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We are less than a month away from the US release of ‘Piranha 3DD’ (not to mention it will open in UK theaters THIS FRIDAY!) and it’s only natural that interviews start popping up everywhere. FearsMag.com also talked to director John Gulager about the film. Here’s what he had to say:
FEARS: Part of the plot for PIRANHA 3DD is that the owner of the water park has replaced the lifeguards with strippers. So I have to ask, what was the casting process like?
John Gulager: I think you just set it! (Laughs) Well, you know… it was an interesting casting process. I was led to a small, weird, little room. Then rose of women would come in and take their clothes off, and this was at the water park where we were shooting. The weird thing was that the name of the little room was the Rumpus Room. It was called that because man who would donated the money for the room was named rumpus. At this room was for the kids, the little children to play in while their parents were in the water park. The room was filled with little children’s toys and little children’s pictures and so on the walls. (Laughing) it was very wrong. I brought one of the producers, JoelSoisson, into the room with me. I didn’t feel totally comfortable being the only guy in the room, though there were casting women and stuff with me. Joel just turned completely red and he never went back with me. But in all honesty that was just a bit of the casting process. It was very interesting all at the same time it was very strange.
FEARS: In all fairness, I should point out that PIRANHA 3DD has a great cast. Just to drop a few names you have Christopher Lloyd, Ving Rhames…
John Gulager: I should point out that we didn’t cast Christopher Lloyd that way, you got to keep his close on doing the casting session. (Laughs)
FEARS: So PIRANHA 3DD sounds like it was a lot of fun. It also reunites the dream team from the last season of Project Greenlight, Marcus Dunstan, Patrick Melton, and yourself. How did all you guys become involved in this sequel?
John Gulager: I just don’t know because we just seem to keep getting involved in stuff. It all starts with the call (whispers) from Bob! It goes something like, “Gulager, Piranha sequel, you want to do it?” Kind of like that. Then Marcus, Patrick, and myself it together in a room and start talking about it. We kind of all got our start professionally on Project Greenlight. I think sometimes people have the thought that we should get those guys together again. That was the thinking here I guess. But with friends… Marcus, Patrick, and I are friends and all that kind of stuff. That kind helps the whole situation too. I don’t have to fight with them.
FEARS: This is a sequel, as such were there any limitations or restrictions put on you guys, or was it more like here’s 10% that you have to work into the sequel and the rest of it you guys can just go nuts?
John Gulager: That was kind of it. Obviously there was this idea that the piranhas would get into the pipes, and I can thing. Now you can take that as you pipes or biological pipes. I think that was the basis for it. Then we went off and got crazy by doing riffs on things like “Jaws 3-D,” and stuff going back a few years. We also had this idea that we would try to do this 80s love triangle story with kids and teenagers, and stick piranhas in there. We were coming from a few different directions but basically that was the idea in the beginning.
FEARS: Given the blend of horror, exploitations and slapstick you guys did in the “Feast” franchise, were there any expectations of you guys pushing the limits in this sequel?
John Gulager: Hum, pushing the limits?
FEARS: Come on, in the “Feast” films we have a monster having intercourse with a cat, a predigested grandmother in a bag shot on a catapult, so with a title like PIRANHA3DD you guys had to go crazy?
John Gulager: (Laughs) Well… I don’t want to give everything away! Okay, first let me say that there is a plot. In that plot there is a story about a young couple and it involves the loss of virginity. They’ve seen a lot of young people’s movies. So this is one of our main plot lines and, I think, one of those funds scenes. It kind of doesn’t work out the way they wished it would. You know, young love blooming and that sort of thing. So maybe there’s this uninvited visitor to their lovemaking. It’s that kind of thing. Suffice to say, there is a fish in every orifice. Oh, ouch, I didn’t say that. (Laughs) It’s not very tasteful but a kind of walks that line. I guess people see things different ways, but when I think about “Piranha,” even when I think about “Feast,” as crazy as things get there is still this line that may be the film walks that kind of has these little sad moments, or thoughtful moments if possible (laughs) in the middle of all the craziness. It may be fake sadness or thoughtfulness, but it still movie-ish. I like that kind of thing.
FEARS: Given the budgets on the “Feast” films I know your kind of limited in what you could do. It seems like you have a little more money to play with on PIRANHA 3DD. Were there any effects or gags that you wanted to do on your previous films that here, or CGI work?
John Gulager: We actually did a lot of practical effects, non-CGI stuff. We have CGI work in the film. Whenever you have large groups of fish that has to be CGI. At the same time, we did a lot of practical effects. Gary Tunnicliffe, special effects guy, would put on his scuba suit with a little mechanical piranha and get in the water. So there’s a lot of that kind of stuff. We have a lot more of that kind of stuff which is different from the first film. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but that’s the way we approached it. In the end, looks pretty cool. Damn talking fish… No, there’s no talking fish in the movie. They growl maybe a little bit.
Shooting it in 3-D is completely different from my first film and what I’ve done before. There is a little bit of a learning curve. It took us a little bit longer to do things, and there were some restrictions on the way things were shot. If I was going to do another film now in 3-D I think it would be much easier. It basically comes into play because you have to deal with is very large camera. It’s kind of cumbersome, but in a way it lends itself to a more classical approach. We always tried to keep the camera moving because I like that kind of feel. It also helps with the 3-D. So as a tad limiting because I couldn’t run off with a little camera and shoot some stuff here and do some pickups over there. We had this big camera that we had to move around and it was kind of cool.
FEARS: I’m a tad curious, the film is set in a self-contained location, a water park. Add in the 3-D and the water, was it any easier or harder than your previous films?
John Gulager: There is a water park, but there’ll also lakes and some road stuff. It was kind of neat being self-contained, but we were running up against the fact that the water park was going to open at a certain point. So we couldn’t keep shooting past a certain day. Also we encountered this whole situation with the blood. In this type of movie you can imagine that there’s lots of blood. If you’re in a water park there’s nowhere for that blood to go. At first, we didn’t know what we were going to do. Some folks were suggesting that we add the blood digitally, to me that was craziness. Luckily, this guy Matt Kutcher had developed this blood for another movie, “Shark Night,” and what happens is that the chlorine in the water makes it go away overnight. It takes a little while but it goes away. Someone had suggested we drain the pools but it takes five days to completely drain the water park and fill it back up again. That wasn’t an option. So luckily we got this blood. It looks great and it kind of fades away after a while. My heart was skipping a beat for a while there because we were up against it with his blood thing.
FEARS: You must be extremely busy putting final touches on the film, regardless do you have another project waiting in the wings or are things pretty amorphous at this point?
John Gulager: Okay, the movies done. It’s ready to go. As far as myself, I don’t really have anything lined up. I keep thinking about making, don’t laugh, a Western. However, it hasn’t happened yet. I love always Japanese, Chinese, and Korean period piece films. The closest thing we have is the Western. And I think that would be fun to make. That’s about it for the moment.
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