‘Upgrade’: Leigh Whannell on Putting Together Kick-Ass Action Scenes on a Limited Budget

     May 31, 2018


One of the films that came out of this year’s SXSW Festival with a lot of buzz was writer-director Leigh Whannell’s sci-fi thriller Upgrade. The movie follows Grey Trace (played by Logan Marshall-Green), a man whose life is turned upside down when his wife is murdered in front of his eyes during a mugging that also leaves him paralyzed. Soon after, he’s approached by a billionaire inventor with an experimental cure that will “upgrade” his body. The cure – an Artificial Intelligence implant called STEM – gives Grey physical abilities beyond anything experienced and the ability to relentlessly claim vengeance against those who murdered his wife and left him for dead.

I’ve now seen the movie twice and it’s awesome. Whannell managed to make every dollar of his limited budget shine on screen and the film has a few brutal set pieces that don’t shy away from the blood and guts. Trust me; Upgrade is absolutely worth your time and money when it hits theaters this weekend.

upgrade-posterA few days ago, I sat down with Leigh Whannell for a video interview. He talked about how they made the movie look so good on such a limited budget, the awesome action scenes, why they changed the name from Stem to Upgrade, what he learned directing his first film that he wanted to carry over to this one, the challenges of getting people’s attention in today’s media landscape, the status of another Insidious movie, and a lot more.

Check out what Leigh Whannell had to say in the player above and below is exactly what we talked about.

Leigh Whannell:

  • How it’s hard to get people’s attention in today’s media landscape.
  • How we’re living in a content boom.
  • Why did they change the title from Stem to Upgrade?
  • How did he make the film look so good even though he only had a very limited budget?
  • When does the movie take place?
  • How long was his first cut compared to the finished film?
  • What did he learn making Insidious 3 that he wanted to carry over to this film?
  • How a DGA seminar influenced how he directs on set.
  • How did he put together the kick-ass action scenes on a limited budget?
  • Update on another Insidious movie.

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