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If you follow us, then you already know that we’ve been hyping the hell out of this “pitch” trailer, two talented artists, did for the Hellraiser franchise, in an effort to land the chance to direct it and “quite honestly”, give it the much needed makeover it deserves. The artists I speak of are director/producer Michael Le Han ( Mr’s Peppercorn’s Magic Reading Room) and illustrator/producer Paul Gerrard (TMNT,Videodrome). We talked a little, via email, about their plans for Hellraiser and what the fans of this beloved story could expect. What they had to say is truly fascinating and I for one, really do hope they will be given the chance!

When did this love affair with Hellraiser begin for you two?jLamar

 

mikeLeHan I’m a fan of all genres, particularly big, bold, world creating and when Paul showed me his designs, I could see a huge opportunity to make the Hellraiser franchise more commercial and open it up to a wider audience.

paul_g_  With Clive Barkers Books of Blood, then later picking up a copy of the Hellbound Heart. I’ve always been fascinated with images of the beautiful macabre. Anything imaginatively dark , bordering on surreal and somewhat fantastical. Avant guard horror.

jLamarFrom the architecture, to the characters, you’ve introduced a fantasy/horror element to Hellraiser. Is it you’re intention to feed that market with something sinister and are you hoping to catch the eye of the same people who enjoy LOTR or Game of Thrones? Is EPIC the intention with this reboot?

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mikeLeHan   The objective would be to widen the audience base and introduce Hellraiser to more people and hopefully increase it’s fanbase.

paul_g_The early themes in Hellraiser where always epic. We took such delights and expanded upon the foundations, literally and visually. The franchise has since failed because the confined construct of the first movie was developed into a narrative loop. It never broke free of that loop until now.

jLamarWhat is it about Hellraiser that you think has made it such a viable and relevant franchise for so many years?

paul_g_  You want to know more, see more … with one eye closed.

jLamar  We’re you guys fans of all the sequels?

mikeLeHanI only watched the first two and then heard that they started going down hill so lost interest. I think the franchise lost it’s way and it should have focused more on the mythology rather than the earth bound characters. It would have been great to have delved deep into the origins (like what I plan to do) and explore more of the realm of hell and the characters that exist there and why they exist etc.

paul_g_At the time they came out, mostly yes. Towards the end of the franchise even the naivety of youth couldn’t mask the disappointment derived from witnessing your favorite world being pissed on from a great height.

jLamarAre you familiar with the Boom Comics storyline and have you entertained embracing any of them for the reboot? Or are you looking to do something inspired kinda like the Evil Dead reboot?

mikeLeHan I’m not a comic reader so BOOM isn’t something I know. With regards to my take on Hellraiser, it wouldn’t be rebooting the franchise, I don’t think that is a viable option, but taking a different approach and creating something that no one would expect, going in a different direction, but still keeping the ethos of Hellraiser and some of it’s characters and also creating some new iconic ones too.

paul_g_Alas no. I have a large collection of comics, as with books and records but I buy them because I adore cover art. Never read any of the comics.

jLamarPaul, your art is perfect for this project! How did you and Mike become friends/involved in this project?

paul_g_ I’ve known Mike for a number of years, he approached me to work on pitch art for various movies he was spearheading. A dark sci-fi action movie. We have since become great friends. I was working with Mike on his movie whilst simultaneously working on getting Hellraiser off the ground. Mike was one of the first people I showed my early artwork draft of the world to. What began as a mutual exchange of insight, ideas, collaborative professional advice, grew into the partnership you see today.

jLamarI know, my biggest disappointment with Hellraiser was we never really got to know the Cenobites. They were more or less accessories for Pinhead. Does your vision see the Cenobites “actually” getting their day in the sun? Will we get to explore more of Hell?

FomikeLeHanr sure, that’s what Hellraiser: Origins will be, digging deep into the undertones of the cenobites and bringing out the mythology of what they represent.

jLamarIn the Hellraiser franchise, it always eluded to something bigger than Pinhead that existed in Hell. A real head honcho. Does your reboot touch on that idea?

mikeLeHanYes, Origins is way bigger than Pinhead, but can’t talk about it unfortunately.

 

jLamarYoutube has become a launching pad for so many new directors. There are so many professionals using it to pitch anything from creating credits for a film to doing a film entirely. Are the days of just telling your story to a studio gone and are studios expecting you to bring the full package to the meeting room now and why?

mikeLeHanNo, not at all, the traditional pitching process still exists, but it’s more competitive and execs need to know that not only can you tell a story but you can deliver on that promise, showing my diverse directing ability is just another way of showing the studios that I have the ability to create the project to a high standard and on limited budgets. I’m a firm believer of not wasting money and approach things in a different way. How can I achieve a certain look/feel/design without spending the big bucks. Thinking outside the box.

jLamarPinhead’s image is indelibly etched in the minds of most late thirties early forty-somethings. Was the idea to reinvent him something you felt had to be done and was it to introduce a new audience or were you, yourself, wanting to just try something new? Or was this what you thought could help sell this?

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paul_g_Reinventing Pinhead was the first thing I did. Although not the centre of the universe he is still devotedly the pin-up boy for Hellraiser. You cant re-imagine the Hellraiser world without first tackling one of the most iconic horror images in cinema history. The themes explored in this new design would set the tone from the rest of the movie.

jLamarHas Clive Barker, Doug Baker or Dimension, seen the trailer and what do they think?

mikeLeHanNot to my knowledge yet.

jLamar Did you crowd fund to get this trailer made?

mikeLeHanNo, the trailer was done on a near nothing budget, we used our industry contacts and pulled in favors for the shoot, then I tackled the VFX through strong relationships at Shade, Fugitive, Delicate and Southern GFX who all helped mold the elements together. I then reached out to fellow Brit Lorne Balfe, who lives in LA (Emmy award winning Composer on The Dark Knight, Inception) to score the trailer which he did and it far exceeded my expectations. Finally I did the sound post and edit.

jLamarThere were a lot of lens flares in Hell. Was that an homage to J.J. Abrams? lol!

mikeLeHan Haha, no even though JJ is a great director, it wasn’t a homage in any way. The use of the flares was more clinical. The objective was to give earth one feel and hell/underworld/dimension a different look. On earth we have very blue flares, but in hell they are red, yellow and purple, but when we rise up to pinhead we have none. Just a stylistic look that also adds production value to the trailer. Also we didn’t want to show the bodies clearly as we fly over them as the end shot wouldn’t be as effective showing this vast sea or bodies.

jLamarMike, I loved your film Mr’s Peppercorn. It’s very whimsical and completely different from Hellraiser. This duality I’ve seen before in all the great directors of our time. Spielberg, Jackson, Del Toro, Scott. Do you think having a good understanding of fantasy helps you create a good horror film?

mikeLeHanI’m a creator of worlds director, anything that needs a big vision is something I do. That’s just how my brain works. I can work in any genre and adapt to that space easily, but I don’t think having an understanding of fantasy would necessarily help make a horror pic. It’s a case of what does the story offer, how can it be executed effectively and what audience do you want to attract. I always think in a commercially viable way and that’s how I approach my work. I ask myself, will this make money and who will go see it? And I go from there.

jLamarIs there a script?

mikeLeHanNot yet, there is a detailed treatment, but with Clive announcing his return, not much point in putting pen to paper unless Dimension ais interested.

paul_g_We offer a new world that breaks all current narrative loops. A biblical playground , molded with mythology , grounded in constructed science.

jLamarPaul, according to your website, you were involved in another Hell orientated story “Paradise Lost” directed by Alex Proyas (The Crow, Dark City). Is that project really dead?

paul_g_It was indeed the ultimate Hell movie. With pretty much every dark Angel, weapon, beast, locations designed by me. It would have been my crowning moment. Alas it is dead, as a pure CG movie it was deemed too expensive to make.

jLamarPaul, Can you tell us anything about your work on Micheal Bay’s TMNT or the Cronenberg reboot Videodrome?

paul_g_In short no. Both projects are either in post at the moment or just hitting pre-production, so all information is sealed up tight. I can tell you this…I went all out to pitch to work on the Videodrome ( the original was sublime) and so glad I did. It will be/is, one hell of a ride.

jLamarI am also a huge fan of another, and less known, Clive property “Nightbreed (Cabal)”. Would you ever consider or have considered, doing something with that film?

paul_g_The Nightbreed world is already in the best of hands. If there was any more Nigthbreed movies on the horizon.. would I work on them if I could…In a heartbeat !!!

jLamarIs there anything you’d like fans of Hellraiser to know about what you guys are intending to do with this awesome story?

mikeLeHanThe objective is to open this wide up, build on what has already been established, but taking Hellraiser in a new bigger and bolder direction.

jLamarAre you guys going to be at San Diego Comic Con 2014?

mikeLeHanIf my schedule permits.

paul_g_I’m UK based so its a long way to go for a Convention and very expensive to get there. Would love to go though, maybe one day.

jLamarWhat are you working on currently?

mikeLeHanJust finished off three spec scripts in the scifi genre, doing a little tidying on the latest draft of one TITAN, a space exploration film, in the vein of Prometheus, 2001 and Moon. Can’t say any more than that.

paul_g_In have another long term personal project I want to start. In the new year, I hope to return to Videodrome , a dark horror movie and a sc-fi action movie along the lines of Robocop.

 

There you have it. From the mouth of babes… MITNG would like to take this time to thank Michael and Paul for allowing us to drill them about Hellraiser: Origins. You can find out more about the film as well as images for the film, that will blow your mind,on their website after the jump. Please stay tuned for more information about Hellraiser: Origins as we get it.

Official Hellraiser Origins Website