Hi Reddit, I'm Jason Blum and my company, Blumhouse Productions, produces scary movies like THE PURGE, the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY franchise, and the upcoming INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 2, in theaters September, Friday the 13th. I am so excited that James, Leigh and the cast are back together. I'm here for the next hour and a half to answer all of your questions so go ahead and Ask Me Anything.

Proof: https://twitter.com/blumhouse/status/347011378613194752

That was so fun. Thanks everyone. Let's do it again soon.

Comments: 178 • Responses: 34  • Date: 

Checkerszero13 karma

So pumped for Insidious 2! It's the only horror movie that's gotten to me, mainly because it avoided gore and isolated the viewer within the "astral plane" and what-not. I also noticed Night Owl from Watchmen in this new installment. It's kind of baffling after I saw the guy who played The Comedian in The Possession.

OK. Questions!

What's Rose Byrne like?

What's the scriptwriting process like for these movies? Are there visual artists and concept designers that flesh out the overall theme?

What's your company's motto, or formula when it comes to horror?

IAmJasonBlum17 karma

Rose Byrne is a great actress to work with. She was on the fence about doing the sequel for a long time but Leigh's script finally got her to say yes.

Unlike traditional Hollywood movies, we rarely have more than one writer and often times the writer is the director or co-writes the script.

Also, unlike Hollywood movies, the director's have complete creative control and they choose the visual artists and concept designers. Some movies have them, some movies don't.

Unlike other companies, we focus on what's between the scares as opposed to the scares. The character and story between the scares is what makes the scares scary.

ZachP21812 karma

Why do you mainly produce horror films? Huge Insidious fan btw; I've seen it a good 9 times and the scene where the Dracula-looking demon is in the window of the baby's room scares me every time.

IAmJasonBlum20 karma

I love all kinds of movies, including horror movies. But one of the reasons I mainly produce horror now is that I really enjoy making low-budget movies with total creative freedom and having a big audience watch them. It's harder to make an action movie or a period drama really inexpensively. And if you make the movies more expensively you necessarily give up a lot of creative control.

That scene scares the hell out of me too.

4everfireflame10 karma

Is the "red face demon" back in Insidious 2?

IAmJasonBlum21 karma

Without giving too much away, all of us fell in love with the red faced demon and we went about making the sequel to answer a lot of the questions posed in the first movie. I wish we had done this more in the early Paranormal Activity movies so we did it a LOT in Insidious Chapter 2. There is a ton of crossover between Insidious and Insidious 2 - think Back to the Future 2.

fauxscales9 karma

how did you get into filmmaking? How did you get your first job, did you have any contacts etc and do you have any advice for a young girl wanting to start working in film?

IAmJasonBlum21 karma

My first job was selling cable TV door to door. It was a commission only job and it was some of the best training I had to becoming a producer. My job after that was as a real estate agent in NY - also great training. The first film I produced was Noah Baumbach's "Kicking and Screaming" - he was my roommate in college.

My first job was for a company in NY called Arrow Entertainment. I met Arrow because they were going to finance "Kicking and Screaming" Ultimately they decided not to, but they thought I was a good salesman so they hired me.

I'll tell you a funny story about contacts. My family knew Steve Martin. I sent Steve Martin the script of "Kicking and Screaming." I did not know Steve Martin, but he read it and he called me. When he called, the phone was shaking in my hand because I was so nervous. I was 22 at the time. He said that he liked the script and he offered to invest a little bit of money in the movie. I asked if he could send me a letter saying how much he liked the script, which he very generously agreed to do. I ripped the cover page of the script off, put the letter from Steve Martin on the script and I sent it to every movie company that existed. And that's how I got "Kicking and Screaming" financed.

My advice to you, is not to wait for others but to go out and make shorts as cheaply as you possibly can and keep making films. Do not wait for other people to help you, but go out and make stuff yourself. And of course do stories that can be told inexpensively, ideally set in your own home or front yard.

pigpuddle9 karma

Hi Jason,

Thanks for doing this AMA! I don't have any questions. Just wanted to let you know that I first watched Paranormal Activity when my wife was out of town, I had a three-story house all to myself, and it was 2am. I didn't sleep well for a few months.

IAmJasonBlum7 karma

I'm really glad to hear this. It means we're doing our job!

MSY906 karma

hi :) what is your favourite pizza topping?

IAmJasonBlum11 karma

Very important question. I'm on a 5-2 diet right now that means that I'm allowed to eat pizza 5 days a week and then I fast for 2 days. Pizza happens to be one of my favorite foods and my favorite topping (which you can't get in most places) is actually pesto. And my favorite pizza is in New York on 8th Avenue and 32nd Street right by Penn Station. I also like Artichoke Pizza also in NY.

Superfluous4205 karma

what scares you?

IAmJasonBlum18 karma

Earthquakes and carbs.

jasonballwine5 karma

I was wondering if you could ever develop any creepypasta's into movies.

IAmJasonBlum11 karma

I think we've already done it! Insidious is James and Leigh's own creepypasta!

Dialupbrain5 karma

Was the monster/demon from Insidious based on Darth Maul?

IAmJasonBlum6 karma

That's a good question. I haven't the faintest idea, but I'll ask James and Leigh.

Beetush4 karma

Do you believe in paranormal activity?

IAmJasonBlum12 karma

Generally, as a rule I do not. But I have seen 1 ghost in my life. I was living in the basement of a storefront apartment on Crosby St. in NYC. I believe the exact address was 37. In the middle of the night at the foot of my bed a figure appeared holding someone else in his arms. Now I know everyone will think I was dreaming, but I was not. I know for certain I was not and the next day, I moved from the basement to the ground level so I never slept there again.

As a side not, I might also add, and this is true, we caught large rats in this apartment. It was when I was a real estate agent. Three of us shared the apartment and my share of the rent was $300.

BigTom524 karma

What is your favorite horror film, and what was the movie that inspired you to pursue your career in filmmaking?

IAmJasonBlum2 karma

Rebecca is my favorite horror film. There was no single film that inspired me to get into filmmaking, but Hitchcock is one of my favorites or maybe favorite filmmaker. I studied his films in college and they are a big inspiration to our company.

bigtophat133 karma

Would you ever think of doing a purge 2 not based so specifically on one family and more on a city over the course of the night or something?

IAmJasonBlum6 karma

We're open to anything right now and thinking about many different things.

TheDuskDragon3 karma

Thanks for doing an AMA!

Are you planning on producing a Purge 2 movie? I think the concept has a lot of potential for some interesting stories.

IAmJasonBlum11 karma

We are developing a sequel to The Purge. I think the first movie only touches on James DeMonaco's great, high concept idea. I think there are a lot more stories to tell in the world where the Purge exists and hopefully we'll come up with something good.

Mrbrodyg3 karma

Is it difficult working with children in the horror genre? Is there a specific tactic used to help separate the work from reality?

IAmJasonBlum4 karma

It is always difficult working with children in film because of their limited hours. In the horror genre specifically, we always run what we are doing by the children's parents who are always with us on set. And they have the right to approve anything we do. The scares are usually done in a series of shots so that each individual shot is never frightening to the kids. Luckily in the first Insidious, Ty Simpkins spent most of the movie in a comma. However, he has a ton of great scenes in Chapter 2.

Jangetta3 karma

Paranormal Activity made me interested. Until you named the Mom Julie in PA3 and the demon Toby.

Insidious made me unable to sleep and go into a cold sweat when I finally did sleep.

My question is, is Insidious Chapter 2 just as freaky as the first? I was forced to watch it three more times after my first because my brother and friends refused to watch it alone.

IAmJasonBlum10 karma

I'm sad to say Insidious 2 is quite a lot scarier than the first movie. The budget was slightly higher, we had more toys to play with and when we have screened the movie audiences have said that they found the film scarier than the first.

Sorry about the names on Paranormal Activity, we'll try to do better next time.

lkm8192 karma

Thanks for taking the time to do this AMA, Mr. Blum. Big fan of your films and looking forward to checking out the Purge. My question is what is the biggest challenge with making a low budget film? And were you surprised by the enormous monetary success of Paranormal Activity?

IAmJasonBlum3 karma

The biggest challenge is that you have very little time to tell the story (shooting days). I answered the Paranormal question previously, but YES. Very surprised.

MarkGruber2 karma

Without any spoilers (of course), how did you go about using the same family for the sequel? At the end of the first film, things seemed pretty doomed and pretty wrapped up.

IAmJasonBlum8 karma

The sequel picks up right where the first story ends. At the end of Empire Strikes back things look pretty doomed, but they made another.

carcaridon2 karma

Do you have a submission process for queries for writers and/or directors?

IAmJasonBlum2 karma

Unfortunately, we don't take direct submissions. Material has to be submitted through an agent or lawyer.

Xookoh2 karma

Hey Jason, big fan of horror movies. I have a question for you, but this is coming from a 'wannabe' writer. I really want to know, what are key facts to making a perfect horror? Because coming from PA, that is aimed at "Recording Film" and "Chronological". And Insidious has great "Atmosphere" and a "Linear" story. Thank you for being here on Reddit, love giving questions related to horror films.

IAmJasonBlum2 karma

The key to making a great horro movie is thinking of a great/mysterious story first and then thinking of what the scares will be as opposed to the other way around.

Paranormal Activity is about a girl who sees ghosts and a guy who thinks she's full of shit and sets out to prove her wrong.

Sinister is about a guy choosing his career over his family.

The Purge is about a society that has embraced violence to a detrimental end.

Insidious is about a father trying to save his son.

Those could just as easily describe dramas as horror movies. They are all great high concept dramatic ideas.

rileyanne2 karma

James and Leigh seem wild. they're my favorite filmmakers! What is it like working with them?

IAmJasonBlum3 karma

James and Leigh are at the top of their game. They have such crazy imaginations that sometimes you listen to them and you think "this is bonkers" and then they'll tie up the idea in this really coherent way and it's totally genius. For instance, in the first movie I thought the humor of Specs and Tucker worked against the scares, but then we screened the movie for an audience and what James and Leigh made me understand is that laughing and being scared work well together and one enhances the other as they are both expressions of anxiety in different ways. This is why I produce these movies rather than write or direct them.

IKingJeremy2 karma

Were you surprised at all by the success of Paranormal Activity?

Have you seen any of the spoof or copy cat movies that have been made of it, and if so what do you think of them?

Is Paranormal Activity 5 the last planned film in the franchise?

IAmJasonBlum3 karma

Already answered about the success, YES, very surprised.

I loved the spoof Steve Martin did for the Academy Awards and I thought Haunted House was a funny movie. It's fun to be spoofed.

We try no to think past the current film we are working on, but I hope not!

Throwitindatrash2 karma

Hi Jason! So happy to see that you're doing this AMA. I have seen all of your Paranormal Activity films and Insidious as well. I was just wondering, what was the thought process behind the creation of the Paranormal Activity films? The first one was a very bold idea so I'm interested to hear any responses.

Thanks for the AMA!

IAmJasonBlum3 karma

First of all, check out Sinister and The Purge too!

The first Paranormal was wholly created, written and directed by Oren Peli. It was 100% his idea and I, like you, thought it was brilliant. The sequels are much more of a group effort. We have meetings once a week throughout the year to discuss story ideas.

joey123mo2 karma

Hey Jason, I've been really excited for you to do this AMA and I have a lot of questions for you but I've narrowed it down to just a few so here goes nothing.

  1. How do you and your team option scripts and is there a sort of "wish-list" of directors that you have that you'd want to work with?

  2. Do you only deal with popular writers and directors or do you ever accept unsolicited scripts that people send you in the mail? Have you ever passed on a script that soon became a popular film and, if so, how does that affect you?

  3. What inspired you to start making horror that was based more in social and political issues than the average slasher, haunted house story, or torture porn movie?

  4. I've been very interested in working for Blumhouse Productions for quite some time now and if that were even remotely possible, how would I go about doing that?

Thanks again for doing this AMA. I have so many more questions but this is the stuff I need to know!

IAmJasonBlum3 karma

First of all, these are great questions.

1.) We absolutely have a wish list of directors that we want to work with. Let me give you some examples of people on our list now: Juan Bayona, James McTeigue, Craig Brewer, Patty Jenkins, Jonathan Mostow.

2.) Unfortunately, we do not accept unsolicited material. I have passed on many things that have become successful. It is always painful, but it is something I love about our business. No one is right all of the time.

3.) Paranormal inspired me to start making horror movies as opposed to just enjoying them in the theater. I had spent half of my career in the independent film world and half of my career in the studio film world. And Paranormal was a perfect blend of both worlds. It was made completely independently and released by a studio. That has been the case with Insidious, Sinister and The Purge as well.

4.) So flattered that you are interested in working with my company. We typically post our job listings online so stay tuned.

maze362 karma

What advice to do you give emerging producers about developing their careers? What were the major choices/victories early in your career that you feel set you on the road to becoming the producer you are today?

IAmJasonBlum2 karma

First of all, don't listen to too much advice from other people including me!

Find producers whose work you admire and offer to work for free or intern for them.

Believing in Paranormal Activity for 3 years when no one else did (except Oren). And using the success of Paranormal to continue in the model of Paranormal Activity as opposed to trying to make bigger budget films.

[deleted]2 karma


IAmJasonBlum2 karma

Luckily we work with filmmakers who have complete creative visions and do such a good job managing their movies and scripts. We also have a company bible that helps us keep track of everything.

Rob_Saget2 karma

Would love to have you on an episode of my podcast to nerd out about movies, tv, etc. Can we make this happen?

IAmJasonBlum6 karma

Direct message me and we'll figure it out.

AndyJimbo132 karma

If Insidious: Chapter 2 is successful do you think there could be a possibility for a third film? And how likely would that be?

IAmJasonBlum3 karma

I really hope so. A lot would depend on, as you said, how successful the second film is and whether or not James and Leigh thought there was more to tell.

firefighter36991 karma

I feel that I can really connect with your movies, especially paranormal activity and insidious due to the spiritual/demonic type of horror. It seems to me this is THE most scary type of movie, because you really have no control over those realms as a human. What type of horror, in your opinion, makes the scariest type of movie? Do you ever feel that in the hacker/slasher type movies you could just fight back, and that takes away from the terror?

IAmJasonBlum8 karma

I think that if you care about the characters and what happens to them, everything is inherently scarier. Again, we try really hard to make sure our movies have relatable and well developed characters. The drama is what distinguishes great scary movies.

The Purge is kind of a fight back type movie and I still find it terrifying.

sluke10901 karma

What's your favorite Nicolas Cage movie?

IAmJasonBlum2 karma

Lord of War is my favorite.

Also, I really loved Ethan Hawke's answer about Nicholas Cage during his AMA. See below.


dankzephyr1 karma

what are all the references from the blumhouse productions logo thing?

are these classic movies, or just scary archetypes?

IAmJasonBlum2 karma

The latter. Aaron Becker did an amazing job designing our logo. He does the main titles for most of our movies including The Purge and he is currently working on Insidious: Chapter 2. He is brilliant. Check out his site: http://www.aaronbecker.tv/

will88981 karma

Do you know who the "mater mortis" or "Mother of Death" the Insidious: Chapter 2 trailer alludes to is? Who? This has been driving me crazy!

IAmJasonBlum4 karma

First of all, huge props for figuring that out. Someone had to point that out to me! "Mother of Death" answers some questions about the villain int he film. I can't say more than that right now.

cor3yf0 karma

Hey Jason, Thanks for doing this! Question 1: Is "the song" in this one again? So very creepy.. Question 2: Do you have any favorite foreign horror films, directors or even sub-genres?

IAmJasonBlum1 karma

1.) The answer is... Yes. Wait, what's creepy about that song? 2.) Juan Bayona is one of my favorite foreign directors and I would love to make a movie with him. But I can't get a meeting with him!!

lfisher2k0 karma

favorite morning radio show?

IAmJasonBlum6 karma

Howard Stern. Howard Stern. Howard Stern. Howard Stern.

ReadMyPosts-1 karma

Did you ever expect Paranormal Activity to be as successful as it has?

IAmJasonBlum3 karma

No one (except Oren) expected Paranormal Activity to be as successful as it was. It was a surprise to me, to Paramount, to our international distributors, to Katie and Micah and even to the people who own the theaters, the exhibitors. No one ever thought that there would ever be 1 sequel to Paranormal, let alone 5.