Scream 4 released in 2011 turned out to be horror maestro Wes Craven’s last film after he tragically passed away in 2015. Intended to be the start to a second trilogy within the franchise hopes of further films seemed to pass away too. But you can’t keep a popular franchise down and after the success of the brutally bloody ‘Ready or Not’ reviewed HERE) from directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett there’s now a fifth film shot just as the pandemic was taking a worldwide grip. We spoke to them and the film’s producer William Sherak about what went on behind the scenes of Scream 5 or Scream as it is titled……..
- With Wes Craven having passed away what was it that got the franchise up and running again?
William Sherak: Well this I have to give 100% credit to Gary Barber who owns Spyglass media group that own the rights to Scream. When he took over that library that owns the rights, I believe it was one of the first properties he identified as being a time to go back to. We sat down with Gary so we’re about a year and a half from then…. so no it’s a little under a year when Gary first spoke to us and the guys started writing it between October and November of 2019.
- So how did a new Scream film come about with Tyler & Matt?
William Sherak: Well I had the benefit of making Ready or Not with the guys so when Spyglass (production company)said it was time to remake Scream and told us the plan to rebuild the franchise the three of us, Paul (Neinstein – producer), Jamie (Vanderbilt –writer/producer) and I sat down and said ‘Radio Silence (Matt & Tyler’s company) are the guys to do this!’. We bought Matt & Tyler in but with them not knowing they were having a general conversation about Scream because we had told Gary that these were the guys we wanted to direct it but we couldn’t tell them yet. It was our mission to put that band back together and bring that to Spyglass and when they read their script and heard their vision it just all came together rather than us going to look at hundreds of film makers. When Gary (Beswick)and Jamie wrote the script ….well this is the place we want to take this movie he fully supported this vision and when they came in it was just 100% the right choice.
- So Matt & Tyler tell us your side of how the job of directing Scream 5 came about?
Tyler : We found out in that meeting that Jamie was writing the script and we all lost our minds, that a friend of ours was writing Scream. We were so excited to read the first script at the conference room and it took us 3-4 hours because it was a paper copy and it’s a top secret project and Jamie kept checking in on us with , ‘What’s taking the guys so long to read this thing?’ But we were loving it , every single beat, first as fans and then approaching it as film makers after that.
Matt Bettinelli Olpin: We were so grateful for that because this was one of our movies that we hold dear and have since the first movie and to even have the opportunity to pitch on a project like this is an honour. We’ve been involved in stuff where you pitch but don’t get the project so the heartbreak of that with this project would have been I think almost impossible to deal with. The idea that they all trusted us is one of the most incredible honours .
- Scream overhauled the horror genre but where can a fifth film go?
Willam Sherak: One of the things Guy and Jamie did with this is they really made a point of addressing the current state of horrors much like the first film did with slashers which at the time had started to fade but they bought it back but what Guy and Jamie bought to this was the current state of horror without it being a case of parody or farce. Unlike in 1996, horror is not on a downward trend and it’s another golden era right now and that’s built into the story in a major way
- So is this a remake ? A reboot?
Matt: I think a lot of us have an issue with the definition of remake. What’s a remake or a reboot? For us we’re not interested in the remake. Wes created this world in such a profoundly beautiful way and our goal is to move it forward and to grab the baton and tell a new story and push it forward into new territory
Tyler : And the conversation we’re having right now, well the movie has that conversation as well. That’s something that the movie tries to define as well. Scream is always talking about itself as it goes on.
- Has much changed since that first draft?
William: Very little. Everybody supported it and the good thing about having Gary at Spyglass is that once you pitch him the version you want to make, he believes in that, he really does support his creative talent. The only thing that’s really changed is production related issues not story or structure issues with locations or cast members but there was no heavy lifting of the original idea that Jamie and Guy came up with.
- It’s always been a big deal about who the killer or killers are. How has that all been kept under wraps ?
Matt: There are no killers in this one. Everyone just has an incredible day! (laughs) There are even members of the cast who don’t yet know who the killers are. We’ve been very careful with what information is put out to the cast & crew…you know it’s like a big whodunit so the more people you have involved questioning the more fun it is to make
- We even had a cast member who is a killer ask if we were lying!
Matt: It’s always been a major part of the movies since the first one and keeping the identity has always been a priority and the twist with the first one was great and just so unexpected and it was important to maintain that for all the films. The script we first read was complete, nothing was missing, so we knew the identity….even if we didn’t get to direct it (laughs)
Tyler: We’ve kept it secret a number of ways though. Multiple endings shot, multiple scripts, multiple scenes with different killers but ultimately when we came to shoot the real scene where it’s all revealed those in the scene knew it was the real one. But no one in the cast or crew wanted to spoil it and we’ve kept it a secret this far.
William: And very few people knew which was the real draft. One of the things that Gary did from the first moment on before anyone else was involved was getting Kevin Williamson’s blessing and get him back into the fold and one of the things they had going on back in the day was that they had multiple versions of the script so there were different things happening in different versions. So we’ve adopted some of that. There’s a bunch of different things out there so if people get hold of different material it may or may not be true.
- So how difficult was it shooting this in the middle of a pandemic?
Matt: Well the crew have done a terrific job keeping the safety protocols in place all the time throughout the shoot. Everyone got tested regularly, we all wore PPE and the crew were absolute troopers, wearing their face shields and masks all day and the cast too wore masks right up that moment when we shout, ‘Action!’ . They even wore the PPE during rehearsals.
Tyler: And we had the producers on the set making sure we didn’t stray from the Covid safety protocols too. I don’t know what was more scary, Ghostface or the producers making sure we kept our facemasks on!
- What was physically the most difficult scenes to shoot?
Tyler: Well the pandemic and the conditions we had to shoot under didn’t help and we had to change several scenes not so much in what’s in them more in the way we had intended to shoot them but that was only a in a few scenes. We didn’t want to mess up because the schedule was quite tight and it would have had an impact on the schedule. No one wanted to miss out if anyone got hit by covid so everyone was OK with sticking to the restrictions
- Have you resisted CGI and kept with practical effects?
Matt: Well on Ready or Not there was a balance and we love practical effectsand wanted to use that whenever possible and we’ve maintained that here.
Tyler: The make up crew are fantastic and whenever those scenes came up we couldn’t wait to see what they would come up with. There’s some really warped minds and their work and what they did to the actors is amazing. I think audiences will love the gory effects in this especially in some of the scenes.
- The working title of the film was Parkside Alpha. What’s that about?
Tyler: (laughs) Good question Simon. We want to know too. We know that the producers dorm at college had been called Parkside so we think it’s something to do with that!
- So you had written a letter to Neve Campbell at the start of pre production. Can you tell us about that?
Matt: Well Neve is such a great actress and with Wes no longer around we wanted her to feel safe with us helming a new Scream film. And she is an essential element of the film along with David & Courtney and we’re big fans of all their work. We’re the new guys on the block so we thought we’d write to her and tell her what we had in mind and that we wanted to keep Wes’ spirit alive and hopefully make her feel safe and comfortable with us directing. And she was so appreciative.
- Wes Craven had cameos in the subsequent films. Can we expect you both to make an appearance? Are there any surprise cameos?
Tyler: (laughs) You’re the first to ask Simon but we’re really excited about the film and we loved spotting Wes and so yes we felt we had to follow in his footsteps and we have a very very brief moment. The film is full of surprises and there’s a load of Easter eggs which fans will spot, some easier than others so we’ll be amazed if the audience spot them all the first time round .
- It must be intimidating to take over a Wes Craven franchise?
Tyler : I think it’s a blessing to step on to set and that we get to follow in those footsteps. It s a lot of responsibility but we’re so reverential to. There’s a feeling that we’re telling this for the right reasons and Wes is part of that. We’re watching Wes Craven interviews all of the time, listening to his commentaries over and over and over, talking to all the cast who worked with him in the other previous movies and the stories of what he was like, what sort of person he was and even through that it feels like we’re getting to know him as fans on a level we never expected and hopefully that’s seeping into the movie
- …..and finally as its all the rage ….. can we expect an end credits scene?
Matt: (laughs) No ….or is there? There’s certainly some great music over the credits.
Read our review of Scream HERE
Read out interview with the new cast members & their experience of making the film HERE