Summary: JCal ambushes Roger Avary, screenwriter for the Silent Hill movie, and scares him with morbid tales of buggy computer games until the movie man talks about how this won't be an Uwe Boll flick.
FiringSquad: First, this is perhaps the most commercial movie you have ever participated in. How did you get the gig and was there any hesitation on taking on adapting a video game to a movie?
Roger Avary: No hesitation whatsoever. Christophe Gans is a close and longtime friend of mine, since his days as a critic. When he called and asked for my participation it could have been to adapt the phone book and I would have accepted the challenge. As it was, I've long been a Silent Hill fan -- since the PS1 days. I've been gaming since the 70's, when I built my first computer, a Rockwell KIM-1. My first program was a modification of Wumpus, which I had seen on mainframes at Hughes Aircraft. It was machine coded with a hex keypad, and an LED readout. No storage, when you turned it off your program vanished. Before this time I was privy to be one of the first people to play the original Pong at the Dutch Goose in Menlo Park, which had begun my love affair with videogames. Nolan Bushnell, the inventor of Pong, has long been one of my heroes...right up there alongside Kubrick. It was my love affair with the Atari 800 that nearly diverted me from my future as a film maker. But the fact of the matter is that there's less math in film, and I'm kind of a people person...so I followed cinema. Little did I know that the two worlds would converge for me. I love movies, but I also love videogames. I collect and restore vintage Atari XY monitor games like Lunar Lander and Battlezone -- only vector, only Atari. I also have a massive collection of Atari computers. Gaming is in my blood -- so it's only natural for me to adapt games into films and vice versa.
FiringSquad: We have seen nearly every other video game based film get critically panned. What steps did you and the director take to make sure that didn't happen with Silent Hill?
Roger Avary: Hookers and blow...just like Uwe Boll.
Roger Avary: We felt that there was a deeper emotional resonance from a mother- daughter relationship. Also, we were always drawing generational analogies, and the theme of doubles from past and future were more appropriate to the exploration we wished to undertake.
FiringSquad: The Silent Hill games are more psychologically scary than, say, the Resident Evil titles. How hard is it to come up with a storyline that keeps that kind of attitude that the games have?
Roger Avary: The games already had a rich tapestry of frightening psychological imagery for us to draw from. We just cherry picked what we felt would best serve the spirit of the games. For the most part we were very true to the details of the game, but most of all we were true to the spirit.
FiringSquad: Are there any overt themes that you wanted to explore while writing the Silent Hill screenplay?
Roger Avary: Christophe doesn't ever explore any single theme. He approaches as many themes as he can stuff into the work -- and at the same time make an audience accessible picture.
FiringSquad: What was it like working with Christophe Gans on the film and how much input did you have on the movie once it started production?
Roger Avary: Christophe is like a brother to me, and I was invited to be as involved as I wanted to be. As it were, he had a very clear idea of what he wanted to make, and it was just up to me to just transcribe the thoughts in his head. As it's very fun to hang out with Christophe, the writing experience was fun as well. I'm at the stage in my career that I don't do ANYTHING if it isn't going to be fun, so I'm cautious about who I work with. Christophe is one of those fellows.
FiringSquad: There is some major acting talent for the Silent Hill movie. Do you know of any trepidation they had on taking on roles in a video game adaptation?
Roger Avary: To be honest I'm not sure. I can imagine that the parents of the little girl who played Sharon (Jodelle Ferland) might have had trepidation -- but I never met them. If I do meet them, I'll probably apologize for traumatizing their child.
FiringSquad: Overall are you happy with the final result and do you think fans of the games will enjoy the movie?
Roger Avary: I hope the fans love it. I have been a little concerned with the build up. I mean, some people make it seem like the future of game to film adaptations rests on the success of Silent Hill. When there's so much expectation to nail something that so many hold beloved -- well, you can imagine the anxiety. I'd like the movie to be judged by the fans as a movie. Cinema is a passive experience, and the interactivity of a game is an entirely different experience, with its own strengths and weaknesses. The gamers need to remember that they give up control in a movie theater, "we control the vertical..."
FiringSquad: Now that you have adapted Silent Hill, what other video and PC games would you like to adapt to movies?
Roger Avary: I'm currently adapting a game into a script for myself to direct. I'm not talking about it yet, but it's for Atari -- so you can imagine that it's like a dream for me.
FiringSquad: Finally is there anything else you wish to say about the Silent Hill movie?
Roger Avary: Actually, I'm about ready to go silent myself. It is, as they say, golden.
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