Last year Neill Blomkamp proved quite a few things with District 9. He threw out the need for A-List actors by hiring unknown actor Sharlto Copley for the lead. He proved that you don’t need major studio backing to get a film made (although having Peter Jackson as producer helps), and he proved that you can make over $200 million from a great sci-fi film with a small budget (around $30 million).
With the success of District 9 Hollywood now have Blomkamp firmly on their radar, however the director recently spoke to Hero Complex and told them that he isn’t interested in directing a big budget movie. In fact he’s turned a few of them down.
“I’ve been offered films – a lot of films, in fact – with seriously high budgets, and I’ve turned them all down. The reason is exactly what you said earlier: Once the budgets get bigger, you can’t do what you want as a director, unless you’re Peter Jackson or James Cameron. And even then, the pressure is still on the filmmaker. Even if the studio isn’t clamping down on you, all the pressure is on the director. And if you screw that up, the jeopardy situation is even worse. The way you don’t get yourself in that jeopardy situation is by making films that aren’t as risky financially. I just want to make films that have enough of a budget to pull off high-level imagery but also have a budget that is low enough that I can do what I want.”
“This next movie will cost more than “District 9? but it will cost much, much less than the big summer films. You can do a lot for less now. It’s all about process, too. If go into it knowing what you want to accomplish, you can save money. If you go into it trying to figure out what you want, it’s going to cost a lot of money. The other aspect is trimming it down. It’s like a diet. Instead of 2,000 effects shots, you can probably do with 1,000. Those kinds of sacrifices are worth it if you get to make something that is not in any way generic.”
I like Blomkamp’s way of thinking. I suppose he could have easily agreed to make a big movie for the paycheck, however he’d must prefer to make a movie his way than have studio interference. A group called Media Rights Capital are financing his next sci-fi project and they are letting him do what he wants. He hasn’t revealed what it involves yet, however we do know that he’s up for a District 9 sequel, so we’ll have to keep an eye on him in the future.