What can you say when the opportunity arises to interview horror maestro Wes Craven other than "Hells Yeah!" He was the guest judge on Fox's ON THE LOT Tuesday evening, and if you haven't caught the show yet, it's a competition for a movie deal with 13 directors left. On top of that, four or five of them actually seem talented! Let's see what Mr. Craven thinks of the whole damn thing.
How did you get involved with On The Lot?
They called me. I was a fan of the show, and they asked if I wanted to come and play and I said absolutely. Pretty simple.
So it happened after the show started?
Are there any contestants that stand out to you?
Yeah. I don't think I can say anything about favorites, but yeah, I think there's an abundance of talent.
You were also involved in the last season of Project Greenlight. Are you a fan of reality TV?
Yes I am. I actually watch a lot. It's kind of my guilty pleasure.
Do you think contests and competitions like these have a legitimate shot at producing a great film? Or is their role more as an entertaining docu-drama?
Certainly as docu-drama. There's lots of drama in the process and struggle of making a film. Even when you have the support of a network or a company, you still have a very small budget. That's just inherently dramatic. And to see a young filmmaker struggling to get his or her vision onto the screen is pretty fascinating.
Now whether they go on to become the next Spielberg, obviously that hasn't happened yet, but there's potential. I think it's inspiring for all the other filmmakers that perhaps don't even submit films to be a part of the contest, but just to be encouraged seeing someone else struggle so hard.
ON THE LOT seems to go both ways with that since they have the submission section on their website for filmmakers who aren't part of the show.
Yeah, just a tremendous opportunity for exposure.
How do you feel about todayís environment for new filmmakers as opposed to when you started your career?
There's an enormously expanded horizon of possibilities. The technologies have developed to the point where it's much cheaper to shoot something that you can show in a theater. Obviously you can shoot digitally and have a very good looking film that didn't cost that much.
Plus there's more theaters, there's more everything. There's DVD, straight-to-DVD, there's a lot of opportunities now.
Staying on the topic of multiple directors with a similar goal, is there any particular reason you havenít been involved in the MASTERS OF HORROR series to date?
I've just been writing. I'm friends with all those guys. Mick Garris is a wonderful guy. There's certainly no other reason than that I haven't had a moment in my schedule that I could do it.
Any chance that you might get involved in the future?
Absolutely. I'm always considering doing it, and then just when I think I have a month clear, it turns out that I don't. That's the only problem I've had that's kept me out.
One collaborative piece you did work on recently is PARIS JE T'AIME, though many of the reviews fail to discuss your section of the film. Do you find it frustrating when people overlook your ability to deliver quality non-genre work?
I've had that problem for a long time, and it just doesn't do any good to worry about it. You work as hard as you can with that kind of material out there too. And for me JE T'AIME was a great opportunity to do just that. I've had some really nice comments that have come out of it so I think it was absolutely the right thing to do.
There have been some rumors that you might want to direct a third NIGHTMARE film, perhaps attempting to create a pure trilogy within the franchise. Any truth to that, if for instance NewLine came to you and said "Letís do it," or is that pure fan fantasy?
That's something that I'd be interested in doing, but the curious thing to me about the question is that I've done multiple interviews today and that's the first I've heard of that notion. The idea of me turning it into a trilogy. There's been no discussion between me and the studio about that.
Have you thought at all about what you would do with a third NIGHTMARE film?
No, I haven't. Because to spend time thinking about a film that you have no reason to believe will be made is kind of a waste of time. I'm working on a script of my own, and to me it's always better to work on something that's attached to the future. Something that's brand new, and something that I can control more, ultimately keeping ownership.
Back in September we heard you were working on a new genre piece, tentatively titled Bug. Is that the script you're talking about?
I presume the title has had to change because of Friedkin's movie?
The title has changed, but y'know, it's not really a film that needs to have a title. So I'm just calling it Work In Progress.
Originally the idea was to start shooting that in the Spring. Did you mean the Spring of '08?
That's what it's looking like now. I got involved in the sequel to THE HILLS HAVE EYES more than I anticipated, so it took me away from writing for awhile, but now I'm back on it.
Can you talk a little about how the story is developing?
I traditionally just don't talk about things that I'm writing. I think it's bad luck for many different reasons. But I'm very excited. I think it's a very cool idea. It's going to be more like a thriller than a slasher.
Speaking of writing, are we ever going to see a movie version of FOUNTAIN SOCIETY (Craven's debut novel)?
There's not been any talk about that. It turned out to be a tricky book to accommodate to the screen.
Really? Because it reads very cinematically.
Yes, I know. The problem the studio had with it, 'cause for awhile it was with Image Movers which is part of DreamWorks, is the novel has a love story between this older man - who gets transplanted into his younger body [a clone] - but the love affair between him and his wife continues.
Everybody shied away from that in the film world. Once you tear that element out of the story, you've torn out the heart. So I don't know that anything will ever happen with that.
I guess if it had been an older female transplanted into her younger self, but still in love with her husband, it would have been insta-greenlit.
You've struck the solution right there.
Just cast Richard Gere and you're good to go.
[laughs] I've been told one more question.
Damn, so many to ask. How is Wes Craven's Magick Macabre [intended as a Vegas stage show] coming along?
It's coming along well. [Producer] John [McColgan] has been preoccupied with PIRATE QUEEN on Broadway. We're just kind of waiting for that to settle down, but it's good. We've got a script and have had a lot of interest.
It's gonna be like an hour, hour and a half show?
Do you know where it's going to run?
Not yet. We pitched it to Steve Wynn and he passed. We almost had a deal with MGM Grand, but they have a deal with Cirque du Soleil, and Cirque du Soleil said "we have our own magic show", so the MGM didn't want to offend that cash cow. But we have several offers out and I have no doubt that it'll get picked up.
Once it starts playing there I'm sure my wife will just llluuuuuuuuvvvvvvvvvvv you for giving me yet another reason to go to Vegas.
Thanks for taking the time and I'll look forward to your appearance on ON THE LOT.
Very good, thanks a lot.
I do think ON THE LOT is a fun show, and I'm even more of a fan now that Craven has been on it (show details below). But the main thing I want to talk about right now is this - IF WES CRAVEN IS INTERESTED IN DOING ANOTHER NIGHTMARE FILM THEN WHO'S THE F%CKHEAD WHO HASN'T MADE THAT HAPPEN YET?
Whew. Had to get that off my chest. Sorry for yelling and all, but seriously, wtf!? I want to give a big thanks to Wes Craven who's one of those guys who's clearly the coolest dude in the room, but doesn't have an ego about it and doesn't rub your face in it. He's just awesome!