Made for only $15,000, Oren Peli's breakout horror hit "Paranormal Activity" went on to conquer the US box office. Now, nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature, Peli discusses how his out-of-left-field hit came to be.
Oren Peli on his background and first film, "Paranormal Activity"...
"Paranormal Activity" was my first movie, and the first thing I ever filmed. I had no prior experience in filmmaking. I have always thought that filmmaking would be fun and exciting, but never really knew if I'd ever have an opportunity to give it a shot!
After witnessing the success of films such as "The Blair Witch Project," "Open Water" and "El Mariachi," I thought that if I ever had an idea for a film that I can make with a small budget, and a small crew, I'd go for it. After moving to a new house, I started hearing noises at night which were probably just the house settling. I didn't think there was a haunting going on, but I starting thinking about the idea of setting up a video camera and let it record all night, and started writing a story around the concept.
The idea behind "Paranormal Activity" is that it's "real footage" of a couple that's being haunted by an evil entity. The film had to have the look and feel of authentic home video. Many details had to be put into making everything feel real, especially the performances of the cast.
Editing & post-production were the biggest challenges in developing the project. Took about a year. Getting the precise pace and timing was a major challenge.
On being nominated for an Independent Spirit Award...
It's a great honor and I'm very excited!
Favorite indie of 2009?
And what he's got in the works...
Sorry, as a policy, I do not discuss any future projects or projects in progress until after they're done!
This is part of a series of profiles and interviews that indieWIRE will be publishing in the days leading up to the 2010 Film Independent Spirit Awards that profiles nominees in the Best First Feature and John Cassavetes Award categories. Previous editions include:
Spirits 2010 | "Crazy Heart" Director Scott Cooper: “Truly independent in spirit.”
Spirits 2010 | Tom Ford: "I have always been obsessed by film."
Spirits 2010 |"Zero Bridge"'s Tariq Tapa: "We were starting from ground zero every day"