Robert Hall has owned and operated the special effects company Almost Human Inc. since 1993. He has worked on shows and movies like “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” “Angel,” “Paranormal Activity 2,” and “The Crazies.” He also directed the movie “Laid to Rest” which singlehandedly revitalized the slasher genre. I spoke with the very talented Hall at this year’s Texas Frightmare Weekend about the upcoming sequel.
How did “Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2” come about?
We had the idea for the sequel fleshed out to an extent as soon as we finished the first one. It was like “we might want to explore this a little bit more.” As it evolved and different people wanted to be involved in the movie, like Brian Austin Green and others, I rewrote the script with my co-writer Kevin to tailor it to who we had actor-wise.
How hard is it balancing the directing and the special effects?
At this point in my career, its just what I do. I direct the effects. I design whatever it is, say how I’d like it to be, what it will be made of, and where we could cut and use it. I’ve got a team of people that work with me up at Almost Human, so its not too difficult when I’m on set. Most directors don’t have the eye for special effects that I have. The special effects team can’t get by with a lot of stuff. If my guys bring something to the set that doesn’t look good, I can call them on that unlike most people. Other directors would be like “oh, yeah its bloody and it looks fine.” I actually know the difference in how it should look, so I’m a little bit more hard in that way. When I’m on set, I have so much to do being a writer or trying to figure out or rewrite scenes. We’ll screw up with continuity so I have to figure out a solution. I stick to the narrative and work with the actors. I don’t really do the effects myself on set.
What is the ratio of practical effects to digital effects in “Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2?”
Its very difficult to say. I think ninety percent of the shots have some type of digital enhancement. It might just be moving some practical blood from one place that I didn’t like to another. It could be cleaning up a little spot of the make-up that I didn’t like that was too shiny or even adding actor’s faces onto dummies. You can’t just lump it all in. There’s everything from cleaning up a light stand that you see in the shot, which is technically a CG shot, all the way to designing an elaborate death. There’s still a ton of practical. It’s probably sixty to seventy percent practical and thirty percent augmented.
What all are you working on now?
I literally just finished “Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2.” We’ve got a couple of other things. We did a pilot for Fox called “Locke & Key,” which is based on the graphic novel that Stephen King’s son wrote. The shop will be doing other movies we cant talk about yet. Its been all “Chromeskull” for the past few months.
When will “Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2” be coming out?
“Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2” is coming out September 20th on Blu-ray and DVD. There will probably be some mini-theatrical screenings, definitely some festival ones, and possibly some bigger things in the works.