Feature: Neill Blomkamp Talks "District 9"
Thu, 06 Aug 2009 10:04:59
Resiliency is a trait that will take you far.
After his adaptation of Halo was put on hold, filmmaker Neill Blomkamp went back to the drawing board. He emerged with District 9 his groundbreaking sci-fi action flick, infiltrating theaters on August 14. District 9 follows government agent Wikus [Sharlto Copley], who after an "incident," goes on the run in the film's eponymous holding sector for alien refugees.
"After Halo collapsed I started writing in 2007," says Blomkamp. "I had an idea of putting the Western science fiction that I grew up with into a South African setting. I made a short film called, 'Alive In Joburg,' and that set up this world."
Even though District 9 came after the Halo project, Blompkamp shows it's not simply a re-tread of the ultra popular video game's storyline. Instead, the director has created his own beast—and it's a lot fiercer than the video game. Blomkamp continues, "Halo is definitely influenced by the world of James Cameron—Aliens. Halo is an amalgamation of many different pieces of science fiction, and District 9 is as well. We're both drawing from the same 50 years of history in Western sci-fi."
However, Blomkamp stepped outside the box and crafted some unconventional, unique action sequences to propel District 9. "The way I approached the action is the same way I approached the whole film. Right from the beginning, the idea was to juxtapose the fantastic and the mundane. This crazy science fiction is placed in a usual, every day situation. It's also presented with an everyday paintbrush. It's not glossy, over-the-top and Hollywood per se."
Instead these violent vignettes are visceral and realistic—like a war documentary. "I wanted the action sequences to be raw," exclaims Blomkampt with a smile. "They feel like they're occurring right in front of you. There aren't a lot of crazy camera angles. We ended up with something that feels sort of grounded as opposed to being more of a spectacle."
They're needed to be blood though too. "I knew right from the beginning that I wanted it to be violent. A few months after we started, I knew a dark satirical direction mixed with something that felt real would be the best way to go. Don't make it too serious. Once I knew that there was an element of satire and a lot of violence, meat explosions seemed like the direction to go in [Laughs]."
Explosions and blood abound, but it still feels real. Blomkamp concludes, "If you want something to feel real I think the further you go away from recognizable faces the better off you'll be. I wanted the whole film to feel 'unhollywood' and one way to do that is have no stars."
District 9 will light up theaters on its own terms: no stars are necessary.