'Elysium' writer-director Neill Blomkamp. (Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
In 2009, writer-director Neill Blomkamp stormed the Hollywood scene with "District 9," his alien thriller set in South Africa that took viewers and critics by surprise.
Until then, Blomkamp had only made short films, including a series set in the "Halo" universe. He was picked to direct a planned "Halo" feature, but after months of work, that film fell through. Producer Peter Jackson ended up producing a feature about extraterrestrial activity in Johannesburg based on another of Blomkamp's shorts.
That film, "District 9," co-written with Terri Tatchell, cost $34 million to make and melded computer graphics with Blomkamp's cinema verité style. It earned $216 million world-wide and was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Since then, Blomkamp, 33, has attracted a strong following of fans who eagerly await his new sci-fi film, "Elysium," which will be released Aug. 9 by Sony TriStar Pictures and Media Rights Capital.
"Elysium" is set in the year 2154 and is about a world divided by wealth - the majority of inhabitants suffer on a decrepit Earth, while the privileged few ascend to Elysium, an orbiting space station where there's no such thing as war, poverty or sickness.
The director talked with the Journal about the making of "Elysium," why he chose to incorporate themes such as class and immigration, and his filmmaking career. Below is the first of three parts.
"District 9″ took Hollywood by surprise and now you have a legion of fans eager for your next film. Did you feel any pressure while making "Elysium" to have it live up to the first success?
The concept of even having fans is still kind of weird to me. I really just feel like a filmmaker that is only just finding my foot in and is beginning to participate in Hollywood and making films. So the idea of any kind of fandom or people that are waiting for something that I may release is very distant in my mind. It almost doesn't even factor in. So I didn't really feel any pressure in regards to pleasing people that liked "District 9″ and will they or will they not like "Elysium"? My mind just doesn't really work that way, currently. It became more about, does "Elysium" live or die by its own merits? Am I making a film that, if I was an audience member sitting down in a theater seat, would be a film that I would want to see? I mean, for me, the answer is yes, absolutely. That's how I went about making it.
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SOURCE: The Wall Street Journal | Barbara Chai
Check back in for Parts 2 and 3 of the interview with "Elysium" writer-director Neill Blomkamp. Follow @barbarachai