Franck Khalfoun (Director - 'P2')
'The Next Level of Suspense!'
The brand new thriller 'P2' centers on a corporate climber (Rachel Nichols) who gets stuck working late on Christmas Eve and finds herself the target of an unhinged security guard (Wes Bentley). With no help in sight, the woman must overcome physical and psychological challenges to survive.
Chatting recently to the film's director Franck Khalfoun, I first wondered how both he and his 'High Tension' director Alexandre Aja had first been made aware of 'P2'? Franck Khalfoun - "It was his idea and Grégory Levasseur's idea. They had heard things going on in parking lots and thought it would be a great place to have a cat and mouse movie. And I agreed. So we sat down for a couple of days and came up with a concept ... and after the script had bounced back and forth a few times it came back to me to direct."
Were you able to use all the thoughts that you had for such a singular shooting location or did some just not work? "No, they all worked. All the ideas that we came up with all worked. We just didn't have enough time to do them all. It's funny because we started out thinking 'My God, how many ideas can we actually come up with from a single location like that?' And it turned out we had too many and the script was too long. And so we had to take some gags and tricks out of it."
Was this a long shoot? "We shot for 25 days, but it was very intense. We scouted a lot of parking lots in the beginning and whatever we found we tried to fit ideas around it. Obviously it was scripted so we knew what we were doing. So, clearly all the ideas came from scouting and finding clever ways to scare people. And making it so that the movie didn't feel like it played in one place."
So, just how does one create a suspenseful film such as 'P2' when most all of the films' action takes place in this dingy parking garage? "Well, it starts off with a character introduction like nothing's gonna happen and then it's a freight train. It's completely action packed. We always used 'Die Hard' as a reference without being pretentious 'cause obviously it's a big action classic. But, it does have a lot of action in it and that really came from scouting the place out and scripting what we could do in a place like that. I mean, what can you do in a parking lot? You can hide, you can run, you can lock yourself in cars, you can drive cars in chases. There's all kinds of things you can do in that situation so we just had to think about it."
Have spoken with Rachel Nicols, she has stated that you yourself pushed her to limits in this role that she had never been pushed to before! Do you agree?! "Absolutely ... and I wanted even more. And there stems the frustration on her part. Terror, terror, terror! It gets exhausting and physically grueling job and there is a lot of running and it was a stinky place. And asking somebody to bare all emotionally in that situation it culminates into a lot of anger and rage. So, yeah, a lot of her performance comes from me pushing and us pulling and tugging and me trying to get so much more out of her."
Was it always going to be called 'P2'? "Yes, it was always going to be called 'P2.' For the simple reason that when people see the title they don't recognize it. And once you explain it to them they'll never forget it. And I thought that was an interesting thing that you get to discover a title. And if you discover something I think that it then sticks closer to you."
Tell us more about the Rottweiler’s! "It was a complicated scene to shoot with the dogs. But the dogs were amazing and the most obedient actors on the film, by the way," he laughs. "The funny thing about the dogs was that every time that we weren't shooting and the dogs would spot Rachel they would freak out about her! After having been trained to attack her every time they saw here they would freak out. So she had to be careful where she walked on set because those dogs were looking for her the whole time," he laughs again.
With the premise of this film definitely one that could happen in real life, what would you say is your overall message/ "Don't give up ... and use your wits. You can smart yourself out of a lot of situations. That's what the character does. It's a survival movie but it's also a twisted love story. It's like trying to get away from your ex-boyfriend, but instead here it's a girl trying to get away from some psycho in a parking lot. I think that's what makes these characters so interesting is that at the beginning there's potentially a relationship there. Which, of course, only one person in the couple sees! Basically, you can surmount, you can surpass anything as long as you use your wits. It doesn't always have to end in a physical fight."
Both you and Alex seem to have a running theme of these good-women-taken-to-dark-places-to-reveal-survival-instincts movies! Is this a dark passion we should be worried about?! "Not in the past," he gently laughs. "But ever since I started working with Aja these women in peril and women fighting for survival is his thing! I mean this was his idea and 'High Tension' was his idea. I can appreciate it though and really relish in it, because it's such a wonderful, manipulative art in terms of the audience. It's very efficient and it's great way to tell stories. Fear is in all of us and people really react well to it. I just think it makes for great storytelling."
'We're good friends which is why we work a lot with each other. We're constantly bouncing ideas and scripts off of each other. There's always ideas to be discussed. It's a very wonderful, creative partnership."
Finally, what are your current plans? Are you already working on another script, perhaps? "I'm adapting a novel for Alex as a writer right now for a movie that he wants to do. And I have another script and I'm just starting to get it out there. And then I'm reading other scripts and entertaining offers. So, nothing set just a lot of discussions."
Interviewed By: Russell A. Trunk
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