Kevin Williamson talks Scream 4, no 3D
Here's a very cool story courtesy of IESB. Kevin Williamson finally starts to dish the goods about Scream 4...why it won't be in 3D, and why Neve Campbell may be the opening kill!
At the helm of both film and television, Kevin Williamson has established himself in Hollywood as a visionary whose success created immediate attention. He has garnered respect, not just as a writer, but also as a producer and director whose visions have resulted in some of the most lucrative franchise vehicles ever made.
His first foray into television was the series Dawson's Creek, a show that instantly became a pop culture phenomenon and launched then-unknown actors James Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes, Joshua Jackson and Michelle Williams into instant stardom.
Preceding Williamson's success in the world of network television, his rise into the spotlight began in 1996 with the modern cult-classic feature film Scream. With his self-referential wit and biting dialogue, and drawing on his childhood love of scary movies, he created and wrote the franchise that reinvigorated the horror genre and also tapped into the previously ignored market of teen viewers.
While at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour to promote The Vampire Diaries, his freshman hit series for The CW, Kevin Williamson talked to IESB about returning to the Scream franchise with original cast members Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette, for what he hopes will be a new trilogy of films.
Q: Can you talk about casting Nina Dobrev in the show?
Kevin: It is always hard to find that anchor. If you look at The CW, you'll always see that anchor girl. All those shows have that one girl, who is the anchor of the show that everything revolves around. And it is so hard to cast that part. You can actually see when you do it and when you don't do it. I've seen shows that don't do it. We have so scored with her and the two guys, Paul and Ian. I think I hit a home run, for whatever part I played in that. I pat myself on the back because that has saved me on whatever the script. They are so good
Q: How has she changed in the six months the show has been on?
Kevin: I don't know if she's changed. She started out brilliant and she's still pretty brilliant. I think what's changed is that they're all getting more comfortable in their roles. She's taken over the role now and she owns it. It's hers now. It's no longer about just getting the script. Now, I feel like I'm writing for Elena/Nina. They're all one and the same now.
Q: Is she instinctive?
Kevin: She is so instinctive. Not only that, she delivers on the first take. This is a girl who just walks in the door and is ready. She's a natural. She knows what she's doing and she's so talented. We haven't even tapped her. I don't even know if we'll be able to tap her in this show. It might be a movie, 10 years from now, that taps her true talent. I'm going to try to do everything I can, but there's a lot in there. That girl's mega-talented.
Q: If The Vampire Diaries has a really long run, have you thought about what to do when your vampires start looking older?
Kevin: I have really thought about that and, with modern technology, we'll just increase the special effects budget.
Q: Will the tomb be opened this season?
Kevin: Quite possibly, yes. The fun of the back nine episodes is that Damon has an agenda. He's going to save Katherine. He's going to do everything possible that he can to get to her. And so, that tomb is still in play.
Q: Are viewers going to learn more about the new teacher? Is he a Van Helsing type really, or is he a vampire?
Kevin: There's definitely something with him. We're going to have fun. He has just blown onto the scene, and we haven't had a chance yet to explore his background. But, in the upcoming episodes, we're actually going to learn more about him. We're going to see some of what his past was like and what brought him to Mystic Falls, and we're going to see what his little agenda is because everyone's got a little agenda.
Q: How much will Mia Kirshner have to do?
Kevin: Well, she's coming in to set up Alaric's character and we haven't really developed it beyond that. I don't really know the long term prospects of her character. It's mainly flashbacks.
Q: Will you be introducing any other primary characters this season, or will you just be focusing on Damon, Stefan and Elena?
Kevin: Yeah, those are our core group that we're going to stick to, and we have our supporting characters that we're going to stick to for the first season. Then, we're going to be bringing in new characters. Melinda Clarke is going to come in as Matt's mother. I'm hoping that she will always be Matt's mother. While she'll come in for three episodes, I hope she'll come back.
Q: Which of the supporting characters have really interesting things coming up?
Kevin: In this last episode, Matt admitted that he likes Caroline. We're going to explore that. I think that's one of the fascinating romances on its own because you're dealing with two people that have come together out of loneliness, and not necessarily for the right reasons. It's going to be interesting to watch them have their romance, and maybe not necessarily be two people who belong together. That sucks, but they're going to try. Then, I think it's going to be fun to watch Tyler explore his aggression. It's going to be fun to watch Jeremy start to dig a little deeper into that paper he's writing. He finds some stuff in that journal that leads him on a very interesting journey, and it may actually put him at odds against his sister.
Q: Are werewolves going to be introduced into the series?
Kevin: Not this season, but anyone who's been watching knows that we hinted of it already. If you've read the books, you know which character actually has the curse. It's latent. It's a repressed curse. It's triggered by one particular activity that hasn't happened yet, so we'll go there probably in the next season. I think what's going to happen is that we're going to watch Tyler. It's no secret that it's Tyler. We revealed the full moon and we revealed all of his aggression issues, and we're probably going to continue to let him explore his anger issues and his daddy issues and see what happens.
Q: Since it's likely this show will be picked up for a second season, are you going to stay in Atlanta? Will you continue to film there?
Kevin: I think we're going to stay in Atlanta. Atlanta has been really good to us, in terms of just the look and the feel. And we have an amazing crew down there. What they come up with is just amazing. They keep delivering, day after day. I think it's a very good-looking show. I've never had such a good-looking show. It's very polished. If you knew what went into it and how we have less money than bigger-budgeted shows, it's even more impressive.
Q: How much are you finding that you can stick with the books, and how much are you having to change things around because the show takes on a life of its own?
Kevin: The show does take on a life of its own. The book has always inspired us because, if you're a fan of the book, you can look at what we have used or what we haven't, or what we've taken and turned it on its end. Like, for instance, we're going into this whole thing of this church and the tomb underground, and these vampires that have been desiccated and laying in wait for all these years, with Katherine amongst them. That's not in the book. However, what is in the book is Katherine. There's the tomb under the ground of all these caverns, and there is an element in the book that we expanded upon. So, the book has always inspired us, but now the show is off and running. We twist and turn everything.
Q: What's the biggest challenge in tackling vampires?
Kevin: I think the biggest challenge of this show is telling a serialized soap where you have high schoolers that are going to high school, they're worried about prom, they're going to the big game on Friday night, and there's vampires killing people. All that intertwining is what's difficult. Life and death stakes, and prom night. Keeping it real and grounded is our big challenge, and telling stories with emotion so that I want to cry. I want to be emotional, at the end. I want to have big, huge, epic stories, and doing all that is hard on a weekly basis.
Q: Have you thought of a limit to how many vampires you want at a time?
Kevin: My biggest thing is that I don't want there to be so many characters and so much mythology dancing about that the audience is confused and we can't attract newcomers. What I'd really love is to see more viewers and more people join the party. If you have too much mythology dancing around in any given storyline, or if you have too many characters in and out, it'll confuse the audience.
Q: What's the biggest change from The WB to The CW?
Kevin: There are so many things. There's the six act structure. We've gone from a four act structure to a six act structure, which I don't find helpful at all. It was done for a business reason, not necessarily a creative reason. TV is just such a different place. It's all about grabbing them fast. There are so many channels. When I was doing The WB, there was only The WB. There wasn't 82 channels. It was totally different. It's a big idea. One of the things that's great about this show is that it's easy. It's about vampires, and vampires are crazy right now. It's a good idea. And then, the fact that it hit is fun to watch. It's the icing on the cake.
Q: Did having success give you more license to expand the world?
Kevin: Now that we know that people are responding, the network seems to be liking the show, and we have started having those conversations about being around for a few years. And if we're going to be around for a few years, how are we going to spend our money? What sets are we going to build? Maybe we should take over this other warehouse right next door while it's available, so that we can financially plan long term. You always save money when you plan long term. So, we're having those conversations now. How many guest cast per episode should we have? How many people do we need to fly in? Are we going to have any more series regulars in the future? We're starting to have those long term questions. I love the fact that the studio's calling me with those questions because you're like, "Oh wow, that's good news for me."
Q: Will the people who've read the book know what the season finale will be?
Kevin: The end of this season will be a surprise. It's not in the books.
Q: What can you tease about it then?
Kevin: We're just building towards the Founder's Day celebration because it's the 150th anniversary of this town. I would say we're building to the big huge celebration and what happens with the tomb. There will be this happy little party, then there's this tomb business to deal with, that has 26 vampires down there.
Q: Do you plan on resolving that by this season?
Kevin: We'll certainly start it. I don't want to tease too much, but our whole back nine focuses on that tomb.
Q: Are there any major plot points from the book that you're saving?
Kevin: Oh, yeah. There are a couple characters we have yet to introduce. We have a lot of things from the book that we have up on the board, ready to go. We've just got to figure out when. It's all about a puzzle and putting all the pieces together. There's so much story, it's the puzzle of how you tell it.
Q: Are you working on any film projects right now?
Kevin: I'm almost done with the first draft of Scream 4. I'm trying to get that together for Wes Craven. We've got to get going on that, during the hiatus. We have Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and Dave Arquette. I was always holding out hope because the pitch was about those three characters. I didn't want to have to re-route the whole story. We don't have to do that. I can do it exactly the way I want wanted. The story is going to be told the way I originally conceived it.
Q: Is that going to be part of a new trilogy?
Kevin: I've been contracted to write Scream 4 and 5.
Q: That's not a trilogy.
Kevin: Well, I'm not going to negotiate 6 right away.
Q: Horror films have undergone another shift, with the success of Paranormal Activity. Do you have a chance to update references to that in there?
Kevin: It's all in there.
Q: Would you shoot Scream 4 in the Atlanta area?
Kevin: I'd love to. When I went down there, I said, "This is so Woodsboro." It would be perfect, but that's Wes' decision. Pasadena would work, too. If Wes directs, and he will if I have anything to say about it, I'll camp out at his house.
Q: What do you think it will take to get Wes Craven to come back and direct?
Kevin: Oh, Wes is going to do it.
Q: Will Scream 4 be in 3-D?
Kevin: No. I don't think Scream lends itself to a 3-D film. 3-D films are all about things being thrown at you. One of the things that Scream does is that it talks about those movies and sends them up, so actually putting in that device probably wouldn't work. I don't think it's an option. We're the movie that makes fun of it. I can imagine Stab being done in 3-D, but not Scream.
Q: Is there anything that you can say about the story and set-up?
Kevin: No. I think I've revealed way too much already.
Q: Is it still a strong mystery of who this Ghostface will be?
Kevin: Well, that's the whole point of the movie. What I have always liked about this movie versus the other horror films is that I feel like there are characters. In other horror movies, you remember Michael Meyers and you remember Jason. In our film, I think you remember Sydney Prescott because Sydney Prescott's the victim and she has lasted for all three of these movies. The fun of the film is that it's Sydney Prescott. That's the difference and you care about her. I want to write a story where you actually care about our characters and it's a plot that you watch them walk through. It's not all about the next kill. It's not all about slice and dice. I was watching Saw VI on pay per view the other night and I was like, "This is really just going from one kill to the next, to the next." It's fun, but I want to tell a story.
Q: You don't think Saw has managed to keep a story going with Part VI with a dead character?
Kevin: Oh, they're doing a great job keeping the dead character, but I want to know where our lead character is, where our protagonist is and what her journey is.
Q: Is it safe to say that you won't kill Sydney Prescott off in the first 10 minutes?
Kevin: The story has to start somewhere.