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Five Things We Learned About James Wan on the Set of The Conjuring 2

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While on the set of The Conjuring 2, we learned a great deal about the film’s visionary director, James Wan. Although we didn’t actually get the opportunity to speak much with Wan, himself, we heard a lot about the man from the cast and crew. Outlined below are five things we learned about James Wan on the set of The Conjuring 2. Note: None of the quotes below appeared in the original set visit report.

Rob Cowan (Producer, when asked about what makes James Wan such a great filmmaker, considering he’s created three franchises): It’s interesting. I don’t know that he could even identify why he’s been able to – Saw, Insidious, and this – he’s just a really smart filmmaker, and he really understands filmmaking. He studies whatever genre it is he works in – he’s not necessarily like a horror geek, that that’s the only world he lives in, he obviously did Fast 7 and there are other movies he wants to make – but he really studies the genre and watches all manner of horror or ghost movies. He’ll send me like these little Italian things to watch, and I don’t even know where they come from, like forty year old Italian movies. But he really sort of understands it filmically, not just as sort being like, “Oh, it’s really cool they way they did that…”

But he’s a guy, and rare in directors, being one of the better directors I think I’ve ever worked with in that, if you make a suggestion to him, he’ll have an answer right away. And a lot of directors just go, “No.” “What if we—“ “Nope.” They wanna be the guy that… But James will always answer with a concise reason why he wants to do something, that he’s thought it through, and nothing is by random. And so I think as a result, he becomes a good filmmaker. It’s like a Spielberg or whatever, where they just know how to move the camera, know where to put it. Because they’re doing it for reasons, they’re setting up something, or they’ve got a bigger plan down the road, than just, “This would be cool if we could make the camera move like that.” So it’s fun to watch him, because he is sort of a guy who’s thinking ahead and isn’t just being reactive. We don’t go into a scene and just block and go “Okay, let’s put the camera over here.” I think most people on the crew would say we can never guess which way he wants to put the camera, because it’s always something different and fresh and a new idea. The answer is I think he’s just a good filmmaker. And as a result his movies have just kind of had the ability to spin off. I mean, you think about something like Saw, where would that be an idea where, “Oh, let’s make six of those…” or how many they made. And even Insidious is one, too.

Rob Cowan Producer The Conjuring 2

Patrick Wilson (Ed Warren): He lives, breathes, eats this. It takes a toll on him. He sleeps basically only on the weekends. His schedule is crazy and he puts everything he has into it. Even if he felt like he could just walk through a movie and be like “Ugh, I’ve done a huge one, let’s go … I’ll just hammer this one out”. He’ll be the first to tell you, this is harder than I expected. When I sat down with him like a year ago, when he decided to come on, he said, “I really want to make it great”. He just burns for this. When you have that passion, it doesn’t matter sort of what genre and I’ve always said, I said even before he did Furious, the way he sets up his horror movies and his scares are the same way that you set up an action movie with the set pieces. It’s the same, we’re going to have this amount of action sequences so this sort of can build them and block them. That’s the same way he does with the scares having a kind of this page or whatever it is that he does. He’s very methodical like that.

Patrick WilsonFrances O’Connor (Peggy Hodgson): I think he just loves film. He doesn’t just love this genre, but many kinds of genres. He knows what he wants in a scene and already knows how he’s going to edit it. When I worked with Steven Spielberg he had that same thing: editing in his head as he’s going. James has a lot of enthusiasm and excitement for what he’s doing, and that’s a nice environment to be around. He’s great with actors, too, in terms of getting great performances. There are four kids in this film, and he’s done a great job at getting their performances very specific.

Frances O'Connor VERA FARMIGA (Lorraine Warren): It’s just masterful what he’s doing. He knows the script, and to see how it tweaks it and how he puts his spin on it is just wonderful.

The Nun

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Written by Sean Abley
Sean Abley is a playwright, screenwriter and horror film journalist. His latest book of interviews, Out in the Dark: Interviews with Gay Horror Filmmakers, Actors and Authors, is out now.
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