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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
Jan. 16, 2005 | 9:17 PM

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An Interview with KEVIN WILLIAMSON (Scream)

I have several people to thank for making this possible. First off, I’m really grateful to the ArcLight Hollywood for inviting me to cover their “Meet the Writer” Series. It is really refreshing to finally see the screenwriter get a much-deserved place in the spotlight. I would also like to say a special thanks to the brilliant Adam Simon and Stephen Galloway for their advice and support. - .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
An Interview with KEVIN WILLIAMSON (Oct. 22, 2002) by Karie Bible
To me Scream is so unique and such an inventive film because it is so self-reflexive.  Obviously you have a tremendous love and knowledge of horror films.  What were your influences?
Well, I grew up during the wave of slasher films starting with Halloween in 1978.  That movie had such an impact on me and was such an exciting thrill ride.  I loved the audience reaction to that film, the way they participated in it and I wanted to make a movie like that.  I wanted to have an audience participation film and that?s what I wanted to do with Scream is write a movie where literally the audience is screaming at the characters on screen what to do?.where they are so into it, so I took my love of all those films and sort of put them together.  By the time I got to be an adult, made it to Hollywood and was starting to write, there were none of these films.  They were over.  They couldn?t be done.  They were dried up.  So I thought well, what is the next wave of (Horror) films, let?s comment on all of those films.  You know teenagers are so savvy and smart.  VCRs and the Blockbuster generation had surfaced.  They know these films like the back of their hands.  What if they used their knowledge of these films and found themselves in same situation, what would happen?  I sort of started with that kernel of an idea and just ran with it.  That?s how it all came about.
The concept was so brilliant.
It worked really well.  It was the timing.  It was lightening in a bottle.  It was one of those moviemaking things where it all came together-the director, the cast, the right studio brought it, the right director directed it, and the right cast was assembled.  It was like lightening in a bottle.  It came together in a magical way, which very rarely happens as six years later I can attest to. 
What is your working relationship like with Wes?  I know you worked together on SCREAM 2, and I read in the Hollywood Reporter last week that you are going to do CURSED, a new film for Dimension.
Yes.  We are doing another one.  I spent all day with him.  All I can say is we?re having a ball.  We sat in a room all day together just laughing and coming up with cool, fun, creepy stuff.  I?m having a good time, but you know making a movie is hard.  The first Scream  was magic.  I was bouncing to the set everyday.  Wes and I were like good old buddies.  Scream 2?.he was busy doing other things, I was busy doing other things?.the studio was rushing us to make it and we went at each other like two good friends would.  You know it?s hard to make a movie with someone and smile and laugh the whole time.  We were like beating each other?s brains out, but at the same time we were leaving the set each day hugging.  We have a good relationship in that way.
You are obviously a perfectly matched writer/director team.
Well you know he really is good for my writing.  Do you know what I mean?  He really knows how to keep the scares real.  I don?t want it campy.  I don?t want to cheese it up.  I want the scares to be really real, and he also had some deft touches with how he layers the humor in and how he suddenly allows the jokes to play bigger when they need to play bigger and he knows how to pull them back and scale them down to keep the scares real.  I think he compliments my writing very well and he can run with it in ways that maybe some other people couldn?t.  So I?m very lucky to have him.  We make a good team.
I totally agree.
That?s why I?m so excited about working on Cursed.  It couldn?t have worked out better.  Regardless of what happens, I?m having a good time, and usually a good time can sort of mean a little more.  It may show in the final product.  The first Scream was a blast and this is turning out to be a blast?.and it?s scary.
I already look forward to it!  That?s what I love so much about Scream is just the wit involved.  You rarely see horror movies that are THAT clever!
A lot of it came together really nicely, while we?re not trying to repeat that in any sense because I don?t think it can be repeated I mean that?s the thing?it was a one time experience and we did repeat it in Scream 2 because he had another story to tell.  I wasn?t involved in Scream 3, so I can?t really comment on that, but I do know that with Cursed we?re not going to repeat Scream at all.  We?re just telling a new story and it?s just a scary, funny story.  We?re sending up L.A., we?re sending up society so to speak.  The themes that run through it are a little different.  It doesn?t have the gimmick of Scream.  It?s an old-fashioned, modern day story.  We are trying to bridge the two worlds of the old werewolf tale with the modern hip society.  The characters are clever. 
You?ve really managed to jump so successfully from features into television and back?..
And NOT! (Laughter)
Is there one you prefer?  Is there one process you prefer to the other?
Both have their pros and cons.  When I?m doing television, all I want to do is a movie.  When I?m doing a movie, all I want to do is television.  It really is that cycle of having the luxury of doing both.  I love the immediacy of television.  I love the fact that it does happen so quickly.  You don?t just do a movie with a beginning, middle and end.  You create a world that can live on a weekly basis.  As a writer that?s very exciting you can grow with it, you can live with it and it gets to explore itself.  You as a writer get to explore a group of characters over a long period of time and you can change things too.  You can get to episode four and change direction.  I?ve noticed that in movies you are sort of locked down with a script with a beginning, middle and end and what you see is it.  No turning back.  Of course there is the occasional re-shoot, but you can?t re-shoot the whole movie.  In movies, you have more time, you have more money, and you have more luxuries of getting it right.  In TV, time is not your friend.  It?s always the enemy.  Everything is a compromise.  I don?t like the compromise in television, but it?s also a challenge.  There are the pros and cons of each and I?m lucky to be able to do both, but I think I?m going to stick with movies for a couple of years and not deal with television.  I?m kind of burned.  I?m really burned. 
You?ve done so much in such a short period of time.
I really enjoy sitting at home watching TV, as opposed to actually being involved with it.  It?s a beast. I don?t know how cut out I am for it.  It takes every ounce of energy I have to do television.  I?m kind of getting old. 
Are there other genres that you would like to tackle?  I know you?ve written a romantic comedy, you?ve obviously done horror and drama.  What else interests you?
I love the genre of scary films.  I like suspense, thrillers, not necessarily horror, but I just love a good murder mystery.  I love thrillers.  I love comedy.  I really am looking to get that romantic comedy made.  Unfortunately I?ve had prior engagements, commitments, and everything.  It had a lot of momentum at one time, and then it didn?t.  Then my attention turned elsewhere.  Now it?s sitting there waiting for me.  As soon as I can turn my attention to it, I can get going on it.  Unfortunately I?ve got a couple of other movies to make first.  I?m really excited to do a romantic comedy.  I would love to do a Jerry Maguire type film.  That?s something I?m writing on my own separately from everything else I?m doing.  Whenever I don?t have anything else to do, I pull it up on the computer and write my little Jerry Maguire movie.  So I?m working on it.  I don?t know when it will be done.  Cut to year 2050, but we?ll see.
Do you ever feel trapped by the horror genre?
Of course, everyone likes to put people in a box so you can better define them.  Everything has to be so defined in our society.  I don?t mind.  If that?s all I?m in is the horror box.  That?s fine.  I mean I?ve already broken out of it.  I?ve done Dawson’s Creek, which is not horror.  I?m sort of known as the Scream guy in some circles and people see me as the Dawson’s Creek guy.  I guess it?s up to me.  The work will speak for itself.  It?s up to me to change that.  I certainly don?t mind it.  It?s a nice life.  I?m working.  It?s not like I have to do a horror movie, I get to do a horror movie.
Is there any particular movie that made you fall in love with movies?
Halloween, Jaws, Steven Spielberg, as a little kid?.The Sound of Music.  I would love to do a musical.  Now we go back to the genres that I haven?t tackled.  I would love to do a musical.  That is something I would DIE to do!  We?ll see.  I have rights to a play that I?m not going to mention, but I don?t know if it will ever see the light of day.
With Moulin Rouge, then Chicago is coming out in December, hopefully?.
I?m SOOO excited about Chicago!
I?ve seen footage of it and I?m very excited!
I?m hoping maybe there will be some vitality and interest re-injected back into the musical.
Yes, I hope so.  I would love to see the musical come back, or at least see a little place for them so they can be routinely made.  I?m not saying we need to be saturated with it, but would be nice to have the option of seeing a musical.  Let?s see?.the musical, the romantic comedy??.I?m sorry, what was your question? I think I got off track.
No problem at all.  How did you get started in the film business? 
I worked as an assistant to a director for years.  I would go home at night and write.  Next thing you know, I finished a script, sold it and?KA Boom.
And that script was Teaching Mrs. Tingle?
Yeah, it was originally Killing Mrs. Tingle, became Teaching Mrs. Tingle after Columbine.
Do you plan to do more directing?
Yes.  This little movie I?m talking about that I?m writing on the side, that?s for me and I plan to direct it.  I?ve got a couple of other movies to do first that I?ll write and produce.  First I’m writing that as well as producing and that’s a lot of fun.  It just keeps me more involved, I have more input on how the story is told, and that’s good for a writer.  For someone like Wes and I, it works really well because it’s just us.  No one else is involved. 
Do you like producing?  Do you feel like it gives you more creative control?
It gives me creative input.  I have a say now.  I’m not just a writer who gets knocked off the set.  When a new writer comes along, it’s my project.  I originated it, it’s my production company and I’m producing it.  I have major input, which I like.  If not for any other reason than to just get it right, get the vision on screen.  If you have a great director, it’s such a great relationship, its give and take.  The writers are the original vision, and directors are the final vision.  If you get the right director who’s in sync with the script and the writing, then it’s all going to merge and turn out really nice.  That’s the plus of working with someone like Wes, because we have the history, we DO get along, he does understand my writing.  There’s a shorthand.  A there’s a major shorthand.  We can finish each other’s sentences.
Are there other filmmakers/directors that you would like to work with or you feel that you would be a good match with?
Well I had a great time working with Robert Rodriguez on The Faculty, and I would love to have another relationship…another experience of making a movie in perhaps a different genre, a different kind of movie.  As much as I loved doing The Faculty, I think I could write another movie for Robert, I?d like to deliver another script for him.  I would like to work with…..there’s so many people out there.  In the back of my mind, I’d love to do something with Spielberg….or not.  I don’t know.  He’s god to me, so maybe I shouldn’t be working with god. 
He’s such an icon.
  I know.  Maybe I should just worship him from afar.  I don’t know.  There are so many talented people out there I’d love to be in business with.  There’s just not time to do it all.  Most of the people I admire, directors I admire are writers AND directors so therefore they don’t need me.  I love Stephen Soderbergh.  I’d love to have him direct a movie of mine.  I’m a big fan of his.
Does your taste range from big budget to low budget, do you have a preference?
Story first.  Script first.  Drama first.  Characters first.  You don’t need a huge budget to satisfy me.  The movie I’m doing now with Wes is the largest budget I’ve ever done, certainly because of the special effects involved.  I love to go see those movies, I love the event movies, and the big budget action movies and the epics…I love all of that, but I haven’t really sat down to write one.  It’s not necessary.  I’m more self contained than that because I do come from a low budget world, so it’s really hard for me to think big. 
(At this point, Kevin was called into the theatre for the screening.)
It was a pleasure chatting with you.


  1. RinbowRay Review Rio Looks like a fun movie to watch and I would recommend it as fun faimly fare. I love the music they use and the colours as well (kids enjoy bright colours and you can reinforce concept colours as welll using this movie). Being in 3D is okay, but I think there are so many of them that it’s kind of hard to keep track. The movie’s premise I find to be original as well. RainbowRay bags of popcorn out of 5RainbowRay Review: Scream 4. This trailer makes the movie to be suspenseful and gripping, but judging from the dialogue, thsi one seems to have a weak script. I’ve seen only the first one (I am a Courtney Cox fan . Anyone seen Cougar Town?) and hated it because of that reasn. Whatever happened to movies like Whena Stranger Calls and : Secret Window ? Now, those were gripping movies, but this is one man’s opinion. RainbowRay out of 5 bags of popcorn.From peanuts to popcorn, I remain your reviewer, RainbowRay.RainbowRay??????

    Posted by Alexis on 07/23 at 02:32 PM