Pretty Hands On: Jason Blum on Dark Skies

The producer also gives updates on Paranormal Activity 5, Insidious 2 and The FP Trilogy.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

Blumhouse Productions is not only fun to say, it’s also a lucrative production company responsible for franchises like Paranormal Activity and Insidious. Their latest movie is Dark Skies, a thriller from writer/director Scott Stewart. Jason Blum is the producer and namesake of Blumhouse Productions, and we got to speak with him last week about Dark Skies and his company’s upcoming slate of films, which include sequels and spinoffs to Paranormal Activity, Insidious: Chapter 2, Oren Peli’s Area 51 and many more.

Dark Skies opens in theaters on February 22 (USA), March 14 (Aus) and April 5 (UK).

CraveOnline: I already got the press release for Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’ today, your newest announcement.

Jason Blum: Oh, very exciting. That is actually a fund, a development fund that I have, that I’ve had for quite some time. With The Weinstein Company we did Lawless with that fund so it’s been something we’ve been working on for a while, but I suppose that’s correct. That is the most recent announcement, yes.

What can we look forward to in that one?

Well, that’s a long way off and different. We’re just putting that together so we’ve got a lot more low budget scary movies in the works before that gets fully together.

How hands on did you have to be on Dark Skies?

About as hands on as I am on most of the movies that I do, which is pretty hands on. I’m definitely not on the set every day but I’m pretty involved in the process. From the time Scott first pitched me the movie, when we had a meeting last year around this time I think it was, and then through the development and shooting and post-production, I get pretty involved in these movies.

Scott’s last two movies were with Screen Gems. Did you have to steal him away?

No, I think we have a different process altogether than those guys. So he was excited to try moviemaking a different way. Not better, not worse, just different.

Yeah, usually we see these types of minimalist scares in found footage movies. Was it interesting to apply those to a narrative style movie?

The movie is a scary movie like Sinister and Insidious. That’s what we set out to do. I hope that our scares are effective because we have good storytelling with good story and good character and good actors and people get emotionally involved in the stories. Then when you add scary things to that, they usually aren’t that complicated and they can be very effective. Hopefully we achieve that.

That can be creepier, when it’s just simple things being manipulated rather than a big visual effects monster.

Yeah, and I think there’s room for both. I think there’s obviously room for big tentpole visual effects movies. I think one of the mistakes lower budget scary movies make is they try and do effects. I always say you really can’t compete with Warner Brothers making a $200 movie with visual effects, so we really don’t try. We really try and do almost all of our effects in camera, and the ones that we don’t do in camera, just like you say, we try and keep them really simple. To me anyway, the movies that we do are definitely not about that. Once they get to be about that, I think we lose our way a little bit.

Was Scott’s pitch to do reality-based scares in the alien genre?

Yeah, but we had reality based scares in Sinister and Insidious too. I just tend to think those are oftentimes more effective, especially on not massively expensive movies.

Insidious: Chapter 2 is actually James Wan’s first sequel to one of his own movies.

This is true.

What was it that got him to want to come back and tell more of this story?

Besides the fact that I’m very persuasive? [Laughs] No, what got him to do it is I think Insidious was really James and Leigh [Whannel]’s idea and they get 100% of the credit for making it the effective movie that it was. They felt connected to the story and they thought if the story was going to go on, they wanted to remain in control of it and kind of guide where it went. That’s really why.

Will it explore “The Further” even further?

Of course it will. We won’t disappoint.