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Grégory Levasseur Interview
Interview conducted by Simret Cheema-Innis aka Wickergirl
Grégory Levasseur is a writer and producer of horror movies, who has regularly collaborated with director Alexandre Aja. With an impressive screenplay resume including Haute Tension and The Hills Have Eyes and Maniac remakes, his genre pedigree is solid. His first film as director, The Pyramid, is released in UK cinemas 5th December 2014.
Simret Cheema-Innis: What drew you to making The Pyramid, your directing debut?
Grégory Levasseur: I discovered the script and it had a great premise. The characters discover a pyramid using satellites and this new approach for archaeologists really caught my attention. The idea of making the whole movie in this place was something very intriguing and I couldn't find any other movie like this. There was so much adventure and suspense and the mythology elements were all a great set up and interested me in the project, so I jumped on it right away!
SC-I: Did you find your experience as a 2nd unit director helped in making the jump to feature director?
GL: On previous movies I was the guy doing all the action sequences and the kind of thing that demands a lot of people and a lot of prep, and the actors are not often there. That's why we use 2nd unit directors, and I was very well trained on this and because I had worked with Alex [Alexandre Aja] and also as a writer it was a great experience to face my first feature alone.
It's something I always wanted to do. It's been a pleasure working with Alex as a second unit director and producer and it helps a lot. I've got this amazing experience and I'm not sure many other first time directors get this much experience. It's something that really helped me and it gives you the confidence to handle the crew, finish the day and you know that you won't be a stranger. That's something that can be chaotic for a first time director.
SC-I: Was there a big learning curve to make the move to feature director?
GL: There aren't that many differences on the day, but there are before you start shooting. When everyone is getting ready one week before, that's the complicated part. You have to talk to all the actors, crew, everyone to ensure the same direction, and that's the moment when you are not sure when you are going as you haven't done in before. I was always close to Alex when he was dealing with that so I knew how to do it, but I wasn't sure I'd be able to do it right!
SC-I: What challenges did you face in making The Pyramid?
GL: The main challenge was that we didn't have a huge budget, and I was very ambitious in the story telling, I wanted to have scares, tension, adventure and action scenes and also great effects. When dealing with creatures its difficult because you have to deal with prosthetics, VFX, SFX, and everything has a cost! To achieve that in an effective way we required lots of preparation, and I was lucky to have this experience and have Alex as a producer, as we've been very close to the budget in every movie. You have to know where the money goes and how much you are going to spend, and I think we are pretty good. My experience as a producer helped me a lot as I know what needed to be done.
SC-I: Did the movie turn out as you'd envisaged?
GL: Yes, because we were very well prepared and because we had a great crew, everyone worked together and I'm happy and proud to see it's the movie I wanted to do. It's not always the case, usually there is always some part where it's not exactly what you were thinking of, but to control everything was a good way to achieve the vision I had.
SC-I: How long did it take to shoot The Pyramid?
GL: We had 29 days of shooting. It's pretty short because we only had one week outside. There are a lot of scenes that take place outside, a lot of dialogue and extras and also the fact we were in the desert and had to deal with the elements, temperature, heat, sand, storms and wind! Shooting in the desert was pretty tough and we shot the whole beginning of the movie before they go in to the pyramid which is around 15 – 20 minutes, it was tough.
SC-I: We've touched on your script-writing experience, would you like to direct a script of your own?
GL: Definitely! The great thing when you write a script is you can be honest if you like it or not. Sometimes when you are writing something, or you have an idea that makes you want to write, you can get totally lost in the story. To read a script like this which is finished, you can see what you like and what can be improved and what makes you want to do the movie, so that's really the difference between discovering a script and writing your own.
The Pyramid, from Twentieth Century Fox, is in UK cinemas now.
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