Vampires, disease and Elvis…
Back in 2002, the Spierig brothers brought the beloved zombie movie Undead to the Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness gala. This year they are back with their take on the vampire genre. Brothers Michael and Peter Spierig have once again created an original take on a timely monster that is sure to have genre fans excited and happy since they most certainly do it justice. This time with a bigger budget and bigger stars, the likes of Ethan Hawke, Sam Neill and Willem Dafoe join the brothers in Daybreakers a vampire film where the vampires are the civilians and the humans are the minority. Â
The day after the successful premiere of the film at TIFF, I had a chance to chat to the very exhausted Michael and Peter about who came up with the idea first, a potentially fatal disease the cast and crew got and what we can expect next from the duo.
ShockTillYouDrop.com: Who came up with the idea for Daybeakers first?
Michael: Well, perhaps it was I who came up with the original idea. We were just chatting about vampire films and I threw out there, well, what if we turn the tables a little bit and the whole world has been dominated by vampires. And instead of it being post apocalyptic vampire film, let’s put them back in their homes and have them try to live as normal vampire folk. The fun in that is we can add vampire modifications to lifestyles like driving during the daytime with blacked out windows and using video cameras to see where they are going.
Shock: Are they shopping at Prada stores too?
Michael: [laughs] Well no, we didn’t get their sponsorship. Well, not yet!
Shock: Now, we got two writers and two directors and one movie. Is that difficult when actually being on set and filming?
Peter: Not really. We did have a lot of ideas that were thrown out but that wasn’t because we didn’t like them we just simply needed to focus on the story and the characters. There are just so many possibilities and a lot of which didn’t end up on screen. There is no tug of war and if Michael is passionate about something and if he can convey why it’s a good idea or it’s not then, yeahâ¦
Shock: You wrote Daybreakers in ’03. With the new hyper popularity of vampire films and shows were you guys worried at all about the film being dumped in with the rest of them even though you had this well thought out before hand?
Michael: There have always been vampire films. It’s not like they have gone away. Even if you think back to a couple years ago, you got Buffy and Angel and what was the otherâ¦
Peter: The Blade filmsâ¦
Michael: It’s not like there’s more now. There’s just more attention on them or something because there has always been a lot of vampire films. I just think there is a new audience now with Twilight, which I guess is drawing in teenagers who have never really seen this genre before.
Shock: Willem Dafoe. He’s credited as Elvis. Elaborate, please!
Peter: He’s a big Elvis fan! He used to design and build custom cars. His character discovers something pretty substantial in the vampire world and it can make a pretty big difference to their lives. I’m not gonna tell you what that is! You got to see the movie!
Shock: You had WETA working on the special effects here. I know you two are very hands-on with effects so did they have full creative freedom on this?
Peter: Steve [Boyle]. It was Steve’s show. Absolutely his show. He worked heavily with us and with concept designers and they gave us a lot of options.
Shock: What can we expect from them in their appearance?
Peter: They have a bat-like look but they are also different from [Bram Stoker’ Dracula] or any of that iconic vampire stuff. They are slightly different.
Shock: I heard some interesting things happened on set while filming. Anyone got a good story they want to share?
Peter: We had an outbreak of a virus called Shigella, which is this horrible bacterial disease, and it causes death in third world countries. We had 50 people on our crew and cast go down with this thing. It was horrendous, you would turn up one day and it would be an entirely different crew because they would have all been wiped out by this virus. Our leading lady was sick, it was really difficult to deal with, especially since you don’t get any second chances to go back to a set or whatever if your actor is just, passed out!
Shock: They were all okay though in the end?
Peter: Oh yeah, but it was just horrendous. Michael got sick twice.
Shock: As I mentioned before…zombies, vampires, I’m sure you have something written for your next feature. Can you shed any light on that?
Peter: Well, we can’t really mention much about it, but we can mention a project we are developing with Warner Brothers called Captain Blood. It’s based on the Rafael Sabatini novel and it was also a film in the â30s with Errol Flynn. This is a new spin on it, it’s going to be a science fiction movie.
Shock: I was hoping you would say that.
Peter: It’s something really quite different. It still follows the classic story but puts it in a new light.