Directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza worked together on [REC] and [REC] 2, but decided to direct separate [REC] sequels. With [REC] 3: Genesis being released to VOD last week, I had the chance to talk with Paco Plaza and was really interested in learning more about the development process.
[REC] 3 is quite a different film from the first two and I learned about Paco Plaza's inspiration for the film, the reason for taking this sequel in a new direction, and getting away from found footage:
[REC] 3 looks and feels very different from the first two films. Why did you decide to take the series in a different direction? Was it a result of an increase in found footage horror movies?
Paco Plaza: I think it was a mix of different things. The first was trying to give something different, surprising, and unexpected to the audience. We get so much information about a film before we see it in theaters, that it is very rare to see something that is unexpected. With this being the third film in a successful series, it was very difficult to come up with something that the audience would not be expecting.
The second was that we really wanted to do a romantic film. We wanted this to be a love story about a bride and a knight in shining armor. I think the best way to tell this story was to step away from found footage. It wasn't a statement or reaction to other movies and felt like a natural thing to do with the story we wanted to tell.
During the development stage, did you consider this story a gamble? Do you worry about fan reaction or does it not affect your creative process?
Paco Plaza: It's impossible to escape thinking about that. I think, as a filmmaker, you have a responsibility to your audience. We made this movie having them in mind.
I have a really strong memory of when I went to see Army of Darkness, which was a very inspirational film for [REC] 3. I remember going with my brother to see it, expecting a sequel that was just like Evil Dead. Army of Darkness was not what we were expecting. We were not ready to watch that kind of film, and that feeling was really amazing. It was like a magical moment, unveiling the mystery of the film in the theater. That's what we wanted to achieve with [REC] 3. I think it would have been really disappointing to do the same thing over again.
I have to thank the producers for all of the freedom they have given me, because I know we did something that was risky and not what the audience expected from us. In taking risks, you can achieve something that is interesting and new.
Were you excited to get away from found footage with this series and give it a more traditional cinematic look?
Paco Plaza: Yeah, I haven't used a tripod for a long time and I was really longing for it, a track, a dolly, and proper things to shoot a film. It was really refreshing to go back to making films in a conventional way, like I did five years ago. It was really fulfilling to not have to run all the time with the camera in your hands. What was important was finding the best way to tell the story, but it was satisfying to stop using the shaky camera because we've already gone down that path.
Without the found footage element, we get a much better look at the infected. What challenges did you run into with the additional gore and makeup effects?
Paco Plaza: It was a challenge because with found footage, if the makeup isn't perfect, you can just shake the camera a little more and no one notices. When shooting with the camera steady, you really need the makeup to look perfect. It was more challenging for the crew because we tried to make a very, very light film.
[REC] 2 was really dark, but we wanted the film to feel light even when they are outdoors at night. We took an approach based on the night scenes in John Carpenter's films. In Halloween, you can very clearly see every detail at night and we wanted to achieve that in [REC] 3.
I spoke with Leticia earlier today and wanted to know if you always had her in mind for the role of Clara. What did you see in her from the start that made her perfect for your movie? I feel like she carries this movie.
Paco Plaza: She was there from the beginning. We wrote the script knowing she would be the lead, which was important for me and my co-writer. We knew that she had this strength and the charm that this character needed. I wanted someone who was delicate, but with a beast behind her eyes. You needed to believe that she is capable of grabbing a chainsaw and fighting for her life.
I have to admit that she completely surpassed my expectations. I knew that she was a good actress, but she's really powerful in this film. What is happening in this movie is so over the top, that it would have been easy to slip into parody. She believes so much in what she's doing that her performance is really amazing. I agree with you that she owns the film.
I know you can't say much, but can you give me a status update on [REC] 4: Apocalypse? Do you know when filming will begin?
Paco Plaza: I'm not 100% involved, but I will be when they shoot it. What I do know is that the script is being worked on and that they are planning on filming at the end of this year or the beginning of 2013. I have to be mysterious about it because I don't want to get in trouble.
With [REC] 3 wrapped up, what's next for you as a director? Do you plan to stay within the horror genre for you next project?
Paco Plaza: Yeah, definitely. I really want to be a horror filmmaker for the rest of my life. Horror is what I love and is what I have fun with. When I talk to my friends who work in other genres, I tell them that they have to work in horror because it's so much fun. You get to throw blood around and play with toy weapons. It's so much fun, it's like being a kid again, and I want to do it for the rest of my life.
I want to thank Paco for taking the time to talk with me. Remember that [REC] 3 was just released to a variety of on-demand services, including cable, Amazon, iTunes, and more. If you're interested in waiting to see it in theaters, a limited release will start on September 7th.
Interested in learning more about [REC] 3: Genesis? We have a photo gallery, trailer and the synopsis at: http://dailydead.com/rec-3-genesis-is-now-available-on-demand/
You can also read my recent interview with Leticia Dolera at: http://dailydead.com/exclusive-interview-with-rec-3s-leticia-dolera/