Almost a year ago today, I spoke to actor Thomas Jane about his directorial debut, "Dark Country" — a noir-fueled thriller with a scary, Hitchcock-style twist that was filmed entirely in digital 3-D. Starring Jane, Lauren German ("Hostel: Part II"), and Ron Perlman ("Hellboy"), "Dark Country" will receive not just one but two 3-D screenings attended by its director and lead actor at Long Beach Comic Con this Halloween weekend.
The veteran actor is currently enjoying the success of his HBO television series "Hung" (set to premiere its third season in 2011), but he took time out to chat with me about this weekend's "Dark Country" screenings, and remind the world that the film is not only his passion project, but also the very first fully digital, live-action 3-D movie.
MTV NEWS: Tom, here we are again, talking about "Dark Country" right before Halloween. Last time around, the film had just been released on DVD. What's been happening since last we spoke about it?
THOMAS JANE: Well, it played three times this month. Earlier in the month, I hosted the L.A. 3-D Film Festival, and we played it there. It went over really well. It's always great to see it with an audience in 3-D, because the film plays great with an audience and in 3-D like that. I'm very proud of that. Then I went to Korea, where I screened the film in 3-D for their 3-D film festival, and that went over really well, too. I was kind of worried about it because we didn't have subtitles. The audience really got the movie, though.
Now we're going to play it for the second year in a row at the Long Beach Comic Con. I do an annual Halloween screening, and this year the Comic Con is over the Halloween weekend, so they're going to play it twice. They're playing it on Friday night as a full 3-D screening, and then we're playing it on Saturday night with a live commentary by me and Tim Bradstreet, the production designer on the movie, and Ray Zone, the 3-D supervisor.
MTV: I know you're pretty proud of the film's place in 3-D filmmaking, too...
JANE: Yeah, it's still a pretty great example of a 3-D film, and we were the very first live-action 3-D film to be shot with the purely digital method. The way people are making 3-D movies now, we were the very first guys to do it. Even "Journey To The Center Of the Earth," which came out before us, used a different system that involved some tape. We're the first purely digital 3-D, live-action film to be made. It's still a great example of 3-D filmmaking. We paid special attention to how to handle things like closeups in 3-D, which turned out really well.
MTV: Last time we spoke, you said that one of the things holding up this film and so many other authentic, truly 3-D projects from getting the positive attention they deserve is the evolution of 3-D in the home entertainment world. We have 3-D televisions and players now, so do you feel like we're getting there yet? How close are we?
JANE: We've come a long way, but we're still not there. The 3-D TVs are available and they're selling, and all the TV manufacturers have 3-D TVs available, but we're still not at the point where that is a viable alternative. The Blu-ray players are slowly converting to 3-D compatible too, but right now there are less than 20 true 3-D films that you can get for your home.
MTV: I just bought a 3-D television myself, and since I own a Playstation 3, I can play 3-D movies — so when will I be able to watch "Dark Country" the way you intended it?
JANE: Yeah, everybody's slowly starting to get these things, but I think they'll release my film when the market is a little more saturated with 3-D. Right now, like I said, there's less than 20 3-D blu-rays on the market, and those are all big studio films. Slowly I think we'll see the market get bigger, and when it does I fully expect Sony will put the film out with a director's cut on Blu-ray.
MTV: Well, until then, we'll have to settle for the annual Halloween screenings. On that note, where do you feel like "Dark Country" fits in the world of horror movies? Do you consider it horror?
JANE: I see it as more of a thriller than a horror movie, but it does have elements of horror. For me, this is my "Twilight Zone." This is my "Tales From The Dark Side." This is also my film noir. I studied a lot of film noir making the movie, and in film noir, they only used wide lenses, there was a lot of deep focus, there was a lot of shadows — all the stuff you see in my film. Even the cutting pattern in the movie mimics an old-fashioned film noir. If you're very familiar with film noir, you can see I ripped off a lot of shots from some of the classic film noirs.
MTV: What about the DVD cut of the film? I know you've had some concerns about the film showing without the 3-D element...
JANE: My only complaint about the DVD out now in 2-D is that the movie's not intended to be seen in 2-D. I don't think it plays as well. And the film on DVD, for some reason that escapes me, is about a half a stop too dark. It's called "Dark Country," not "The Really F---ing Dark Country." That really p---es me off. But when we're able to screen the film in 3-D, I'm able to boost the gain a little bit and get the film looking pretty close to the way it was intended to look — certainly better than the DVD looks now. I live for the day I can release the film on Blu-ray 3-D, and also do some edits to the film and get it looking exactly the way I intended it to look when I made it. That hasn't happened yet, but it will.
MTV: So is 3-D the future for you now? Will your next project be 3-D, too?
JANE: Yeah, I'm directing a Western in 3-D next year. I'm doing a 3-D Western, which hasn't been done since the '50s, and I'm really excited about it. I'm working on the script right now. I'm writing with a great writer named Glenn Porter, who wrote the movie I just finished called "I Melt With You," that starred Rob Lowe and Jeremy Piven and myself. The script was so great I approached him and asked, "You ever thought about doing a Western?" We're cranking that sucker out now. I'm really looking forward to shooting that sucker in 3-D. I'll direct and star.
Thomas Jane will screen "Dark Country" this weekend on Friday (October 29) and Saturday (October 30) at the Long Beach Comic Con. You can find out more information about the convention at www.longbeachcomiccon.com.