Sinister’s Scott Derickson defends found footage

Found footage “criticism is worthless,” says Sinister director Scott Derickson

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Sinister's Scott Derickson defends found footage
Sinister is out on DVD and Blu-ray from 11 February 2013

Sinister isn’t a found footage movie in the traditional sense – its protagonist, true crime writer Ellison Oswald discovering a box of eerie and unsettling Super 8 movies within the film, rather than us ‘discovering’ the movies without – but at its core is a clear appreciation for the style’s emotional clout and storytelling potential, even if director Scott Derickson (The Day The Earth Stood Still, The Exorcism Of Emily Rose) doesn’t want to submerge himself fully in it.

“As a filmmaker, I don’t think I’ll ever make {a found footage movie] simply because what I find interesting and enjoyable about filmmaking involves a full range of cinematic tools,” said Derickson, speaking exclusively to SciFiNow. “I can’t imagine making a movie without the score, I can’t imagine making a movie within the constraints of found footage, it’s not something I would find terribly interesting to do.

“But when it came to Sinister I was very conscious of the fact that this was where we were at in the genre, that found footage was the most interesting thing to happen to the horror genre in a while and audiences were responding to it. And even though I had no interest in making a found footage movie, there was something still interesting about making a movie about the guy who finds the footage, instead of having the typical video footage going all the way back to Super 8 – which is an exciting medium for a filmmaker to work in – you know, we shot those films on Super 8. It just seemed like a good confluence of concepts and ideas to build upon, and do something that’s both classic and familiar, but also progressive and current.”

Sinister's Scott Derickson defends found footage
Ethan Hawke’s Ellison Oswald discovers a mysterious crate of Super 8 home movies in the loft

Although it’s not necessarly looming large in his filmmaking career, Derickson is disparaging of the knee-jerk criticism of found footage movies.

“I’m never one to join any kind of bandwagon of hating something across the board,” asserts the director. “Some people think it’s kind of cool to hate a certain kind of film and it’s just not, it’s unfair because there’s no genre of film that doesn’t have some examples of great filmmaking in it – as straight found footage goes, [Rec] is a great film, the original Paranormal Activity is a great film, Cloverfield is a great film.

“I think the fact that DayGlo horror films have been replaced by these less cinematic films is a problem, but you know, I just watched Lovely Molly on iTunes a few backs and I thought it was amazing, I thought it was a great film. It’s just a really, really good film and that’s a straight up found footage movie, so I don’t have anything disparaging to say about found footage films in the abstract.”

As for whether the problem with people’s perception of found footage is that it’s a subgenre, when perhaps it should be thought of as a tool or format – Derickson is quick to assert his position.

“It’s something that’s limited to sci-fi and horror thus far,” he says, “so it’s a subgenre – a heist movie is always a thriller, but it is a subgenre, and I think found footage, it’s fair to think of it as a subgenre. I think it’s absurd to ridicule it across the board, we just named a handful of really good found footage movies… and also V/H/S, there’s another one I thought was really good.

“I’ve seen some bad ones, I’ve turned off a lot of bad ones, but all the criticism is as worthless as all the criticism people were probably making about slasher films in the Seventies and Eighties. Yeah, there were too many of them, there was a lot of crap, but we also got the best slasher movies ever made in that era, you know? That was the wave, that was what was happening and you’ve got to get the bad with the good.”

Sinister is out to own from 11 February 2013. Pre-order it on DVD for £13 and on Blu-ray for £13.99 from Amazon.co.uk.

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