Paranormal Creativity: An interview with film producer Jason Blum

Paranormal Activity (2007)Hollywood film producer Jason Blum shocked the system when his low-budget horror film Paranormal Activity became a huge hit, making massive profits and precipitating successful annual sequels. Blum, 43, also produced the World War II-era drama The Reader.

Vox had the opportunity to sit down with him this week to discuss producing, his new film The Purge, and the changing face of film distribution.

Vox: What do you look for in a screenplay or story you’re producing?

Blum: We look for big high concept ideas that can be told cost effectively… most of the time we make horror movies.

Vox: Is there a social commentary you were interested in with the world of The Purge?

Blum: Yeah, I’m really particularly proud of the movie because I think it works as a great entertaining scary movie, and I think there’s a great social commentary. We’ve shown it to both right- and left-leaning people and no matter what political persuasion audience members had, they left feeling affirmed. That … I’m very proud of.

Vox: What do you feel your purpose is as a storyteller and maker of cultural content?

Blum: I hope that we do it differently. That goes for not only what’s in the stories, but the process also. Our process is unlike other Hollywood production companies. We’re trying to tell stories that break convention. I’ve always loved doing that ever since I was a kid—being a rebel.

Vox: How do you think the Hollywood system of moviemaking will change with more access to filmmaking and cheaper technology?

Blum: I think distribution will change. It’s only a matter of time before movies will be shown on multi-platforms simultaneously. I think the windows will collapse so movies will be played on more devices at the same time. The movie business right now is very much in flux, and I think when it settles down, that more movies will be made. People are still watching movies the same, they’re just watching them differently.

Vox: As a producer, do you ever have a yearning to direct yourself?

Blum: I can absolutely say never. I love what directors do and I love to give them a place where they’re free to do it. I couldn’t imagine directing a movie; I’d rather do almost anything but that.

Vox: What advice do you have for aspiring student filmmakers and producers?

Blum: The advice I have for students is that it’s a lot more different now then when I was a student, which is that the materials to make movies are much much less expensive. I would not wait for representation. Just get out there and make movies. Don’t be precious about it, if it doesn’t come out the way you want, write another one.

Vox: What are common mistakes young filmmakers make?

Blum: Looking to the outside world for validation. Your time would be much better spent waiting tables and shooting movies on your phone. And keep doing that.

Blum’s latest film, The Purge, will be out May 31st; the story is set in an alternate world that, while thought provoking, is sure to deliver enough gore to satisfy horror fans.

Photo: Andres Fevrier via Flickr

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