You need to have, at its core, something that's
provocative enough to have the people take the scary elements home
with them. For example, we can make death a presence in your own
bathroom, in your kitchen, in your car and I think that breeds
familiarity in the fear factor. It's not something so otherworldly that
it stays on the movie screen and then as soon as you walk out the
theatre, you just say: "Now that was entertaining!" It creeps and goes
home with you.
That night when you get home from the theatre and you hit the
lights and the bulb blows out, you just wonder: that’s
weird, is there something there? That’s why I think the Nightmare
On Elm Street series worked so well. We’ve all had scary dreams
and woken up thinking: "Oh my god, my feet are cold and I was
running in cold water in the dream, what does that mean?" I
think that’s a very important component to it. The other part, of
course, are the kills!
They have to be imaginative, they have to be
terrifying, they have to be gruesome but not necessary gory. The
impact, particularly for the horror fans, has to be visceral. Not
viscera, you don’t have to have gouging testicles or intestines but
VISCERAL, an intense experience. If you can match those two things,
the organic reality that people can relate to and the supernatural
possibilities that relate to your own experiences, then I think you
have fire for a possible franchise. If you think about it, death
doesn’t have a character. It has a directive, it has an aesthetic
and you can't debate it, you can’t question it…it just is…and
that makes it very fearful, how do you avoid the inevitable or
prolong, preserve your own status in life while keeping death at bay.
I think that’s where this particular franchise has found its
Hot chicks and hip dudes also helps in terms of marketing, right?
It does, but I gotta be honest with ya...I think we have that with AJ
Cook and Ali Larter who are two beautiful and talented young women. We
also have Michael Andes who’s also a very good looking guy. One of
the interesting things about this movie is that when AJ Cook’s
character prevents all these people from going on this highway where
this terribly tragic car accident is going to take place, it's not just
a bunch of high school kids, it's people from all walks of life,
it’s a woman and her 15 year-old son,
it's an African
American school teacher, it’s a Crystal
Meth freak. They're a whole bunch of
people who would never find themselves in the same room but now given
what the AJ Cook's character has done, they’re forced to conspire and
work together despite their differences to overcome this thing
that’s coming after them.
I think that’s interesting and keeps the
film from being just another "yawn" typical teen horror movie or as
Ebert once said, just another dead teenager movie. We don’t just have
dead teenagers, we have a few but we also broaden the scope and that
will help the audience take the movie as seriously as we do.
HAPPENED TO DEVON SAWA??
LARTER = OBI WAN!!!
I got to ask the million-dollar question here.
Yes, my clothing is still on…
LOL! That’s not it…Devon Sawa…what happened?
It was really a function of narrative. Think of
it this way: if we had both of them come back from the first movie, it
actually begs the question: what have they been doing for the last
months? Are they sort of running around, hanging out or sitting in
their apartment? It really doesn’t allow for the characters to grow
that much. Yeah, they’re sort of looking after each other and
they’re fighting death…but that’s a very boring back story. So it made more sense for one of them to have died and that the
other person would have assumed the guilt of not having watched that
person’s back. And then there was the question: do we go for Devon
or do we go for Ali (Larter) and I think it was much more interesting
taking into account the current trend of chicks kicking ass in movies
to bring Ali back because the movie is also about her re-integration
into society, she is going from selfishness where she doesn’t want
to be responsible for anybody (last time she missed the
boat and Devin wound up getting killed), to being selfless, to wanting
to help other people and realize that the only way to live a life that
has meaning is to actually go out on a limb for others.
In that respect,
the relationship between Ali Larter and AJ Cook, who is the
other female lead, is a weird sort of Obi Wan / Luke Skywalker thing.
Ali knows everything that’s going on, where AJ had that one vision
that terrified her and the only person she can go for help, and who has
any experience in this whatsoever, is Ali Larter. Initially
Ali is like “No, I’m not going to help you...get the fuck outta
here” and that’s where the movie starts going into a dramatic
triangle because the other point of the triangle is the police
officer who’s sympathetic to the cause for no other reason than
he’s acquainted with one of the survivors of Flight 80 in the first
movie and it got him thinking that something weird is going on.
So the rumors that Mr. Sawa wanted mucho green were false?
Let's remember that we had an option on him so the
mucho green wasn’t really more or less the problem. On a narrative
standpoint, it just didn’t make any sense to bring him back. It was a
conflict of many reasons: was it money? Sure, that was a consideration,
but ultimately I just feel it was much more interesting to have Ali
come back. That way we sort of get our Sigourney Weaver-type character
in the film.
THE INTERNET AND MARKETING
How important do you think Internet marketing is going to be for
the second film?
One of the things that I’m very grateful for
is that we managed to get the interest of Internet sites such as yours
and I think that’s a testimony to the quality of the first movie, but
I also think we have a job to do. I mean, most horror sequels suck I
mean they really do. I’m a fan...I was weaned from '79 to '85 when
every second weekend The Prowler would come out or The
I even saw the Spanish film Pieces! I am
well versed and I know how bad these movies can be and we’re really
working hard to up the quality of "Final Destination 2". Like you have
films out there like "Urban Legends" that didn’t worry about the
audience expectations or the actual core fans. We don’t want to shit
all over the people that are there for us. I believe if you really
service their intelligence and their expectations, all will go
well. We were very conscious of that as we moved forward.
TEASER POSTER - TEASER TRAILER
How does NEW LINE feel about the franchise? Are they 100% percent
Absolutely. This has been Bob Shaye’s
pet project from the get-go. In the first movie, Bob was actively
involved in the process of development, through execution through
marketing, he was really, really in there. And he’s been likewise as supportive of the second movie, if
not more so because of the success of the first one.
When are we going to get to see a teaser trailer or a teaser poster?
I know that they’re working on concepts right now and my hope as a
producer is that we can get a teaser
trailer in theatres probably in July-August 2002
to take advantage of that last gasp of summer movie madness.
I’d like to get the full trailer
in by Christmas
to take advantage of that season as well.
Now you tell me, not to turn
the tables here, but I’m sure you went: "Fuck, what a waste of time!",
when you first heard about "Final Destination 2"…am I wrong?
Uuuh…I was a little afraid…I really loved the first one so I was
like...do we really need this?
That’s exactly what we’re up against at
every turn, I think one of the reasons why we reached out to sites like
yours is that we want the community out there to know that we have the
same trepidations that you guys have going into it from your end.
We’re doing everything we can to not shoot ourselves, you know?
BIRTH OF THE FD2 SCREENPLAY -
LARTER IN THE NUTHOUSE!
What were you looking for specifically when you commissioned the
script for the sequel?
It took about a year of listening to pitches
a bunch of different writers. Some of them went way out there like
“Devon Sawa’s character is now into extreme sports”…I just
wanted to puke down my front!
What we wound up doing is that Jeffrey Reddick, who wrote the treatment for the original film, had one idea that
was really interesting. He wrote a treatment for the sequel and then these
other writers (Eric Bress, J. Mackye Gruber) also came up
with their own takes on it. We then realized that the best way to
service the movie was to combine both takes together and we did. They
cleaved together very nicely. Jeffrey was working on another
project at the time so Gruber and Bress wrote the
actual draft for the movie. What we were looking for was somebody who
took the mythology of the first film and expanded on it in an
We wanted to find one really cool, connective tissue
between the first and the second movie. One thing I really liked about
what they did, is that they tried to make it like a stand-alone movie.
Flight 180 is mentioned once in the first 30 minutes of the
movie. It’s verbally mentioned and that’s it. It doesn’t have
anything to do with the first movie until page 32 where we encounter Ali
Larter who’s incarcerated herself in a mental institution
for her own protection. So it's at that point that Final Destination 2
intersects with the original and the mystery of how the two movies
intertwined is what propels the second act. You try to figure out how
these two separate events are connected to one another and that
ultimately leads us to the beginning of act 2, connection/twist/
reversal that sends us hurdling towards our thrilling conclusion.
It sounds ambitious for a sequel
We tried. I
think it’s going to work; there are some really cool moments. What
we wanted to do was to take everything people liked from the first
film and use them in Part 2. Like the creative kills plus the sort of tongue
in cheek humor. I don’t think the humor was bad in "Final
Destination". You know how SCREAM was very self-referential and in
consequence, self-congratulatory? Well, we don’t have that, we have
black humor that comes about from the situation. People got into it
via the first one and I think it’s a normal tension reliever.
Anybody that’s in a stressful or tense situation tends to crack a
joke. We tried to preserve a sense of humor as much as possible
without undermining it to the point of making it campy cause lord
knows once you stumble into campiness, the movie is almost over.
DAVID ELLIS: THE MAN WITH THE PLAN!
What was it about David R. Ellis that made him the right person for the
(read my interview with David R. Ellis here)
He got me so drunk…just kidding…David Ellis,
his resume speaks for itself in terms of pedigree for creating,
generating, shooting and executing some of the most intense, unique
actions sequences of the last 10 years. It certainly justified us
having a meeting with him. When he came in, he had a much better
handle of what the tone and the perspective of the movie needed to be
even more than we did. He was very, very, very aware of the first
movie and had very strong point of views about the things he wanted to
preserve from it. So it really became very apparent that he was “the
Also, you want somebody with that kind of experience on board,
it’s a very technically complicated movie. We had a lot of younger
guys coming in who were interested, people who’d made one movie but
the wealth of experience David brought with him was too good to pass
on. This movie is built on some of its more intricate parts. If you
remember the first one, some of the death sequences were very complex.
There’s a lot of different elements that come into play during those
scenes and a guy that’s very well-versed in shooting second unit,
that knows the value of shooting material and applying it to a
sequence, is the perfect guy to do a movie like this. The bonus is
that he keeps the whole set running smoothly. He makes it fun!
Everybody is having a great time!
CANADA? AND THE FD2 BUDGET
Why Canada? The first film was shot in British Columbia, and this
second one as well. What is
it about Canada that makes it Final Destination-worthy?
What makes it our Final Destination [laughs]? We
know the arena, we know the people up there and let's be honest,
there’s an enormous economic incentive to shoot there. We we’re
very fortunate to get Justis Greene, who’s been working as a
line producer up there for 30 years and who was able to get us the
best crew working in town right now. It was advantageous to us on so
many levels, that it was just the right place to go for this movie.
Is the budget higher for the sequel than the first one?
Slightly, we were very fortunate, obviously on
some sequels the budget goes up 40 or 50 percent higher than the
original, but I think that we only went up 8 percent higher.
This is a long-term question; if Part 2 makes the moolah…can we
expect a Part 3?
We would love to have the opportunity to work
with this notion again. I think one of the things people find
fascinating about FD as a series is that we’re proposing a world
where death is a reality, it's all around, it’s almost like
but really malevolent. I think one of the reasons that the first movie
did as well as it did, is that it required the audience to enter this
imaginary place. Movies like IKWYDLS or Urban Legends
are really, in my opinion, NOT horror movies. They’re thrillers because
you have a guy in a slicker cutting people up, there’s nothing
supernatural about that.
But this series requires that you believe in
something that’s fantastical and once you do, you can go to great
places. I think the fact that death can’t be killed but can be
thwarted or stalled allows the storyline to go anywhere. I mean, we can
go to Bangladesh where somebody has an experience and through
research they find out that other people had the same experience. Who
knows what the third one will be? I’m just spit-balling here: let's
say one girl has a premonition, she tells the press or something and 6
people show up at this person's door and say: "We can help
you". There’s a
thousand different things you can do with it, that’s why the Nightmare
On Elm Street series worked, it deals with dreams and the
otherworldly world of that. We also have a lot of fodder so we can
fully take advantage of the possibilities of the FD story line.
CRAIG'S FUTURE PROJECTS
So what’s next on your plate, American Pie 3, Final Destination 3...wassup?
I have a bunch of things brewing. We have Cats
and Dogs 2 that we’re trying to get
off the ground. As for American Pie 3,
we will only do it if we can do justice to the first. We’re working
on finding the right storyline to execute in the right manner and if
it works...we’ll go for it. We’re going to give it our best effort
to live up to the first two. We’re also trying to get
flying, which is a supernatural Western.
ARROW: That sounds
Think UNFORGIVEN with a supernatural edge to it. We’re aiming
to enter development August/September hopefully at MGM.
not yet but we’ll hopefully get the script in soon. What’s fun about
it is that it takes all the strokes of the Western genre but gives
them a supernatural undercurrent. I know it’s a somewhat tired genre but by
giving it a little
something else, it will bring it back to life (no pun intended). You
know, I’ve never made a Western; I think it will be cool to deal
with horses and all that kind of stuff. We also have another MGM
project, it's an urban comedy called, Get
It On, the casting process is going
on right now. Bruce Leddy
is attached, he’s a veteran of Mad
TV and there's a wonderful energy
about him. It's a lower budget thing but it's actually quite funny.
Other than that, I’m just trying to stop myself from getting older,
it's really hard, that old fart type thing.
Old fart, give me a break, you sound like a hipster!
I’m trying, I’m trying. I actually had my
birthday last week, and I am now at the ripe age of 34.
Thirty-four?! You’re a young guy...what are you talking about? I guess in
conversation went on but it didn’t pertain to Final Destination 2
anymore, so I’m ending the transcript here. I'd like to thank Craig
for his time and for the very insightful tidbits that he slapped my way.
Check out Craig's screenwriting
related site, it's a kool
place for any budding screenwriter that wants to play with the Big
Boys. You can also check out the
Official Final Destination website. I can't wait for this sequel
to land, the people behind it seem to have the right attitude. I
expect a gnarly ride!