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They are not mandates?

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I think already that’s a big role because a lot of people don’t do that. So I think letting creative people do what they do—as weird as it sounds—takes a lot of creative deal making to allow that to occur. Once it does happen, when you give a director total creative control over his work, he is much more likely to solicit advice from us, because he—or she—knows he doesn’t have to take it. And we (Blumhouse Productions) have a ton of data because all we do are these low budget scary movies. And we’ve learned a lot from the directors we’ve worked with, from Scott Derrickson or from James (Wan), Rob Zombie. And so we have a lot of data.

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So when we get a script we give a HUGE document which says essentially ‘this is what we do’ (to a filmmaker). The document is given with the spirit of ‘Do anything you think will make the movie better, do it. And if it doesn’t, don’t.’ We don’t argue about it for seven years. And truth be told, we actually have a lot more creative involvement in the movies than I’ve experienced working at companies where it’s the other way around. And that goes all the way through, with script, with casting. We actually have a list of actors that we are friendly with who understand our business model. We give that to the directors and try to pick actors from that list. Then tthe production runs through the company, and we shoot most of our movies in LA. So, all the department heads people are usually people who have done our other movies before, and then same thing with editing. We look at cuts and we give a lot of input, but we don’t force the creative people to take it.

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It’s our production office, our editorial suite—everyone’s there and it feels like an old school kind of Hollywood system. We don’t have the money to build sets, so we don’t build them. We very rarely will do a build. There are few exceptions, but very rarely will de do a build. And I think that’s great. It’s better for the actors; it makes it feel more real. I think the restraints that shooting practically puts on production makes the movie better, even though it makes it harder to shoot.

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I was actually shocked to find that in Insidious Chapter 2 you did so much on location because the houses you picked are so extraordinary. And not just in the look of them, but in their layouts. Like in Insidious and the Paranormal Activity series, such a major aspect of them is geographical awareness of where we are within the house.

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I think the location is almost as important as casting the leads of the movie. The location on The Purge was crucial to that movie working. And there was actually another location that we almost used, which I saw. The director hated it, and he was being told by the line producer he had to do this because we couldn’t afford the house we actually shot in. And I said, “No, we can’t. We got to find the money somewhere else,” and shoot it in the house we shot it in. It wouldn’t have been nearly as good of a movie if we’d shot in this other place. And most of our movies don’t take place in a lot of big locations, you know? So we have to kind of pick one or two and that’s where we live while we shoot ‘em. But I do think it’s a very, very important choice in scary movies, where they take place. Whether it’s spooky looking or very normal looking, obviously the Paranormal houses are very mundane. But I think that’s important too.

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Last April celebrated action director Justin Lin walked away from the Fast & Furious 7, leaving a gaping hole in the future of the franchise he had saved from the brink with four fantastic stunt-driven spectacles. At first it seemed impossible to imagine who could bring the kind of fantastical plot twists and mind-blowing action sequences to the series in a way that would—at the very least—live up to Lin’s legacy. And I’ll admit, I was among the crowd of doubters, when horror auteur James Wan landed the coveted directing chair. But having seen Wan’s take on sequels with Insidious: Chapter 2, I understand where Fast and Furious producers are coming from on this one. In his own weird way, he is actually kind of perfect for this gig.

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Warning: some minor spoilers for Insidious: Chapter 2 lie ahead. A major element of Lin’s Fast and Furious movies is their tendency toward retconning, essentially rewriting/reinventing its own established storylines to better please the audience. The biggest examples of this are the clever maneuvers Lin used to bring back dearly departed characters, like Han (Kang Sung) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). Sure, we saw Han die in a horrific car crash in Tokyo Drift (A.K.A. Fast & Furious 3). But Linn opted to give the suave and sexy speed racer back to us mourning audience members by making movies four through six prequels to the third movie, meaning Han is alive and free to get fast and furious for three more films. For Letty, who died in 4, Linn revisited a previous death scene in Furious 6 to unveil what really happened.

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This kind of looped about storytelling has become one of the thrills Fast and Furious fans have come to expect from the franchise. Frankly it seems like in that sense, Insidious: Chapter 2 is an audition for the Fast & Furious 7 gig. From early on in the thriller’s promotion, Wan was teasing that this wouldn’t be a typical sequel, as it doesn’t just offer a slapped on “and then this happened” tale. Instead, Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell wove Chapter 2’s narrative in and around the first film's story. (SPOILER) For instance, while in The Further, Josh is able to travel back into his own past, seeing his childhood traumas and his family's first ghostly encounters from a new perspective. (End of spoiler.) This fleshes out the movie's mythos from multiple directions rather than just adding to its ending. It’s the very kind of maneuver that plays so well in Fast & Furious, which bodes well for Wan.

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They are not mandates you give; they are actual notes? They are actual notes, yeah. Every time we give a note its like, “If you think it makes it better, great. If you don’t, don’t do it.” It’s interesting. This sounds less like typical film production and more like a theater company. It is a lot like a theater company. I used to have a theater company here in New York. And there’s a lot about (making Blumhouse movies) that’s like a troupe. When we’re shooting our movies it’s that way too. Like no one has a trailer on our movies, we’re all kind of hanging out together. They are very short. The shoot is very short. It’s very actor-friendly in that. It’s not very actor-friendly in terms of perks because the actors don’t get any perks. But it’s very actor friendly in terms of we go fast, and I think actors—when you do a half a page a day (as some bigger productions do)—it drives you crazy as an actor. So there is a lot about that feels like a theater company. Our old school kind of we have a big building in downtown LA where everyone is (lends to that as well).