This Friday marks the big coming out party for Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, the live action feature debut of my friend and colleague Troy Nixey and the latest writing and producing  project from my friend and personal role model Guillermo del Toro. I was also a producer on it and we’ll all be on a panel in Hall H as we share footage from the movie and possibly more. Additionally, Troy (who made his name as a comic book artist) has drawn a beautiful embossed Comic Con exclusive teaser poster that a thousand lucky attendees will be going home with. I believe there’s also a chance they may be able to get it signed as well!

Details about our panel…

2:15-3:45 Miramax Films: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark—  Producer/co-writer Guillermo del Toro and director Troy Nixey  present a first look at their new film Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, a hair-raising, spine-chilling tale of horror about a little girl (Bailee Madison) who is sent to live with her father (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend (Katie Holmes) in the old mansion they are renovating, only to unwittingly unleash malevolent creatures bent on destroying all of them. Hall H

I had a chance to chat with the gents before we all got into planes and trains and automobiles on our way to convene in San Diego…

Nick Nunziata: What does it feel like going to Comic Con as a filmmaker rather than a comic book artist and describe the feeling of finally being able to share the movie with people.

Troy Nixey: I joke around that it was fate. Guillermo was familiar with my comic book work with Mike Mignola so when I sent him an image from my short to his public email address he responded back immediately with some very encouraging words. I was still working on the short when you came to Vancouver for a set visit. We hit it off immedately. I showed you the work in progress, you liked it and then proceeded to harass me until it was completed. Guillermo was in prep on HBII at the time so you ripped it, put it up on an FTP site and made him watch it. I still remember the day you forwarded me his email, saying that he really liked it and then called a few minutes later to tell me he wanted to talk. The phone call with Guillermo was a little surreal, here I was talking to one of my all time favorite directors and not only did he really enjoy my short but he offered me the directing job. I remember hanging up and looking around for someone to tell but I was standing in the middle of the financial district in Vancouver during lunch looking at a bunch of people in suits eating salads, they wouldn’t have appreciated the situation. Haha. Of course I called you back pretty quickly after that. Then I met with Guillermo in London when he was in post on DBAHBII and of course met with all the incredible people at Miramax, all of them, too a one, huge movie fans. They were fully behind the project and showed wonderful support in my choices and ideas. Development is of course development but my situation was pretty damned smooth. 

Nick Nunziata: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is sort of an unknown commodity to many
folks out there and Comic Con is its big coming out party. What is
it about this project that has grabbed you so much over the years,
and leading into this Friday’s panel how would you prepare horror
fans out there for this movie?

Guillermo del Toro: I first saw the original movie when it aired in Mexico when I was around 10 years old. It freaked me and my brothers very bad.  I was specially affected by the fact that the creatures in it were small and scary but incredibly resourceful and perverse.  They were articulate and kept taunting the protagonist by calling her name over and over again…”Saaaaally’.

The 70’s were the golden age of great TV horror films, Dan Curtis and Lorimar both cranked some remerkable ones:  Bad Ronald, Night Stalker, Night Strangler, The Norliss Tapes, Trilogy of Terror, Something Evil, etc, etc And there was a great melding of the classic and the modern. In a strange way, they brought horror to suburbia and urban environments before “Big Studios” films did.

But they had elegant, classic Gothic tales at their core.I always loved and will always love the classic Gothic tale and love to dabble in it as producer quite a bit-  but if possible with a twist.  The film we did follows a classic, classy model but it still received an “R” for pervasive scariness-  to me, that’s a nice badge already. We got it in spite of not having any cursing, sexual situations or graphic gore. We got it because we were scary.

Nick Nunziata: This a unique remake project because while it left a mark on those who did see it, it’s not nearly been as available as most of the horror of yesteryear. What the process of adapting this lesser-known gem as opposed to something everyone’s familiar with?

Guillermo del Toro: Hey, if anyone is gonna know this property it will be the folks at Comic Con.  And those of us that love the original, we love it hard.  For many, many years, this was the scariest movie I saw so  I want to show a different take on the material, but one that really comes from believing we can give it a different twist without compromising some of the basic things that made the original work.- some of them pretty brave and crazy for the time.

Nick Nunziata: What does it feel like going to Comic Con as a filmmaker rather than a comic book artist and describe the feeling of finally being able to share the movie with people.

Troy Nixey: One thing for sure is DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK is receiving a lot more attention than anything I’ve done in the past. Directing a movie is obviously a lot more collaborative than writing and drawing comics but you’re still creating in a bit of a vacuum so getting it out there in front of a great Con crowd is going to be exciting! I’m really proud of the movie and I hope that shows.

Nick Nunziata: You and Comic Con are almost synonymous, and you’ve always been very gracious with your fans. What do you think the resounding impact of 2010’s con will be?

Guillermo del Toro: For me… I have a couple of chances to interact and have a few official announcements and signing sessions and there is a surprise announcement to be delivered in one of the big, big panels.  Then I will have a shopping binge and hopefully get to meet some great people.

Nick Nunziata: What about you, Troy? What are you looking forward to seeing this year at the con?

Troy Nixey: To be perfectly honest, people’s reactions to the what we’re showing. I think people will really enjoy it. I’ll of course soak up as much of the Con as I can and maybe hunt some great Nosferatu stuff and have dinner with some friends I haven’t seen in a long time.

Nick Nunziata: It’s very rare that a filmmaker gets to actually design the teaser poster for their movie and though this Comic Con exclusive isn’t the official one sheet for the movie, it’s got to feel great to get a chance to combine your two worlds here.

Troy Nixey: I’m thrilled to be able to represent my first movie with an image I’ve drawn. I’ve drawn my entire life and certainly didn’t give it up when I moved to directing. In fact I draw just as much now as when I worked in comics, designing, boarding etc so to be able to put those skills to something that for most people will be their first introduction to the movie feels pretty satisfying. My hope is the poster make a big enough impact on them, they’ll want to see the movie when it comes out in January.

Nick Nunziata: What’s different between the Troy Nixey of 2008 and 2010?

Troy Nixey: It’s fair to say that I’ve learned more about storytelling in the last two years than in my previous thirty-six. There are no insignificant moments, no throw aways, every scene, shot, moment is important and has impact, if you go in with that kind of respect for the medium you can’t help but learn and improve and hopefully find a measure of success. In my opinion movies are the greatest storytelling medium ever created and having had the opportunity to direct my first feature I know without a doubt that it’s what I want to do and what I’m supposed to do. I wake up every day thinking about making movies and I fall asleep every night thinking about making movies. Two years ago I didn’t have quite that amount of certainty.

Nick Nunziata: This convention has been the place to debut big comic book movies and huge tentpole projects, but oftentimes there are surprises that end up leaving the longest lasting impact. How hardwired to the folks that’ll populate Hall H are the sensibilities of DBAOTD and are you sensing a shift in what the horror fans out there are looking for in their diet?

Guillermo del Toro: Impossible to predict. We have some footage and a neat teaser and, we will see, right?  I hope it goes well. Then right after Comic Con will come a small battery of really interesting partnerships and announcements that will define my next decade, really.  I would love to be able to continue producing movies like The Orphanage and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark and other Gothic tales that embrace “the haunted house tale” and “Ghostly encounter narrative” of Yore with a twist. I can only hope that if I like it somebody else will. I co-wrote DBAOD with Matthew Robbins to direct myself originally. That’s how much I like it.  It has required an enormous effort and has stayed with me as a movie for decades and as a project actively for over a decade. We did it for a medium-low budget in order to retain some shocking liberties that are quite uncommon in genre movies these days. It is quite the little beastie.  I believe this is the first of many Comic Cons for Troy and I am happy to be there with him to hear the first reactions in the beloved Hall “H”!

Take a peek at Troy Nixey’s one of a kind teaser poster for Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, a Comic Con exclusive that 1,000 lucky folks are going to be walking away with this weekend right here.

Also, you might as well bookmark the Official Site. I envision good things in your future there.