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‘Paranormal Activity 3’ And What I Learned At My “Tea With Toby”

Paranormal Activity 3

Last week Paramount held a “Tea With Toby” at The Roosevelt Hotel in celebrate today’s DVD/Blu-ray release of Paranormal Activity 3.

What was “Tea With Toby”? It was a press event where I (among other journalists) was summoned to the hotel for a late afternoon Tea. Complete with sandwiches, smoked salmon, little pastries – what I had always imagined Tea being like in England.

We were there to discuss the film (and the franchise) with Oren Peli, Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Christopher Smith, Chloe Csengery and Jessica Tyler Brown. While it was a breezy and enjoyable 90 minutes, the gracious and polite Peli lived up to his notoriously tight-lipped reputation in regard to any new info on the series. And the cast followed suit.

But still, fun was had and, if anything, I walked away more energized to revisit the franchise. Hit the jump for the full report!

Upon my arrival at the hotel I was escorted through the main lobby, past the famous Roosevelt pool, and into a room darkened with pitch black curtains. Awaiting me was a vast array of teas, bottled water and snacks. Beer and wine was also offered but I passed.

Pretty soon cast and creatives from the Paranormal Activity franchise (along with my fellow journalists) began to wander in and take their assigned seats. In the corner, Teddy Ruxpin was set up with his own tea set which, if you’ve seen Paranormal Activity 3, requires no explanation.

Oren Peli, Micah Sloat, Katie Featherston took seats across from me and to my left, Christopher Smith sat directly in front of me, and across to my right were Chloe Csengery and Jessica Tyler Brown.

One of the most interesting dynamics of the day to witness was the interaction between Smith, Csengery and Brown. Their time onset during the shooting (and planned re-shooting) of the film clearly brought about a familial bond. Smith seemed to take a paternal role towards them, helping them gently with their answers (without putting words in their mouth) throughout the event.

One topic that did come up was the increasing budget size for the series. Don’t get the wrong idea, these films are still made very cheaply and of course provide a huge return on investment, but the first Paranormal Activity cost only a fraction of what they spent on PA 3.

According to Peli, while of course the crew is bigger on the films now and people get paid a little more, in the case of Part 3 much of it was spent on sound design, finding and renting a house and making it 80’s authentic, and making sure the film was ready by its October release date.

We did do some work on it. We didn’t want to throw the 80’s thing in your face too much though. We needed to dress it up. We just wanted it to look authentic. That this is what it would look like if video cameras were rolling in the 80’s.

Smith added, “It felt like I grew up in that house“.

Now, can we get any insight on part 4? “Of course not“, Peli laughs.

Do you know where you’re going with it? “We have some ideas“.

I turn to Csenegry and Brown, hoping they won;t be quote as circumspect. How about them? Will they be in Paranormal Activity 4? “I sure hope so!“, says Brown. Clearly she’s learned from the best at not giving away too much!

Back to Peli, what is the benefit of the quick turnaround and tight shooting schedule on these films? “You always wish you had more time. The fact that you have a release date that is immovable, you have to get the movie made no matter what. It’s both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because you know the studio will put their full resources into finishing it. It does force you to move quickly, which can sometimes be good. In feature development you hear stories about movies that take years and sometimes a decade to develop, but we know we’ll be out in October. But you always with you had more time. There’s always a panic that builds up when you have ten weeks until release, so you have to lock the picture four weeks before release, and you’re still shooting. It’s scary, but at the end of the day, if someone has an idea, normally you talk about it two weeks later. We talk about it that day and then shoot it two days later.

Someone asks Csengery and Brown if they believe in ghosts. “Chris does“, they say laughing.

Yes, that’s right“, he replies.

Someone asks Peli if its true that everyone onset is allowed to pitch ideas for sequences and scares in the film. “We definitely have an atmosphere where everyone is allowed to suggest anything no matter what their role is. And we have a ver small crew. We basically did ‘Part 2’ and ‘Part 3’ as one, so we’re kind of a ‘Paranormal Activity’ family and there’s a collaborative atmosphere. Everyone can feel free to talk to the writers, producers and directors and if it’s a cool idea we shoot it. We don’t care where it came from, only if it’s cool.

About the home video release, do you think it’s actually more effective watching this at home? In a dark house? Peli replies, “I think it’s a different experience. To some degree there’s nothing like watching it in a theater with the energy of the crowd. It’s a much more communal experience. But watching it at home we’ve heard people say it’s scarier because it’s much more intimate. And also the subject matter is about what happens to you at hem alone at night. And people usually watch movies in the evening. So when you turn off the TV and have to go to sleep, you’re conscious of every little sound in the house!

Watching the Blu-ray later that weekend, I have to say he’s right.

Paranormal Activity 3 is out on DVD and Blu-ray today. It boasts a host of special features including an extended cut that I prefer to the theatrical edition.

Paranormal Activity 3 Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack: The Paranormal Activity 3 Blu-ray is presented in 1080p high definition with English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description with English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The DVD in the combo pack is presented in widescreen enhanced for 16:9 televisions with English 5.1 Surround and English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The digital copy is presented in English.

Blu-ray Special Features:
Original theatrical version of the film
Unrated version of the film
Lost tapes

DVD Special Features:
Unrated Version of the Film
Digital copy of unrated version—compatible with iTunes® and Windows Media

A trilogy DVD set will also be available on January 24th exclusively at Walmart, which includes the theatrical and unrated versions of all three films plus all previously released bonus material.

Paranormal Activity 3



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