Exclusive: ‘Drive Angry’ Director Talks Nicolas Cage, Shooting In 3-D

'You get all the angles of the cars and you feel like you're in it with Nic Cage behind the wheel,' Patrick Lussier tells MTV News.

As MTV News’ 3-D Week comes to a close, we have one more inside look to bring you: the first-ever interview with anyone connected to [movie id="441798"]“Drive Angry,”[/movie] the Nicolas Cage-starring, hard-R action flick about a rage-filled man on a bloody vendetta.

Co-starring Amber Heard and Billy Burke, the Summit Entertainment-backed film is set for release on February 11, 2011. Calling from Shreveport, Louisiana, where the shoot has only just kicked into gear, director Patrick Lussier (“My Bloody Valentine”) spoke with MTV about the flick’s wicked car chases, Cage’s first experience shooting a live-action 3-D film and the importance of shooting with 3-D cameras.

MTV: Was “Drive Angry” always planned as 3-D release?

Patrick Lussier: After “My Bloody Valentine” finished, [co-screenwriter] Todd Farmer and I sat down and said, “What movie do we want to see and what movie do we want to shoot in 3-D?” We didn’t really have anything in mind beyond that. We started writing an opening scene about a guy named Milton killing these three guys called the F—ers, who are totally scared sh–less and totally deserve it. From there, “Drive Angry” was born. We wanted to come up with something that wasn’t a horror movie but was just a hard-R, action-driven road movie, because that would be a great film to see in 3-D.

MTV: So you just started the shoot. Are you filming with 3-D cameras or doing a post-production conversion?

Lussier: No, none of that post-conversion crap. This is totally shot in 3-D. We have 3-D cameras out from Paradise FX, which are working brilliantly. We’re shooting 3-D every day. We’re watching all our 3-D effects on every single shot as we shoot.

MTV: So when it comes to the “shoot in 3-D versus post-production conversion” debate , clearly we know what side you fall on.

Lussier: The problem with conversion is that it tends to be a little pop-up-book. For “Drive Angry,” we’ve got these great cars in the film — a ’69 Charger, a ’71 Chevelle — and the lines of those cars, to try and post-convert, you’d never get all of the depth and the beauty of those machines. Shooting in 3-D, you get all the angles of the cars and you feel like you’re in it with Nic Cage behind the wheel.

MTV: Speaking of Nic Cage, this is his first live-action 3-D film. Was he excited to embrace the opportunity?

Lussier: Nic is loving every frame of it. We were talking yesterday after shooting this scene, with him and David Morse, about how thrilled he was about working in 3-D and all the different things we can do. We shot this reveal for his character at one point in the story, and we were playing it back in 3-D, and he was just laughing away about how much he loved it. He thought it was spectacular to see a whole other immersion into the story that he hadn’t seen before.

MTV: Is there one scene you’re looking forward to shooting that you think is going to be especially awesome in 3-D?

Lussier: We have this great car chase with Nic’s character chasing after Amber Heard’s character, who’s in the middle of a fight inside this RV. You’re in this claustrophobic space, and suddenly you’re outside with Nic in hot pursuit. There’s all sorts of gunplay on the road. It’s spectacular. We shoot that next week.

MTV: Where would you put this in terms of genre? Is it action, thriller — and obvious it seems bloody and violent — or just a mishmash of different genres?

Lussier: The films that Todd and I, when we were writing it, wanted to hearken back to were these great pre-”Jaws” films from the ’70s, like “Vanishing Point.” Those are the elements and the components we wanted to build into this film. That pulpy, edgy, aggressive story with a great antihero who’s got a really solid cause who you’re strapped to the wheel with and is heading hell-bent into the brink of disaster.

MTV: Where has the technology come since you shot “My Bloody Valentine” in 2008?

Lussier: It’s so improved since then. The biggest thing it allows us to do is shoot far faster. The cameras are much closer [to traditional cameras] in terms of their look and their exposure for light, which allows you to shoot a lot faster. The cameras are a lot more mobile than they used to be. “Valentine” was sort of like shooting with a refrigerator. Now we’re down to shooting with a smaller mini-fridge. The gear is not slowing us down in any way, shape or form. And the look that we’re getting is incredible. Any new, growing technology, the second you finish using it, it’s basically obsolete because the next generation keeps evolving faster than you can keep up with it.

MTV: Summit has “Drive Angry” in 3-D, and there are all these rumors that “Breaking Dawn” might be in 3-D . What’s your sense of why and to what extent Summit has embraced this technology?
Lussier: Since we first came to Summit in the summer with [producer] Mike De Luca and Millennium Films, one of the best things we’ve had is they’re completely fascinated and intrigued by the technology and wanted to get involved. They were thrilled that we had done it before and thought “Drive Angry” was the perfect project for them to get into it. One of the things I think Summit has been discovering, as they’ve been seeing the 3-D material and the ease we’ve been able to work with it, is that it’s an incredibly viable format to work in. The first time you do it, there’s a lot of trepidation. “What the hell is this sort of magic box?” But once you step into the magic box, you realize, “Oh my God, it opens up a whole new way to tell your story.” The important thing at the end of the day is your story. Doesn’t matter if it’s a puppet show or whether it’s IMAX or whatever. It’s always about the story.

MTV: And they’ve given you the go-ahead to shoot with 3-D cameras, which is an opportunity a lot of other productions haven’t had; they’ve had to go in for the conversion process.

Lussier: We were adamant from the beginning. We went toward some of the conversion houses, and knowing what we were doing, there was just no way we could post-convert this film. It’s too aggressive, there’s too many layers. The shape of the cars themselves, there’s no way we could post-convert it. We had to shoot it in real 3-D. And not one person down the line said, “Do we want to post-convert it?” It was, “Absolutely, we’re shooting in 3-D.” That’s the way to do this movie.

Do not adjust your glasses! It’s 3-D week at MTV News. All week long, we’re looking at the biggest and boldest upcoming movies set to reach out and grab you with the wonders of 3-D technology. We’ve got exclusive sneak peeks at “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” “Tron Legacy,” “Clash of the Titans” and many more.

Check out everything we’ve got on “Drive Angry.”

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