Hi Reddit. Long time lurker, first time poster...

A few years ago I got sick of my shitty-ass day job and decided to try something else in life. With a crew consisting of my best friend and my live-in girlfriend (she didn’t really have a choice) I shot a movie in my house. It turned out to be a huge success and now I make movies full time.

Happy to answer any questions about my projects that have already been released (Paranormal Activity 1,2,3, Insidious, The River), and the soon to be released Chernobyl Diaries (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pp9xuquibQc). I can not comment about other projects in development except to confirm that PA4 is slated for release on Oct 19th.

I’ll be around for a few hours.

Twitter Proof: https://twitter.com/#!/Oren_Peli

Phew! I tried to answer as many questions as I could... that was a blast! thanks all.

If you liked my other movies (or horror in general) check out CHERNOBYL DIARIES, out next week on Memorial Day.




Comments: 2070 • Responses: 53  • Date: 

Sparta_Warrior_701011 karma

Nigga those ghosts was scary!

OrenPeli903 karma

werd up.

[deleted]560 karma

I just wanted to say that Paranormal Activity scared the living shit out of me. I hate the scene where the girl is under the blankets & the demon moves the blankets and grabs her leg. Blankets are supposed to be the fucking safe zone, man!

Anyways, thanks for doing an AMA, we all really appreciate it. How did you make the demon of Paranormal Activity so terrifying? It's like you know all of my personal fears.

OrenPeli670 karma

it's a combination of fearing the unknown, the invisible, and the sense of vulnerability you have when you're asleep.

also, the idea that you're not safe in your own home...

[deleted]88 karma

Trust me, it totally worked. Thanks to your goddamn movie I would lay in bed and literally jump from every sound in my house. Absolutely scared the shit out of me.

I'm pretty easily scared, especially for a 22-year-old dude, but congratulations on doing exactly what you set out to do.

If I could ask one more question: I've heard that originally Paranormal Activity was meant to open-ended as to whether it was actually a demon or if the girl just went insane and killed her boyfriend, but was later changed to be the story of some people being haunted. Is there any truth to this, or was it definitely a demon from the time you first thought of it?

OrenPeli193 karma

the original ending was a bit more open for interpretation... but not really. if Katie was just crazy, it still doesn't explain how she got dragged out of bed by an invisible force.

loconotion515 karma

I want to thank you. After watching that movie with a room of wimpy girls, (one of which I was interested in at the time) I proceeded to leave. I went to the front door, opened the door and closed, then walked quietly back in the room. It was an opportunity I couldn't pass up... I jumped out from being the wall and screamed - simultaneously erupting the room in a cacophony of girl scream followed by 6 girls now unstoppably crying..

Thanks for that - although that did ruin my chances with my PLI at the time...

OrenPeli329 karma

glad to hear you used it wisely!

vaultzero381 karma

How much did you pay in copyright fees to get Darth Maul in Insidious?

OrenPeli537 karma

he was simply happy to get some extra work.

FuhreriousFapDerp348 karma

Jesus man; I love all your work, but Insidious was probably the most intense movie I have ever seen. No cheap horror or obvious scares... just pure unadulterated intensity. Great call with Patrick Wilson by the way; it was kind of like Hard Candy in reverse for that role.

OrenPeli232 karma

thanks, although the credit for Insidious should really go to James Wan and Leigh Whannel!

gypsywhisperer270 karma

Did you expect Paranormal Activity to explode and be as successful as it was?

How did it affect your relationship with your girlfriend?

OrenPeli349 karma

not at all. as I was making it, I had to be hopeful that if the movie turned out great, maybe it'll get limited theatrical distribution, but the odds are definitely against you. but that hope kept me motivated.

it didn't help the relationship - we are no longer together, although that wasn't the main reason.

n00bikscube1122253 karma

Just wanted to say I promise I won't pirate Chernobyl Diaries (or any of your other work). You have my respect good sir.

OrenPeli269 karma

appreciate it!

gypsywhisperer114 karma

Aw, that's a shame that it didn't work out with her.

Do you consider yourself a morbid person?

Where do you find inspiration for the plots?

OrenPeli208 karma

I think I'm generally a happy person, but I have morbid fascination with things.

inspiration can come from anywhere. no one specific source.

funfungiguy176 karma

If you had to fight a dinosaur to the death in a Dinosaur Death Match using only primitive weapons and not allowed to set traps, what's the biggest dinosaur you think you win against? You don't have to name a specific dinosaur, just give us a size reference.

OrenPeli245 karma


before it hatches.

funfungiguy140 karma

Jesus Christ, Oren. You just beat one of my fucking T-Rexes.

Oren, what the fuck man? Oren...

Look, if it's in an egg then... GODDAMMIT, OREN!!!

OrenPeli160 karma

ok, maybe then just a second after it hatches. it'll be officially a T-Rex then.

ESPguitarist171 karma

I heard that Paranormal Activity was actually completely done long before it was released in theaters. Is this true?

Also, how did it feel to basically come out of basically nowhere in the movie industry and make it pretty big?

OrenPeli278 karma

it was shot in 2006, edited into 2007. then slightly tweaked (mostly new ending) once DreamWorks came on board. released fall of 2009.

it was pretty nutty. I'm still not used to it. beyond my wildest dreams.

Haro_Kiti68 karma

Which ending to Paranormal Activity do you prefer, the one where Katie disappears or the one where she slits her throat?

OrenPeli184 karma

I like the original "cops" ending, and the official ending.

DanielFord15159 karma

I heard that when the studios bought out the rights for Paranormal Activity 1, they asked to change and retake the ending. Why did you let them do this? Thanks for answering my earlier question!

OrenPeli309 karma

in test-screenings the original ending didn't play as strongly as the rest of the film so we experimented with new endings. in one of the most surreal episodes of my life, an ending was suggested by Spielberg which we shot, tested and it played great in front of an audience.

Carninator132 karma

Seeing as Olivia Dudley is part of the Chernobyl cast, are you a fan of 5secondfilms?

OrenPeli179 karma

I wasn't familiar with 5 sec films before casting her. but we're all fans of her!

WhiskeyBiscuit132 karma

When your movies are finished and you watch them at the premiere do they ever scare you? This also goes for other horror films, has being involved in the making of scary films ruined your enjoyment of them?
Thanks for the AMA.

OrenPeli367 karma

my own movies never scare me, but it's a terrifying experience watching your movie with an audience wondering how they receive it.

Lauralee711110 karma

Was there any true video takes from Chernobyl used in your movie?

OrenPeli185 karma

yes, we used some stock footage.

Magasaraus109 karma

My husband and I love The River! I'm looking forward to more episodes! Also you made my husband shriek while watching Insidious in the movie theater. My 16 year-old cousin asked him if he was too scared and wanted to leave.

OrenPeli98 karma

glad to hear :)

DontFearTheHobo100 karma

In writing Paranormal Activity, did you purposely try to add comic relief? Micah had a few humorous lines, and the entire theater was cracking up as soon as the psychic said he had couldn't be there. Was this intentional, or just a happy accident?

OrenPeli176 karma

some of it was intentional, some accidental, and most of it thanks to Micah's improv.

DontFearTheHobo54 karma

I had no idea some of the movie was improv. Were a lot of the lines improvised?

OrenPeli233 karma

about 99% of it was improv.

Hendoja2197 karma

Do you think a thriller/horror movie could work without the supernatural aspect? I get that the stuff we don't understands scares the shit out of us but could a scary movie be successful if there was no disease, zombie, ghost, or any other non-existent thing?

OrenPeli397 karma

of course. Seven. Silence of Lambs.

sometimes people are scarier than anything else.

Lycurgus94 karma

Oren, hello! It's Brad McHargue - I interviewed you via Skype a coupla months ago. Just wanted to say hello and welcome! Glad to see you on here. I'm lookin' forward to seeing CHERNOBYL DIARIES!

As for a question, do you feel that found footage is limited in how it can be executed, or do you think that there a limitless ways to play with the conceit?

OrenPeli85 karma

hey Brad!

found footage those present limitations and challenges, but I think we will see lots of smart filmmakers using it in ways we haven't thought of yet.

lexi12345678900078 karma

Out of all your works, which are you most happy with?

OrenPeli222 karma


canada_dryer77 karma

What was your "shitty-ass day job?"

OrenPeli169 karma

video game programmer.

provaros75 karma

Hey Oren. I can proudly say that Paranormal Activity has kept me awake far more than all the horror movies I've seen combined. Now here are my two questions: 1: How many Paranormal Activity films do you plan on making and 2: on October I will enroll into a film-making university. What are your suggestions for an aspiring filmaker? Thanks in advance.

OrenPeli128 karma

we're only planning to make PA4. it's one movie at a time - no plans beyond the current one.

sorry, I never went to film school so I can't give you useful advise.

lexi12345678900069 karma

Hi! What's your favorite movie?

OrenPeli261 karma

Stand by Me.

ZoeGusta61 karma

I see you and your girlfriend broke up after PA.

Are you interested in short, fat chicks with kids?

/half trolling

OrenPeli78 karma

sounds tempting, but I already have a girlfriend.

formation56 karma

Why can't you get Chernobyl Diaries in the Theatres here in New Zealand. Some direction towards Hoyts Distribution or Village Roadshow would be appreciated. The main reason I say this is that some of these movies get released in the US 2 or 3 months before they come out here. This usually forces people into piracy as HD rips become available before any theatre release.

Can you do anything about this?

OrenPeli79 karma

I don't really handle international distribution, but I will ask around.

relic227953 karma

Thanks for doing this! Quick question. Japan made a version of Paranormal Activity called "Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night". Were you involved in anyway with the production?

OrenPeli90 karma

I was not. haven't even seen it yet.

CrazyFunPenguin49 karma

Is there going to be a Paranormal Activity 4?

OrenPeli115 karma

yes. Oct 19th.

gazzawhite48 karma

Sorry if this question has been asked before, but I'm curious about the scenes in the Paranormal Activity movies that are fast-forwarded. For example, in PA1 there was one night where Katie got out of bed and stood there staring at Micah for 3+ hours. How long did those scenes actually take?

OrenPeli78 karma

much less... only a few minutes. although Katie was willing to stand there all night if needed.

RobertPaulson_AMA45 karma

Ma nishma?

OrenPeli58 karma

Tov Toda.

Williamscorn44 karma

Is Tom Riddle's diary one of the Chernobyl Diaries? :P

OrenPeli61 karma

maybe that'll be the sequel.

diggsbee39 karma

What's your favorite scary movie? Movies don't usually scare me but the one that did was Paranormal Activity. I could relate to the realness of the characters and the suspense built up in a subtle but terrifying way.

OrenPeli116 karma

"favorite" is not the right word, but no movie scared me like THE EXORCIST. partly because I was only 10 or 11 when I saw it.

next would be Blair Witch.


If you were to direct a movie with M. Night Shyamalan, who would come up with the more interesting twist?

OrenPeli73 karma

I think he's the master of twists!

roller_coaster33 karma

I just want to say I loved Insidious and PA3 and I look forward to Chernobyl Diaries. Also, considering the video game S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Is based in the vicinity of Chernobyl and it is a horror game (one of my favorites) did you use any inspiration from the series?

OrenPeli40 karma

I never played STALKER, but did read about it once I started researching Chernobyl.

[deleted]28 karma

Was the book michah was reading about demons real in pa1? I've been curious to read it. Also, are there any alternate endings for pa3? I do promotions for paramount and can't wait for pa4! Thanks

OrenPeli48 karma

yes, it's a real book. don't remember the exact name.

we shot several different endings for PA3 (and PA2... and PA1).

Bensonc77628 karma

Hello Mr. Peli, I was a huge fan of The River and was sad to see it cancelled. Do you have any plans to return to television? And do you believe that The River would have been more successful had you gone to a more premium cable channel such as HBO?

OrenPeli34 karma

no specific plans at the moment.

One can only speculate, but if I return to TV I might want to try cable.

finguck26 karma

Which one of the PA movies do you personally think is the scariest?

OrenPeli51 karma

it's hard for me to objective. people tell me it's either 1 or 3.

ironicTshirt26 karma

Loved PA1 even though I'm typically not too into the horror genre. During the making of this movie what made you decide to not go the route of gore/showing the demon?

OrenPeli100 karma

for my taste, showing too much can often be less scary than not seeing the "monster". your own imagination can be way more effective.

Blair Witch Project was a great example of that. when I watched it I was terrified BECAUSE we never saw the witch.

also, if your enemy is invisible it can sometimes be much scarier.

CicconeYouth0425 karma

Hi there. Since "The River" was just cancelled, could you please tell me where the story was going and/or what was supposed to happen throughout the rest of the show's seasons?

OrenPeli51 karma

I'm still holding on to the secrets of The River... who knows... maybe one day it'll be resurrected?

fruitcakee17 karma

Did you think it was going to be a huge success when you first filmed paranormal activities? Also, how spooky was the scene and the area during filming?

OrenPeli32 karma

answered above re thinking it would be a success...

it wasn't spooky at all actually. we were having fun making a movie!

LivingLeper16 karma

Did the actors know what was going on for the most part in Paranormal Activity, or did you try and actually scare the actors?

What is Patrick Wilson like in real life?

What movie have you enjoyed the most making?

OrenPeli38 karma

Sometimes they did (in the more complex scenes), and other times I would just tell them "good night" and do things to scare and surprise them.

Patrick Wilson is super nice, very genuine person.


Frajer16 karma

What do you think accounts for the huge success of found footage films recently?

OrenPeli50 karma

I think that when done right, found-footage has a sense of realism and intimacy about them that makes the audience connect to the characters and plot on a deeper level. most of us have gotten used to seeing YouTube videos and reality shows and they feel more real than "traditional" scripted movies.

OrenPeli14 karma

Thanks all! it was a blast! sorry if I didn't get to your question...time for dinner...

If you liked my other movies (or horror in general) check out CHERNOBYL DIARIES, out next week on Memorial Day.




wotutalkinabaaat13 karma

why did you make a sequel ?

edit: and then another one after that?

OrenPeli38 karma

I was originally against the idea of doing a sequel, but the studio insisted because of the success of PA1. Once the idea for PA2 was developed I thought it could actually be great.

when PA2 succeeded it an easy decision to do PA3. as long as the fans want more chapters in the franchise and we have good ideas, why not?

[deleted]12 karma

Ever thought of branching out to genres besides horror/thriller?

OrenPeli95 karma

I might in the future. no romantic comedies any time soon though.

Warlizard12 karma

Heya Oren. First of all, congrats on your success. In the brutal world of filmmaking, you did it, and that's awesome.

I really enjoyed Paranormal Activity. To be honest, I didn't expect to and figured it was just going to be a ripoff of Blair Witch, but I threw it in anyway and found myself drawn in.

Now to the ending -- which one do you prefer?

Lots of luck on your new work and hope you are having a blast.

OrenPeli18 karma

well, I do like my original ending (cops), but I'll happily admit that the Spielberg ending works amazingly well and is probably the biggest or second biggest scare in the movie.


DrTitan12 karma

Hi there! Concerning the PA movies, where did you draw your inspiration for the fiend/demon? Do you feel like such a fiend or any such being may actually exist in the world?

By the way, it's very difficult for me to get my SO to sit through a scary movie, but she's loved the PA movies, so well done!

OrenPeli39 karma

thanks :)

in the year leading up to me filming PA, I read any book I could get my hands on that dealt with hauntings, possessions, demonology, etc, and watch tons of movies and documentaries on the subject. I got a bit of info from different sources.

personally, I'm more of a skeptic and need proof before believing in the supernatural.

Cannibalzz9 karma

What's your favorite obscure horror movie?

OrenPeli29 karma

most of my favorite horror movies are well known... obscure? lots of little movies I've seen and loved and aren't known to many. Eden Lake, tucker dale vs evil are a couple I saw recently.

[deleted]9 karma

Who has been your favourite actor to work with so far?

OrenPeli28 karma

I've been lucky to have worked with many greatly talented actors. I'd say that Micah and Katie hold a special place in my heart because they were part of something that felt magical and special.

mtbsean9 karma

When you made "Paranormal Activity", were you inspired by movies like, "Blair Witch Project"?

Was there ever a point when you realized, "Oh wow, this is going to be huge"?

OrenPeli28 karma

yes, BWP was a direct influence - both in how well done and scary it was, and in the idea that found-footage can be so effective for a horror movie, but also in the story behind the making of BWP... how a few friends with no experience, no money and no connections created this movie that became a huge success.

it wasn't one moment... but with every private screening and later public screenings at festivals, getting good reviews and feedback I started feeling like I could be on to something here!

dingofarmer20048 karma

Hey, thanks for making these amazing movies! I'm an up and coming screenwriter. Have any tips for me to get my kick-ass scripts noticed and produced?

OrenPeli19 karma

I wouldn't really know because I took my own unusual path into the biz, but maybe screen-play contests / festivals?