Interview with Marianne Maddalena Part 1

“Marianne and I have been working in a partnership for almost ten years, and she has been my Guardian Angel of getting us through all the shoals of production and also an inspiration for many of the creative ideas that come through in the making of my Horror pictures.” - Wes Craven on the commentary track for Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994). {alertInfo}

 I feel incredibly lucky to have had a chance to interview Marianne Maddalena, Producer of many of Wes Craven's most iconic films, including, of course, Scream (1995) which is highlighted in depth. She was Craven's closest and most frequent creative partner for over 20 years, and helped shape some of the most iconic moments and images in Horror and Pop Culture, including finding the mask while location scouting that we now all know as Ghostface.

Ryan: Just to start off, Marianne, thanks so much for doing this! I just want to ask you, since this is geared towards Scream, how long had you known Wes Craven before you guys did Scream in 1995? You worked together for almost a decade?
Marianne: I started working with Wes on Deadly Friend for Warner Brothers in 1986.
Ryan: How did you originally meet Wes?
Marianne: Well, a friend of mine, Bob Sherman, was producing Deadly Friend and he brought me in to meet with Wes for an assistant job. It was a funny day because Wes had been to a wine luncheon that day and was a bit tipsy and so if was a very fun interview and maybe because of that we hit it off and I and was hired.

Working as Wes Craven's Assistant on Deadly Friend (1986) led to a decades-long creative partnership.

Ryan: I read somewhere that before Scream, Wes wanted to work outside of the Horror genre. I think he had mentioned before that a fan asked him at a convention 'when are you going to do something scary or edgy again', and it kind of got him thinking.
Marianne: Sounds about right!
Ryan: What was Wes like to work with? Would he come to you to get input on creative decisions?

Marianne: Yes, he was very collaborative. We were amazing creative partners. Even as an assistant I got to read all the scripts and give notes. Also, as an assistant, I was in casting sessions, meetings with the Production Designers and Composers. Wes was open to me being involved in everything even early on. He was wonderful.

Marianne produced some of Wes Craven's most iconic films including, Shocker (1989), The People Under the Stairs (1991), Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994), and Scream (1996).

Ryan: I think some people think the title of Producer is the person that hires people. But your position as Producer with Wes was heavily involved in the creative process.

Marianne: I was the Creative Producer and worked very closely with Wes on all aspects of the films.

Marianne to the left of Wes Craven with the cast and crew of Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994).

Ryan: Before Scream, what had you guys been discussing to do next?

Marianne: I remember Wes being very adamant about getting out of the horror business. So, it took a while for him to decide to direct Scream.

Ryan: Do you remember how you first heard of Scream? Who pitched it to you? Was there a particular reason to do a film with Dimension Films at the time?

Marianne: Yes, so Dimension had it, I think they'd optioned it by then. They had been in a bidding war with Oliver Stone and another company. There were three different companies bidding on it. But then Bob Weinstein got it and he gave it to Wes. As I have said, Wes did not want to do Horror at the time. And, so, he passed on it. But Bob was very persistent.

Ryan: What was the main angle to get Wes to do it?

Marianne: Bob was very keen on working with Wes, and at the time we were developing The Haunting with Bob.

Ryan: Right.

Marianne: Bob really went after Wes for Scream, and then when Bob said 'Drew Barrymore wants to play the lead'. We came on board.

Marianne with Drew Barrymore and Kevin Williamson during the filming of Scream's now-iconic opening sequence.

Ryan: Wow, that's really awesome. Do you remember if there were any other projects that were being considered at the time?

Marianne: No. At one point, Wes was attached to Superman 5 and we were kind of far along on it. And then Christopher Reeves nixed us. That hurt!

Ryan: That's interesting. Was Wes up for Superman because he had done Swamp Thing and he had worked with special effects?

Marianne: It was our agent’s idea - Andrea Eastman. She was friendly with Christopher Reeves and brought Wes's name up to the studio.

Ryan: Do you remember when you met Kevin Williamson for the first time?

Marianne: Yes, he was great and a huge fan of Wes. As I recall we were in the middle of doing post-production on Vampire in Brooklyn and met him at Paramount. We all got along and we had a great first lunch at the commissary at Paramount.

Ryan: So, to get onto Ghostface himself a little bit — the only real description of the killer's physical appearance was that he wears a ‘ghostly white mask’, which is so close to what it ended up being. How did you imagine it after you read the script?

An original Fantastic Faces first-generation FUN WORLD DIV stamped mask.

Marianne: Well, no, it took a lot of work — Wes was not a happy camper after he took the job because he was annoyed that the only description was ghost face. For example, how do you hide the feet? How do you hide the hands? So, it was a problem but obviously, we solved the problem with the Costume Designer, Cynthia Bergstrom. I remember us picking the fabric, the black fabric of the robe that had a little glitter in it. And figuring out the about the boots and we had to have gloves because we had to hide the size of the person, in the end, it really didn't matter because you kind of forgot that Ghostface was supposed to be a female or a male.

Ryan: Did you guys look at a ton of different black fabrics?

Marianne: We looked at many different fabrics. And we camera tested many fabrics. So, between the DP, Nick Mastendra, the Costume Designer, and us, we came up with the perfect fabric.

If you look closely, the maker of the onscreen Father Death costume is Bergstrom Costume Co, a reference put in by the Graphic Designer to the film's Costume Designer, Cynthia Bergstrom.

Ryan: I've heard a few times that it was considered to maybe make the killer's robe white. Do you remember anything about that?

Marianne: Well, if we did, it was very brief, because don't forget, the shroud of the Fun World mask was white when we found it. There were some conversations, maybe we discussed it in a meeting or even tested it a bit, but obviously, then it was quickly dispelled. I think we first talked about actually like black pants and a turtle neck. I’m sure we discussed everything. but I don't think we automatically said robe. It took a while.

The original mask Marianne found while location scouting was actually the white shroud version.

Ryan: Was this still months before filming or was it approaching the shoot?

Marianne: We were probably three weeks away.

Ryan: So it was coming up then and still no mask…

Marianne: Yes no mask! We had all these really cool kind of gargoyle mask concepts from KNB. They were brilliant but they had more of a gargoyle feel to them which was not quite right. Then one day we were scouting a house for Tatums's interior and I was upstairs and there on a chair was the Ghostface mask with a white shroud - what we know now was the Fun World mask. I ran downstairs with it and showed the team and they did not share my enthusiasm. So probably two or three weeks later we were still struggling with choosing a mask, so I asked Bruce Miller, our production designer ‘can you call that woman and see if we can borrow that mask?’ As you can imagine it seemed so obvious to use it to me! So, he went over to the woman’s house and luckily, she still had it. The rest is history!

Ryan: That’s awesome! Were there any changes to the script during the shoot?

Marianne: I asked Julie Plec and she said that Wes did a production rewrite, which was just mostly changing locations and adding production details, but we didn't change much content at all.

Ryan: Who was at the house with you the day you found the mask?

Wes and Marianne on the set of Scream (1996).

Marianne: It was me, Wes, Bruce, Mark Irwin, Nick Mastandrea, and the Location Manager. And so we were walking around this house and I remember going upstairs and looking in this boy's bedroom and finding it there.

Ryan: And what you found was a Fun World Wailing Ghost mask with the white shroud. A lot of people in the Scream & Ghostface Collectors group were surprised to hear that. It’s exactly a ghostly white mask like it says in the script. Who did you it to show first?

Marianne: I showed it to Wes and to Bruce Miller who both said, ‘no, we're going to make our own’. So that was that.

Ryan: And so that sounds like really the main reason they rejected it at first was that Bruce and Wes had it in their head that they would come up with an original concept for the mask.

Marianne: That is exactly what happened.

Ryan: At that point did you feel like that you probably wouldn't end up using it because it was rejected?

Marianne: Yes, so I was very sad.

Ryan: Wow…

Marianne: Yes. I knew we were working so hard and we weren't getting anywhere with the gargoyle masks, and I was so bummed because you think you solved the problem. And it seems so obvious to me. So I was disappointed. But I kept it in the back of my mind.

Ryan: When I see the KNB sketches, it seems like they were designing everything but ghosts. Freaks, ghouls, and everything else. When did Wes and others start warming up to the Fun World mask?

Marianne: We went through another three weeks of testing and taking pictures of other mask sculptures, you know. Not testing them, but just taking photos. Then I said, ‘you guys, why don't you just call that woman and get that mask?' So Bruce Miller called her and he went over to the house and he got it and Wes finally said, ‘okay... but I want to make some alterations’. At the same time, Cary Granat, an Executive from Dimension, began negotiations with Fun World.

Ryan: How much money did they want?

Marianne: I think we ended up paying around thirty thousand. Anyway, it seemed like it was a lot at the time. Wes, creatively, wanted to make changes to the mask but we quickly realized it was better to go back to the original.

First (left) and second (right) generation FUN WORLD DIV stamped Ghostface masks, the two types used in Scream (not including the KNB sculpted version).

In the final cut of the opening sequence some shot still feature the KNB version of the mask, mainly shots featuring stunt performers but also this shot the MPAA famously wanted removed. Wes fought to keep it and luckily won. It is quite an impactful shot.

Towards the end of the shoot, Craven and crew would go back and film inserts for the opening sequence with the Fun World version of the mask once they received more of the masks from Fun World.

Ryan: I guess the real reason that you guys switched from the KNB to the Fun World was that the KNB was just missing something the Fun World mask had?

Marianne: It was Wes who made changes and KNB did the changes so I don’t think of it as the KNB mask.

Ryan: That’s cool.

Marianne: I’m trying to remember what the difference was between the KNB and the Fun World mask...

A closer look at one of the surviving KNB sculpted versions of the Ghostface mask used in Scream.

Ryan: The eyes were more squinty, the mouth was a bit shorter and thinner towards the bottom on the KNB sculpted version. Then, of course, there’s the actual material it's made out of, the Fun World mask is made out of a soft PVC and that kind of has a ghostly opacity to it. And the KNB was just cast in latex. Have you ever personally talked to Fun World? They did mention you on the back of the box of the 25th-anniversary silver mask. It's kind of cool that they do mention you on the back of the box.

Marianne: I feel like I did. I feel like in the beginning we were all on a call with them.

Marianne, Wes Craven, and Courteney Cox

Ryan: The Scream series has become a cult phenomenon and has a huge fan base and it has people, new, young people getting into these movies all the time. What do you think of the scream series cult status and what do you think of some of the events put on by fans Anthony Masi and Nate Ragon? Like Scream Comes Home?

Marianne: I love it all! I think it's awesome and I hope it keeps going.

Wes Craven, Neve Campbell, Marianne Maddalena, and Matthew Lillard at the 1997 Golden Globe Awards.

Ryan: Yes, me too. Would you consider going to an event like Scream Comes Home and maybe revisit some of the original filming locations?

Marianne: Sure. That'd be a blast. I would love to do anything like that.

Courteney Cox with Marianne

Ryan: I know you're planning on writing a book about your career, especially the years of working with Wes Craven. What can you tell me about that at this point?

From the success of the first two Scream films, Wes Craven was finally allowed by the studio to direct a non-Horror film, which was Music of the Heart (1999).  Produced by Craven/Maddalena Films, it would gain Meryl Streep an Academy Award nomination. Here is Marianne looking stunning at the premiere. 

Marianne: I really want to go through our partnership and, the trials that we had on all the movies and the kind of production stories of what happened on each project, and, things that people could be interested in, Like what was it like shooting in Haiti on Serpent and the Rainbow? What was it like the weekend Scream opened in theatres? My memories about my partnership and collaboration with Wes and our company Craven/Maddalena Films.

Wes Craven and Marianne Maddalena on location.

Ryan: It would be nice for you to finally tell the definitive stories of some of these iconic productions.
Marianne: I can't wait.
Ryan: Thanks so much again for doing this interview, Marianne. Looking forward to Part 2 and discussing the success of Scream and the production of Scream 2!
Marianne: You’re welcome! Me too!
Ryan Hills

Ryan Hills is a contributor and writer for Scream-Thrillogy as well as administrator for the largest online Scream collecting group, Scream & Ghostface Collectors on Facebook.instagram

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