The original 'Predator' stands tall as one of the most iconic action films of all time, and director Dan Trachtenberg says the film is very close to his heart.
With 'Prey' hitting Disney+ in August, Trachtenberg and his motley crew are sharing how the film got made.
For the director, 'Prey' is a personal film for him owing to his long-standing love of the films.
“I was in third grade when the first one came out, and I have a very vivid memory of not being allowed to see the movie and being in the car on the way to a karate tournament with all the boys who had all just seen the film and described the entire movie to me on the way to the tournament," Trachtenberg recalls.
One moment stood out to the young director, and it became the genesis for 'Prey'.
“There was a scene where Billy, the Native American scout, stood his ground on a bridge over a waterfall and fought the Predator."
"Eventually, when I saw the movie, that scene didn’t happen. He cuts himself and then screams, and it’s all off-camera. That bit that I had imagined wasn’t actually in the movie, but is very much the genesis of this movie."
"I'd always wanted to see that moment and really think about 'oh, we've seen a lot of movies that are focused on Arnold Schwarzenegger and that
kind of hero, but if we focused a movie on a different kind of character?'
"So all of that sort of swirled and came together into the genesis of this movie.
'Prey' takes a novel approach, with the film set in the 1700s and following members of the Comanche Nation.
The Native American tribe faces off against the famous alien creature, and the film strove to advance Native American representation.
'Prey' has a large Native American cast and crew, and this was a point of pride for one of the film's producers, Jhane Myers.
Myers is Comanche and a member of the Blackfeet nation, and said "the fact that I’ve been able to work on this film is amazing to me, and more importantly, when I saw the very first film, I would have never thought that
my culture could ever collide with such a franchise."
The film was designed with the Comanche in mind, and Trachtenberg said "one of the most rewarding experiences" was working with Comanche educator and consultant Juanita Pahdopony.
“One of the most rewarding moments for me was working with Juanita,” Trachtenberg said, adding "she was near tears after reading the screenplay, not because there hasn’t been a movie that functioned the way it does, but because it features Native Americans as the heroes of the movie.”
Placing the Predator in a time period that wasn't the present day was a major point in Trachtenberg's pitch, and he said the new creature design reflects the setting of the film.
"As we saw at the end of Predator 2, there is precedent for showing that the Predators were on earth long before the original movies, and I wanted to explore that," he said.
'Prey' was first conceived in 2016, shortly after Trachtenberg finished production on '10 Cloverfield Lane', but the Disney-Fox buyout in 2017 put the film on hold for a while.
This was frustrating for the director, but he persisted in wanting to get the film made.
In the interim, Trachtenberg directed the pilot for Prime Video mega-hit 'The Boys' as well as an episode of 'Black Mirror', but 'Prey' was the one project he was keen on making.
"I started developing this maybe a year after '10 Cloverfield Lane' came out. And the last movie came out in theaters in 2018, And then, the Fox-Disney merger happened."
"All of those things really delayed this from getting going," he said.
"But the main inspiration behind it was sort of a confluence of a couple of things. One was really wanting to make a movie that was primarily action-driven, mainly told visually, but not wanting to that just be fun, just be a good time, to inject that with heart and emotion.
Filming finally began in June of last year, and the creative crew were keen to make this iteration of the Predator stand out.
While stating that this isn't a prequel film, Trachtenberg and his crew wanted to put their own stamp on the character, and that meant rejigging the design.
“One of the things we wanted to do with the creature in this movie made it look much more creature-like," he said.
"I adore the design of the original Predator, and think that’s one of the reasons why this franchise still exists, but I really wanted our Predator to feel much more alien and a little scarier."
The final design of the creature is under wraps for now, but rest assured, viewers will see a new spin on the new Predator.
“There was a very tricky balance in needing to make this movie feel like
it is 300 years prior to the original, but also still feeling like it’s very technologically advanced."
"The special effects devised this bone mask that feels more ancient and archaic and more brutal, but still interweaving organic and tact to feel cool and imposing," he added.