I know we already have a video interview with Neill Blomkamp for District 9 up on the site from Comic-Con. But like I said in that interview, I hadn’t seen the movie yet, after seeing the film I had a whole new list of questions. When I went to interview the star of the film Sharlto Copley (watch interview), in which he repeatedly said “that’s because of how amazing Neill is,” I was able to snag a couple of minutes with Neill again. Although he seemed eager to talk, his those around him seemed eager to leave after a long day.
Here is what he had to say in our mini-interview…
You walked that line between entertainment and politics in the film quite nicely, how did you keep from going too far in either direction?
Neill Blomkamp: I think those decisions happened way back at the beginning. When I started writing it with Terri, right at the beginning of 2007. There was no question that in the beginning I was making it a more serious film than it is now. It has too much of a sort of political standpoint, which I think is foolish for a first film and a first time director. When I figured out that it needed to be more satirical and take itself a little bit less seriously and have these important topics and for South Africa to be the background and become the fabric of the film, once I made that step, to write a satire, the whole thing started to fit together. I could put all of these things that I wanted; the idea of segregation, xenophobia, the South African industrial military complex, the South African mercenaries, the private militaries, all of that stuff can be there, but you don’t just hammer the audience with it.
Normally you want your leads to be these lovable guys that you can follow, but the non-humans, at all times, were much more lovable than any of the humans in the film, how did you come to that?
N: Well Sharlto’s kind of an asshole for most of it (laughs). Even in the end it becomes a debate as to like the redemption. The question is whether the fabric of his DNA has been altered, and he’s in fact just fighting for his own kind because that’s what his DNA is telling him to do. The structure of his brain is changing.
Sharlto said that because you two were such good friends that you guys had to create a space that it was okay to get angry with each other in…
N: Is he starting with his space crap again? He needed his space (laughs).
He was saying that you had set that up already, but that he surprised that you didn’t need that. What was it like working with one of your good friends that you have known for so long?
N: It was good. It was exactly what I expected it to be and what it needed to be, in this case he didn’t have any acting experience, but it was finding a person who could become this characters and could convince me and the entire audience that he is Wikus because there is a lot of improvisation. What it was was looking for someone who understands South Africa and who’s an incredibly good performer.
Was that not frightening to have a huge movie, resting on your shoulders, with Peter Jackson there and saying “naw we don’t need a script”?
N: Not at all; On one level, he delivers and on the other level, if he’s going slightly skew, it’s very easy to give him instruction and bring him back into what our script said, even though we didn’t have lines, we had our perimeters of the script, so that I could follow the overall story structure and make sure that he was not veering of too far.
I was in awe of the special effects. How did you go about that and did your background in special effects help?
N: There’s a lot of trickery that was used to make sure — I tried to give Image Engine, who pulled the aliens off, as much as a head start as I could. I tried to light them in the way that conducive to photo-real results and I tried to design the aliens so that they would achieve a photo-real state quicker. The only thing that worried me was if it could be done within the budget range, not that the result would be real.
So what do you say to District 10?
N: Yeah, I will totally consider it as long as the public likes it.
Do you have any idea what you would do with it?
N: I have an inclination, but I haven’t thought about it enough. I just want to return to that world and work on it.
Sadly, just as it was getting where I was hoping to go, they called it quits. But you can see for yourself why I’m so eager to see District 10 next weekend, August 14th in theatetrs.