DETAILS: How did you guys go from Catfish to the third Paranormal Activity?
Joost: Paramount called us up and asked, "Would you be remotely interested in this?" We flew out to L.A. for a meeting in this intimidating conference room. A few people were like, "Catfish was fake. Come on, you can tell us. If you just admit it was fake, we'll give you Paranormal Activity." And we were like, "We really want this movie, but Catfish was real."
DETAILS: Catfish was possible because of your habit of filming everything that
happens to you. Did that help in making a fiction film?
Schulman: You learn to make home video into something more. "Okay, I'm going to the hardware store. Make a movie about it. Now the next 15 minutes of my life need a beginning, middle, and end and can't be boring." You realize how you can infuse documentary with drama.
Joost: For this, we found actors who were really strong with improvisation, and we just ran scenes for a long time. Also, we constantly threw them curveballs, like turning off the lights. It was like a laboratory for scares.
Joost: When I saw the first one, I thought, "This is so smart." Here's a theater full of people absolutely terrified by a door opening on its own. It amazed me that a film with the pacing of a European art film can be enormously popular and also scare the shit out of people. It's not about eyeballs hanging out and explosions. It's tapping into something primal.