In an exclusive ongoing column for MTV, director Eli Roth is chronicling the making of his eagerly anticipated summer sequel, “Hostel: Part II.” In this inaugural installment, Roth takes us through the first part of the film’s European shoot.
The shoot was awesome, but exhausting. I went right from making the first “Hostel” into the sequel without a break, and one of the main reasons was because I wanted to get back to Prague. I had heard so much about it over the years but had never been there before I made “Hostel.” It’s one of the few places that truly lived up to the hype. Prague was one of the only major cities not bombed in World War II, so it still has all the architecture and old buildings from 500 years ago. It’s filled with cobblestone streets, beautiful girls and bars that go all night. The people are great, and I pretty much kept my entire crew intact from the first film, so it felt like making a movie with my friends. We had a blast making the first “Hostel,” and I was eager to get back and get shooting.
I worked on the script while I was touring and doing press internationally from January through March, and I finally sat down and wrote the script for “Hostel: Part II” in April and May of last year. I went location scouting in July and was back in Prague in August prepping the film to start in September.
Right before I started shooting, Quentin Tarantino asked me to audition for his “Grindhouse” film. I was like, “Uh, Quentin, I’m not an actor,” and he said, “Come on, man, you were hilarious in ’Cabin Fever.’ Just come in and read.” I figured that only for Quentin would I do something like this, so I drove down to Venice Beach to his casting office — while I was in the middle of casting “Hostel: Part II.” I got to the casting office and saw the name ahead of me on the sign-in sheet: it was actor Derek Richardson from “Hostel.” Derek was like, “What the hell are you doing here?” I just said, “Don’t ask me …”
I read for Quentin’s casting director, and clearly Quentin was pleased because he asked me to come in for a callback. This time I went to Quentin’s house, and I read for him. It was totally surreal because we’re friends, and he’s executive producer on “Part II,” so he knew that I was about to go to Prague to shoot. I had no idea how I’d be able to act in Quentin’s film while shooting my own. I soon had an even bigger problem: I got the part. Quentin’s schedule kept getting pushed, so his start date was closer and closer to mine. I told him that I’d give him a week to shoot out my part, but anything more than that was going to be irresponsible to “Part II.” Quentin said, “Just come to Texas and film for a week, we’ll figure out a way to make it work.”
So two weeks before I started principal photography on “Part II,” I flew from Prague to Texas and acted in Quentin’s movie. It was so much fun. It was like getting a master class in directing right before my own shoot. And then I got on a plane, flew to Prague and literally went right into rehearsals with the cast. I was pretty jetlagged and exhausted, but also energized from what we’d just shot. It also was a good exercise for me to be in front of the camera, because it helps keep me in tune with what the actors are going through and how they’d want to be treated. The torture scenes are tough to shoot, and I want to make sure the actors feel comfortable and safe enough to really go insane. We filmed some brutal, brutal scenes, a number of which gave crewmembers nightmares.
Any time I’m shooting a scene and I’m the only one who can look at the monitor, I know I’m on the right track. The cast was amazing, and they all pushed themselves and opened up in ways they never had before on camera. We had a 45-day shoot, most of it in the Czech Republic, with a second unit running around Europe filming in France and Monaco. My brother Gabe directed my second unit, and at one point when I was shooting during the day and at night, he’d come in with his crew and we’d hand off the cameras and they’d shoot all night. They called themselves the soup crew. His footage looked amazing, and it was fun to have 24-hour Roth brothers directing during the last week of shooting. He’d come in at around 8 or 9 a.m. and I’d say, “OK, we missed this shot, this shot, we need an insert here …” and he’d just add it to his list. Then he’d take the cameras, and I’d come in the next morning, and they’d have this exhausted, up-all-night-torturing-people look, and I’d take the cameras back and shoot whatever I had planned. It worked out really well, because basically you get double the amount of shots you would on any given day.
Check back with Movies.MTV.com next Monday for another installment of Eli Roth’s “Hostel: Part II” column.
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