Director, Producer Talk 30 Days of Night: Dark Days

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The action-packed sequel coming to DVD

30 Days of Night: Dark Days director Ben Ketai and producer J.R. Young want to make one thing perfectly clear about the sequel to the highly successful feature film. Their vampires aren’t of the Twilight variety. In fact, you won’t find any touchy, feely, emotionally driven bloodsuckers even come close in Dark Days. These are the type of vampires you want to run from. The nasty, scary, mean vampires that true horror fans have come to love in the genre.

Ketai and Young took a few moments out of their busy San Diego Comic-Con ’10 schedule to talk to Shock about the vampires, its faith to the graphic novel, not using visual effects and more. Read on.

Shock: First off, how did a sequel to the first film come about?

J.R. Young: After the release of the first film and the DVD release, there was enough of a fan following that Sony was interested in doing a sequel. The obvious place to start was Dark Days, the second book of graphic novels. Ben [Ketai] came aboard and had already directed a Web series also based on the 30 Days universe so it was a perfect fit for him along with Steve Niles, the creator of the graphic novel.

Shock: How closely does the film follow the graphic novel?

Ben Ketai: It remains faithful to the story that is told in the first graphic novel and there are a lot of characters you will see that are similar, some got cut out for purposes of pacing. We did some things that were different. It was great to work with Steve on the script because I felt like everything we were doing was okay. He’s the godfather of that universe, so he is the best person to guide what needs to stay and what can change. So we worked really hard just in the initial stages of scripting to adapt it for the screen but maintain what Dark Days really is.

Shock: We are seeing some of the characters from the first movie then?

Young: Stella carries on. She’s the survivor from Barrow. In this story about a year later, she is going out to get the word out. Not that it was an oil fire that destroyed Barrow, but it was vampires that destroyed her town. She is the anchor from the first film that carries into this one.

Shock: Will the vampires look any different in this movie than in the first movie?

Ketai: We tried to carry over the vision from 30 Days of Night with the same texture and color in their flesh, the black eyes and the teeth. On this budget, we didn’t have the luxury of digitally affecting their faces. The people that stepped in to play the roles of the vampires such as Mia [Kirshner] and our Canadian cast that showed up to play vampires. They did such a great job of articulating what it was like to be a vampire that at the end of the day it didn’t matter.

Shock: Traditionally, sequels in horror films go out of their way to amp up the blood, gore, body count and whatever else they can get away with. Given the first film had so much of this, what were you going for in the movie?

Young: It is tough to top. I think there is a significant difference because there is a difference in the graphic novels. Just in the setting, we have moved from Alaska to Los Angeles. Instead of trying to survive for 30 days, now they are on the attack. They are trying to take it to the vampires. There’s still a great deal of violence and blood, it is a vampire story after all. You’ll see some significant changes but at the same time it still feels very much like the original.

Ketai: There is a lot of gunfire. If anything, I feel like we can pride ourselves on with this film is that the kills themselves are more creative. Not to say the kills in the first film weren’t. Just in terms of the way our story worked out in [Dark Days] and the way those moments are structured. We have many more opportunities for really horrible things to happen.

Shock: You mentioned you didn’t have the budget for CGI on some of the faces, does that mean you’ve been using more traditional special effects?

Ketai: Yes, most everything we did was in camera. We used visual effects to enhance in some circumstances. But we really couldn’t rely on having a huge visual effects budget. There are a few scenes where Tinderbox, our visual effects house that we worked with in Vancouver, stepped in and did an amazing job where needed. As visual effects artists will tell you, the less visual effects you need the better.

Young: Todd Masters and his team were behind many of the make-up effects and they are really a centerpiece to the film.

Shock: For many horror fans, that’s a good thing as they are put off by visual effects.

Young: If it takes you out of the movie, of course, you want to be real, that’s what’s scary.

Shock: There are a slew of vampire movies that are either out already, coming out and being shown at the Con here. How much room is left for future titles of vampire films such as a third 30 Days film if this one is successful? Is the genre getting too diluted?

Young: 30 Days is about scary vampires and that’s something that there are not a lot out there. So I think there is always room to make a scary movie.

Kentai: It is almost like vampires are a genre of itself and there are sub-genres within it. Like horror and comedy vampires and romantic vampires.

30 Days of Night: Dark Days arrives on DVD and Blu-Ray October 5.

Source: Peter Brown