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'Paul' Bearer

21 Jul, 2011 By: Chris Tribbey

The comedy Paul, about an alien (voiced by Seth Rogen) who escapes a military compound with the help of two nerds (played by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost), comes to DVD and Blu-ray Disc Aug. 9 from Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Director Greg Mottola (Superbad) took the time to chat with Home Media Insider about the film.

HM: Were there any challenges directing a film written by its lead actors?
Mottola: It’s helpful to have two screenwriters on set, at your disposal. Simon and Nick understood the challenges we were facing and were very willing to change things to get the most out of our budget and schedule. I really hope to work with them again soon, maybe even in something I’ve written.

HM: Maybe it’s unfair to ask, but can you single out one performer you worked with on this film who you’ll look back on a decade from now and say was simply awesome?
It’s a lame answer, but I loved this entire cast. The person who had the hardest challenge, in a way, was Seth Rogen because his schedule didn’t allow him to be with us during shooting, so he had to help define the character in pre-production, then match into the live-action scenes in post. Seth was incredibly resourceful in adding little jokes and performance ideas all along the way (the animators watched many, many hours of Seth ‘performing Paul’ to inspire their work).

HM: After watching the movie, which extra do you recommend viewers check out first?
The featurettes and making-of were all directed by Lance Bangs, a filmmaker who has worked with Spike Jonze and on all the “Jackass” projects. Lance is extremely gifted and funny, and I believe that he’s made the extras much more entertaining and stylish than the usual fare. We were making a small- to medium-sized comedy with a very expensive special effect in the middle of it, and I think that the “Evolution of Paul” special effects featurette does a great job of showing how we did it, despite many limitations.

HM: How does Paul look in high-definition and did you have to keep 1080p in mind while directing?
Our idea was to sneak a state-of-the-art CGI character into a more modest road comedy. As such, we weren’t going for a super high-def look — we wanted it to have a grainy film-stock feel, much like the movies from the period that are referenced in dialogue and part of the visual inspiration (Close Encounters, Sugarland Express, Easy Rider). Having said that, I think the CG animation of Paul looks fantastic on the Blu-ray, especially for a movie of our size.

HM: This film embraces Comic-Con and integrates it into the script. How important is the Comic-Con crowd when it comes to promoting a title such as Paul?
We certainly wanted the Comic-Con crowd to feel like we got the details right. I do know that there are some hardcore fanboys who didn’t like the movie. Perhaps they felt it was made for too general an audience. I wanted to make a film that would work for anyone, but at the same time be respectful of sci-fi/fantasy enthusiasts and work on a slightly different level for them. There is a lot of passionate disagreement in the fanboy world.

HM: What would you say to those who haven’t yet had a chance to see Paul?
Give it a chance — it was a very sincere movie and it might surprise you. There are some thematic ideas in there that I still find very interesting, but we intentionally kept them quite buried. For instance, is the human yearning for fantasy really so far apart from religious devotion?

HM: Do you believe aliens exist, and if so, are they anything at all like Paul?
I do believe there’s intelligent life out there and would venture to say they may even be much more like Paul than most other cinema aliens. Isn’t it possible that intelligent life elsewhere would be just as flawed, annoying and unreliable as humans are?


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