Filmmaking 101

Christopher Yocum

You’re a bigshot Hollywood producer. You are given a script that can only be described as Ghostbusters meets The X-Files. What do you do?

Well, my fledgling little producer, you go out and get the director of Ghostbusters and the lead actor from the X-Files of course. Next, you throw in some big-name actors in other roles, juice up the film with a big special effects budget and you have a blockbuster on your hands, right? The legitimacy of this formula will go to the test next week with the release of Ivan Reitman’s latest comedy, Evolution.

Evolution is the story of Ira (David Duchovny) and Harry (Orlando Jones), two community college professors who find a meteor that spawns quickly-evolving alien life forms. Their newfound mission: To stop the evolutionary process before the aliens take over the world. Their obstacle: A group of U.S. government scientists, headed up by a bumbling beauty named Allison (Julianne Moore). Their goals collide, becoming a decode-the-human-genome race to see which rival group can figure out a way to stop the aliens first.

“I got this very interesting script from Don Jakoby,” Reitman says, talking about how he got attached to the film. “The idea that something falls onto the earth containing single-celled organisms that evolve very quickly into something more complex and vicious with each successive evolution seemed like a cool idea that I had not seen before. That’s very hard to find.”

Aside from what Reitman perceived to be an innovative script, he was also attracted by the opportunity to make a big-budget, computer graphics-enhanced film. “I had never worked with CGI. Ghostbusters was done in a photochemical world of rubber and matte-paintings. I had always wanted to do something on a bigger scale.”

When asked about the parallels between Evolution and Ghostbusters, Reitman answered, “There is a common theme. I like the idea of the common man who steps in and does something heroic.”

Like Ghostbusters, the hero of Evolution is not a single common man acting alone, but a group of them. Ira and Harry are aided in their quest by another unlikely hero, an aspiring firefighter named Wayne, played by Cottage Grove native Seann William Scott (best known as Stifler from American Pie).

“This was a little different than Dude, Where’s my Car?,” Scott confessed. “Working with David, Orlando and Julianne – some of the actors that have had a huge influence on me – it was great. I was just in awe.” The big-name cast is definately a far cry from Scott’s earlier gigs in commercials as the Sunny Delight guy. You remember, his Mom was the one who always had Sunny D. in the fridge, making her “the coolest.”

If a few average Joe’s trying to save the world from evolving aliens while trying to overcome the U.S. government and meet a few nice girls in the meantime doesn’t appeal to your liking, Evolution also features its own take on race relations for the more socially conscious viewer.

“I wanted to set up a black-white relationship with David and Orlando that was fresh for the screen,” Reitman reveals. “These are both smart men who are of an equal stature.”

Jones also commented on the relationship. “This is the first movie I’ve seen with a black guy and a white guy as friends and one of them isn’t a convict. Our relationship isn’t based on race at all, we’re just two cats who teach together and are friends. There’s no gimmick. There’s no ridiculous hook.”

As for the special effects, the actors seemed to adjust to working with them fairly easily. In fact, the only actor who had previously worked with special effects – Duchovny – seemed to have the most problems with the technologically enhanced creatures.

“The big blue monkeys had really weird genitalia,” Duchovny sheepishly confessed. “It was kind of hermaphroditic. Julianne called it a ‘testina.’ It was odd because I’d find myself staring at these, and I didn’t want the monkeys to see me staring at their testina’s.” We’ve all been there, Dave.

There you have it, aspiring producers. In order to come up with a potential summer blockbuster all you need to do is gather together Mulder, Clarice Starling, The 7-Up guy and Stifler, throw in a few hermaphroditic aqua-colored apes, come up with an innovative way to destroy the world, make a progressive statement on race relations in this country and let the guy who did Stripes and Animal House direct it all.


Evolution opens today in theaters nationwide.