British music video director David Slade rose to prominence with teen revenge thriller Hard Candy and gory vampire actioner 30 Days of Night – projects which made him the ideal pick to helm the third movie in the hugely successful high school vamp epic The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.
Did you get the job because you have previous experience with both teens and vampires?
‘It can’t have hurt. I’d done videos for Muse – [Twilight author] Stephenie Meyer’s favourite band – I’d done a vampire movie and a strong teen drama, so I had the résumé.’
Was it a surprise, considering the violent tone of your other work?
‘When you go in to meet for a film you very quickly get past what you’ve done and get on to what you will do. They look at your craft and your ability. I’m sure there were several directors in the running who had the same skills, if not better, but I talked about my vision for the film, and before I knew it they were sending me to the set of New Moon to meet Rob [Pattinson] and Kristen [Stewart], then off to meet Stephenie.’
Were you wary of agreeing to work on such a tightly controlled franchise?
‘It’s like jumping into the abyss. I think if you have too much fear you’re never going to break ground or develop. So I said, maybe I’m going to have the s*** kicked out of me, but I’m going to learn loads. Plus the material’s really interesting and I’m not going to get offered another romance any time soon, so I jumped.’
Did the rabid fanbase add another layer of pressure?
‘I took on this film before New Moon came out. Twilight was a cult film, and the books were huge, but after New Moon it really blew up. So when I took it on, it wasn’t everywhere, it wasn’t the biggest phenomenon in the world. It was more in the back of my mind than on my shoulders. But I can’t forget that this is beloved by probably a billion people.’
How did you go about putting your own stamp on the material?
‘I had a really clear picture of the film I wanted to make. We had a very tight schedule, so I wanted it worked out. I wanted everyone to agree on what we were shooting. The actors have done it twice before, and you’ve got to have respect for that. I met them all one-on-one and heard all their thoughts, what they liked or didn’t like about their performances, their experiences on the previous films and suggesting things I’d like them to consider changing. It was a very collaborative process. Then when we’re on set we don’t have to sit around discussing motivation. We can focus.’
Do you feel responsible for the way the film’s audience might respond to some of the material in it?
‘Ah, the abstinence issue. I think as a filmmaker you’re always responsible for your film. For me it’s less about abstinence than about finding the natural rhythm to a relationship, which I think is important.’
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is in cinemas now