Sally A. Edwards interviewed writer, producer and actor, Leigh Whannell for his directorial debut, 'Insidious Chapter 3'. He's since written and directed the unbelievably gripping, 'Upgrade' and now has a reimagining of Universal Monsters Classic, 'The Invisible Man' and 'Escape From New York' in the works, plus there was a role in 'Aquaman'. I mean c'mon! We're glad we got some of his precious time and wanted to share our story with you again.
Here, Leigh discusses the hilarities on set and his desire to see women making horror. He also contributed a brilliant 10 Essential giving us tips on how to have an adventurous night out. We guarantee inspiration.
The original story was first published in BLAG Vol. 3 Nø 3 print edition in 2015
Interview by Sally A. Edwards
Ten Essential by Leigh Whannell
Photography by Matt Sayles
The Best Job In The World
Leigh Whannell co-created the concept for ‘Saw’ with James Wan in his homeland of Australia, it took a move to Los Angeles for it to become a hit, hit and hit + three. What better person could we ask for a Ten Essential Tips for an Adventurous Night Out? First, however let’s talk about Leigh’s move behind the camera with his directorial debut, ‘Insidious Chapter 3’ and get his expert opinion on working in the horror genre.
Please kindly sum up Insidious Chapter 3, Cooties and The Mule in two sentences each. “‘Insidious Chapter 3’ takes us back into the past, a few years before the first film, to discover how gifted psychic Elise Rainier is convinced to come out of retirement and fight to save a young girl’s soul. “‘Cooties’ is the story of a substitute teacher who has the worst day of his life when the kids at the elementary school he’s teaching at are infected with a virus that turns them into cannibalistic killers. And ‘The Mule’ is about a drug mule who gets caught by police at Melbourne airport and quickly decides his only course of action is to stop nature taking its course - if he refuses to take a shit, the cops have no evidence. But how long can hold it in?”
How was it working on both sides of the camera for ‘Insidious Chapter 3’? What aspects from acting helped and what surprised you most by being behind the camera that you didn’t expect?
“I loved directing, but I’m not sure how much I loved acting and directing at the same time. If I direct another film, I think I will keep myself strictly behind the camera. I’m not a great multi-tasker and taking on the job of director whilst also having to deliver a performance on camera is a bit like juggling three kittens, a bar of soap and a chainsaw.
“The aspect of acting that really helped me as a director was knowing how to talk to the actors. I feel like I know the hidden aspirations and fears that actors have, and I could communicate with them on that level.
“The thing that surprised me most about directing was how fun it was. I thought it was going to be all stress, all the time, but I had a ball. No wonder everyone wants to be a director - it’s the best job in the world!”
Let’s do some stereotype busting... It’s often said, those who make comedy aren’t always happy, so how would you describe those who create horror?
“I would describe them as happy and well adjusted! If comedy folk are the sad sack, therapy-addicted manic-depressives then horror filmmakers are laughing all the way to the blood bank. Time and time again, I have witnessed horror film sets filled with smiling faces. What else can you do when you’re covered in fake blood and about to shoot a scene in which your arms get torn off and fed to you through a meat grinder? You can only laugh”
“They” also say women can handle horror more than men. Is this a myth, or are all those date scenes at cinemas in films the real deal? (I hands down, have to be honest, I had a guy pretty much scream next to me and need a hug, not kidding.)
“I have heard this too. The ladies in the audience usually give the more piercing screams in my experience, ‘cause they’ve got the higher vocal range. However it’s been proven by statistics that females are a bigger audience group for horror films. Women go see more horror! I love that, it makes me love the genre even more. What we need to see is more female filmmakers getting out there and making horror films, it’s time for their perspective on horror to be heard louder and clearer. Horror is a genre that constantly reinvents itself and is always looking out for the new ‘thing’ - I think female driven horror films could well be it. The days of the cheerleader getting cut up by the masked male maniac are over. Time to see some masked cheerleaders do some cutting (snip snip).”
Ten Essential Tips For An Adventurous Night Out
by Leigh Whannell
Travel. Go somewhere different. If you can’t fly yourself to another city, go to a neighbourhood in your town that you’ve never been to before. Exploration always leads to adventure, Indiana Jones taught us that.
Don't plan too much. Over planning kills fun. You can pick somewhere to eat or an activity like bowling, but after that let the night take you where it takes you.
Activities are key. Rather than go down the well trodden path of a boozing it up in some bar, include a novel activity. Scour the internet for something fun and different. A group of friends and I recently signed up for a murder mystery game and it was the most fun thing ever.
Get a hotel room. Sleeping in a hotel turns a night out in your own town into a trip away.
Wear costumes. No one should be too cool for costumes. At the aforementioned murder mystery night, we all dressed like 1940s film noir people. It instantly got everyone in the mood for mischief.
Pick a theme. Even if you don’t dress up, picking a theme for the night is always fun. For example, it could be a tiki night where you and your gang only go to tiki bars and have to drink something that’s on fire. I want to plan this right now, in fact.
Hire a party bus / limo. Some people may think that stretch limos are only the providence of drunken high schoolers or gangs of bridesmaids. They are wrong. First of all, if you’re going to be drinking, you need everyone to be safe and not drive. Secondly, it’s a great way to keep everyone in the same car, rather than catching five different taxis. If everyone in the group pitches in, they’re actually pretty cheap. Every time I’ve done this I’ve had fun.
Talk to new people. None of us wants to wake up hog-tied in someone’s basement with a ball gag in our mouth, at which point we realize that the stranger we chatted to in the bar is a serial killer who roofied us. That being said, striking up conversations with strangers in the safety of a group usually adds to the fun. Who knows, you might add someone new to the group cos they’re so awesome.
Start early. Nothing kills the potential of a night like getting too late of a start. Even if you’re lucky enough to live in a city like Barcelona where no one starts their night until ten or later, you don’t want to leave it too late. You need all the time you can get for the adventure.
Plan for your hangover. Don’t let the hangover kill you. Drink water periodically throughout the night and get a brunch booking for the next day. Do everything possible to make sure you’re taking care of yourself the next day and not feeling too much pain.