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Hey, yíall, hereís some of the good times we had at the 2011 New York Comic Con.  We ran into the directors behind Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor.  The guys who brought the world the high-octane Crank movies talked about muscular Yamahas, micromanaging on the set, Hollywoodís scaling down and blowing stuff up for real and the awesomeness of Nicolas Cage.

Dig it!


Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor


The Lady Miz Diva:  Thereís been much made about Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance not being a sequel, but also not quite a remake.  How do you guys describe it?

Mark Neveldine:  Itís a requel.

Brian Taylor:  Itís a seboot.


LMD:  So, youíre introducing new genres.  Was the fact that it was neither of those things what attracted you to the project?

BT:  Yeah, we definitely want to have it stand on its own as a movie and it doesnít really have any relation or reference to the first movie at all.  Mark never even saw the first movie.  I like the way Nic describes it; he says itís kind of like a Walt Disney take on Faust, which is something only Nic would come up with.  Honestly, itís a little bit more of a kidís movie.  When Sony came to us about this project, we figured they pretty much knew what they were getting into.  They mustíve called us for a reason and kind of wanted what we were gonna bring to it, so we were pitching them a darker and kind of nastier version of Ghost Rider from the get-go.


LMD:  But thatís more like how he is in the comics, isnít he?

MN:  Heís the darkest superhero in comic books!

BT:  Yeah, heís not like a superhero who does nice things and saves people from a burning building and stuff.  He burns the building!


LMD:  Then he steals the souls of the people inside.

BT:  Thatís right!


LMD:  Did you guys write the screenplay for this film?

BT:  No, it was an existing screenplay.  Actually, it was based on a screenplay from David Goyer from about 10 years ago -- it actually predated the first movie -- which is a really dark, grim, kind of a Southern Gothic screenplay.  It was really cool.  Then the script went through a lot of iterations and evolutions until it finally appeared in front of us, so what we were basically doing was just simplifying it and polishing it down and getting it into something that we wanted to shoot.


LMD:  Was it odd for you to work from someone elseís screenplay since you always have written your own in your previous films?

MN:  We were able to really polish it in a way that we put our stamp on it, you know? We changed the dialog and some character names and just did things that we wanted to do with it.  We had that openness and the writers were cool with it and everybody was just excited about this movie being made.


LMD:  On each of your films, thereís a cinematographer listed, but I wonder why when youíre both so famous for manning the cameras and setting up shots yourselves?

MN: {Laughs}

BT:  We have a lot of theories about how to shoot and we started out as DPs, so we really love that side of it, but at the same time, weíve been lucky to work with some really cool people.  Itís a different relationship than DPs and directors usually have.  I think weíre probably more involved than most directors, but on the other hand, we pick really great people and we like to think that theyíre also able to put a stamp on it.  Brandon Trost, who shot this movie, also did Crank 2 for us and heís just a really fun guy to work with.  We kind of grew up together, the three of us; we learned our chops together, so he has a really similar take on filmmaking as we do.

MN:  And we can trust him and as a director you need someone to light your movie for you and you canít be micromanaging that stuff cos youíll waste so much time and youíll forget about performance and about choreography and everything else.  So, heís a guy that we trust.

BT:  And we have a really good shorthand with him; he gets it.


LMD:  When youíre working with Nicolas Cage, how much do you take into account his ideas about how heíd like to interpret Johnny Blaze?  How closely do you insist on sticking to the script?

BT:  The great thing about Nicolas Cage is despite the fact that heís been in a million movies and heís a legend and he won an Oscar and heís awesome, his philosophy is youíve gotta follow the directorís vision 100 percent.  Even if you donít get it, or you donít quite agree with something, you still give the benefit of the doubt to the director because he believes that at the end of the day, thatís gonna make the movie the purest thing.  So, heíll always give me his opinion and he comes up with the most amazing things you never would have thought of, and heís able to take what you do and run with it.  Heís the most creative guy, but at the same time if youíre seeing it a certain way, he will do it that way and he will find a way to make that work, because he really believes in directors and he believes in the whole process.  Man, heís so easy to work with.  Heís awesome.


LMD:  Besides Nicolas Cage, you have a great cast that includes Idris Elba and one of my favourite actors, CiarŠn Hinds, but Iím confused as to whether Mr. Hinds is playing the same role as Peter Fonda in the first film?

BT:  Heís similar to the Peter Fonda character, but different.  Without really getting into what the Peter Fonda character is -- because I donít think we really understand what that was -- basically CiarŠn Hinds is the Devil walking the earth in human form.  Why does he do that?  No one knows.


LMD:  Because he can.

BT:  Because he can!

MK:  There is no reason why.

BT:  And a big part of the story is how heís going to abandon the CiarŠn Hindsí body, so he can persist and keep going.


LMD:  I need to ask about Ghost Riderís motorcycle.  I wasnít mad about the first movie, but the bike was pretty neat.  Weíve only seen it in flames in the trailer, but will we see a cool, non-flaming bike in your film?

BT:  Yeah!  The bike is kick-ass.  In the first movie and in a lot of the comics, the bike is a chopper.  Choppers are really cool, but we wanted something more contemporary and also something he could manoeuver in more, because choppers you canít really do stuff with.  Well, you can if itís on a computer, but we donít like to do that; we wanna do real stuff, so we wanted a bike that you could do real stuff with.

MN:  Talk about a crazy, great Yamaha V-Max stunt bike. Muscular bike!  Itís like 1700ccís, I mean the thingís got a lot of power, you can do a lot.  For the motorcycle guys, itís got a slipper clutch, which is the greatest thing.  So, you can go from zero to a hundred probably in about four seconds.  Itís dangerous, but itís awesome.  You can wheelie the thing, you can Endo the thing.  You can do stunts that you canít do with a chopper and itís real and we shot it in camera.  The only thing we had to do with our bike was when he was the Ghost Rider, put the flames on it, but all the motorcycle shots, we got in camera.  Itís badass, itís real action and that was important to us to make it real for the audience.  We donít wanna cheat the audience and show them a CG bike doing a bunch of bullshit stunts that didnít happen.  We really put these guys through the wringer.


LMD:  You have such an individual style which is really becoming more noticed in Hollywood.  Do you ever worry that you might eventually have to tamp down that unique style or become more traditional in your approach as more work comes to you?

MN:  I donít think people right now would want us to conform, so I think... you know, a lot of studios are chasing us with different projects and they are projects where they want our attitude and our energy.  So, yeah, right now weíre fine, maybe when we get older and we canít camera operate anymore {Laughs}, weíll need to do a quiet, sit-down drama.

BT:  Whatís happening, too, is itís the nature of the business; the economics are changing.  They donít make as much money on DVDs anymore, so the threshold of profitability is less now in movies.  These two hundred-, three hundred-million dollar CG-heavy movies are kind of not working so well anymore, so itís almost like instead of us being asked to change, the business is changing and coming back towards what we do, which is blowing stuff up for real.


~ The Lady Miz Diva

October 15th, 2011




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Film stills courtesy of  Sony Pictures




















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