Fede Alvarez Talks Panic Attack!
Last November, Fede Alvarez went from being an obscure Uruguayan filmmaker to an overnight sensation after uploading his $300 short to YouTube about a massive robot invasion of Montevideo. The apocalypse went viral (it currently has around 6 million hits), Hollywood came calling and before he knew it, Alvarez had a seven-figure deal to direct a $30 million feature for Sam Raimi's Ghost House Pictures. The 31-year-old explains how he did it and updates us on his proposed feature.
Bill Desowitz: Congratulations on your great success with the short. What's the latest with the feature?
Fede Alvarez: We brought a new writer on board, John Hlavin, who wrote the last season of Shield and he just penned also Underworld 4. We worked together on the story and now he's writing the script. He's been working with us here in Montevideo and flew back to L.A. And I will be going back to L.A. in the next week or so.
BD: What can you say about it?
FA: This movie is not going to be a long feature version of Panic Attack!. I read that somewhere -- and it's not. So there are no big robots this time, but it's a new take on an alien invasion movie. I heard that there are a lot of new alien invasion movies coming, but, nothing like this one. In a way, it's impossible to deny that this is following District 9 in some way, but it wasn't my intention. I started Panic Attack! in 2006. It was a project independent of that and not inspired by it at all, but then a lot of people think I'm following District 9, which is dumb and doesn't even make sense.
BD: But you were obviously influenced by War of the Worlds?
FA: The thing that was inspiring about War of the Worlds for Panic Attack! was this idea of just the point of view of one person during the invasion. You never move away from Tom Cruise's point of view. That was kind of cool. Honestly, Panic Attack! was inspired by an intro [Tyrants from Afar] I saw in Amsterdam for a film festival, where I was living in 2004 taking a masters in screenwriting. Basically, it was the first time that I saw something like that: it was a huge scale robot invasion with just three or four CG shots. I thought: "Wow! This is close to the place where I was living where all the action is happening!" So it was the first time I understood big sci-fi movies. I always liked them, but I never got the feeling before of living in the place where the movie is actually taking place. People from L.A. or New York or even London or Paris get this feeling all the time, but if you're from Uruguay you never get that feeling.
BD: So, how's the feature been going so far?