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J.J. Abrams talks Super 8 + Watch Super Bowl spot

Cross-posted at

During the Super Bowl tonight, Paramount released a new TV spot for J.J. Abrams’ “Super 8”. To coincide with its release, Abrams has decided to open up a little bit about the the secretive film. Click over the jump to read what Abrams had to say about the project.

Before we get into the interview here’s the recently released TV spot:

J.J. Abrams spoke with Hero Complex | LA Times about the film, which up until had been shrouded in secrecy. What we did know is that it was set in the fictional Ohio town of Lillian Heights, and that it involved a train crash that had something trying to escape from the wreckage..and a Super 8MM camera. Here’s what Abrams told Hero Complex:

“To me, all people need to know is that it’s an adventure about a small town and it’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s scary and there’s a mystery: What is this thing that has escaped? What are the ramifications of its presence? And what is the effect on people? But I know that’s not enough. Look, I feel we need a little bit of a coming-out party because we are up against massive franchises and brands and most people don’t know what ‘Super 8′ means. We’re a complete anomaly in a summer of huge films … and we don’t want to be so silent or coy that people don’t care or don’t hear about it.”

The article also gives us a better understanding of the film’s title:

“Super 8″ takes its name from the Eastman Kodak film format that became a sensation with amateur movie-makers in the late 1960s and represented a rite of passage for several generations of aspiring directors, among them Spielberg and Abrams. The Paramount Pictures release is set in Ohio in 1979 and introduces a troupe of six youngsters who are using a Super 8 camera to make their own zombie movie. One fateful night, their project takes them to a lonely stretch of rural railroad tracks and, as the camera rolls, calamity strikes — a truck collides with an oncoming locomotive and a hellacious derailment fills the night with screaming metal and raining fire. Then something emerges from the wreckage, something decidedly inhuman.

“Super 8” actually began as two ideas that were eventually merged into one with the help of Steven Spielberg. Abrams was pitching a non-fantastical tale involving young kids and how they see the world through their Super 8 camera, but he had a tough job wrapping a story around it:

Abrams took the vague notion to Spielberg and they decided to investigate further but a string of meetings with top writers in town ended with a lot of shrugs and consternation. Abrams said “there was not much there and it was frustrating because it would not go away in my head. … I couldn’t tell you what the story was. I knew characters, I knew situations, I knew there were issues of class and a love story at the core and that it would be a coming-of-age movie. A lot of the writers were lukewarm.”

J.J. Abrams on the set of “Super 8”

But an idea that Paramount had previously purchased from Abrams would prove to be the perfect other half. The idea centered around the government protecting classified possessions from Area 51 by shipping them off to other sites aboard midnight trains — but one of those trains doesn’t reach its final destination. With the two ideas merged, “Super 8” was formed:

Abrams had “a pretty cool premise but no characters to speak of … so I was in possession of two halves and it occurred to me after six months or so to put them together.”

The idea met with immediate approval by producer Steven Spielberg, who likened Abrams’ struggle to take a personal story and combine it with a sci-fi element to what he did in 1982 with “E.T”. “Super 8” begins with a small-town factory death:

“This is a movie about overcoming loss and finding your way again and finding your own voice,” Abrams said. “A boy whose lost his mother and the man whose lost his wife. There’s this father who, because of the era, never really had to be the parent. He’s a good man, he works hard, he’s a deputy in the town, but he’s never stepped up as father.”

Finally, the article ends with Abrams’ challenge in making the film a hit:

We have such a challenge on this movie,” Abrams said. ”Yes we’ve got Steven’s name on it and my name on it — for what that’s worth — but we’ve got no famous super-hero, we’ve got no pre-existing franchise or sequel, it’s not starring anyone you’ve heard of before. There’s no book, there’s no toy, there’s no comic book. There’s nothing. I don’t have anything; I don’t even have a board game, that’s how bad it is. But I think we have a very good movie.

You can read the entire interview here. “Super 8” hits theaters on June 10, 2011.

Paramount released the official teaser trailer last year (May 2010). You can watch it embedded below:

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