Part I - The path to being Wes Craven's Creative Exec
Part II - What does a Creative Executive do and what do they look for?
Then you went and did Scream 4, which, you mentioned you were a fan of Wes’s from a long time back, how surreal was it to be a part of the new Scream movie?
The first Scream [was released when] I was in high school and under 17. I snuck into the theatre – it was so packed, it was the second weekend – and I sat in the aisle and watched it. I think I went back the next weekend and my parents bought me a ticket. And as soon as it came out on VHS, I bought it and rewatched that movie, like, 100 times, you know, with my friends. Like on Saturday night after we’d come home from going out we’d watch Scream. So I was so thrilled to get a chance to work on the fourth one.
Scream was one of my favorite movies. I know all the lines, I’ve seen it 40, 50 times, I was following Wes on Twitter when he was doing trivia questions for signed posters and every time I was like “Oh, I hope it’s a Scream 1 trivia question because I know that forwards and backwards!” I’ve seen all of them but I know the first one cold.
I told my parents, “See, this will pay off, me watching this so many times!” Then on set, they’d need to know something about the first one and I knew it. And so much of the original crew was part of it, so to hear all of the stories from them first-hand about stuff that happened on the first three was just so exciting.
I’ve heard all of the stories about how you auditioned actors for this one with scenes from the first one. I imagine this script was top secret, like the interns were not allowed to read it.
No, I don’t even think some of the actors we cast got a full script. We’d only give them their pages. That was all they’d see. At the beginning as the Co-Producer, I was kind of the script master, so I watermarked every single one we sent to anyone. We never sent it to any agencies or managers. We’d only hand-deliver directly to the actors so it wasn’t even emailed to them. For casting, we pulled sides from the first Scream and we also had fake pages – scenes that [screenwriter] Kevin [Williamson] wrote that we’d already taken out of the script that we knew we weren’t going to use. So we’d have the final Billy/Stu kitchen scene [from the first film] for the kids to read and we gave it to each character. Everyone who came in to read, read that scene.
So they all came out of that like, “Oh, I’m TOTALLY the killer!”
We gave it to everyone, all the boys, all the girls.
But there’s a neat kind of head-fake in there, where you’ve got people who are sort of reminiscent of the original, but it’s just enough that I could see people in my audience going “Oh I so know where this is gonna go because this is like in the first one where…” And then they’d go, “Maybe they think I’d think that, so it’s totally not him.” Like with the boyfriend, I could sense them going, “Oh, he’s so the killer. He’s so obvious…. Wait, it’s so obvious he’s not. But that’s how they did it the first time…”
Yeah, exactly! (laughs)
I just thought it was neat the new movie used everyone’s expectations from the first film against it. And it was kinda cool to see the speculation about “If this is a new trilogy, they’re totally gonna kill off the old cast” – which I think was the genius of the new one. I even did an article about how everyone’s expecting Sidney will get killed to pass the torch, and to find out “No, the person we think is going to take over the franchise is actually the killer…”
It was really fun to work on. Even the house we were shooting in for that final sequence, the owners of the house obviously could come around [during shooting.] But occasionally they’d bring people and we’d have to be, “I’m sorry, we can’t let you in your house.”
They’re going to see something you don’t want them to see.
Yeah, it was very top secret. Michigan was wonderful to shoot in, but because film was so new to them, all the neighbors would get so excited and they’d set up lawn chairs and watch until four in the morning – even if we were inside, they’d just sit there and watch because it was so interesting to them.
But at the same time, people would always be taking pictures, so anytime [the actors] had any blood on them we’d throw a poncho over them and get them in the van, in an attempt to not get them photographed.
“They can’t see that you’ve got blood on the carotid!” Was there ever a point where you were like, we should just screw with them and send, like, Neve out there covered in blood?
I think there were times when we let things go so people would think [that certain characters would die.] There was definitely speculation that Gale Weathers was not going to survive, and we didn’t stop that speculation. I can’t remember if we did anything to really tease people one way or the other. Wes would tweet some things like a picture of a bloody couch, or blood on set, and people would be like “Who are they shooting with today? That person must get killed!”
And you were one of the few people who knew, so would you get “Carly, let’s go out for drinks tonight” and have them try to ply you for spoilers?
It’s funny because my fiancée was a fan of the Screams too and he never knew. I never told him. And the script would be at my house but he didn’t read it. My sister-in-law’s also a big fan and she was like, “Just tell me.”
“It’s Dewey. You can tell me.”
It was a fun secret to keep.
Were there alternate endings?
No. That’s it.
Because I know they did that on some of the others. The third one, I think.
The ending’s the ending. There was a “button scene” we shot, maybe it’ll be on the DVD. It’s just like an extra little joke at the end.
Can I ask about the Kevin Williamson/Ehren Kruger thing, how much of Kevin’s draft is in the final film?
Oh, it’s his script. He had to go back to Vampire Diaries at the end of May, which we all knew. So there were things that still needed to be tweaked and he couldn’t do it, but it’s totally his story, his characters, his script.
It feels like his. It feels more like a proper part III than Scream 3 does, actually.
Last question: If you could go back to your first day out here working on Cursed and give yourself advice, what would it be?
The best advice would be to “always anticipate.” Try and guess what whomever you’re working for is gonna need or want and have that already done. That’s probably the best thing any aspiring assistant looking to move up can do… of the assistants and interns I’ve had, the ones that can anticipate are the ones that I then recommend for jobs in the future or try to help find their next job. It definitely makes you stick out a little more.
It’s so important to do that and not just be the intern who shows up with the attitude of “I’m not getting paid so I’m not going to do anything.”
And have passion. Be interested and not be like “Right at six I’m going to leave.” When I was the office PA on Cursed, I would always try to end my day with a delivery to set so I could stay on set and hang out. And I would stay there because that was my opportunity to learn more, and I didn’t have to work or do anything. I could just observe.