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TheMist-2-29.jpg“The Mist,” a cinematic adaptation of Stephen King’s novella of the same name, is the crazy, intense horror film Academy Award-nominated director Frank Darabont always wanted to make.

In fact, it was almost his first movie. But he instead directed “The Shawshank Redemption,” which he said fooled everyone into thinking he was an optimistic sweetheart of a filmmaker.

With “The Mist,” audiences are able to learn the truth, Darabont joked.

By Tyler Midkiff

Larson Newspapers

“The Mist,” a cinematic adaptation of Stephen King’s novella of the same name, is the crazy, intense horror film Academy Award-nominated director Frank Darabont always wanted to make.

In fact, it was almost his first movie. But he instead directed “The Shawshank Redemption,” which he said fooled everyone into thinking he was an optimistic sweetheart of a filmmaker.

With “The Mist,” audiences are able to learn the truth, Darabont joked.

“[‘The Mist’] is in that tradition of taking people, sticking them in a pressure-cooker of fear, shaking it up and seeing what happens,” Darabont said. “Do people pull together or do they turn against one another?”

It’s a provocative kind of story to tell and one that polarizes audiences, he said.

“It’s the feel-bad movie of the year,” Darabont joked.

On Monday, Feb. 25, Darabont traveled to Sedona to screen “The Mist” before an audience that included his mother, a Sedona resident, at Harkins Theater in West Sedona. “The Mist” officially opened the Sedona International Film Festival — tape-cutting ceremony and all.

Darabont’s audience “oohed” “ahhed” and shrieked as the film’s horrifying monsters — created by the team responsible for the special effects in Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” — slid, crept and flew onto the screen.

Darabont shot “The Mist” on location in Shreveport, La., for $17 million, but he could’ve claimed a $30-million purse just for changing the ending, he said.

After 20 years of wanting to direct “The Mist,” only one ending made sense to Darabont and it’s definitely one that leaves moviegoers spread out along both sides of the fence.

“I’m too old to sell out now,” Darabont said. “Win, lose or draw, I’ve got to make the movie that’s in my head. Otherwise, what am I doing in this business?”

Darabont managed to please King, the story’s author. Last year, King attended a screening of “The Mist” in New Jersey and leapt from his seat during the climax of a particularly tense scene. For Darabont, scaring King out of his seat was one of his proudest moments as a filmmaker, he said.

“The Mist” is much different than any story he’s directed in the past and so was his approach. Darabont shot “The Mist” in only six weeks and the tremendous pace added a few extra colors to his directorial palette.

“The Mist” was shot too quickly for the painterly, carefully thought-out processes behind films like “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Green Mile,” Darabont said. There wasn’t as much time to plan out each frame and the result is more improvised, exciting, and certainly more invigorating to direct.

“As a learning experience, it was fantastic for me,” Darabont said. “It puts you in an incredibly intuitive flow on the set. There’s no time to over-think and no time to second guess.”

“There’s something incredibly liberating about that,” he said.

“[Shooting ‘The Mist’] wasn’t brain surgery,” Darabont said. “It was more like diving into a cold pool and trying not to drown.”

To bone up for the experience, Darabont directed an episode of the television show “The Shield.” He ended up yanking the show’s cinematographer, both camera operators, the editor and the script supervisor to shoot “The Mist” during their hiatus, he said.

It was a tremendously improvised style, according to Darabont, and there was a learning curve for many of the actors. They never really knew where the cameras would be, so every scene was like a stage production.

Darabont kept rolling even if a camera fell over. It took most of the actors a few days to get used to it, but all of them wound up loving it, he said.

Actor Thomas Jane surprised a lot of people with his performance as lead character, David Drayton, according to Darabont.

Filmmakers are finally beginning to see Jane’s potential as a highly-bankable actor, Darabont said.

Audiences also respond strongly to Academy Award-winning actress Marcia Gay Harden’s disturbed, fanatically religious character, Mrs. Carmody.

With “The Mist” out of his system, Darabont said he’s in the process of acquiring funding to shoot a futuristic interpretation of Ray Bradbury’s dystopian book-burning novel “Fahrenheit 451.”

It’s a passionate, intelligent piece, Darabont said, so of course, it’s not the obvious choice for a studio to make.

As Darabont trudges through Hollywood with “Fahrenheit’s” script under his arm, he also awaits the DVD release of “The Mist” on Tuesday, March 25. The two-disc set will include various “making of” documentaries, as well as a full-length, black-and-white version of the film.

For more information about “The Mist,” Darabont and the cast, visit www.themist-movie.com.

 

Tyler Midkiff can be reached at

282-7795, Ext. 122, or e-mail

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 


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