Interview with Jeremy Blaustein (Central Silent Hill)

Date published: 2003
Source: Central Silent Hill

Recently Central Silent Hill had the time to have a talk with none other than Jeremy Blaustein, American Director from Konami's second and third installment in the Silent Hill series. Below you will find Central Silent Hill's questions to him and then Jeremy's responce but please keep in mind some of the responces are confidential or just can't be answered for one reason or another.

CSH: Could you explain to the fans exactly what your role was with the Silent Hill 2 and 3 projects?

JB: For both games, I collaborated with the R&D team about the story, I translated the script/story. I also directed the motion capture sessions and the voice recording sessions. My company, Wordbox Inc., also did the French, Italian, German and Spanish translations of the games. We are the only international translation company that specializes in game software, and we're well-known to industry insiders for our high quality.

CSH: While working on both Silent Hill 2 and 3 did you enjoy working with all the other team members and did you make any friendships while working on the projects?

JB: Absolutely. I consider myself to be quite friendly with the team. We've all been out drinking, eating, but basically it is a working relationship. I have tremendous respect for the SH team for the dedication, inspiration and love for the series.

CSH: A lot of people mention how hard the developers work and how much the actors much work, so about how many hours a week did you have to put in on each project?

JB: It's really hard to quantify because the work came in dribs and drabs. I had a lot more time for SH2 than for SH3 though. That's for certain. A lot of my time was spent doing research into occult issues, SH background, names, etc.

CSH: Before you started on Silent Hill 2 had you heard of the original Silent Hill game or was the story completely brand new to you?

JB: I had heard of, and played the original. Although I never got very far in it. I think I was too frustrated by the controls.

CSH: If so or even if not what was your reaction to the type of story it had?

JB: I remember being singularly unimpressed by the translation and voice acting: "Huh? Radio?" and all that. Also, I remember being incredibly creeped out by those ankle-biting demon babies at the beginning of the game!

CSH: Are you, yourself a horror fan whether it be in books and or movies? Also did Silent Hill 2 or Silent Hill 3 borrow any ideas from other horror sources?

JB: I am definitely a horror fan. I have read all the major horror writers and am a tremendous movie fan. Regarding influences, yes there is certainly a lot of influence from other films/books in terms of both the story and the imagery in the games. I would say that the films of David Lynch, Adrian Lyne, H.P Lovecraft, and many others were contributing influeinces. The SH team, if you didn't know, has many former painters in it-so they are all very visually oriented.

CSH: After working with both Silent Hill 2 and 3 which of their storys/elements do you like best or do you have mixed feelings?

JB: I thought that SH2 was really brilliant in terms of it's plot. "Lost Highways" by David Lynch was a major inspiration for it. Unfortunately, it seemed that it was difficult for many players to really understand the plot. But those who did, were ultimately very rewarded with a deep, moving experience that is not common in games. Contrast it to the saccharine-quality of the MGS ending (which I also translated): "Let's live, Meryl!"...ha ha. SH3 tells a much more straightforward story, but I won't go into any details -sorry.

CSH: A big part of Silent Hill is the creepy atmosphere do you feel that Silent Hill 3 did a good job with capturing this element?

JB: I can't say because I haven't really seen the game. Sorry.

CSH: Was there any personal ideas that you were able place in the story of either Silent Hill's or did the team strictly stick to what was on paper?

JB: Generally speaking, my contributions are subtle. They come in the form of character names, way of speaking. I wrote all the English and directed the actors, so in a way they reflect my personal taste, I suppose. Puzzles and poems are the most difficult to translate because you have to balance the needs of A) the clues to the player, B) the style of the poem, and C) the quality of the translation -all at the same time. An example of some naming choices: I chose "Sunderland" as James' last name because it is a town near where I live and because it means literally "Sunder" (to divide/sever) and "Land" -So I thought it was appropriate for a man between two worlds.

CSH: Were you able to sneak your voice into either of the soundtracks whether it was in the form of a scream or other?

JB: Oh yeah, I'm in there somewhere screaming. I actually had to fill in for a motion capture actor in one scene for SH2 (The scene on the staircase of the burning motel). I basically just stood there while Donna was doing her Angela thing. I also did the mocap and voice of a very fat monster that you will see in SH3. I hurt my head banging it on the floor while I pretended to be sprayed with shotgun pellets too!

CSH: If you could relate yourself to any character in Silent Hill 2 or 3 who would it be and why?

JB: That's an interesting question! Okay, here goes... I'm like James, I think, because I have an overactive guilt complex and (although in all honesty, James deserved to feel a little guilty for killing his diseased and pus-ridden wife). James was a really introspective guy and for all of you out there who hated the laid-back (or wooden) voice acting, it was planned, to a large extent because that was how we all saw the character.

CSH: If you were to wake and find yourself stuck in a nightmare world being attacked with monsters what weapon would you choose to have to defend yourself? (example Chainsaw to go Army of Darkness on those demons)

JB: Something light, with low recoil and a lot of rnds/min, so I could just kinda hose 'em down, I guess.

CSH: Another fan favorite is composer Akira Yamaoka and we were wondering if you ever had the chance to meet with him or listen to his music's and what your thoughts are about both?

JB: Yeah, I've hung with Mr. Yamaoka a lot. He's a really fun guy and a snappy dresser with a preference for snakeskin, I believe. I think he's a brilliant musician and a great guy. We worked with him in writing the English lyrics to the songs you'll hear in SH3.

CSH: With Silent Hill 3 what do you think is the single most scariest element that can be found in the game?

JB: For SH3, I can't say because I haven't played the game and you can't really tell anything from the script or even just the storyboards because the SfX and other things play such a big role in the overall impact of a scene. Even though I translated and directed it, I was SO SCARED by SH2 when I played it. Honest to God, I thought I was gonna have a heart attack a couple of times, like when Pyramid Head knocked me off the top of the building...

CSH: In some of the screen shots we have noticed that Heather has a locket and we were wondering if this locket is at all related to her birth at all in the story? (Hot or cold?)

JB: Ouch, I think I just got burned.

CSH: We also notice Heather is packing some serious heat in this game, was the idea of the machine gun in the original planning book or was this idea added later and does this at all take away from the horror in the story?

JB: I really don't know if it was planned from the beginning or not. Whether it will take away from the game or not, I don't know. I think that has to be left to the judgment of the individual gamers.

CSH: Will fans of Silent Hill 1 and Silent Hill 2 hear any mention of the previous characters or events that unfolded or is Silent Hill 3 completely 100% not related like Silent Hill 2 is to 1?

JB: There is some definite relation. Fear not.

CSH: This goes along with the last question will Silent Hill 3 give answers to question that fans have had since the original or will this game again leave them with more questions that will remain unanswered?

JB: I believe it will provide some answers.

CSH: Will cult religion play a big role in this game as it did in Silent Hill 1? because we have all noticed that Claudia is a type of priest with her robe and all.

JB: Yes. (Sorry for the vagueness)

CSH: Will there be any mention of the white claudia drug from the original Silent Hill?

JB: Maybe yes, maybe no.

CSH: Because Konami isn't saying much about a Silent Hill 3 is there any unrevealed characters that we wont see till later in the game, kinda like Eddie was with Silent Hill 2?

JB: You have not yet seen all the characters in the game (I think).

CSH: If you could use one word to describe Silent Hill 3 what would it be?

JB: How about two words? -Potentially controversial.

CSH: Once you have made it to post-production did you ever get the chance to sit down and test out the fruits of your labor?

JB: Nope, not yet. Only peeks.

CSH: What do you think of Central Silent Hill, a pretty "Bad Ass" site so to speak?

JB: I think it's a great site. I absolutely love it!