During the recently completed Sitges Festival I had the good fortune to spend a fair amount of time with JA Bayona, the young Spanish director of international hit The Orphanage. Bayona is definitely one of the good guys, not only tremendously skilled but also an enormous lover of film, so much so that it's not hard at all to see why someone like Guillermo Del Toro would feel inclined to take Bayona under his wing. During the festival Bayona dropped a few hints about his upcoming project but when pressed would only say that he wasn't free to talk yet, that something would be announced soon in the trades and that once that had happened he would be free to be a bit more specific. Well, that announcement has happened, the next film is a Hollywood production titled Hater - a film Bayona says will be "much more violent" than his last - and, true to his word, Bayona has answered a few questions about the film for the ScreenAnarchy faithful. You'll find the complete interview below the break.
TB: I imagine you received a lot of English language scripts from Hollywood before accepting Hater. What about this project made you want to choose it?
JAB: It just felt right. Everything was in the right path. The basis of the story is very strong and exciting. The writer is also perfect for the project. Glen Mazzara has been working on THE SHIELD, and I like the realistic and mature approach he brings to a horror movie like this. That’s what I was looking for. And I've already worked with Del Toro. Above our working relationship there's a strong friendship that has lasted for years.
TB: Can you describe the story a bit for those who aren't familiar with it?
JAB: HATER is about a sudden epidemic of hate that comes from nowhere and happens to everybody. It doesn't care about race, sex or heritage. The media tells the story in a way that one has to wonder if everything is really happening, or maybe if it's all result of collective hysteria. The uncertainty is frightening: nobody knows who will survive at the end of the day or who will die. What I really liked about the story was that it deals with the real world we are living. It asks if we want to live in a world where we are controlled from above, through fear. HATER is an answer to that fear: it shows what can happen when people react to it with uncontrollable fury. That's an excellent start for a movie.
TB: How will you be approaching this in terms of style? Would a fan of The Orphanage be able to walk into a theater playing Hater and recognize that it was from the same director?
JAB: When a director gives himself to the story, he ends up soaking the movie with his own style. HATER is a horror tale, but it's also a very emotional story. It will be much more violent than THE ORPHANAGE, because it deals with hate as the main emotion. But it also talks about forgiveness, sacrifice and even love.
TB: What is Del Toro's involvement on this film?
JAB: Del Toro is very involved. He's been thinking about it for a long time, because he wanted to direct it first. He offered me the movie a few months ago, and since then we've been working together and we've been talking to Mazzara, the writer. Sometimes I wish he would give me even more advice, but what he does is set up a good environment for the director, so I can work my own way and with total freedom, making my own decisions.
TB: Will you continue to work on Spanish language films as well?
JAB: I'm working in another movie, a Spanish movie, at the same time. I believe that one of the advantages that European directors have is the chance to work here and there. Shooting in Hollywood is a dream come true, and I can't wait to do it. But I'll come back to Spain to make more movies. I hope so.