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Oren Peli talks The Ghost Dimension

Oren Peli shot onto the Horror scene with the overnight success of his debut film Paranormal Activity. After that the director made the long time shelved film Area 51 in 2009. Following the misfortune of Area 51, Peli took to producing, leaving the director’s chair indefinitely. Since then Peli served as a producer on the massively successful Paranormal Activity series. We spoke to Peli in honor of the DVD/Digital release of Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension.

Scene Creek: Did you ever anticipate the success of Paranormal Activity when you screened the first film?

Oren Peli: Absolutely not. When we made the first movie I could have only dreamed that maybe that movie would get some sort of limited distribution. Maybe it would have some sort of small success. To have it actually get distributed by a huge studio and then become a phenomenon was already beyond my wildest dreams. Then to have a sequel that does well, and another and another. For it to become this franchise is beyond what anyone could have possibly imagined. Definitely not me.

SC: When did you start to think of the franchise in a long term sense? Did you always have a mythology in mind?

OP: I can’t say it was really me. The first movie I’ll take all the credit for, because I was the writer and director, but for the sequels I was just one of the producers. You have the studio involved with all of their people, and the director, and the writers. It becomes more of a team effort. As we were making the second one we started to have a little bit of an idea. It wasn’t until the third one that we decided we needed some sort of foundation for mythology that would carry on.

SC: Did you ever think about coming back to direct another one, or did you figure you would just let the studio figure it out?

OP: No. I felt like I’d been there and done that. I spent about four years on the first one, two years making it and about two years trying to get it distributed. By the time it finally came out, and went better than I expected, it was kind of like winning the lottery. You don’t go back to the factory the next day. I’m more than happy to have someone else take the reigns.

SC: You directed that film in 2007, and Area 51 in 2009, and then The River for TV. Are you thinking of directing again any time soon?

OP: Well generally speaking I don’t like to discuss anything that I may or may not be doing so if I am doing something we’ll know about it when it’s happening. Other than that I don’t like to discuss any future plans.

SC: So it’s not something you’re opposed to?

OP: Depending on the right project and the right circumstances, I’m open to anything.

SC: What was your best memory from working on the franchise?

OP: I would say, just because it’s the one that I’m closest to, it would be the first Paranormal Activity. That was a great experience all around. Being at my house with Katie and Micah and improvising was great. If I had to select one moment it would probably be the first screening we had at Screamfest. It was the first time I’d seen it with an impartial audience. Hearing the reaction we were getting was very rewarding.


Matt Hoffman

Matthew Hoffman is a Toronto-based cinephile who especially enjoys French films and actresses over the age of 50; including but not limited to: Isabelle Huppert, Meryl Streep, and Jacki Weaver.