The Twilight Saga: Eclipse hits DVD and Blu-ray on Dec. 4. After watching the special features, we had a few burning questions, which director David Slade (pictured, with Kristen Stewart) happily fielded.
1. Why doesn’t he do a commentary track? Slade is obviously well-represented in the feature-length making-of documentary and introduces and provides context for deleted and extended scenes, but he’s not on either of the two commentary tracks over the movie — he leaves those to Stephenie Meyer and producer Wyck Godfrey, and Stewart and Robert Pattinson (she’s in Montreal, jealous that he’s in L.A. eating In-N-Out). “It’s a choice I made after doing my first ever and last ever commentary on my first film Hard Candy,” he says. “I did a commentary for that and found it such an unsatisfactory experience, personally, that I vowed never to do it again, because I’m not very good at it. You work for a year-and-a-half, two years, however long it is on a film, and it’s a very personal experience as well as a very public experience. There’s so much catharsis that goes into it, and then you end up sitting in a little room and you reduce what was an intense amount of work down to a crappy, silly little anecdote usually. ‘It was raining that day.’ [Laughs] I just found it to be really disheartening, and, like I say, I’m not really good at it. I didn’t do one for my second film [30 Days of Night] either.”
2. Listening to Stephenie and Wyck’s commentary, you hear a lot of the discussions that went on on-set, like debating how Jacob should kiss Bella both times, and you realize what a collaborative experience making a Twilight film must be. Is that helpful or more challenging as a director? “If you’re in sync with everybody, the collaboration is second nature. What you’re doing is looking for the best ideas and utilizing them. Certainly there is a lot of collaboration, but there is also a lot of clarity that has to be had in the vision that you have for the film when you come in as the director. Without that, there’s no bullseye to be aiming for,” he says. “There’s all kinds of things that we can discuss, but at the end of the day, I’m the guy that has to go off and get the shot… Film is always a fight because you’re the person, as the director, with a clear picture in your head of what you think is really exciting, and you’re just trying to convince a bunch of other people to buy into that. That’s always gonna be a tough ride, particularly when there’s two very successful films that have gone beforehand. There’s a tendency to think safely. ‘We have something that works. Why would we change this or that?’ Anything that was changed, they took lots of discussion. But there was nothing that was like everybody disagrees. There were only discussions to get to a point where everybody was comfortable.” One example: The shattering vampires in Eclipse. “I was really fascinated with the pathology of the creatures. There’s one thing to write something from an emotional place when she imagined it, a dream of a man who’s made of diamonds, which is now the mythology and the lore that goes into how she describes Edward Cullen. But then to me, well, that’s esoteric. I have to make something really tangible. So let’s get pathological, let’s figure out why do they shine, and therefore what are they made of, and therefore why do they break?,” Slade says. “There was a certain balance that had to be struck between a really great visual image and also what would work for Stephenie. One of the things I remember was the size of the pieces. You couldn’t have biscuit-size pieces around because people might find them. Which is fair enough. We would have to then adapt our effects work to make sure there were no biscuit-size pieces. There were big chunks that broke off that could all be found and burned, because in the books, of course they continue to live. They’re not inanimate, those little pieces will crawl around, which we took cinematic license not to do.”
3. Why don’t we see all the deleted scenes described in the commentaries on the DVD? Stewart describes the first thing she shot on the movie — a “fairly ridiculous” sequence in which she imagined herself in the fireside flashback as the Quileute elder chief’s third wife, who stabbed and sacrificed herself to distract the vengeful female vampire attacking the village. Meyer and Godfrey describe people laughing when they saw it. Understandable that they would choose not to include it. Ditto the scene Bella imagined after her kiss with Jacob on the mountain. She saw them having grown old together. “There were a lot of issues with prosthetic makeup,” Slade says with a groan, then a laugh. “It gives me a bit of a shiver, as a filmmaker. As an idea, it was wonderful. What happens with a film is it becomes organic and it grows, and it tells you what it wants, and it was screaming loudly, ‘I don’t want that!’ to me.” Another scene described in the commentaries never actually got shot. “Stephenie really wanted to see Edward as a young man again, and we had this vision scripted for a while where Bella and he are together in Victorian times, as a kind of reverie,” Slade says.
4. Did he ever toss a grape into Taylor Lautner’s mouth between takes? The making-of documentary occasionally breaks into “Taylor Time” (there’s even a graphic) during which we see Lautner having fun on-set. Slade’s assistant and Stewart are seen throwing grapes that Lautner catches in his mouth from a good distance away. Did the director ever partake in that game? “Not me,” he says. “I watched in astonishment and photographed him backflipping from a standstill, which he does. I also got to witness how he terrorized, in a very good-natured way, the bodyguards that were hired to make sure that they were all fine. He would play practical jokes on them all the time. It was quite a lot of fun.”
5. Why don’t we get a blooper reel on the DVD? Kristen and Rob talk about how people fell a lot on the fake snow. That, for instance, we would have liked to have seen. “We had a blooper reel, but I think people were pretty potty-mouthed,” Slade says. “I think you can put that down to bad language.”