CCI, Day 1: Guillermo del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth"

Note: The following article contains adult language.

The "Pan's Labyrinth" panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego opened with the American trailer for the movie. It's the story of a little girl who learns she is a princess from another world, a fairy tale set against post-war fascism in 1939 Spain. Afterwards, director Guillermo del Toro and star Doug Jones, wearing a gaudy silver shirt, took the stage.

"I really researched the rules of fairy tales. So, some Alice is there, some Hans Christian Anderson, and a lot of Oral Tradition."

Del Toro tackled the divide between his independent movies and his Hollywood fare.

"I remember a quote somebody was kind enough to do, that if you knew me from only 'Blade' and 'Hellboy,' that was like knowing [Stephen] Soderberg for 'Ocean's Eleven,'" he said. "Going independent, it's like going back to year zero. Losing your salary. But it's worth it for the freedom. It makes you remember who you are, why you do what you do."

"Pan's Labyrinth" "is about fascism ... and about making your own choice."

He believes the movie is different from anything he's done. As he said, this is the one where his "balls dropped," the movie he's the proudest of.

He's trying to produce movies in Europe and Latin American nations for first-time directors.

"I wanted to get my head around what it was to produce in Spain."

The director reminisced about his first movie, and about his wacky ideas in general.

"Let's do an alchemically correct vampire film in Mexico." His second movie was about giant cockroaches.

"I don't know why I get in trouble."

His movie-making philosophy can be summed up in three words, he said: "Vision, faith and balls. Which Hollywood knows nothing about."

"Comic-con is as important a platform as a festival. I am first a fan, and then a filmmaker," del Toro said, of his decision to present "Pan's Labyrinth" at Comic-Con International this year. "At a comic convention, you find some of the most ... passionate ... intelligent ... well-read people. And in prestigious circles you find a shitload of assholes."

The film was also shown at the Cannes film festival, where it was well-received.

"It is the first time a fantasy genre movie was in competition at Cannes. The reaction to it was so strong. For them it's prestige, for me, it's pride.

Del Toro will publish the biographies he wrote for the characters in "Pan's Labyrinth."

"We designed the movie in 12 weeks, pen to paper. They'll make a casebook in the DVD and be published."

"Hellboy 2" is in a state of flux, he said.

"We're starting, not starting ... Revolution is not producing films at the same rate, and we need to find financing, and that takes a lot of politics. The second screenplay is just great, it takes the character to wonderful places. I hope we get to make it."

There was so much controversy over del Toro's choice of Ron Perelman for "Hellboy," that it caused a 7-year delay.

"I'd rather not do the movie than do the movie with the wrong actor." For aspiring filmmakers, he had this advice: "Learn to say no. And say no, and mean it. Don't just back off, because then you're a pussy."

He expressed his opinion that Hugo Weaving's performance in "V for Vendetta" was great.

He is currently scouting locations for "At the Mountains of Madness," based on the H.P. Lovecraft story.

"I can assure you one thing: If you saw the designs, you would cry and jerk off in a corner until you die. It's so beautiful."

Del Toro makes a comparison between comics fans and Lovecraft fans. Comics fans are upset at small things that are changed in movies, but it's almost impossible to please Lovecraft fans, they're "10 times worse."

After del Toro's constantly referring to Doug Jones as "Silver Surfer" (and his amazingly shiny shirt) someone finally asked if he would be playing the character in the upcoming Fantastic Four sequel.

"I will make this brief and legal as I possibly can: No comment." Then he felt bad, "I'm sorry, it's like taking pornography away form a teenager. I hope to wear more of this color soon. I've found an outfit I like, but I don't own it yet, because they're still approving my credit card." He then promised, if his card was approved, "I will take very, very good care of that outfit."

Del Toro will be writing "Deadman" with Don Murphy. He loved Neal Adams' run, but it wasn't until Kelly Jones with the darker tones and themes that he felt it was "horror." He also loves that the character can't come back to life.

"He's screwed, he's dead."

The best advice he said he could give to aspiring filmmakers was brutally honest:

"The whole system is fucked up, everywhere. It's the most beautiful profession in the world and the hardest. Every time I hear someone complain in my line of work, I want to smash them in the face." But having said that, "filmmaking is like eating a sandwich of shit. Sometimes there's more bread, sometimes less, but there's always shit."

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