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AICN Exclusive: Nimrod Antal is directing PREDATORS - Q&A with Robert Rodriguez reveals more!!!

Hey folks, Harry here! I thought it was incredibly funny a couple weeks back when Latino Review landed another of the "names" on the short list for the directing job on PREDATORS. Robert Rodriguez and I don't really have a professional journalist and filmmaker relationship. We live in town. I know his family, he knows mine - we break bread and chat about a lot more than movies. So it always feels weird when I get 'called' out to be the CONFIRM guy on "Rodriguez" stories. Yes, he is in my cel phone, but I hate to be a pest and - honestly - I've known all the names on the 'short list' for a very long time. We discussed everybody at length, strengths, weaknesses and potentials. That said - he's the man making the decision on the man making the decisions on this project - and it is a very sensitive period. Generally, it's a fairly anonymous process when getting directors on a property - and the less leaked about the options is generally best - unless the options are TERRIBLE, in which case - BE LOUD. In this case, the short list was pretty damn cool. Younger talent, but the really cool guys that are coming into their own right now. Generally all with movies or at least A movie that we've been excited about. After Robert saw ARMORED, which Screen Gems is releasing this holiday season, he told me he was very excited about Nimrod Antal. This was about a month and a half ago if memory serves, and in a couple of conversations and notes since that point... I had begun to gather he was heading in that direction. Sure enough 3 days ago Robert told me he'd decided on Antal as the man burdened with the awesome challenge of taking the sting of suckage and the sewer pipe of hell that has been placed into that crazy cool mouth of the PREDATOR in the two AVP disposable flicks. Robert asked me to ask a few question to go with the announcement that you'll find below - along with his answer: The first question I would have is this. Why didn't you take the reins on PREDATORS?
When I was hired to write the original draft back in 1994, i was only brought on as a writer. I never thought I'd get to work on it in any other capacity. So a few months ago, when Alex Young at Fox contacted me about re-inventing the franchise using my original draft as a template for getting as far away as possible from the AVP movies, I jumped on it. It's hard to be just a writer on a picture, because you write in some of your really great ideas, and then off they go to someone else and you have no real involvement after that. I was already booked up as a director when this came back to me, but I still wanted to have a hand in making it. So I lobbied to have the movie done through my studios so I could oversee it in a stronger position than a producer usually takes on. Alex came down and saw Troublemaker Studios, and the facilities and crew that I've built up over the past 12 years, and he felt right away that this is where the movie should be made and that doing it down here would be the best way to protect it from the studio system. He was keen on making a very "non-studio" picture. So I'll be taking a more upfront role as a producer than would normally be the case in Hollywood.
I loved Nimrod Antal's KONTROLL - I thought VACANCY was, well atypical of the problematic work of Screen Gems and I know you've seen ARMORED. What was it about Antal's work that made him leap out to you as being the director of PREDATORS?
First of all, on a personal level I found him to be an outstanding presence, a great communicator full of ideas, and upon meeting him you can immediately understand how he is able to wrangle cast and crew and get the best out of everyone. I always loved Kontroll, where he proved himself to be a very resourceful and original filmmaker. When I saw Armored, I could tell he's also great with action and has a keen eye for casting. He reminded me of Quentin with how he was able to work with a group of very strong, singular actor talents and make it look effortless. I know he'll be able to get the most out of what we want to be an outstanding cast. We really want to go with a character driven action movie, because that's what we all remember about the original Predator, and we want to take it even further with this.
Your original PREDATORS treatment back in the day was a very large scale production. At what scale are we looking at for this movie? How big is this going to be?
The original PREDATORS script was large scale, because as a writer I didn't have to worry about how it would be made. I didn't care it was 1994, and that the majority of the movie wasn't even technically possible at the time. As far as I was concerned, that was going to be the filmmakers job. I just had to write a cool script. Well, now it's come back to haunt me, but good news is that a lot of this (and a hell of a lot more) is doable today. We'll have to be cutting edge to pull it off, but that's what makes it exciting for us, and will be the challenge in bringing this to screaming life.
Will PREDATORS be shooting in AUSTIN at Troublemaker Studios?
Yes. Any stagework will be done here, and to take advantage of the new Texas incentive program, we'll need to shoot at least 60% of the movie in Texas. So sorry, Harry, you're gonna be tripping over predators this fall.
I know that Berger & Kurtzman worked on the original PREDATOR - and you've been a long time supporter of KNB, but Stan Winston's company is generally the company one thinks of when they think PREDATOR. Have y'all lined up a practical visual effects company yet and can we know who?
I think I'd put it the other way around, KNB has been a long time supporter of mine. They've always been there for me with scotch tape and popsicle sticks (cause that's all i could afford) to make my movies work, so I can't wait to finally give them a real budget to make some really kick ass creatures. And we know we don't want to go crutching on CG for this, so I need people I can count on and that I know will go the extra hundred miles to deliver. Nicotero and crew will be more than up to the task.
Give us a quick rundown on the planned story we're going to be getting, because PREDATORS - as you told me the first time we talked about this project, was always meant to be what ALIENS was to ALIEN. How do you and Antal beat McTiernan and Arnold?
I can't go too much into the story right now, because we're still writing. But it still involves a very intense group of people stranded on a Predator planet discovering unspeakable horrors (that are not always from outside their group). So like the original movie, the title does have a double meaning. Aliens was a different take on the Alien idea, and an original movie in it's own right, and that's what we want to do with this. As to how this movie will be viewed, one of the guys at Fox told me "No one is ever going to talk about AVP again after this film, I will stake my life on it." And he's a really nice guy, so I don't want to see him dead. Now that lives are at stake, it's no longer a job it's a mission. Failure is not an option.
What do you see your process as being as Producer of this film?
So far working with my writers and director doesn't feel very different than my collaboration on Sin City, working with Frank Miller and Quentin. It's one for all and all for one.
Lastly, is it possible to make a truly badass film at FOX?
I won't really know until I make a movie there. This movie is being made at Troublemaker Studios.
So where do I come down on this? I'm way fucking jazzed to have PREDATORS shooting in my hometown. Seriously, that there will be a period of months where Predators and other alien monstrosities will be here... practical. That's killer. That they're keeping the Predator planet setting and framework - that's very exciting. A lot will fall on to Antal's shoulders here. This is a very big, PROVE IT project. I'm a huge fan of PREDATOR 2, but watching it on Blu Ray the other day - it made me giggle how insane that film is. As real as Predator feels, is how unreal Predator 2 was. I like that we're going into the Predator's homeworld not as an establishing shot, but as a place of primary action. That's genuinely killer... potentially. Now let's see where they go on casting this bitch and how the script turns out. But I've heard some great stuff about ARMORED from people other than Robert, so I'm giddy about that flick. For all of us that loved KONTROLL... this is more along the path that I was wanting to see him go than his sophmore film gave us. Let's all hope they make this great! I just got an independent non-Robert source that told me the PREDATOR office is up and going and said it looked like things would get hot and heavy in the next 2-3 months! Exciting times for Austin film scene!

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