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A Conversation With The Brothers Spierig

W: Another question I had about the budget and how decisions were made was that you went kind of pseudo-retro on the costuming for the vampires…which I thought was really smart, because when you’re doing something that’s kind of futuristic, you’re either Fifth Element-ing it–when you’re creating wild, outlandish stuff that people are probably going to laugh at at some point in the future–or you’re being able to do it on a budget. Was it the budget that drove that, or did you have that in mind from the start as far as how you were going with the costumes?

Willem Dafoe as Elvis in Daybreakers
The aforementioned Elvis.

PS: Well, with the costumes, there were several things. One is, the costumes have a retro look to them but they also have a contemporary look as well… some of the characters like Claudia Karvan’s character and Isabel Lucas…the idea was to create kind of a timeless look. And while you do have the suits and Fedoras and that sort of stuff, I definitely don’t think that stuff is that dated, and there’s something timeless about classic design. We have cars in the film from the 50s, the 60s, and the 70s as well as cars from the new millennium, so we tried to amalgamate a lot of different time periods. We tried to find the good bits of design over the decades and tried to incorporate them to hopefully create a kind of a timeless feel. But we also like noir films; we also like designs particularly from the 30s and 40s, so it’s kind of a mish-mash of things that we like.

W: And you succeeded in making it placeless as well, because it could have been any metropolis just about anywhere, it seems.

PS: Yeah…it’s just kind of an un-named American city.

[ad#rightpost]W: Now obviously, when thinking about a world populated by vampires, I think of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend (the book, not necessarily the attempts to bring it to film)…I was wondering how much of that book, if any at all, informed what you guys were doing with the film?

PS: None.

MS: Nothing. To be perfectly honest, I’ve never even read the book. I’ve obviously seen the film, I’ve seen all three films, but I would say none. I know people have always compared it to I Am Legend, but I Am Legend is more of a post-apocalyptic society, where ours is more of a dystopic society.

PS: What we were interested in doing was sort of taking the popular culture understanding of vampires and trying to do something different with it, to have them not sparkle in the sunlight…and I think to downplay the idea that vampirism is a romantic notion and that living forever is not a good thing. If I were living forever the last thing I’d want to do is hang out in high schools and date young women.

MS: (laughs) Well, the dating young women….

PS: Well, maybe dating young women, but I don’t want to hang out in high schools at 103 years old or whatever it is.

W: Is that the seed of a sequel coming? That’s the inevitable remake for television set in a high school, I guess.

PS: Yeah. (laughs)

Daybreakers Subsider
A Subsider, looking up from the subterranean tunnel that is a previous script draft.

W: Now, the other question I had as opposed to when you’re working on the script, the initial germ of the idea for the film…when you’re now here at the end, where it’s coming out on DVD, the film is done, wrapped, everything….when you look back at the initial idea that you had, how much did it shift and evolve, or did you say “Yes, we’ve done exactly what we set out to do” and there weren’t a lot of changes. How much evolution was there in the script?

MS: There were lots of changes. The script, for better or worse, changed a lot during pre-production for financial reasons. Peter and I always would have wished we could have done more, particularly with the subsiders. The subsiders kind of disappear in the second half of the movie, which was never what the script was. It was a little unfortunate and we really wished we could have brought them back. We actually had a big sequence planned and the only thing that remained in the film is a brief moment on the subway platform when you see them in a car. We had a whole big action sequence with the military planned there and we just couldn’t afford to do it. I think that the story, the idea, the overall film remained intact; it’s just that some action pieces got pushed completely aside and removed and it was a bit of a shame.

PS: The other thing to keep in mind is that we wrote Daybreakers, similar to Undead. When we wrote Undead, we said to ourselves, “Gee, I’d love to see a zombie movie, because there are no zombie films being made.” And by the time Undead got released, we released it the week after Romero’s new zombie movie, and that was after 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead and so many other zombie movies, and when we wrote Daybreakers, we wrote it thinking that there were no vampire movies being made–and then there’s obviously Twilight and True Blood and The Vampire Diaries and all these things…but at the time we were writing it, there was absolutely nothing out there. In fact, when we’d finished shooting Daybreakers, the first Twilight film had just been announced; they weren’t even in production. So those kinds of things sometimes work in your favor and sometimes work against you–it just depends. You just kind of go off an idea that you’re excited about, not necessarily anything to do with what’s going on with popular culture or whatever it may be. Looking back now, it’s kind of strange how those things pan out, but that’s the way it is, I suppose.

W: Well, it seems like if your pattern holds, we should very soon see an upsurge in science fiction pirate films.

PS: (laughs) Exactly.

MS: They’ve already got it–it’s called Star Trek.

W: So at the time were you sitting there looking at a draft of Captain Blood going, “Dammit!”?

Captain Blood
That smile and stance are now trademarked by Disney.

PS: I mean, yeah, if you look at the original Captain Blood–it’s very hard to make a pirate movie these days, really, because basically Johnny Depp owns the genre now.

W: That’s very true–him and Disney.

PS: And another Pirates of the Caribbean movie is being made and you want to do something different. Mind you, I don’t think Captain Blood will be our next film; it’s not something that I think will be made for a long time. We’re working on a number of other things….in fact, we’re getting very close to something that’s really exciting and if we had this interview in about a month, I could tell you all about it, but I can’t right now.

W: Can you say if it’s another thing like Captain Blood that’s an existing property or is this another original script from you guys?

PS: It’s an existing property, and it’s a property that already has a film. It’s very much a beloved movie of Michael’s and mine, so it’s a very exciting project. But that being said, we’re also getting close to finishing a script that is an original property. So there’s a number of things that we’re working on. And I’ll be as cryptic as that.

W: No, that’s perfect. I’m sure we’ll have people doing the detective work and looking back…”What are their favorite films?”

PS: I’m making a sequel to Dirty Dancing.

W: Havana Nights 3?

PS: Exactly. It’s a combination of Dirty Dancing and Weekend at Bernie’s.

W: With all the bits that you left out of Daybreakers. That would be fantastic: Dirty Dancing: Transylvania Nights. And it’s probably CG 3-D animated. I can’t wait.

PS: And the key is it’s in 3-D. Using Avatar technology to tell our Dirty Dancing tale.

W: You can have motion capture on the dancers….it’s going to be great. Eight-foot tall green dancers–I can’t wait. Fighting vampires.

PS: There you go.

W: Well, gentlemen, thank you so much for your time—I really do appreciate it. And congratulations on the film…it was a hell of a lot of fun.

PS: Thank you so much–we appreciate it.

MS: Take care.

Thanks again to The Brothers Spierig for taking the time to talk and thanks to Lionsgate for bringing us together. Daybreakers is out on both DVD and Blu-Ray, and available from Amazon if you click the medium of your choice.

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