Fifteen years after the Scream franchise ushered a new wave of horror, series creator Kevin Williamson (The Vampire Diaries, Dawson’s Creek) and horror master Wes Craven, who directed the first trilogy, have reunited for Scream 4. Reflecting back on where it came from, and taking into account the technological and internet savvy world we now live in, the film reunites its lead trio while introducing a new group of actors for Ghostface to terrorize.
At the film’s press day, director Wes Craven talked about taking the internet into consideration for this installment in the horror franchise, the spy work involved with keeping the story secret, how screenwriter Ehren Kruger only made minor changes to Kevin Williamson’s script, and why this was the perfect time to breathe life into the Scream series again. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
Returning home to Woodsboro, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), now the author of a self-help book about survival, is on the last stop of her successful book tour. Once there, she reconnects with Sheriff Dewey (David Arquette) and Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), who are now married, as well as her cousin Jill (Emma Roberts) and Aunt Kate (Mary McDonnell). But, it’s not long before Sidney’s reappearance also brings the return of Ghostface, starting a new string of bloody killings and putting everyone’s lives in jeopardy.
Now, onto the interview:
Question: How did you and (screenwriter) Kevin Williamson work together to identify and create the new rules for this film, especially with the use of the Internet this time?
WES CRAVEN: Well, we both spend a lot of time on the Internet. I think most of our lives revolve around that now. I don’t know. We’re just clever fellows. Even old fogies like myself, and to a lesser extent Kevin, use all those things now, like it or not. Once you start using them, you have to think of the possibilities of how they could be misused, too.
Did you think about how they affect the way we watch movies now?
CRAVEN: Very much. If you’re in a theater today, people are texting, all around you. You have the little glowing screens everywhere. That’s just one example. Think of how annoying that can be.
CRAVEN: The tweeting was to do everything from having contests for posters of the film, as they became ready, to having contests for people to identify photographs of weird bugs that we took off of the set, when we were shooting at night and all these strange bugs would fall out of the sky. We just kept the fans aware that we were filming, and that we knew they were out there. I have to say that it was very intriguing to see how quickly people answered. Our co-producer, Carly Feingold, got it all rolling for me. People were answering within 30 seconds or sometimes 15 seconds, from Germany and other parts of the world. It made me realize, even in the process of filming, how different this reality was from even emails. Things are just much, much quicker, and worldwide.
What lengths did you go to keep the secrets of this film under wraps?
CRAVEN: Keeping things secret was spy work. We did things like, when we did our original casting, with hundreds of young actors reading script pages, we couldn’t have them read pages from the actual script, so we had them reading pages from Scream 1, which was bizarre. I don’t think we ever read actors with the actual pages from the script. There were a lot of things like that that, which were annoying, but necessary to keep things secret.
CRAVEN: I think the very essence of the Scream films is that we break the rules. We establish or state what the rules are, and then we immediately break them. That started in Scream 1, when they said, “If you say, ‘I’ll be right back,’ you’ll die,” and the person that says that is one of the killers. They said, “If you have sex you’ll die,” and Neve’s character has the first sexual encounter of her life, and she’s one of the survivors. We like to establish what the rules are, but they’re really the clichés. As soon as they’re stated in the Scream films, we almost always break them. It makes the audience not know what to expect next. If they think they know what the rules are, we immediately say, “No, you don’t.”
You’re a master of horror, and that’s something that nobody can take from you.
CRAVEN: Oh, yes, they can. Have you read the reviews of my last movie (My Soul to Take)?
With the reviews of that film, are you concerned with how people are going to react to this movie? Is that something that still makes you nervous?
CRAVEN: When you do a film like My Soul to Take and people think it sucks, that hurts. We put a lot of work into it and it’s a good film, but you go on. The good feeling about doing this film was getting back with old friends, working on something that I thought was really good, and having a chance of being a little bit more recognizable to an audience.
There was some talk about a lot of changes being made to this script, with Ehren Kruger been brought on, after Kevin Williamson was finished. Are you satisfied with the results of the script that you finally used for the movie?
CRAVEN: Yes, I’m very pleased with the movie. We’re all pleased with the way the script turned out. It was the result of Kevin’s original master script, and Ehren did a decent amount of work on specific scenes and areas of it. I also wrote sections of the film myself. But, it very much is Kevin’s concept, characters, situations and over-arcing framework for the film.
How did this come about, after 10 years?
CRAVEN: I don’t know how it came about. How do these things come about? Bob Weinstein, of the Weinstein brothers, is the godfather of Scream. He’s the man who bought the original script from Kevin. He and Kevin were talking about it, and he felt it was time. He originally told us, after Scream 3, that there were not going to be any more, for a long time because he didn’t want it to feel like we were just knocking them out to make money. And, of course, there was the Scary Movie series, so we needed to get some distance from that.
But, at the end of the decade, there was a feeling that this was the perfect time to look at the first decade of the 21st Century, and it was quite distinctive from others, with 9/11 hovering over things and the presence of electronic media being brought down to people, to the level where everybody is online, everybody is on Facebook and people are tweeting, all over the world, all the time. It’s totally different. So, it was time to take that into account.
At the same time, the cinema was changing very much. You aren’t just watching movies in the theater anymore. I have a stepdaughter who’s 20 years old, and she watches movies on her computer or her phone. The whole business is changing dramatically, and the way fans follow and participate in movies, and make their own movies to emulate those movies, is profoundly different. It felt like it was time to make a screenplay that could reflect all this newness.