Set Visit Preview: ‘Friday the 13th’!

A few weeks back I was lucky enough to take an exclusive trip to the set of Platinum Dunes’ Friday the 13th, which ironically enough is shooting in Austin, Texas (a pretty dry place for Camp Crystal Lake). Inside you can read my preview piece, which chronicles my long wait to score my first glance at the new Jason Voorhees (Derek Mears) in action!

Friday, May 9, 2008

It’s 9:30AM here in Austin, Texas and I pretty much hauled ass right to the airport from the set of Platinum Dunes’ FRIDAY THE 13TH. I’ve been up since 3PM yesterday, which is the scheme of things isn’t that big of a deal – especially after seeing what the production is going through.

This is the first time I’ve ever been on an entire night shoot. The crew begins work around 7:30 PM and wraps up the second the sun starts to rise. A few hours ago I was literally standing there as Director Marcus Nispel was screaming, “Hurry, hurry, the sun is coming!” Everyone’s working massive hours and most have to commute an hour just to get to set – we’re talking an average of 3 hours of sleep per person. Typically I’d expect to hear complaining, some mutters and a bit of crabbiness from random people throughout the two days I was a guest. Instead, what I experienced was extreme camaraderie and plenty of laughs – this wasn’t just “another movie”, this was FRIDAY-THE-F**KING 13TH! You could hear it on set, in the transportation vans and even at the break/craft tables, everyone was talking and nearly everyone was a fan. This wasn’t just a passion project for a few select people this was a passion project for the entire crew, which is a very special and rare thing in Hollywood.

The first night I was there I saw a bunch of filming, but Jason Voorhees was nowhere to be seen. It didn’t help that co-writers Mark Swift and Damian Shannon teased me about how freaking cool Jason will look in the hood.

I’m f**king excited to see him in the hood again. I love the hood,” Swift tells me. “Oh and the hood in this movie, we just saw pictures of it, incredible! Incredible,” Shannon adds in. “It literally gave me chills, it looks phenomenal.

Little did they know I’d later catch a glimpse of the bag/hood for his head in one of the FX trailers up at base camp, which gave me goosebumps. The anticipation was brutal, knowing that within the next day I was going to see the new Jason in action, kicking ass and taking names. Today (or last night depending on how you look at it) I finally had my opportunity. I hung out with Derek Mears (your new Jason) for a few hours. We chatted about all sorts of crap from FRIDAY to BLOODSPORT (random, right?), it was totally awesome. He had most of his costume assembled but I had yet to see the infamous mask. He did tell me about the moment he first saw himself in the mask, which was pretty cool.

Before I even signed for the movie I went in and I was talking to Scott [Stoddard], he’s the make up designer, and he’s so f*cking amazing, his make up designs. We were moving forward, doing fittings and doing moldings though I still hadn’t signed yet and I didn’t want to jinx it and he goes, “Well, you know what, hey c’mere..” And he lifts up this case filled with Styrofoam, it’s like a high security case, he unlocks it and he goes, “You should prolly try this on.” And I started laughing and in my head I get this kind of Excalibur moment, like where the light shines down for the chosen one. Everyone working in the shop, in the make up department, is a fan of the series so they added their extra tlc in. So everyone’s working and I have the mask and I start to put it on and I’m getting like tingles, like when you see the opening of Star Wars, where you see the letters start and you’re like, “OooOo tingles.” So I start to put the mask on and everybody just stops and stares at me and I put it on and I’m looking over at everybody and it’s really quiet and people just started shaking their heads like, “YEAH, YEAH Dude, COOL.” So yeah it was amazing. (laughs) It was amazing.

After my chat, the night continued on and on… I was becoming even more restless. I WANT TO SEE JASON!

Finally they set up a shot in the backyard of this cabin and secured Mears up on a roof where he’d be doing a sequence. As the mask comes out of the top secret silver padlocked briefcase, someone starts to set up a fake tree branch right in my eye line. I move to my right, and then it happens again – and then again. It was insanely ironic and I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself. Eventually I found a good spot to view the filming and stationed myself behind the monitors that displayed what the cameras were shooting.

Nispel directs the scene in which the camera pulls up from a window revealing Jason on the roof, crouching down with his monster machete. Literally the SECOND the camera pulled up by Jason it hit me like a rock – this was going to be AWESOME. Typically on a set visit you can’t determine how good or bad a movie is going to be, it’s just damn near impossible, but there is something different about FRIDAY THE 13TH. What I saw on that monitor was like nothing I have ever seen in a FRIDAY film, and that was style. This was the sleekest and most believable looking shot I have ever seen in the franchise’s nearly 30-year history. This moment defined what we will be seeing in theaters and told me instantaneously that – even at worst case scenario – that Marcus Nispel will deliver nothing short of a stunning looking film.

But before you assume I’m jumping to an immediate conclusion, let me explain that prior to seeing this shot I had interviewed the cast and crew. What I discovered will have you all singing praises. This FRIDAY comes complete with mass nudity, drug use, extreme violence, cussing like no tomorrow and most importantly it has creative deaths. From what I’m told this is the flipside to “torture porn” and will be a fun – and gory – trip back to Camp Crystal Lake. Keep your eyes posted here for exclusive interviews and a full report from the set in the coming months.

FRIDAY THE 13TH hits theaters February 13, 2009 – Valentine’s Day weekend.