Hor­ror mae­stro Ja­son Blum on scares in the age of aus­ter­ity

Arab News - - COFFEE BREAK -

LOS AN­GE­LES: Call most peo­ple cheap and you might ex­pect a slap in the face, but hor­ror film­mak­ing le­gend Ja­son Blum wears his par­si­mony like a badge of honor.

From “Para­nor­mal Ac­tiv­ity’ in 2007 to this year’s crit­i­cally-ac­claimed “Get Out,” the 48-year-old pro­ducer has made many of the defin­ing hor­ror films of the last decade — al­ways on a shoestring.

Pay­ing ac­tors peanuts, but work­ing with stu­dios that en­sure that his films get world­wide dis­tri­bu­tion, he has re­couped some $3 bil­lion at the box of­fice from a portfolio made for less than a twentieth of that amount.

“The most im­por­tant part to mak­ing a suc­cess­ful low-bud­get hor­ror movie is the story and act­ing has to be great. Not the scares — the scares are less im­por­tant than the story and the act­ing,” he tells AFP.

By cut­ting bud­gets down to the bare bones — typ­i­cally $5 mil­lion for an orig­i­nal movie and $10 mil­lion for a se­quel — Blum has re­de­fined genre film­mak­ing.

Of his most re­cent work, Jor­dan Peele’s “Get Out,” M Night Shya­malan’s “Split,” James DeMonaco’s “The Purge: Elec­tion Year” and Mike Flana­gan’s “Ouija: Ori­gin of Evil” have grossed $664 mil­lion on a com­bined bud­get of $27.5 mil­lion.

An ex­ec­u­tive work­ing for Har­vey and Bob We­in­stein at Mi­ra­max, Blum was briefly an in­de­pen­dent pro­ducer at Warner Broth­ers be­fore strik­ing out on his own with Blum­house Pro­duc­tions in 2000.

“I was frus­trated at Mi­ra­max just be­cause I al­ways wanted to be my own boss. I re­ally wanted my own com­pany. I left, I started my own com­pany,” he says.

“I made seven movies no one ever saw and that was frus­trat­ing for a dif­fer­ent rea­son.”

Blum’s ca­reer-defin­ing — and life-chang­ing — mo­ment came when he saw an early cut of “Para­nor­mal Ac­tiv­ity,” which had been put to­gether for $15,000.

When no one else would touch it, he saw its po­ten­tial and came on board as a pro­ducer, steer­ing it to a world­wide gross $193 mil­lion and mak­ing it the most prof­itable movie of all time.

He an­a­lyzed the suc­cess of the film and re­al­ized he had a revo­lu­tion­ary for­mula that he has since re­peated over dozens of low-cost ti­tles in­clud­ing the “In­sid­i­ous” and “The Purge” fran­chises.

“Para­nor­mal Ac­tiv­ity” taught Blum not only that low bud­get meant more chance of mak­ing money, but also that keep­ing a tight grip on the purse strings of­ten makes for an ar­tis­ti­cally more ac­com­plished movie.

“I don’t think throw­ing money at scary movies re­sults in bet­ter movies,” he says. “Most scary movies that are big­ger bud­get are much worse than low bud­get scary movies.”

The Vas­sar Col­lege grad­u­ate, who lives in down­town LA with screen­writer wife Lau­ren, is in the mid­dle of a 10-year part­ner­ship to make movies dis­trib­uted by Uni­ver­sal.

But he didn’t set out to be a hor­ror film­maker, orig­i­nally des­tined in­stead to go into the fam­ily business, an art deal­er­ship.

“I loved the hol­i­day Hal­loween and I loved Hitch­cock movies. But I didn’t love hor­ror more than other gen­res when I was a kid,” he said.

Blum's ca­reer-defin­ing — and life-chang­ing — mo­ment came when he saw an early cut of ‘Para­nor­mal Ac­tiv­ity,’ which had been put to­gether for $15,000. (AFP)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saudi Arabia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.