When District 9 director Neill Blomkamp makes his next film, he won't have a $100 million budget. Instead, he'll keep making films on the (relative) cheap, because it's the only way to make science fiction movies with creative freedom.
In a recent interview with the L.A. Times, Blomkamp made it quite clear that he wants nothing to do with $100 million budgets and major studio releases. The reason for this, he explains, is that he wants to be able to tell his own stories in his own way, and that just isn't possible when such massive amounts of money are involved. He cites this overwhelming need for studios to protect their investment as the main reason why almost all science fiction films are either adaptations, sequels, or reboots.
Blomkamp's observations weren't limited to the purely financial. He also delved into how these considerations affect the creative side of science fiction movies:
I think about this a lot – a hell of a lot actually – and how it plays out within the genre of scifi and horror. This concept of "Where does that fiction [in its source material form] come from?" If you look at the most meaningful science fiction, it didn't come from watching other films. We seem to be in a place now where filmmakers make films based on other films because that's where the stimuli and influence comes from. But go back and look at something like [Joe Haldeman's 1974 novel] "The Forever War" – that is very much rooted in his experience in Vietnam, that's where the stimulation comes from. And that's my goal, really, is not to draw from other films in terms of the overall inspiration and stimuli. You can in terms of design and tone and stuff, certainly, but not in terms of the idea and the genesis of that idea.
In terms of his own future making movies, Blomkamp reflected on his process promoting District 9 as a template for what he hopes to achieve next time. Since District 9 cost relatively little to make, it didn't need to attract a particularly wide audience for it to be a financial success; the fact that it did become something of a minor mainstream hit was just a nice bonus. Blomkamp felt fairly comfortable that the film would do all right financially after it enjoyed such a positive reception at Comic Con. As long as his movies can keep finding an audience with genre fans, he feels confident he can keep making movies for the foreseeable future.
Blomkamp concluded the first part of the interview with his thoughts on what he was trying to say in District 9 and whether he feels audiences understood his messages:
For the most part, "District 9" is absolute popcorn. It's absolute fluff compared to how serious those real-life topics are. The topics in the film are on my mind all the time and they're very interesting to me. The bottom line is "District 9" touches on 1% of those topics in terms of how severe they could be portrayed, and I knew that when I made it. But people got the messages. Xenophobia, racism allegories – they got all of it. I don't think the film was misunderstood. Not everybody loved it. Nigerians weren't happy. They were pissed. And I suppose that's fair enough because I directly named them and they don't come off well in the film. But that was part of the whole satirical nature of the film. And that conflict, well, that's a South African thing.
The rest of the interview will be published on the L.A. Times blog in the near future.