In August of 2009, Neill Blomkamp and Sharlto Copley sat down with Bigfanboy.com to talk all things “District 9.” During the interview, they shed some light on how they went about shooting certain scenes and how they ensured the interactions within them felt genuine. As it turns out, little credit goes to the script itself in that regard, seeing as Copley threw out much of his dialogue and instead improvised most of his scenes on the spot to give them a raw, natural air.
“Any details in words and the language between the two happened right there on the day of shooting. That’s what makes it feel like they are really communicating,” said Blomkamp, specifically referring to the scenes where Wikus would enter the homes of aliens and speak to them directly. Copley adds, “There was a type of freedom, I think, in the filmmaking process, which is extremely unusual…It really felt like we were making a documentary.”
Blomkamp further elaborated on this point to Gizmodo, revealing how Copley’s improvisational skills helped flesh out the world of “District 9.” “When he walks up into the shack and says, ‘this is a gang sign, we’re in a gang area right here,’ we would draw the sign on the wall, and he would randomly say it’s a gang area,” the director recalled, though he clarified that they’d only keep a Copley addition around “if it works.”
Sharlto Copley and Neill Blomkamp had an excellent creative dynamic going for “District 9.” It’s a shame that much of the original script went out the window by the time cameras rolled, but for all we know, the written work may have paled in comparison to what made it to screen.