PREY Interview: Director Dan Trachtenberg And Producer Jhane Myers On Reinventing The Predator (Exclusive)

Prey director Dan Trachtenberg and Producer Jhane Myers talk about reinventing the Predator for the upcoming Hulu movie, their hopes for the franchise's future, and making the movie historically accurate.

Prey tells the story of a young woman, Naru, a fierce and highly skilled warrior who has been raised in the shadow of some of the most legendary hunters who roam the Great Plains.

So when danger threatens her camp, she sets out to protect her people. The prey she stalks, and ultimately confronts, turns out to be a highly evolved alien predator with a technically advanced arsenal, resulting in a vicious and terrifying showdown between the two adversaries. 

The Predator reboot is nothing short of phenomenal, and we recently sat down with director Dan Trachtenberg And producer Jhane Myers to discuss their work on the project.

During our conversation, we learned about the process of bringing this iconic sci-fi villain back to the screen, got some intel on a possible sequel, and discovered the work that went into making the Comanche Nation setting historically accurate. 

Trachtenberg also opens up about original plans for Prey's marketing campaign that would have seen the Predator hidden from fans until the last minute. However, he explains why, these days, that level of secrecy is easier said than done.

Check out our full interview with the creatives in the player below: 
 


Dan, in an ideal world, do you wish you'd been able to keep the Predator aspect of this film a secret to surprise fans or is that easier said than done these days?

Dan: It’s almost not possible. Certainly, the thing that would have been exciting, that was in the initial pitch for the movie, was that the first trailer would not have a title. You would see the set up of Naru, what she’s experiencing in her tribe, and her setting off to prove herself. When she goes off into the woods, there was a fire in the sky, and that would be it. Then, closer to the release of the movie, we’d see a fuller trailer that would include the bear going after her and then being lifted up by the Predator. That would have been the announcement of what this movie was. That was my favourite version of releasing it, so you’d get to have that secret movie excitement, but without taking it all the way because people need to know what movie they’re going to see. 

Jhane, I was blown away by how authentic this film feels, so can you talk about your role in ensuring Prey was respectful and realistic to its 1700s setting and, more specifically, the Comanche Nation?

Jhane: I’m an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation. I’m Comanche and Blackfeet, so just to have this level of authenticity is amazing. After all, this is the first movie that’s ever been put entirely into the Comanche language. The movie is so good that after you watch it in English, you need to watch it in Comanche, but just for me as a producer, to be able to help facilitate that and bring in these people who know all of this…if I had a question, I could text somebody and get an answer right away. People were all willing to help because they love the Predator. All the way to the end sequence. When you watch the end, the art you see is true to the period because it’s after the art you would see on rocks and cave walls, but it predates the ledger art you would see during the reservation era. Even that art was created by Native fine artists and it just opened a lot of doors for people and, hopefully, in turn, it opens a lot of minds. 

I don’t want to spoil anything, but in terms of designing this first Predator on Earth, what sort of work went into creating a version that felt fresh and unique, but also instantly recognisable to those longtime fans?

Dan: It was about delivering something new, but not changing it too much. In the iteration phase with the folks at ADI, who worked on the development of the suit, I really said, ‘Let’s push it. Let’s break it first and see what the design looks like when we change it so it doesn’t look like a Predator and then step back from that.’ I didn’t want us to be like, ‘Oh, a tweak of the eyebrow here…a tweak of the mandible…’ I wanted this to feel like it’s an exciting new face to look at.

One of the things that made the first movie so special, at least in the way I remember watching it for the first time, was that I thought the Predator was how it looked wearing its bio mask. ‘That’s the Predator. That’s it.’ Then, there’s that amazing moment in the movie preceding Arnold Schwarzenneger’s wonderful, quotable line when it takes the mask off. That’s when you realise, ‘That’s not the creature…that is!’ I really wanted our movie to be able to have that in it as well and to have a surprise even for die-hard fans. It was challenging, I’m delighted to hear you dug it and it sounds like other people are digging it too. As scary as it was, I thought it would be worth it to make a real move moment again in the Predator franchise. 

Do you view this as a standalone story or would you be interested in returning to tell more Predator stories either in this time period or even jumping to other centuries in completely different settings?

Dan: I think there’s definitely something…because so many movies are seen as franchise starters, there’s something inherently refreshing about a movie that feels complete. I hope this movie does feel complete. That said, we do something very unique in that, whereas other movies may have a post-credits scene, we have some storytelling inside our end credits themselves. It leaves room for lots of different kinds of sequels to be made. I don’t know if we’re ready yet to say exactly what we want to do next, but I think there are lots of cool opportunities. 

Jhane: [Laughs] I would love to return to this world. I’d like to return to any world where there’s Native inclusion and representation because that is my world. I’d love to return to any Native world. 

The kills in this film are gloriously violent, but what would you say, Dan, is the trick to unleashing the Predator and making this sci-fi icon a truly terrifying force of nature?

Dan: Honestly, the trick is restraint. You need to embrace all the different modes the Predator has. There’s a cloaked mode. There’s an ‘I can see parts of him’ mode and there’s a fully unleashed mode. You want to make sure that all of those bits are being mined for all they can contribute to an awesome action sequence. 

Prey premieres exclusively on Hulu on August 5!
 

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