James Wan talks “The Conjuring”

June 26, 2013 by Tom Ferda 

Published in Film Trailers Magazine June 26, 2013

“The Conjuring” is a paranormal genre film from New Line Cinema based on actual case files of demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren.

The film reveals the horrors lurking within a secluded centuries-old farmhouse in the peaceful countryside of Harrisville, Rhode Island, a home bought in 1970 by Roger and Carolyn Perron. Things take a turn for the worst when the Perrons and their five daughters find themselves in the path of extreme and indefinable danger. That’s when the Warren’s come in to investigate and the supernatural enemy wages war against them, placing them in the most challenging demonic battle of their careers.

Director James Wan who brought fear to theaters with “Saw” knew of the Warren’s demon purging history prior to taking the reins behind the camera. Intrigued with some of the files he found on the Warren’s, he pursued “The Conjuring”.

Photo: Michael Tackett - Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Photo: Michael Tackett - Courtesy of Warner Bros.

“I’ve always been a big fan of the Warrens. I really admire them,” said Wan. “They pioneered the modern-day style of ghost hunting with technical equipment, capturing evidence on film and audiotape. Since they’ve inspired so many stories, books and films, it was cool to actually make a movie [revealing] who they are is as much the focus as the family’s home they are investigating.”

“When I read the script, I said, ‘Wow, this is great, here is a chance to do something different,” Wan added. “On my other films it was comforting to tell myself those things weren’t real, I’d just made them up but for ‘The Conjuring’ I didn’t have that luxury.”

The screenplay was written by brothers Chad and Carey Hayes so during the project’s development, Wan and the Hayes sifted through the Warrens’ files that contained about 4,000 cases.

“We found a lot of great material,” says Wan. “My goal was to incorporate some of the wildest things they’d encountered in their lifetime, yet still stay true to this particular family’s story. We drew a lot of inspiration from the Perrons’ recollections as well. I thought it was even more frightening to show the scares through the eyes of the pros along with the perspective of this family that has no inkling of the supernatural world.”

Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Principal photography for “The Conjuring” took place in Wilmington, North Carolina and was the fourth time Wan teamed up with D.P. John R. Leonetti. Leonetti tested various cameras and lenses and decided on the digital Arri Alexa which is more sensitive to light and can hold details in the shadows.

“James is a master at crafting a psychological ghost story with lighting and cameras,” Leonetti said referring to how Wan delivered the introduction of the Perron house. “James had this fabulous idea to start inside the living room, like the house is watching the family moving in, instead of outside with an establishing shot. Then we dollied across through the windows.”

The cast is anchored by Academy Award® nominee Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson who play the Warrens, and Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor who play Roger and Carolyn Perron, residents of a possessed farmhouse.

“To this day, Roger Perron believes that what he felt and saw in that house was real,” said Livingston. “I’m not the arbiter of the universe or the truth, I’m the actor playing Roger so my job is to tell his story to the best of my ability.”

The budget for this movie is said to be an estimated $13 million, which may be a luxury for Wan. Wan has a knack for making mega returns on his horror movies. Incidious had an estimated budget of $1.5M and returned $54M and “Saw” topped that with an estimated budget of $1.2M and a U.S. return of $55M.

Contact Tom via email: tom@tomferda.com

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