Wikia recently chatted with the filmmakers of The Devil Inside, director and co-writer William Bent Bell and writer Matthew Peterman.
The micro-budget horror film opened to over $34 million last weekend, turning heads in Hollywood (360 degrees). They talked to Wikia about their road to the big-screen, real life exorcist schools, and the concept of demonic transference (not possible through reading; as far as we know)…

WIKIA: "The Devil Inside" is the top January opening of the year, the 3rd highest January opening behind Cloverfield and the Star Wars re-release, AND you pushed Tom Cruise from the top of the box-office skyscraper. All heady stuff...

MATT: Yes, it's an incredible feeling to reach so many people...for two guys and our producing partner Morris who financed and produced with us, to go outside of the studio system by yourself, come back, get it bought, have it have this kind of very gratifying and we're very humbled by it all.

WIKIA: We have an avid video game community on Wikia. Your last film, "Stay Alive," involved the virtual gaming world. Are you guys gamers?

BRENT: Yes, we are for sure. Video games can really suck up a lot of your time, so we haven't been able to play as much as we'd like!

MATT: One of these days...

WIKIA: Micro-budget films often take place in one location- like dark creepy woods or houses with skeletons in the closet. You managed to really open up the film with quite a few interior and exterior locations.

BRENT: A lot of the films that you're referring to are films that we really enjoy ourselves and are very small in scope; what we wanted to do was take a much bigger idea and make it for a smaller amount of money and I think we achieved that.

MATT: Yeah because part of the reason we shot the film in Romania is the amazing crews and the dollar; we opened it up in Rome by pretty much stealing everything!

WIKIA: You produced The Devil Inside independently and then sold it to Paramount in a relatively stealth manner- in comparison to other micro-budget horror film acquisitions such as Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity. Can you talk to your sales strategy…

BRENT: The first thing we wanted to do was get the movie in a really good spot editorially before we showed it to anybody, so we were happy with it and confident we were putting our best foot forward- you should always do that, don't show stuff too early. Then we appealed to Steven Schneider who's one of the kings in this space-- he discovered Paranormal and he brought us to Lorenzo Di Bonaventura who's one of the biggest producers in the world. The two of them worked with us for a few months on it, really hands on, till we got it to a slightly better place. We put together a screening for about 300 people, including Paramount, had a really great night watching the film with an audience. Over the course of that following week we negotiated with them and then they bought it. So the strategy was make the best film we could, get it in the best spot we could, then present it to the best studio we thought for it in the best way we could.

WIKIA: So you didn't go after the splashy Sundance sale?

MATT: Right, we thought about that...we've been in this business for a little while and we're not naive to the fact that certain films aren't great for certain festivals; this never seemed like a total festival film to us so... we knew there were fans of the movie. So we tried to get them involved and we kinda cut through the middlemen and went straight to the studio with a big producer.

WIKIA: And to the studio with a great track-record in this genre.

MATT: Exactly.

WIKIA: You've taken the demonic possession subgenre to the next level with the ideas of multiple demonic possession and demonic transference.

BRENT: We came across an article about a guy starting a school for exorcisms and that was cool to us; so we started to research what they were leaning in that school: and what we found were things like multiple demonic possession, and transference, demonic hierarchy, the 4 indicators for demonic possession and how they balance mental illness against possession and the political nature of what they have to do to help people. And we thought as great as a movie as The Exorcist is or The Exorcism of Emily Rose, you didn't really learn a lot about what was going on.... so we took a lot of this information and tried to build a story around it to some degree. And so that's one of the things we really love about the movie, showing a different side to possession, a different side to exorcism, to where people are going to leave this movie with a better understanding of it whether they know it or not.

MATT: Yeah, we knew we had to show people something they hadn't seen yet because there have been a lot of films about exorcism and a lot of really good we knew we had to really really try to give people something unique...

WIKIA: I also think you did that in your portrait of the lead Priests. They struck me as very modern clergymen: they're disillusioned, they go rogue, they embrace science, travel with medial equipment, talk in O.R. was very unique.

MATT: ...Thanks. That was obviously something we really tried to do. The concept of rogue exorcists was pretty cool to us and to be perfectly honest, when we talked to a lot of real priests and exorcists, they expressed the feeling of being disenfranchised from their own community, because even they are held at arms length inside their own church. They still seem to have an uphill battle in their community.

BRENT: It was interesting because we mentioned this in the film, that it's a lot of politics like i said, and the Catholic church changed the exorcism rights for the first time in 400 1999; and so they required that an exorcist can't perform an exorcism on somebody unless they know for sure they are possessed; which an excorcist will tell you that the best way to find out if somebody is possessed is to start an exorcism on them and see what happens-- if they provoke a demon! ... It's kinda like health insurance, these are like doctors helping people who the system won't help.

MATT: It's a very difficult process for everybody involved there's so much liability at stake and when you're talking about the supernatural and demons and you're talking about them in a real way some people can find that ridiculous and so the church is in a weird position and so are the exorcists!

WIKIA: Wikia COMMANDS YOU to talk about what might be next for you guys....


MATT: Right on!

BRENT: We have a couple of projects in the hopper and I the one will be doing next is a project with Nick Meyer's company Sierra; we're going to be doing it completely independently as well shooting it back in Eastern Europe, set in France, can't really talk about what it's going to be about yet, but it's also going to be a faux documentary, very different structurally from The Devil Inside... and it's going to be a horror story that kinda shines the light on a pretty familiar mythology but in such a way that we've never seen before. And we're really excited to go shoot it.

WIKIA: It sounds exciting for all of us...We can't wait!

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