Paranormal Activity’s Oren Peli discusses his film career and the AR video game “Night Terrors: Bloody Mary”

"...I think we’re seeing just the beginning of these two worlds colliding in Night Terrors – I actually see augmented reality and this specific type of entertainment pairing quite well with Hollywood..."

Oren Peli was a computer programmer until he started hearing strange noises in his house. This would inspire him to create his first film, Paranormal Activity. The success of Paranormal Activity enabled Peli to become the producer of over a dozen film projects as well as the brilliant television show The River. Peli has recently combined his programming background with his success as a horror film producer by joining Imprezario and becoming an executive producer of the AR horror video game Night Terrors: Bloody Mary (iOS). Wanting to learn more about his background and Night Terrors, I was able to interview Peli for ScifiPulse.

You can learn more about Peli and Night Terrors by following them on Twitter at @Oren_Peli and @NightTerrorsApp.

 

Nicholas Yanes: Your career has largely been in the horror/supernatural genres. Why do you find these genres so interesting?

Oren Peli: Part of it was sort of accidental – I had the idea for Paranormal Activity, and after its success it made sense to continue with projects in that space. But, I have always enjoyed good horror films, it’s “fun” to be able to experience good scares in a safe environment. The supernatural always fascinated me because it’s something we don’t know much about or understand.

Yanes: You’re from Israel. Are there any horror stories popular in Israel that you think more Americans should know about?

Peli: Interestingly, horror is not big in Israel. One theory I heard is that life is so stressful there that people don’t need more stress in their spare time. The nightly news is all the horror they need! However, in recent years some horror films have come out. My favorite recent Israeli horror film is Big Bad Wolves.

Yanes: Before Paranormal Activity, you were a computer software programmer. What attracted you to film making?

Peli: It was a combination of several factors: I started to get burned out, and really hated my job and needed a change. Then, I came up with the idea for Paranormal Activity and figured why not give it a shot?  I’ve always been a fan of films, but did think it’ll ever become something I could try until I saw Blair Witch Project, which opened my eyes to the Found Footage format.

Yanes: Your latest project is the AR video game Night Terrors: Bloody Mary. Given your production backgrounds, what are some of the ways video game and film productions mirror each other?

Peli: Filmmaking has obvious roots in story-telling, and many times the effectiveness of story-telling deals with pulling at the heartstrings of the viewer’s emotions – building connections and then tearing those connections apart. We felt our storyline with Night Terrors accomplishes an emotional connection with users in both the story itself, and the fact the story is unfolding in their physical environment.

Yanes: With that said, what attracted you to Night Terrors?

Peli: I believe the audience is going to enjoy being pulled into a new medium of entertainment – beyond even the practical content and audio which looks and sounds phenomenal, we believe this will be a new advancement in gaming, and it will hopefully open the imaginations of players in experiencing something so different, yet so familiar at the same time.

Yanes: Night Terrors is unique among video games due to its Augmented Reality technology. What were some of the AR elements of this game that truly scared you?

Peli: I think we’re seeing just the beginning of these two worlds colliding in Night Terrors – I actually see augmented reality and this specific type of entertainment pairing quite well with Hollywood. Developers are always looking to advance their industry and I think Hollywood could bring the content from their vast libraries and of course, the actors to star in them. Together, with real life subjects and the player’s own environment could create the ultimate “choose your own adventure” experience.

Yanes: As the name implies, Night Terrors: Bloody Mary is inspired by the Bloody Mary folklore. Why did this character appeal to the team at Imprezario?

Peli: We felt the Bloody Mary legend was well-known enough for people of many generations to remember. Besides the obvious nostalgia going back to when people were younger, it also paired very well with an augmented reality experience being in your home.

 

Yanes: While producing Night Terrors: Bloody Mary, what were some of the biggest challenges the development team overcame?

Peli: Developmentally, the largest challenges involved the way we generated the content for the app. We used practical effects with real actors instead of CGI. There were many things that we had to be aware of, such as hard edges with the footage, lighting during the shot in relation to the scene, etc. Overall, we are happy with how it came out visually and felt the route of practical effects was worth the extra effort.

Yanes: When people finish playing Night Terrors: Bloody Mary, what do you hope they take away from the experience?

Peli: I believe the audience is going to enjoy being pulled into a new medium of entertainment – beyond even the practical content and audio which looks and sounds phenomenal, we believe this will be a new advancement in gaming, and it will hopefully open the imaginations of players in experiencing something so different, yet so familiar at the same time.

Yanes: Finally, what else are you working on that people can look forward to?

Peli: I am currently developing a smartphone app called SPOT which allows people to create and find local events.

You can learn more about Peli and Night Terrors by following them on Twitter at @Oren_Peli and @NightTerrorsApp.

Remember to follow me on twitter @NicholasYanes, and to follow Scifipulse on twitter @SciFiPulse and on facebook.

 

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