2007 SXSW ‘ROUND MIDNIGHT FEATURE! Rewards for working hard at the office are generally accepted with wide smiles… unless of course it’s an outdoor retreat under attack by a bunch of war-crazy Eastern Europeans. That’s the premise behind the dark comedy/horror film “Severance,” where a sales team from a multi-national defense corporation finds themselves battling for their lives. Screenwriter James Moran took some time to talk with Film Threat’s Jay Slater about where the idea came from, the filming and the public reaction thus far…
Being the screenwriter of “Severance,” how did you carve a career in the film industry and what did you do becoming a storyteller?
I’d been writing short stories for years and never thought of getting myself into the writing business. I wrote two novellas and found that quite hard to do so I abandoned them to start writing scripts. I realised they were far easier to write and you could do a lot more stuff with a script than a novel where you have to describe everything – I’m not sure quite sure how it works, but when you write a script, you’re writing the film at the same time, and can get away with murder. I went on to win a short film competition (“SF Channel: SF shorts”) and it made me realise that I could give it a shot and have a chance of writing a feature. I was so close to packing writing in altogether, thinking that I was never going to get anywhere with it, no one would pay me for it, it would all be a pipedream and a total waste of time. After winning the competition, I realised that I had my chance and no one was going to do it for me, so I had to crack some heads. I bought the writers’ book that has all the agents in it, made a big list, wrote some television material and a movie script and sent them off one-by-one. I thought that if I sent them all to the agencies and they all said no, I’d go on a huge orgy of destruction and bloody rampage culminating with me turning a gun on myself. Luckily PFD, the first agency on my list, accepted my stuff! I pitched my material to them first as they seemed to be a really huge agency with lots of good clients, but at the same time, they had a very friendly website with a submissions page. A lot of agency websites were not looking for new submissions or clients and gave the impression that they were too busy: you know, “Take your stupid dreams of being a writer and shove ’em up your arse.” PFD seemed rather chummy and matey so I went for them and was taken on by a young and hungry agent.
Was this to be the birth of “Severance”?
No, it was a TV script that I thought no one would be interested in but I did it for a laugh. I also had a film script thinking that it would get through the door and everyone will love this. And, of course, he hated the film script and loved the TV thing. I had loads of meetings on the back of the TV film and I haven’t looked back at the screenplay as it’s terrible, being full of the classic mistakes such as when something happens, all the characters get together to discuss as to what happened. So that was bad and I learned a lot from that. So the agent asked me as to what I had they he could sell. I had about eight one paragraph ideas and I thought that they were all magic and gold – suffice to say, the agent went through them going, “No, no, no, no!” He read the last one and thought it was good: it was about a team of yuppies going on a team-building exercise in the countryside and are picked off by a killer. And that was it, that’s all I had. He said, “That’s good, that’s a winner. Do an outline.” Because I was stupid, I didn’t do an outline and went and did a first draft in a weekend. It was a seventy page draft and I thought it was great and brilliant. But it was terrible. It didn’t have an outline, it didn’t know where it was going, had no ending – it was a huge mess, but there was something still there. I spent a year fixing and rewriting it. The agent stayed with me for the whole time not earning a penny, bless him. He must have read it about twenty times, gave me advice, helped me out but I was sick of looking at it and reading it. But a year later, the script was ready and he sent it out. And two weeks later, Qwerty Films bought it and I had sold my first film script!
That must have been an amazing experience for you as well as a great relief.
Oh yeah, pretty much: all those weekends and evenings working on it paid off eventually. I had been writing for a long time but only just started writing scripts – that whole year where I never had an outline and f****d up was my hands-on scriptwriting school course. I had made every single mistake and I spent the year figuring out what mistakes I had made and fixing them. Now I have a good idea on what to do by doing an outline and making sure that it has an ending. It was an invaluable experience and I’m glad it happened but I’m also glad it’s over. And I’m glad that it will never happen again!
The marketing people behind “Severance” have credited the film as far more violent and scarier than “Hostel” and funnier than “Shaun of the Dead.” How do you react to such comparisons?
It’s always nice to be compared to good films that I love. That said, “Severance” is a different movie. If someone goes in expecting something like “Shaun of the Dead,” they’re going to be disappointed. I love “Shaun of the Dead” but it’s a comedy first and horror second. If they go in expecting big comedy and jokes every five seconds, they’re going to be let down. It’s not that sort of thing at all – it’s a slow burner, character based and has lots of laughs but it’s not a comedy. Also, if they’re going in expecting something like “Hostel,” they’re not going to get that either. “Hostel” is a pretty grim, hardcore, f****d up movie. And whereas “Severance” has its hardcore, f****d up elements, it never takes you so far over the edge that you can’t come back.
I always thought that the scene where Andy Nyman is tortured and slowly mutilated to be extreme and…
That is pretty harsh (laughs).
Pretty harsh? I always thought that a similar scene in “Hostel” – the eyeball part in particular – to be so over-the-top that I couldn’t take it seriously. Nyman’s death however in “Severance” is particularly intense. Were you surprised that the movie was granted an uncut cinema “15” for the UK?
I really expected the film to be cut, let alone to get an “18”. I knew that the producers really wanted the film to get a “15” because it’s a lot easier to sell, a lot easier to market, you’re going to get a bigger audience and the summer holiday crowd. And it’s not such an extreme film that it would need an “18” but we always knew that it was going to be a bit tricky and knife-edge. The very first cut we did was two hours long and had lots and lots of violence: that torture scene went on for ages and it was really explicit. At two hours, the film was obviously too long and we trimmed it down so it ran far smoother. When the movie was trimmed in the editing room, the torture scene was shorter, and as you don’t see as much, it made it even more disturbing. If you focus on a gore effect for too long, it doesn’t look realistic. So we kept much of the gore off screen with a glimpse of what was happening to Nyman being tortured: it’s very nasty and far more realistic as you don’t see that much, whereas if we focused on the horror, people would have looked far more into the special effects. I’ve heard – and I don’t know if this is true or not – that the BBFC went for a split vote for Severance to be a “15” or “18”. It ended up being a very hard “15” or a very, very close to being “18” with snips. The BBFC are a lot more open-minded and fair these days than they used to be. They understand the dramatic context and a lot of the violence is defused by humour – they are a lot more willing to let things through when previously films were cut or refused a certificate. [+note: The following statement is from a friend of mine at the BBFC. We saw an unfinished version of “Severance” and told the company that it was borderline “15”/”18″. They took it away, removed about seven minutes and then formally submitted it. It got a straightforward “15” because they’d toned it down from the original cut.]
Lead actor Danny Dyer is often – and unfairly, may I add – ridiculed and criticised for his performances in films such as “The Football Factory.” What are your thoughts on his performance in “Severance” and what’s he like in the flesh?
My contract state that I have a “meaningful consultation” over the casting which means, “We’ll let you know and kind of pretend to let you have a little say in it or listen to your opinions, but don’t push it!” So I had no say in it all but they let me know when they showed me the screen test. I hadn’t seen Danny Dyer in anything before that point and I was quite worried because I’d written this character of Steve and thought of no one who could pull it off. I knew of no actors who could do a decent cockney accent and was highly concerned that they were going to get someone with a fake accent. One day, Chris [Christopher Smith: director] called me over the moon saying, “You’ve just got to see this f*****g Dyer. He’s amazing. He’s nailed it!” So I went to see the screen test and had never seen this guy before, so for me, it was like someone had found “Steve” and filmed him. It was bizarre. They could have not found anybody more perfect for the part – Danny was a perfect fit. I had the character so clear in my head and he talks exactly like him: same attitude, same facial expressions, absolutely perfect. Danny handled the serious stuff really well as he did with the comedy – he has this light, kind of subtle comic touch. With some of his other movies, they haven’t used him as well as they could have done.
What did the screenplay give to Danny Dyer that invoked his interest: the role or the cash?
He always says that he takes whatever he can because he has a daughter to support which is really sweet. But Danny does say that it’s nice if you like the film as well, and in this case, he liked it (laughs). He was so excited as he had never done a horror movie before and he’d never done anything like “Severance.” I was on set for about a week and Danny was so thrilled being there: he had a trainer for the fight scenes and had special make-up. He was thoroughly enjoying himself – it was so cool. I’ve heard that he’s getting different offers since “Severance” whereas before he was getting the same old roles because he now showed more range. I’m not sure if it’s down to our film or people now realise that Danny can do it. I certainly hope so as he’s such a cool guy and can do a lot more than he has been showing: he just needs someone to let him do it.
When I attended the press screening, I couldn’t help but notice that Steve, who is part of an office team-building trip, is eating his weight in magic mushrooms and is off his tits in front of his boss. Surely he would have got the sack?
Yeah, probably. Originally, he did it all on the quiet and Richard [the boss] never saw him do it and there was a big confrontation in the third act where Richard asks him, “Have you been smoking illegal drugs?” To which Steve unleashes a big, “Yes, I am. I’m smoking a huge f*****g spliff and you’re not having any.” It was overly talky and heavy handed as if to say that this is the moment where Richard loses control of the group. But it was a little too on the nose and we gradually explained things from the start of the film. We then made Steve a roadie so that he’s not actually working for Palisade, he just puts the stands up, and that way he’s not employed by them and can’t be sacked. We then thought that we wanted Steve to have a relationship with these people so we made him the techie guy and there a few more scenes that were more obvious. We pulled it back a little bit, but now you mentioned it, it does stick out. Hopefully, most people won’t notice but it does scream, “I am taking lots of drugs in front of my boss!” (laughs). That said, Richard doesn’t see Steve’s spliff on the bus and kind of passes it off as an electrical fault in the toilet. Then again, he does say “mushrooms” in front of Jill when Richard is there. There was a scene that was cut out as well when they are in the lodge and Steve takes out a spliff right in front of Richard and starts smoking it. Richard asks him, “Is that marijuana cigarette?” to which Steve says, “Yeah, it’s a f*****g huge spliff, alright!” and blows smoke in his face. Richard then says, “Can I have some?” (laughs). Danny goes, “No,” and Richard nods reluctantly to which Steve passes the spliff over. It was quite funny and sweet but it was just after someone had their leg hacked off and the bus crashed – it didn’t really fit in and was cut out. So going back to your question, yeah, it does seem a little odd having Steve as a major junkie on the team.
Both “Hostel” and “Severance” have similarities: both are set and shot in Eastern Europe. Was Eli Roth’s movie a motivation for you?
Not at all. I started to write my first draft in February 2003 which was way before “Hostel” and “Shaun of the Dead.” I then sold the screenplay in February 2004, which was again, before those two movies. You know, it takes so long to make films. The main thinking was at the very start the party were lost in the Scottish Highlands, however, in the early on in the process, we came to the agreement that it would be quite difficult to get lost in the British countryside. As Chris [the director] always liked to say, “There was always the feeling that there would be a f*****g Tesco or Sainsbury’s a hundred yards away!” (laughs). You’re never more than ten miles from a town in this country. There’s a place where Hungary, Serbia and Romania intercept and there’s hundreds and hundreds of miles of mountains and nothingness: you could conceivably get lost for the rest of your life. And it also tied into the civil war where this was a place where there had been conflicts and there were landmines and depleted uranium lying around as they are in these kind of regions. The setting played in nicely into that as well.
Is there any political statement involved with the setting and the civil war against the Palisade staff?
A subtle one, yes, in that we leave all this s**t lying around, landmines, and so on, get involved in conflicts and sell weapons where we probably shouldn’t. You know, you reap what you sow, and all that, but not in a heavy handed way. Although I kind of feel bad for the lovely, lovely people of Eastern Europe now as they have had two films in quick succession that say they’re a bunch of f*****g hillbillies who’ll rape and kill you! But they were so nice, they were really sweet to us when we were over there and thankfully they didn’t read the script.
What was your inspiration towards “Severance”? Being a hardcore horror fan, did any particular movies coax you towards writing the screenplay?
Not really. I was trying to think of what would make a good horror idea and I thought, “Right, I am not going to make the same mistake that every new horror person does and write a cabin in the woods story with a bunch of characters getting picked off one-by one.” You know, everyone does that. So one day, I was coming home on the underground and some yuppies in pin-stripe suits were pushing past me as if they owned the place. I got home in such a rage and decided that I was going to take a bunch of yuppies and put them in a f*****g horror movie and kill ’em off one-by-one. I then thought that it wasn’t such a bad idea: get a bunch of English office ordinary people, stick them in a teen slasher movie so they’re not responding with witty quips or getting their tits out, and kill them. It was then I realised I was doing “The Evil Dead” and “An American Werewolf in London.” Well, at least I was doing something slightly different! So I just rolled with it: those two movies and “The Thing” were a subconscious influence on the screenplay as they were the sort of films I grew up with.
We were chewing the fat earlier over the torture scene being cut for a “15” as well as other grisly footage going under the editor’s scissor. Can we expect a far more gruesome director’s cut on DVD when it’s launched in December 2006?
I don’t think so. I can’t speak for Chris but I did read an interview with him where he said that the version out now is the director’s cut. The first cut was longer because it was the first assembly so it’s got the full version of everything and some stuff was way too long and boring. So I think Chris is happy with the way it is and there wasn’t that much gore that was cut out in the first place. As I said earlier, if more violence is added to the torture scene, it won’t appear to be realistic.
Obviously “Severance” plays in the slasher sandbox: are you a fan of the slasher genre?
Oh yeah. Naturally, they have to be “Halloween,” “Psycho” and I love “Black Christmas” – that’s a seriously f****d up movie. I have absolutely no idea as to why it’s being remade: I watched it recently and it still stands up perfectly well. Yeah, I love those Seventies old school slashers, you know? Nice and simple, they were made with hardly any money at all and the filmmakers had to make sure that the script and direction were really good. “Halloween” is a great example. Carpenter had around $100,000 or something: “Here’s a hundred grand. Make me a horror movie in a couple of weeks.” They had no money for great special effects sequences or CGI back then. It was a case of going for widescreen, a steadicam and using the whole frame, the darkness and tension: it gets better every time I see it. It’s superb.
Before we commenced the interview, you were telling me of another deleted scene that you actually liked.
Back in the first assembly, there was a lot more of the funnier stuff with Danny stumbling in the forests off his tits. I could watch a ninety minute movie of just that because it was hilarious. In the scene where “sees” a duplicate of himself in the lodge, he goes into the forest and stumbles across a deer. The deer calls him over and says, “Hello,” in a proper English accent. The producers actually got Leslie Phillips in to do the voice of the deer. The Leslie Phillips! Leslie came into the studio and naturally charmed the pants off everyone. So, the deer says to Danny, “Would you mind scratching my nose? It’s awfully difficult when one has hoofs.” (laughs). Danny reaches out towards the deer and it screams, “Get the f**k off me, you c********r!” Danny runs away and when he gets back to the lodge, he says to the party, “Don’t go near the woods. The deer’s got the right hump.” (laughs).
I insist that the scene must be on the DVD!
Yeah, that’ll be on the DVD (laughs). It’ll better be as I want to see it. I could watch ninety minutes of that: Leslie Phillips as a talking deer.
Being your first movie, how do you react to negative criticism? I read in The Guardian that a reviewer called it “Perseverance”
That was in The Guardian? The Daily Mail actually liked it – I bought the newspaper on the day to get my own personal “Ban this Sick Filth” review but they actually quite liked it. So I was rather disappointed. Bad reviews don’t actually bother me because I was hoping for a snobby slagging off review but they have mostly been really good and I’m quite surprised as horror usually gets half and half. But we’ve been very lucky: “Severance” got a lot of positive reviews, a couple of average and one or two bad ones which is amazing. So it doesn’t bother me as most people have liked it so I can safely ignore the minority who don’t like it. And, of course, you can’t believe everything. If I read an review of a film, I can either disagree or agree with it; it all depends on who’s reviewing it. I do tend to obsess about the negative ones because it’s only natural, isn’t it? I know we all spent a couple of years working on the movie and we all did the very best that we could – so I know that we’re all proud of it, everyone we know loves it and that’s all that matters to me. Reviews don’t really matter in this day and age anyway because a movie like “You, Me and Dupree” got terrible reviews everywhere but it made two million quid in its first weekend in the UK. It’s probably okay, it’s probably alright, but at the end of the day reviews don’t matter. I wished that they did because we got loads of good reviews and we would have made millions! (laughs).
There are two scenes that cracked me up: the wandering bear (Jim howls in laughter) and the shooting down of a passenger jet. Being post-9/11, was this your critical stab against American political and military issues in the Middle East?
It’s not a stab at Americans or anyone! Although it obviously plays into the whole anti-war anti-weapon sales message – I have my own political views but I don’t like to make bold stabs at anyone in particular because it annoys me when people do that. Here’s this big, brash guy with a missile launcher and you’d think it’s going to be the end of the movie. I saw “Severance” recently at my local cinema, and when the guy gets the rocket launcher, there was such a big cheer from the back row! They all thought it was going to be the end and we could have got away with it. And when he fires the rocket, there’s this silence for a moment as the missile flies through the air and the audience ask themselves as to what is going to happen next. The shot then cuts back to a civilian jet coming into view and there’s this utter silence for five seconds. And then it happens. The plane explodes and people start laughing – I think probably because they can’t believe we actually did it!
I’ll be honest with you: my jaw hit the floor…
I never thought the scene would make it to the final cut (laughs). I thought that it would be the first thing to be taken out. And I put my hand up – it wasn’t my idea, it was Chris’s. I laughed my arse off when they told me on the phone. I thought it was genius and it was never going in the final cut. But it did and the scene stayed and it works wonderfully: it gets one of the biggest laughs in the film. When we showed it in Cannes, we were trying to get a US distributor and we were a bit worried about the scene as it can be perceived as a stab, and let’s face it, it’s a joke about shooting down a civilian aircraft full of passengers. But the American audience were the ones laughing the loudest! And when Magnolia came to buy the rights, that was their favourite scene and they were laughing their arses off. It’s not a stab at anyone in particular – it’s just a joke. This is something that would happen because this guy’s an idiot and the scene does have a serious message: do not use weapons irresponsibly, but it’s a cheap gag at the same time. It’s like the leprosy jokes you’re told at school – I shouldn’t be laughing but it’s pretty funny. I wanted to make it even sicker where we cut to the inside of the plane just before the rocket hits it. Inside it’s revealed that the trip is a “special” one for children dying of leukemia whilst going for a holiday to Disneyland. Luckily we didn’t do it. It may have pushed the movie over the edge! (laughs).
How did heroine Laura Harris become involved with the production? Do you think the blonde beauty was suited for the part as Maggie?
I could talk about Laura all day. (James sighs blissfully). Not that I can speak for her about what she liked about it – and not that I obsessively Google websites about “Severance,” although I do – but I have read an interview with her where Laura thought it was a good role where she could kick some arse. But I don’t want to say too much more as it’ll give away the end of the movie. With Laura’s and Danny’s part, I thought that they were going to be the most difficult because of the things that would happen to them: Steve [Dyer] in particular because I knew no one like him. And then we found the living embodiment of Steve. And Maggie [Harris]? She was a little mysterious and a little standoffish – kind of separate from the rest of the group. I thought if that’s not played right, she’ll come over as a whining, annoying bitch. But Laura was perfect. I’d seen her before in 24 and thought she was fantastic. Such a good actress.
And she’s damned cute. Single, is she?
Oh, yeah! She’s very, very cute. She’s kind of reclined, fragile looking and delicate, but when she has to kick some arse, she totally believable. And Laura is tiny! I hate it in movies when a tiny girl beats the s**t out of six Navy Seals at that would never happen: they would snap her like a pencil. But Laura is convincing as she has a couple of goes with the shotgun and she’s clearly handled weapons beforehand. And that’s another thing – if you watch the film again and listen to her, everything she says is right. Laura says, “This is obviously not the right lodge and we should stick to the main road and I don’t think that we should leave the bus.” Everything she says turns out to be true, but she’s really assertive and strong, but at the same time, Maggie is terrified and screaming in fear. She doesn’t overpower the guy towards the end with her fists, she just gets away in time to get a f*****g rock and smash him on the head. And we even joke with it as she can’t lift the first rock as it’s too heavy – everyone laughs at that. It’s realistic: it’s just what she’ll be able to do. But Laura was so good. I’ve heard she deliberately distanced herself away from most of the cast – not all the time – because her character was. She had her own thing and Laura was away from some of it as her scenes were shot in a different order. Her character was an outsider and she really had to prepare for some of the more intense stuff by listening to Marilyn Manson on her iPod before the main fight scene: pumping herself up, doing press-ups. She is so cool. Oh yeah, she is single, too. Can you believe that?
We were talking earlier as to why Laura appears to be more attractive when she’s fighting for her life, beaten up, spattered in blood with torn clothing. Dario Argento pretty much covered the same ground in that as director he’d prefer to kill an attractive woman than an ugly woman or man. What’s your reasoning?
I don’t know. It’s probably something very wrong and disturbing. Chris had said it before as well. When Laura’s first on the screen, she’s in her sharp suit with high heels and she’s very nicely made up – a corporate, saucy, yuppie tart (laughs). Her hair is perfect, she gorgeous. And then, and I don’t know why, but the more hell she goes through – her hair gets completely wrecked, there’s mud and blood on her face and she’s panting heavily – she fights back and overcomes. She deals with it and she’s strong. If Laura’s character was killed earlier on, you wouldn’t be as interested in her, but the fact she survives for so long and gives as good as she gets, makes her more believable. Yeah, Laura is my type of girl! (laughs). My wife is just like Maggie. In the same situation, she’d be strong and fight back f*****g tooth and claw to get herself out of trouble. I find that incredibly hot. And it’s movie dirt and movie blood: if she’d really been beaten up and put through s**t, then it wouldn’t look as good. But in a movie, it looks great – just the right smudge on her cheek, your honour! (laughs).
I personally thought “Severance” to be more horrific than “Hostel” and funnier than “Shaun of the Dead.” And the movie has been phenomenal at the UK box office and attracted people from all walks of life. Can we expect a sequel?
We have an idea if it was required. I think we’d rather not to do one for the sake of it, but we do have an idea on how to continue the story. I can’t say too much at the moment but it’ll be a direct continuation but it all depends on how many people see the movie.
Before lensing “Severance,” Chris Smith had directed “Creep” which was unfairly lambasted by critics. When you learned that Chris was to direct your script, did you have any concerns, reservations or thought that it was in jolly good hands?
In jolly good hands! I knew Chris was interested in directing Severance and I saw Creep at a movie festival previously. I really liked Creep: I know it’s not the best and most revolutionary horror film in the world but it’s a good, nasty little shocker which really goes for it. And it does what it sets out to do. So I was introduced to Chris, I told him that I liked Creep and he said that he really enjoyed my script, wanted to do it and go completely over-the-top with some of the scenes. And he’s such a nice guy – you won’t able to get a word in edgeways. When I first met him, he came over to me for ten minutes and I couldn’t get one word in the conversation – and then he was gone! I said, “Cheers,” as he was leaving. Creep has its flaws but I think it’s nicely done and beautifully directed. I liked it as Chris wasn’t afraid to cut away from a very dark scene – and you know which scene I am talking about – and I thought, “He’s going to cut away.” “He’s going to cut away now.” “Surely he’ll cut away now.” “Oh my God, he hasn’t cut away!” Chris doesn’t cut away from the shot for quite some time and it’s incredibly nasty. As you may have guessed, it’s the surgical operation sequence which is seriously f*****g nasty. My biggest fear for “Severance” was that the violence would be toned down and the nastier s**t taken out completely. When I saw “Creep,” I thought, “Cool, this guy can sort it out. If anything, he’d take things a step further than I’m comfortable with which is great.” With “Severance,” I thought Chris did an amazing job. I have heard so many horror stories with people having their scripts f****d up but I could not be happier with the finished product – it’s absolutely perfect from my point-of-view. He did a bang-up job, top fellah and he stuck with it all the way through editing and sound.
Is Chris a major horror movie fan?
Oh yeah, I think “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is his favourite horror movie. Not the remake, mind. Chris loves his horror, he knows what he’s doing and there were a few battles that were fought over “Severance” and he went for it to make sure it was not compromised. All I had to do was finish the script and my job was over: Chris stayed with it to make sure it was what we all wanted. He kept it safe, lashed himself to the wheel and f*****g steered that bastard into the harbour! (laughs).
What’s other projects do you have on the horizon?
I’ve decided that I don’t want to get stuck doing horror for ever: I love the genre to bits but I don’t want to do it for every single film and be that guy in his fifties churning out uninspired horror ideas. So, my next script is a straight horror! (laughs). This will be much darker – I call it my John Carpenter Seventies exploitation movie. It’s an “Escape from New York,” “Assault on Precinct 13” and “28 Days Later” kind of vibe: it’s going to be really heavy, dark, serious and nasty. I’ve just finished the first draft as well as completing a draft of a different script, a complete straight comedy: no deaths, murders and violence.
What pearls of wisdom could you offer to Dark Side readers who want to write a screenplay?
Watch lots and lots of movies, read a lot of scripts, listen to as many audio commentaries that you can and write a s**t load – that’s the best advice I can give. Just when you think you can’t possibly improve what you’ve written, that’s when you need to go over it because it can always get better. Everything’s been done before so give it your best shot.
I am your god: you’re incarcerated on a desert island with rescue as not an option. I am going to give you unlimited supplies, a DVD player and widescreen TV. For your viewing pleasure, I am going to grant you three wishes to select movies to watch till your end of days.
The first film would be “A Clockwork Orange” because I think it’s the most perfect example of filmmaking there ever was. I love Stanley Kubrick, he’s my favourite director and I always work in references to his films in my stuff. I think “A Clockwork Orange” is his best work, I love his style and everything about it: it’s such a magnificent piece. Musically, visually, acting-wise – there’s not a thing wrong with it. My second movie would be “The Blues Brothers” because whereas “A Clockwork Orange” is a work of genius and a masterpiece, it’s not the kind of thing you’d want to stick in on a Saturday night when you’ve had a few beers. And “The Blues Brothers” is the most perfect Saturday night, little bit drunken flick. If I was to be stuck on the island and my eyes were forced open ala “A Clockwork Orange” and I had “The Blue Brothers” on a loop till the end of time, after a million years if I was to be rescued and the film still wasn’t finished, I’d say, “Hang on a minute, let the film finish!” then I’d let them rescue me. I know the film off-by-heart: I know it’s terribly boring for someone to watch the movie with me because I say all the lines. Can’t get enough of it. My third film would have to be a horror and it’s a difficult choice as there are better movies to watch over and over again but it would have to be Carpenter’s “The Thing”. It’s old-school, proper isolated locations, cool characters, excellent effects, no CGI – you really cannot go wrong.
Thanks, Jim. On a final note, what would you have carved on your tombstone to reflect on your life, achievements and contribution towards society?
I can see up your skirt.