: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I mean, I’ve, I very much wanted to, I mean, certainly sitting with Rufus, I [00:58:00] very much worked against all the people that they wanted, that the studios wanted to put me up with.
People like I mean, Tom cruise was mentioned at one stage and I’m like, Oh wow. I, I, I don’t dunno how serious that was, how serious his interest was or whatever. But but I just, I didn’t want to hit on the most ridiculous, fundamental level. I didn’t want to have this guy running around going, I don’t know who I am and we’re all going.
You get Tom cruise, you know you know, I wanted someone, I wanted an unknown lesser known actor for that, for that, for the key role. And Ruth has had all the qualities that I wanted in that character. And I just thought he was perfect for when it comes to Kiefa. You know, th the look at what, at some point the agreement that was made with the studio that eventually made the movie, which is new line.
Is if they let me have an unknown for the lead for, for Murdoch, they, as long as I could support that lead with, you know, with, with well-known actors for [00:59:00] all the other roles, they, they would, you know, give me the budget that I was after. And they still didn’t do that. But anyway, we, we came, so, you know, Kiva was actually suggested to me by the.
Keifer at the time was a big deal. His name meant a lot for like foreign, right? For some reason, I don’t know what, how they come up with his shit. But at the time he was really a big foreign guy. So they actually suggested Kiefer. To me for Schrieber and Kiva was like so far in a way from how I envisaged that character.
I wrote that character as Peter, Laurie, Peter Laurie was in my mind. So there were a lot of other people that I would have gone to before I went to Kiefer because Kiefer at that stage was still a kind of leading man type of guy, you know? Yeah. And so, so I was like, I don’t really like that idea.
And eventually they went, but Kiva really wants to meet and. And he loves this thing and he really wants to do it. And Fu himself wanted to move away. He was [01:00:00] very much wanting to move away, moving into more character active kind of area, you know, that it’s serviced his dad. So well, I think, you know, and he could see himself moving as he gets a little older that’s he knew the best roles where those character roles, you know?
So I met with Kiefer in a actually, you know, hotel in a hotel lobby in In in LA which I would need all my actors in were there in the, and it was always entertaining to see people’s reaction to saying these big movie stars and we’d sit down and have a drink. And. And talk. And then Kiefer is so into this that he, so he gets up and starts acting out the guy.
He goes, Hey, you should have a limp. And he should have like one, I should be messed up. And it’s like, and he starts acting out this, this character for me, he starts doing scenes for me to sell on this, on this character. And it was quite quite hilarious. And he won me over, you know, I could see what he was really wanting to go fully into the character.
And, and I liked this guy that, [01:01:00] you know, I like the idea. I really started walking to the guy who was once very handsome and has his own you know, charisma about, about him, but he’s been completely fucked up bodies, bodies, strangers, he’s by his boss, you know? And you know, so the character we waiting for and, and, and I think he did a terrific job, you know, Yeah.
Jeff: It, like I said, it’s so unexpected for key, for, to be in that role. And like I said, just like with Rufus, there, there is something so odd about him that in the beginning of the movie, there is a part of you as the audience that you can kind of buy into that he maybe is the killer. He doesn’t remember it, but he is that aspect about him.
And I was, you know, I was wondering too, if that was also what you saw in him, that he really could have been the killer the way he, the way he appears.
Alex Proyas: Yeah, there’s, there’s definitely that aspect to it. And again, being not Tom cruise helps that helps that cause you know, because it’s a, it’s a, there’s a, there’s an [01:02:00] unknown commodity going on there, you know?
Jeff: And you never would have bought Tom cruise as the killer.
Alex Proyas: Yeah. At all at the beginning. So, you know, the character, you know, the character as played by Rufus, you know, sees himself in the mirror and you go, that character is going to maybe at some point go, well, fuck. Maybe I am the killer. You know? So it’s all, it’s all into, it’s all interwoven.
And I think it’s, you know, it’s, it’s good casting for that reason. You know, whenever someone says. You know, the cars were great and the acting’s great. And, and I, you know, I’m always pleased to hear that, of course, but I think it’s always about the perfect marriage between actor and role, you know? And that’s so easily upset.
It’s so easily messed up. The Mo I think one of the most important jobs and a director has in making a movie is to cast it well, you know that’s, I’d say, you know, probably only second [01:03:00] only to write a good script or have a good script written for you. I think cast at well would be my very close second, you know,
Jeff: and, and another part of the movie just Is the inclusion of Emma played by Jennifer Connelly, because not only are you, because when you’re talking about a movie, that’s about humanity and the soul, you also now move into the idea of love as an aspect of fate and destiny, because you make it, it seems, at least you give the impression that no matter what.
The world was going to look like Murdoch’s character and Emma would have always found one another. At some point it was kind of, as it was like, almost like not quite star-crossed lovers, but definitely a faded that love is something that is connected to
Alex Proyas: destiny in some way. Yeah. Yeah. That’s the whole idea.
That’s, it’s all notion that these sorts of things are beyond our programming, beyond our, our individual you know, memories or pro or social programming or anything else, [01:04:00] these things are fundamental to our, to what makes us human, you know, too, if you believe in the soul, it’s part of that, you know, part of our consciousness, our, our, the deepest, you know, part of the human, the human condition, you know so yeah, I’m sorry.
I’m saying very specifically in that case, that that love is definitely part of that, you know?
Jeff: So how close to the dark city ever come to having a sequel?
Alex Proyas: Not very I mean, look over the years. It’s come, it’s come a little. I mean, by close I say, people fishing around saying. What’d you consider writing a sequel, maybe making a sequel if we liked the script or whatever, you know, this happened because the movie didn’t do well at the box office.
Right. Initially. And so that pretty much kills any immediate possibility of a sequel. The, the, the film did extremely well on home video. That’s where it really had had a second life. And I noticed it in my [01:05:00] own when I was talking to people. Doing interviews like this or meeting people who liked my films.
And there was a moment when all I wanted to do is talk about the Crow and then it started to flip over into dark city and all the people wanted to talk about was dark city. And then it sort of eventually stated that the the studio actually called me someone at the studio. I can’t remember who it was and said we want to do the director’s car.
We want to re-release the director’s cut of the, of your original director’s cut. Of the, of the film and we want you to supervise the whole reedit and all that sort of stuff. And the w you know, and at the same time, have you considered, have you ever written a sequel? You know, and at that point I went, okay, well, the Penny’s dropped and obviously they’ve done.
Okay. What was a complete budget box box-office disaster for the studio suddenly has become a reasonable. A bit of accounting, you know, and as, [01:06:00] as you probably know, I mean, the creative accounting that goes on in studios means that filmmakers never really know. We never know when our films make profit.
They all clearly do, but we are always told that they don’t, you know, and you’ve got to usually take the studio to court to find the true story, you know, and the chance you take of course, is that the accounting will be so good that. The creative accounting will be so good that you’ll never find out. And you’ll all you’ll end up doing is getting a huge lawyers bill for your, for your troubles.
You know? So in this case, what gave me the clue is when they started talking about sake, walls and stuff. But at that stage, we did do the director Scott, but at that stage I had no real. Desire to go back into that world. So that was one opportunity that I pretty much messed up. And then late recently it’s been a couple of, couple of possibilities to do a TV series, you know?
And that’s also [01:07:00] maybe will, might happen one day, you know but it’s not like it’s on a, on a back burner. You’d have to
Jeff: say. Well, let me, I’ll say as a fan, I would, I would love, I see what costs are there’s often is always the double-edged sword of, you know, how it affects the original because of the secret.
Would it have been like, as you mentioned, John Murdoch as a guy character, or would have been backstory of who the strangers are, where that
Alex Proyas: came from? As a say, cool, sorry. Or is
Jeff: as, as would it if you did create another. I’m an extension of dark city would have been a SQL like John becoming God, or would it be like a prequel with the strangers and where they came from?
Alex Proyas: It, it, it probably would be a sequel. I mean, if look, and again, it’s like, you have to ask me at what point this would occur, you know, because obviously, you know, the film is now 25 years old. Well, more, I don’t, I’m not sure how old it is. And so we’ve all aged, but importantly as cast have aged to the point where you [01:08:00] may not want to tell the you know, the story would have to align itself with how old they are, you know, like, I don’t know that it’s much fun to come into, you know Rufus as a godlike being nefarious, God-like being.
Years after the original movie, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. You know? I mean, they’ve tried things. There’s a very famous situation quite recently, which has gone disastrously wrong, where they’ve tried to kind of re envisaged a very iconic movie character in a, in a recent. Cul that you know has gone really badly for them.
When we began, maybe you can, you can suspect which particular movie and character I’m talking about. For so many, the one I’m thinking of is particular as Luke Skywalker in Oh gosh. One of the star Wars movies, right? Well, we had [01:09:00] such a hatred, but how much hate from, from the fan community that it’s like, it was hardly worth doing.
And, and even from, from Mark Hamill himself, who felt that he understood the character a lot better than some young director coming in, you know? And, and he’s probably quite right about that. So, so there’s a real danger about rewriting the rules. So much time after the original has become a kind of, you know, fan favorite, you know, cause you’re going to piss those people off.
So so yeah, that’s why I say it’s like my vision of a sequel or anything would have to be tempered by when you’re talking about that existing. If it’s right now, if someone said to me right now, go and make a doc city sequel, I really don’t know what that would be. I’d have to think about that very carefully, you know?
Jeff: Yeah. Well also your, if I’m [01:10:00] correct, your most current completed projects called strange nostalgia, that was shot recently, right? During the, during the lockdown, what was it creatively a challenge to make it during the lockdown. And can you tell our listeners kind of the pitch of what what’s it about?
Alex Proyas: It was it’s it was fun to, to do during the lockdown I’ll look on shot some of it before. I mean, I I’m, you know, the, the peaches that it was all done during the lockdown, but I did shoot some of it before. But we, we edited it. We did a, I was doing like I was working with actors doing voiceovers and the composer did it all.
In fact, I still haven’t met the composer is in another part of Australia. So it was kind of fun to do it that way. You know, it was like a, but it’s a short film, you know, I don’t know whether I. I, I think I’d be a nervous wreck if I tried to do a feature that way it would just be too, too complicated, you know?
It’s just one of the short films that I’ve made. It’s, it’s been very successful as I ended up putting it in a bunch of [01:11:00] festivals all over the world. It’s picked up a bunch of awards all over the world. And you know, the, the one downside is. I would have liked to have gone to those places and experienced the festivals themselves.
But of course that is impossible at the moment, but but now the other film that we’re, we’re working on at the moment, which is much more of a kind of a test case for the, for the the new production methodology that I’m developing through virtual production. Is a film called mosque of evil operation.
There’s a trailer at the moment. We’re still finishing the film. We haven’t, we haven’t completed it. But it will be released in hopefully early in the new year. Yeah, as I say, it’s a 20 minute film, which looks very much like doc city. It’s like a little it’s in fact, like a little dark city It’s it’s sort of part of the dark city universe, perhaps.
And but there are these other beings that are clone type beings that kind of [01:12:00] rule this, this particular world. And it’s probably a little bit more surreal, overtly surreal than dark city, but it’s still very much, I think if you, if you if you like dark city, visually, I think you’ll certainly.
Respond to this. And it’s more of a, it’s more of a like straight up horror movie. If David Lynch had made our movie, I think that’s, that’s the best pitch I can, I can give you, you know,
Jeff: I mean, that sounds awesome. I mean, I must admit I have not, I was looking at your IDM be, and especially in prep and I did not actually see, see that movie.
I mean, it sounds fantastic.
Alex Proyas: Yeah. You might or might not have even been in there, but if you go to if you go to mystery clock cinema, which is my YouTube channel Mystery mystery clock cinema. That trailer is on is, is there to, to, to be saying, so you’ll get a taste for it.
Jeff: Well, when it is completed, is it going to be available on streaming services or ,
[01:13:00] Alex Proyas: we’re not sure where, wait, there’s all sorts of theories right now.
From maybe shutter. It might end up being on shutter. Cause it’s 20 minutes, it’s not a feature. So so it’s it looks like a feature. It looks, it looks like you’ve dropped into the middle of a feature film that you’ll never fully understand what the entire feature films about. But yeah, so I’m not sure, you know, it’s, it’s it’s w w we’re discussing and all that stuff at the moment, it will certainly go to festivals.
Jeff: Is there also a potential of releasing your shorts as a collection? Like. Phobos and surgeons how this nostalgia massive evil operation as a, like some sort of grouping them in a way that it can be purchased like either DVD Blu-ray or something like
Alex Proyas: that. The reason it’s been a lot of desire for that.
In fact, the people who put out my spirits of the air, gremlins of the clouds, they just, we just recently did a blue Ray reissue of that. They’ve been talking about doing a collection of the short films as well. It’s hard to know which way to jump at the moment because we’re in such a, the [01:14:00] whole, the whole landscape is in such a state of flux that you know, w one of the things we’re talking about very seriously right now is setting up our own streaming service, which won’t just be for my projects, but it will be for them.
You know, for sort of, you know, science fiction horror, my, my, my wheelhouse kind of movies, but with other filmmakers as well, you know? So that’s one of the things that we’re talking about as a possibility which is becoming more and more of a reality to tell you the truth you know, with, with so many of these stream is out there now, and everyone’s fighting for.
For market share. I feel like the more specific genre based serve streaming services, you know, might end up winning the day in the end, you know who knows, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s, there’s all sorts of opportunities right now in, in, in a, in a [01:15:00] situation of crisis, as we’re in both, in, in. The world and in, and in our film industry, I think that’s the time that opportunity can present itself.
So we’ve got to be sort of on the lookout for it, you know?
Jeff: Well, I definitely hope to be able to see. The shorts. Cause like I said, you’re I really do love your films. Even though I was giving a talk to her, like I robot knowing all those are such fantastic films. And I want to thank you so much, Mr. for talking with me.
You said you are a brilliant director and writer.
Alex Proyas: Thank you very much. Nice talking to you, Jeff. And yeah, hang in there.