SXSW 2012: Writer-Director Gareth Evans on 'The Raid' Sequel ‘Berendal': 'I'm In the Last Five Percent of the Script'

Evans reveals plans to reunite with his cinematographer and at least one of his stars for the upcoming sequel to his breakthrough Indonesian action thriller, which he says he actually conceived before the first film.

Since its premiere at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival, Gareth EvansThe Raid has blown away audiences with its combination of brisk, smart storytelling and relentless action. Not long after Sony Classics picked the film up for distribution, international rights were pre-emptively secured for its follow-up, Berendal, and plans were announced for a third film, making the Indonesian filmmaker’s breakthrough a burgeoning franchise. In advance of its premiere at the 2012 South by Southwest Film Festival, The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Evans about how far along he is on the upcoming sequel, and who he plans to recruit again from his existing team of collaborators.

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The Hollywood Reporter: Given that you’re a few weeks out from The Raid still opening stateside, how far are you into developing its sequel, Berendal?

Gareth Evans:
I'm right in the last five percent of the script now -- I'm almost done now. I should have been done a long time ago, but I just haven't had the chance to sort of sit down and do proper writing for a long time. So I'm kind of looking forward to kind of having a little moment of rest where I can sit down and reread the whole script and then I can see how close we are to being finished with it.

THR: How long have you thought about The Raid as the first installment in a series, and how much were the sequel ideas inspired purely by the film’s success after audiences saw it?

Truthfully, the sequel idea came up while I was still writing The Raid, the first one. What happened is we tried to get the budget in place for a film called Berendal first, and we spent a year and a half doing that. And in the process of trying to get the money for that film, we'd already designed the choreography, we'd already written the script, and we were already to go and we just needed the money in order to pull the trigger on it. And that's a year and a half of not getting any closer to getting the money. We were in a position where we just decided, you know what, fuck it, we're not going to get it, we have to do something else with a lower budget.

So The Raid became that plan B project, and over the course of setting up The Raid we designed all of this choreography previously and we couldn't use it on it, because we wanted to keep it for Berendal. And in the course of making up choreography for Berendal we discovered this new approach of how we wanted to use silak [Indonesian martial arts] in the film. And so that kind of informed how we were going to use silak in The Raid also. And so while we were doing that project, while we were working on it, I was thinking I want to figure out a way that I can connect these two stories. Initially I only wanted to kind of have like maybe one character who was the same, or that we could kind of have it exist in the same world, just to kind of make it a little more interesting. [But] the biggest problem I had with the Berendal script was the lead character, because he was this ordinary guy in extraordinary circumstances, and then once I realized I could make him an extension of the character in The Raid and make it the cop and make it his story continuing, it excited me more then. So that decision was kind of made before we'd even started shooting The Raid -- I knew I wanted to make a sequel way back then. Luckily the response has been such now that we're in a position where we can fund that film now and it will exist as a franchise.

Then, the idea for doing it as a trilogy came a little later on, because that was when we were in post-production on The Raid. I started to think "okay, well maybe I can kind of expand the story even further." And I don't have a full story line for part three yet, I just have it as a concept, that's it. So I'm still working on part three, I don't really know what's going to happen in part three yet. But part two is locked almost.

THR: How many of the people who you worked with on The Raid are you planning to bring back for Berendal? Have you talked to Mike Shinoda and Joe Trapanese about doing another score?

We haven't kind of discussed that far ahead yet, in terms of the elements from the first movie. So far all I've really kind of locked down is that I want to bring back Yayan [Ruhian], who plays Mad Dog. So I'm going to bring him back into the sequel as somebody else entirely, because we just love watching him fight. He's going to play a completely different character, no relation at all to Mad Dog, so it's not going to be some terrible bullshit to the twin brother situation or anything like that. But that's all we've really kind of talked about in terms of that. And then really I'm just focused on getting my [director of photography] again, Matt Flannery, because I really love working with him and want to kind of keep working with him on this as well. But it's kind of too early to tell, because we don't know what the plan is yet.