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Interview with Thommy Hutson from “Scream: The Inside Story”

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April 04, 2011

We had the opportunity recently to speak with Dan Farrands and Thommy Hutson the Director and Writer of “Scream: The Inside Story.”  You can find our interview with Thommy Hutson below, and our interview with Dan Farrands here.  “Scream:  The Inside Story” airs on A&E Biography on April 6th.

Before the Trailer: What inspired you, and how did you get into the area of making documentaries?

Thommy Huton: As long as I can remember I wanted to be a writer. I’ve always been writing stories and things like that. I went to UCLA actually, for Communications and Business. I don’t know if it was just that I wanted to make sure I had something solid under me.

In the communications portion of it there was just so much writing. I really found that I enjoyed it quite a bit. I was doing well at it. So I decided to try my hand at screenwriting and that just seemed to sort of pan out with my writing partner Katherine. We did our first project together which got us a little of recognition in some of the screenwriting competitions and then we moved on to doing some work in some “Scooby-Doo” animated movies and then it just kind of took off from there. And in the course of all of that I ended up meeting Dan Farrands and together he and I worked on a documentary on the Friday the 13th franchise and from there we moved on to a documentary of “Nightmare on Elm Street” called “Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy” and I have always really loved the Scream franchise. So then Dan and I had been brainstorming about what we could do next and Bio Channel was interested in another project. So we pitched them “Scream” and they bit and here we are talking about it about a week after wrap. So I think the road to documentaries was just something that was not really planned but kind of came organically out of my love for the genre.

BTT: Before you worked on “His Name was Jason” with Dan, did you have a working relationship before that or was that the first thing you worked on? How did you guys meet up?

TH: “His Name was Jason” was the first time Dan and I had worked together and honestly I had only met him personally not too long before that. Funny enough through someone who had became a mutual friend, Larry Zerner who played Shelly in “Friday the 13th: Part 3.” He is now an attorney and I was working with him on another project and he said ‘Oh, you should meet my friend and client, Dan Farrands, who is also a writer.’ Of course I knew Dan’s work from his genre stuff like “Halloween 6” and things like that. So Dan and I met and then through other people we worked together on “His Name is Jason” and then our friendship ensued.

BTT. What was your goal or your intent when you first heard about the project for the  “Scream” project?

TH: You know, it’s really interesting, because one of the things that we learned is, the format for an inside story on Biography channel is really different the form we used for our “Never Sleep Again Elm Street” project. So I think going in from a writing stand point my goal was obviously – make the most interesting but yet in-depth, compelling, entertaining show within this new format versus kind of more free form thing we had done for Elm Street. And my goal was just make it fun, make it informative, get those stories that people may have never heard about.  So it was just pulling together the best 90 minutes and hearing these great stories, and particularly the difficulties in bringing this movie to life – which I don’t know how much of that people really know. But this movie really had a tough road to being made, and certainly no one saw that it would become the phenomenon that it had become. So really exploring that was one of my main goals. The road to this film that had become an icon and how difficult it actually was.

BTT: What sort of new insights can fans of trilogy expect to see in the retrospective?

TH: Well, we cover mainly the first film. We definitely touch on the sequels obviously because they are an important part of the franchise, but our main focus is the first movie. And for me personally as a fan, I really did the research and wanted to know everything there may be to know. One of the things I found fascinating was the amount of people that were up for the roles, that almost got Dewie, who almost got Randy. So that kind of stuff is really interesting because you get to really hear first hand from the casting director, the producers and Wes why they chose who they chose.  And another interesting story – and this is also a personal thing for Dan because he went to the high school they tried to shoot at – was really getting the in-depth of that story behind the scenes of why the film makers and the crew were rejected from the high school location. It was a really big dramatic argument on both sides and was really fascinating to watch unfold.

BTT: Dan told us a little about that and it was obviously something that we didn’t know about. So that was really interesting to hear more about the back story on that. I’m looking forward to the interviews that he was talking about that were done with the actual board members who were making the decisions. I think that will be really informative and interesting to look at.

TH: It absolutely is and it really opened our eyes. You can see the passion on both sides. You absolutely understand the reasons that Wes and his crew were so adamant about filming in that high school, but you really do get a glimpse into why the townspeople and school board didn’t want them to. It was truly fascinating to see all of that unfold.

BTT: Yeah I think that will be really interesting.

BTT: What were there anything you were surprised that you learned about?

TH: I’m trying to think. It’s so funny because we have so much footage and we try to recall the most interesting and fascinating things. It might be harder for me to answer because I just did so much research, so I can’t necessarily say anything that came out was overtly surprising. Like I mentioned some of the cast, the names that came up did surprise me.

I think in terms of the production, I think the difficulties they had in bringing this movie to life, just from costuming Ghostface, to the location – really every step of the way there seemed to be something that the film makers were fighting in one way or another to bring their vision to screen.

TH: Why do you think “Scream” was so successful in reigniting the horror genre?

TH: I think what “Scream” did was, it allowed people to kind of watch characters on screen that maybe the audience had been acting out for a really long time – watching the genre movies that they grew up with. Where maybe someone was maybe doing something on screen and everyone turns their friend saying “I don’t know why she is doing that I really don’t understand. I mean, if that was me…” (Laughing)

And now you realize that there’s characters in this movie that are actually acting out what people have said to the screen while they are watching their favorite genre movie. I think that was so different, so unique – it really opened up that kind of fourth wall type thing. And Wes had done it almost before with “Wes Craven: New Nightmares,” so he had already touched on it. But I think it was a movie that was funny, a movie that was scary, and it was a movie that had characters that felt really real and identifiable. They were kind of like the people next door – the cool, hip kids that you knew, who were going through the things that we used to only watch on screen. I just think it opened up a door to a different kind of horror movie and it took everyone by surprise.

BTT: Part of the conversation we had with Daniel was about the kind of sense of humor that was worked into that. With “Scream” there was enough humor that it made it appealing to a broader range of people. Where I would have friends come back and say it was just as funny as it was scary and maybe I went saw it a little more. That is something I personally appreciated in the movie and hooked me into it, probably more than if it would have been a straight horror movie without the blending of the humor.

TH: I completely agree. I think the humor and the realism of those characters and the fact that they talked about things we were all talking about made it really accessible to people that may not normally watch horror movies, because like you said it was as funny as it was scary. So it had a little something for everyone. This is a movie that broke the $100 million barrier. For a horror movie at the time that was completely unheard of. So you know this movie was not only getting repeat business but it was breaking the general boundaries of what people thought the audience of a horror movie was. I know people in their 60s who were seeing this movie and this was a horror movie. So clearly they were doing something different enough that made it accessible to a lot of people.

BTT: Did you get any insights into the fourth movie or the second trilogy that is coming up?

TH: If I did pass anything along I would have to kill everyone (Laughs)

I am kidding. I am completely kidding. I actually don’t really know that much. I would probably venture a guess that I know as much as everyone else out there who is a fan and following the articles and Wes’ interviews and things like that. I do know that Neve Campbell talked about how fascinating she thought the take on “Scream 4” was and that was one of the things that brought everyone back. So I think it’s something to look forward to. I really think it will give the genre a big boost again.

BTT: I think so too. I heard rumors out there. One of the things I heard was that this is a movie that Wes is really excited about. Maybe more so than other movies in the trilogy. He is really proud of the work that was done in it.

TH: I know that everyone involved seems to be really excited, really proud of it. The material that they have to work with from the last movie alone I think gave Kevin Williamson the images for this take that everyone loves so much. So I think it’s going to be really fascinating to see the cast that we love and know mingling with a brand new cast. And just the fact that, you know – knowing what “Scream” can be knowing what makes it a success. I am sure that, over time, what Wes and everyone else is coming up with is going to be fantastic.



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