Interview with Patrick Lussier

I feel incredibly lucky to have had an opportunity to interview director, writer, producer and editor, Patrick Lussier, and discuss in depth his role as editor of the original Scream trilogy. Patrick was one of Wes Craven's most frequent creative collaborators and besides the Scream films, he also edited the majority of Craven's work throughout the '90s and early 2000s including Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994), Cursed (2004) and Red Eye (2005).

How did you get involved in the film industry and were you always interested in film?

Yeah, I mean, I remember reading Starlog before Star Wars came out and began to understand that there was a a job where you could make movies and work in the industry, and so all the things that came out about Star Wars and how it was made began to impress upon me. I was just a kid living up in Burnaby in British Columbia and never really thought it would be possible to do it. I remember my dad saying, “if you want it bad enough, you’ll get it. You just have to want it bad enough”. So I kept sort of an interest in it and always wanted to be part of it and then managed to try to go to SFU, to get in their film program in the early eighties and they wouldn't accept me because I wasn't interested in making experimental films at the time. So went to Capilano College before it was an university and then used as much of the gear as we could, myself and several of the other guys and several other people I went with have all become editors; Paul Mortimer and Stein Myers’ dad and that team at the time went on to do all sorts of things. And then I started working an HBO show for a local Vancouver editor and would be, who's now a big TV director named Michael Robeson. And he gave me my first job as an apprentice on an HBO show called The Hitchhiker. It was one of the very first HBO originally produced shows which was basically yuppies run amuck for 30 minutes.

It was filmed in Vancouver?

The season I worked on was. There were different seasons that were filmed in different places, but that season was shot in Vancouver, I think the season before was shot there. Phillip Noyce had directed some for the previous season. Carl Schenkel directed some and the season I was on, Colin Bucksey and other feature and TV directors. The other editor working with Michael on the season I worked on was John F. Link. John Link was one of the editors of Die Hard. He's one of the Editors of Predator, so these are the people I learned from in the beginning. I then went to 21 Jump Street as an assistant editor and then when it was starting, over to MacGyver and moved up to editing when I was 24 and started cutting MacGyver.

At that point, when you're working on MacGyver and those shows had you already moved to the USA?

No, those were all cutting in Vancouver. Yeah and then as MacGyver finished, I did half a season of Mom P.I. and then got onto Nightmare Cafe. Did the pilot, co-edited the pilot of Nightmare Cafe with Richard Francis Bruce. Richard cut Se7en and Air Force One, a brilliant Australian editor. He cut Dead Calm. He cut Mad Max Beyond the Thunder Dome and he's been nominated for an Oscar several times. He cut Shawshank Redemption. So a month you've got cutting with him on that pilot was incredibly invaluable. Phillip Noyce directed the pilot and then Wes was shooting People Under the Stairs at that time so he wasn’t up there for the pilot but Marianne was. That's where I met Marianne Maddalena, Wes’s producer at the time, and then they came back to do five episodes and I cut three of the five including an episode Wes directed called Aliens Ate My Lunch.

Patrick originally met Wes Craven on Nightmare Cafe, highlighted here on the cover of TV Week magazine.

Nightmare Cafe starred Jack Coleman, Lindsay Frost and Robert Englund.

Was Wes involved with the editing process?

Oh yes, Wes was involved with the editing of every episode because he was one of the creators of the show.

What did you know about Wes Craven before you met him?

I had read things about him and the making of The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes. I’d seen both those, I’d seen obviously A Nightmare on Elm Street. I'd seen People Under the Stairs.

Were you a fan of the Horror genre in general at the time?

Yes, Horror was always forbidden fruit for me as a kid. It was something I wasn't really allowed to experienced, but I had an older sister and she would go to the movies all the time and would tell me about them. She would tell me about The Exorcist in detail. She would tell me The Omen in detail, so I would experience those movies that way. She gave me my first Stephen King book, which was Salem's Lot.

So she’d tell you all about these movies you weren’t allowed to see. That’s awesome.

Yeah, so that's how I got very interested in the genre even though it scared the hell out of me. And so it was just something I was always interested in. Being in Vancouver I'd never really imagined working on it. I was just trilled, you know, when I was working on MacGyver and stuff like that, to have the opportunity to work at all in film industry. And then getting the opportunity to work with Wes was amazing and he, and I just hit it off because he supervised the, editing of all the episodes. I worked with him on the pilot and the three episodes I'd cut, so basically four of the six I cut with Wes before they were released. And that was just an amazing experience and we would have a lot of fun. I would ask those questions all the time though like, why would you do this and why would you do that? And what did this mean and I would say it was pretty fast, so I could facilitate things very fast which he really likes. And then at the time we were cutting the room, we were cutting on a thing called the Montage. I think we were cutting on the Montage 2 at that point. Montage was an old nonlinear editing system that used 17 beta max decks that had the same footage on it. They would shuttle and queue up to play you as much of the scene as they could play, depending on how complicated your edit was. So you would have wait time while it was counting down, let's say 400 seconds to play this next two minute chunk. So while we were waiting, we would chat and really got to know each other and it was a lot of fun and when that show finished he said, ‘here's my phone number, keep in touch with me, I’d love you to cut my next feature’, and a couple of years later that was Wes Craven's New Nightmare. In the interim, he was very close to directing Village of the Damned, the remake, and they were waiting on Linda Hamilton who was going to play the lead in it. When she decided not to do it the project it fell apart and then it ended up going to John Carpenter and John rewrote it, and it became the Carpenter version. But Wes was involved with it at that time and then he wrote New Nightmare which was just called Nightmare 7 at the time.

How far along with New Nightmare, was when you were contacted?

Um well, I'd been talking to him while he was writing it, so I would hear stories about it. And he had sent me a script early on, and then Wes helped myself and my family immigrate from Canada to Los Angeles. He sponsored that through the green card program.

That’s awesome.

So we moved down and started I cutting on New Nightmare, which is still one of my favorite films I've edited.

I just love it. Whenever I read or listen to interviews with Wes about New Nightmare he always said it was one of his favourites too and maybe the film that was the least creatively restricted.

Well, it paved the way to a lot of things. I really think.

Yeah, it was ahead of its time for sure.

I don't think Scream exists without New Nightmare paving the way.

That’s a great point.

It's very meta. Obviously Scream is too, in a different way, but it paved the way for the audience for a horror movie to be very self-aware. And it has a ton of heart and is a really scary and clever movie.

Yeah, it really is. I think with Freddy Krueger, Wes Craven kind of tapped into something truly mythological and archetypical. As an eighties kid, Freddy Krueger was a mythological figure to me.

Wes's whole philosophy was very… he had a very sort of primal approach to Horror and he thought of the sort of instinctive rites of passage that Horror movies were. That was a very big part of his whole approach to it, which is, I think why his movies resonate in such a different way and have a real sort of maturity, even though they're about young people, the themes of them are so deeply rooted in how we go from being a child to an adult, going from being innocent, having knowledge and paying for that rite of passage through blood and sacrifice. Wes was just very smart, very funny and had a real interesting, intellectual and educated approach to the genre, but also completely surrendered to the primal side of it and had a real understanding of the sinister nature of what it is to become an adult.

That's super cool that you got to hear that from his perspective and talk to him while he was developing New Nightmare when he came back to do that series. And I think that he kind of had broken away from New Line and had a couple issues, but I think that it was right before New Nightmare that Robert Shaye finally sort of straightened stuff out financially with Wes.

Yeah I mean it was very much that. Wes had created it, but in order to get it made he had to surrender a lot of the rights to it, so New Line made a lot of money on it and Wes did not and everything came back to be fair for New Nightmare. That's where everything realigned.

So it was New Nightmare, Vampire in Brooklyn next, and then Scream?

Yes, that's correct.

 Were you part of Craven/Maddalena Films at that point?

No, I was never officially part of them. I was Wes's Editor of choice, so I cut New Nightmare, and then cut Vampire in Brooklyn, cut Scream and it's 2 and 3, I wasn't involved in Scream 4 because I was doing other things at the time, so I wasn't available. But we cut Red Eye and Music of the Heart and did some consulting in a few weeks of editing on My Soul to Take for Wes because that was all happening while I was making My Bloody Valentine.

So, it sounds like after Vampire in Brooklyn, Wes was maybe feeling like he'd like to get away from doing Horror and do something else, but then was drawn back into doing Horror when he decided to do Scream. What was going on with you at the time when you first heard of Scream? Was it quite early on?

Yeah. With Scream, I remember Wes getting the script, I think while we were mixing Vampire in Brooklyn it showed up and he had passed on it. I think he even passed on it earlier. I think it may have shown that during the end of New Nightmare, but I'm not a hundred percent positive about that. He just felt it was more than he wanted to do. I remember him handing it to me on the mix stage and saying just read the first 13 pages. That was the Drew Barrymore sequence, and I remember reading that and just sort of like going, "Wow! That's great!"

The original title for Scream was Scary Movie, which Dimension would later use for the Parody series.

He wanted your take on it then.

Yeah, he said read it and I was just like, that’s really well-written, but holy shit! And at the time didn't really want to do something that was so brutal. I think was his original reason for saying ‘no’, but then I think Vampire in Brooklyn came out and there were all sorts of challenges with making that film, including the death of a stunt woman early on in the first week of photography. Her name was Sonia Davis and there was a lot of weight on that film because of it. I remember being in editorial and seeing that footage because we had to process the footage before it went to the studio and then went to OSHA for investigation. It was a pretty awful thing and then after that, the combination of Eddie Murphy wanting to make a movie that was completely in the vein of The Serpent and the Rainbow, which is one of Wes's best films, and the studio Paramount wanted them to make essentially a sort of Horror version of Beverly Hills Cop. The original drafts of the script were much darker and much, much more Brooklyn centric and very, very cool. I think the original ending had an oil tanker truck hanging off the side of the Brooklyn Bridge and this sort of fight with Eddie, Angela Bassett and Alan Payne all in is this thing. I remember him telling me one day that the head of the studio at Paramount had dragged him in after seeing some of the dailies and was yelling at him that it needed to be funny. It needed to be funny the way Jack Nicholson was funny in The Shining, when he says, ‘here's Johnny’ and Wes's response was, ‘Do you hear yourself? You're saying this needs to be funny, like The Shining… so I think it was a brutally hard experience for so many reasons. So I think when they came back to him about Scream, when it was just called Scary Movie at the time, that was the original title of the script and then they obviously later turned that into the Scary Movie franchise. He decided to say, ‘absolutely I'm going to do it’, and lean into it as hard as he could and make something that was a balls on Horror movie. I know I've talked to other directors who were, who tried to get that job, and the other directors, they talked to, too many of them, or a lot of them, kept thinking the script was more of a Comedy than a Horror movie.

Yeah I could see that. So, Wes thought of it as a Horror film when others did not.

He shot it as a Horror movie, 100%. It was a Horror movie with humor, but it was first and foremost, a Horror movie.

Yeah, that's really interesting because you could give that same script to someone else and you could get a film more like Scary Movie out of it, depending on who it was.

That was why they kept coming back to Wes and wanting him to do it.

Because Dimension wanted a Horror film.

Oh yeah.

When did you know you’d be editing Scream?

I signed on to Scream while I was finishing a TV movie, the Doctor Who TV movie that was shot in Vancouver in ’96 with Paul McGann. I edited that and signed onto Scream.

Where were you living at the time? Were you living in Los Angeles?

I was living in Los Angeles, yeah. But I'd flown up to cut that movie. I had signed on and then came to set, just to visit Wes, just before they started filming. There was a big dinner for the department heads and the cast that was there, which I think at the time was mainly just Drew Barrymore. Her sequence was the first thing filmed.

So, for these types of feature films, you start cutting stuff together while they're filming, right?

Oh yeah, it's what you call “keeping up to camera”, so they would shoot on a Monday. I would get the dailies on Tuesday. I would have them cut by the end of Tuesday and then depending if it was a complete scene or not, I would send that scene on a VHS tape, at the time, up to Wes to review, but because the whole first week was the Drew Barrymore sequence, we didn't send it until the end of the week, or the next Monday or the Tuesday, It would have been the next Tuesday when we had all the dailies for that whole opening sequence. And I would always cut all the temp music, and sound effects for the whole thing and then send it up to him. So, yeah every day, you're only like a day behind production, and it was easier to keep up when you didn't have internet in the cutting room (laughs). There was no distraction from editing. Then, as you probably heard, that first week of photography, Dimension Films, wasn't happy with the dailies. They didn't like what they were seeing.

What didn't they like? What was different than the final product? What was the problem?

The dailies were great; they just didn't know how to watch them. They didn't understand how it would go together. I knew how'd it go together.

Oh, I see what you mean. Was there a kind of a big moment where they saw that sequence cut together and finally loved it?

Yeah, so what happened was they were even threatening to fire Wes after the first week, because they were so unhappy, and they said horrible things to him, said, ‘Oh, you're just a TV journeymen hack and you don't know what you're doing and I can't believe we hired you to do this’. I've never heard how Wes responded to that. He and I talked the Tuesday afterwards when he got a call, and I said, 'I don't know what they're watching, this is stuff that's great’, and so, I cut it together and sent it to him the next day. I had the whole sequence finished. And he watched and he loved it. And then we sent that 13 minutes of film with a temp music track to New York. They viewed it and said, ‘Oh my God, we were so wrong, this is fantastic! Whatever you need, we can't believe how wrong we were, our apologies’. That was a huge turning point for everyone.

 Wow, so was that version pretty close to what’s in the final film?

Yeah, it's very close to what's in the final. There was that original sort of wider face mask that they used before they switched to the other mask. There were a couple of things in that opening sequence that was reshot to put in now.

That's right. That's what I wanted to ask you about, too. I noticed in the final film that the KNB mask, as it gets called, is in quite a few shots. Was that mainly a matter of budget. Too expensive to reshoot everything? I was guessing the majority of the shots featured Stunt Performers and maybe that added a cost to it.

No, some of it, some of the ones that weren't reshot had to do with how wide they were, had to do with the fact that they had Drew Barrymore in them and they didn't have her back. She was already out of the production. So, like the big wide shot that turns into slow-mo and she gets stabbed.

Right, I mean, that's a great shot that seems like one of those lightning-in-a-bottle things. Not just easy to simply just film again.

The way you shoot that is, is you have a slider and you're literally doing the speed ramp live while you're shooting it. So you're changing the rate and the shutter and everything, the speed of the camera while it's shooting. So that's not a post effect that’s an in-camera effect. So yeah, it would never look the same.

This slow motion shot has become one of the most iconic shots in the Scream series.

It's an intense and effective shot!

Yeah, and it's not a digital process where somebody typed in coordinates to do this, do that. This is somebody's feeling the moment and making it work with the action. It's a very, not to use an overused word, but it is literally a very organic process. The way those things used to be done and it's why that is so effective when you see it.

Was it a little tricky editing around the KNB mask?

We knew it was different, yet similar enough, and we felt that the story and the people's involvement, and how hooked they would be on what was happening on screen, that we would get away with it and it was a conscious choice.

Was the opening sequence reshot inserts with the Fun World version of the mask filmed quite late in production?

I think they shot in the last week of photography. Right near the end of the shoot.

Scream has a really special kind of tone with a mix of some humor and a lot of really strong horror and obviously developed characters with real emotional aspects to them. Was it a fine line, while editing it? Was it a challenge to sort of develop and maintain that tone?

Yeah I mean, there was one thing that was kind of, for that reason, that was a little goofy, which was — and then it created a whole other thing. But when Dewey and the Sheriff were talking and Dewey is eating an ice cream cone and the sheriff is smoking his cigarette and stumps that out. Well, in the footage in the way it was shot, Dewey drops his ice cream cone and stumps it out.

(laughs) I didn't know that.

Yeah, so we cut around that so you don't see that, but it ends up getting this close up in order to cut around it. We had to use the close-up shot of the Sheriff's boots, which, when we previewed this film in New Jersey, the second we cut to the boots, because they're similar to the killer's boots, there was a huge reaction. They're like, ‘Oh my God, it's him’. Which was not intended when we cut it, we literally were just cutting out something that didn't work.

That’s super cool and it gives you a creepy feeling when it cuts to the boots there like it's trying to show you something.

That was a matter of necessity.

What was the process of working with Wes like with editing Scream?

The way it works is while he's filming, I'm cutting scenes and sending him scenes and building the movie. So we'd send scenes a couple of times a week, or at the end of every week, we'd send them a tape of all the scenes strung together in order with “scene missing" for the scenes that haven't been shot yet, like a little banner that says “scene missing”, so that he could review it. He would review it over the weekend, he'd call with whatever his thoughts were on the Monday. And then we would do those little changes and then send a new tape with those new changes back. And then when he finished shooting, he would come into the cutting room about four or five days later, once we had an assembly of the whole film, we watched the film with all the scenes in it, all at maximum length. And then we would start going through and finessing the cuts, finessing the different scenes, looking for alternate performances, making sure we had the best. You're looking for extraneous dialogue or extraneous beats in the action that we could get rid of. Tightening everything up. That would be what would happen.

Did you get the vibe that Wes enjoyed this part of it? Was he quite excited?

I think Wes always loved coming into the editorial because it didn't rain, in editorial you had a lot more control, more civilized. It was a very enjoyable experience going through and cutting, especially for something that worked, where we could go through and really size things up and just keep making everything better. Normally you have 10 weeks for a Director's cut. I think we did that one in less than six before we previewed it because cause the cut just came together really quickly. And then the fact that we wanted to show it to the studio early, I know the producers were very nervous, Kathy Conrad and Carrie Woods, were very nervous about that because they had gone through sort of a horrible experience with them, I think on Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead and gearing up to start Cop Land at the time. And were just worried about anything with the studio because they were a little tricky to deal with. But that screening with them, with the studios, went incredibly well and then we previewed the film and that was amazing. We previewed it in New Jersey in summer of ’96 and it went so well those scores through the roof. I think Kevin had seen it and Kevin Williamson had seen it and he was worried that it wasn't particularly scary because he of course knew all the beats of it and that it was more the mystery worked, but he didn't know if it worked as a Horror movie, but when we previewed it for 400 people, two minutes in when, when the killer says, ‘I want to know who I'm looking at’. And you hear 400 people gasp it was like, ‘Oh shit; I think this is going to work’. It worked incredibly well.

So would you say that was maybe the moment when you realized it might be something extra special? It's one thing to think that it will be successful in the time, but did you ever get the feeling that it was going to turn into a sort of Pop Culture phenomenon?

No, at that time we knew we had something that was good, and something that worked, that was really effective. We had very few changes after that and we just tightened a couple of things and then locked film. So we knew that. Then they announced that they wanted to release it at Christmas and everybody was a little worried. I think, Wes on one hand said, ‘would you believe they weren't going to release it at Halloween?’, because he'd had so many movies released around Halloween and it wasn't a time of year that he was overly excited about having a movie released because he felt that you were always competing against the World Series. So he just felt that that wasn't a good time for genre movies, even though everybody thinks it is. That's a little different now, but everything's different now.

Why was it, what was the thinking at the time with the December release?

Well, to Dimension’s credit, it was very much counter-programming. They looked at it and they knew they had something really good. They had started taking that 13 minute opening, the finished version it, just the opening, and playing it at colleges to start getting an early vibe for it. And they got incredible reactions to it, wildly positive. And they realized okay, we’re going to go up against Beavis and Butthead Do America and George Clooney in One Fine Day. And I can't remember what else, but these are the movies that opened the same day and Scream did a really unusual thing. It opened at $6 million and then the week later it made like $9 million and it went up as opposed to down. So over the Christmas break, it really started to pick up momentum. And I think that was a huge surprise for everybody that it did that and it's certainly, I think Dimension Films had the faith that they could do that at the time. So that was an incredibly bold and brave move on their part to release that film in that period, but it turned out to be incredibly successful in doing so.

You know what I wanted to ask you about, I've always been interested to know a little bit more about the process of working with the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America).

So what you have to do with the MPAA, you actually have to send a mixed version of the film to them to pass judgment on for your rating. Normally you send it to them, they give an R or PG-13, and it's very sort of secretive and they don't let you experience that. You're not part of the process. Interestingly enough, when we did My Bloody Valentine because it was early days of 3D and the MPAA’s theatre wasn’t equipped to play it. They had to come to Technicolor, the film lab, where we were color timing it, to watch it. So we actually had somebody in the room from our team watching what happens during the process. We didn't have that advantage with Scream. Scream went back nine times to try and get an R rating because they kept giving it a NC-17. There's a couple of minutes overall of trims for, I think in the Drew Barrymore death, the end of the Drew Barrymore death, where she's hanging, Steve’s guts spilling out, the stabbing at the end with Billy and Stu, when they stab each other. Yeah, it's more brutal in the original. That's funny, weirdly enough you can find that version, the unrated version, on Laser Disc. I have it somewhere. God, I have no idea where it is, but I think it's in storage, but I do have that version of it.

Is it true that originally the shot of Drew Barrymore hanging from the tree was a slow-motion shot?

It wasn’t slow motion, but was the final version we sped up.

That was to please the MPAA?

Yes, for sure.

So like for that particular note did they say, ‘we just don't like this shot’, ‘do something else’? Did they suggest speeding it up?

No, it was ‘we have a problem with this area’. One of the main things they had an issue with was the Billy's line of dialogue, ‘movies don't create psychos, movies, make psychos more creative’. They didn't like that. They hated that line because it felt that it, to them—this is my interpretation from getting it from Wes, the MPAA felt that that it was a line that incited the movies as a whole as being responsible for violence.

What a heavy idea to sort of put on you guys.

Yeah I don't know. Obviously we didn't cut it, we cut the other things, and then to Bob Weinstein's credit he finally got them to say ‘yes’, and accept the movie after the trims and cuts we've made nine times back, by convincing them, it was in fact a Comedy.

How frustrating to be Wes Craven and be told, ‘this scene is too intense’, when the whole goal is to make a scene intense.

That's a very frustrating thing.

Yeah, for sure, but hey, the final product is amazing and iconic. I do hope eventually, I don't know how exactly it works, but I hope next time they rescan it and put it out maybe it will be the unrated version. I don't think Scream has been released on home video in 4K.

They would have to find it.

Where does something like that live? Is there some like archive of Dimension’s films?

It's like a temperature control vault. It would be somewhere and they would have to go get some of the people that were originally involved in the archiving of it. See if they could find the elements, that would take some money. So it's just a matter of whether they want it, whether they want to do that.

Did you kind of have a chance to celebrate the success of Scream with everyone? Was there a big party with the cast and crew?

There was, I wasn't involved in a lot of that because I had gone off to cut Mimic for a Guillermo Del Toro. So I was in Toronto editing while all of Scream’s success was happening. I do remember going to see it in a theatre in Toronto that was packed, right around or just after New Year’s '97 and it being very entertaining to watch people just screaming and squirming and freaking out.

 How cool is that! So considering the incredible success, when did you first hear of sequel talk?

That was pretty quick. After the film came out, they were talking to Wes about directing a movie called Bad Moon Rising, which was basically a werewolf movie.

So Wes was considering that?

Yeah, this script needed some work and I think when Wes had said that to the writer, the writer was very reluctant to make any changes to it if memory serves, so he was not keen on it. Dimension was talking to Robert Rodriguez about doing Scream 2 and then that switched around and then Robert was going to do the “Werewolf on Wheels” movie, but then he had similar issues I think and decided not to and just do his own thing. And it's funny, in the original cut of Scream 2, Stab is directed by Robert Rodriguez. There was a credit that was removed because Dimension insisted on cutting it.

I was wondering about this. Did Robert Rodriguez actually direct the Stab sequences?


So he didn’t direct them, but they just put the credit in as sort of an in-joke?

It was more Wes's nod to Robert for saying ‘if Wes wants to direct Scream 2, I don't want to be involved, this was Wes's movie, he should be the one to do it’. So because Robert was a mensch and Wes always really appreciated that, so that was the main reason for that.

How was the production of Scream 2 different from the production of Scream? Was the script changing a lot?

On Scream 2 the script was evolving a little bit as the movie was going, but not too much. It was in pretty good shape. I think in Scream 2, there was a lot of confidence going into it because of the success of the first one. So there is the whole opening sequence with Omar Epps and Jada Pinkett and this whole commentary. Wes, I think, was very excited about what that sequence said about the first movie, said about success, said about the audience and then genuinely making something that was terrifying and yet had a real commentary to it.

 So it's such a great opening and I actually wanted to ask, because I think it's a good example to maybe get an insight into Wes's process because when you read the script for the opening sequence in Scream 2, the story beats are there but there's a million original, creative details in the final film. So what was Wes’s process for filming a sequence with so much going on? Was there more coverage filmed than usual?

No more than usual, I mean, there was lots, because there's multiple cameras and there were so many people. So one of the things you do when you're shooting, when you're shooting that you'll set up with the ADs, all sorts of little vignettes of action that happened in and around the main group and different cameras will capture that so that when you're cutting it together, you have all these different cutaways. So, in order to keep building up the tension and create the atmosphere of the scene. So some of those aren't scripted moments, those are moments that they would create on set that ended up in the movie.

That’s awesome. I would love to see the full edited opening sequence of Stab. I heard you mention on the commentary track for Scream 2, that you kind of realized when to cut in full-frame and when to show the audience as you were cutting the sequence.

The very first time we assembled it, just to see what kind of, what it would look like for Wes. The way it worked is they shot the screen, the Stab sequence with Heather Graham. And we cut that together as its own piece of film and then Treat got that ready to play back in the theatre. And then they shot a whole version of it over the audience and then full frame on being projected. So the first version of the sequence with Omar and Jada, we cut in only what is projected in the theatre. And then when Wes and I sat down to do the director's cut, that's when we started inter cutting it with the full frame of of the Stab footage.

That's really interesting.

Yeah and if you look at it, you know, Wes had a full thing of it, that he wanted to go full frame on Heather Graham directly, most of the time, directly off of Jada’s POV. It's directly from her, so that the two victims are connected.


When you go through the crowd, your'e wider and you're seeing it with more distance—you’re one step removed from the audience, when you're going from the audience and from Omar, but when you're going from Jada to Stab, you're actually connecting directly from victim to victim. It gives you a direct link between those two characters. That’s, again, that was Wes's process of wanting to feel that emotional, visual experience, but it's also incredibly well thought out. None of it’s by accident.

So there is a full version of the Stab opening sequence somewhere?

Yeah, we certainly cut it that way. I don't know if it was included in the original DVD…

No, it never was.

No, but yeah I cut it. I know it exist. I probably have a VHS tape of it in a box in the storage locker somewhere in the San Fernando Valley.

Oh my God. Would I ever love to see that. I love that meta thing, it's like, you guys are sort of like these pioneers of metafilm in a way I can't think of a more direct example.

I think that's very true.

This iconic shot from Scream was recreated in Stab, this time with Heather Graham as Casey Becker in the meta movie-within-a-movie.

I wanted to ask you while we're on Scream 2, so like Mickey kind of disappears about the 45-minute mark, and then you don't really see him again until the unmasking as one of the two killers, but was there some concern with it being too obvious with Mickey because he has such a strong kind of a sinister personality. Do you remember, like was that something that was changed, or was it always that he sort of disappears for a while?

It was always written that way, and I don't, it was never anything any of us said, Oh, I think we're in trouble. I think there were so many other things going on, particularly the whole Cotton Weary sequence once Randy dies, Cotton in the library and Cotton talking with the campus cowboys, the campus cops, ‘what are you doing with a knife?’ and stuff like that. There was a lot of misdirection going on, so it was literally designed to make you think less about Mickey from you start.

Ghostface unmasks...

... and it's Mickey.

Trying to get you to focus on other characters.

Yeah you started looking at Jerry O'Connell, you started looking at the two sorority girls, you know, there's lots of other people to look at as you're getting further and further away, so that when Mickey's revealed, it's like, Oh, okay. I remember him. Then the real reveal of course, is when it's Billy's mother.

What a great performance from Laurie Metcalf. Was that kind of cool to see those scenes coming in? Her performance was just so intense.

Her performance was so much fun, that whole final sequence was. I loved that whole confrontation with Sid and Gale, and Gale gets shot, and then with Laurie Metcalf, and the part of it that I really love is when Cotton shows up and makes the deal with Sid right there.

Neve Campbell and Laurie Metcalf in the finale of Scream 2.

Oh, that's a good moment. I know I already asked you about this over email, but can you tell me how Cotton Weary having a talkshow called 100% Cotton came to be? Was it in the script that he had a talkshow?

No, it was that in Scream 2, he’s interviewed on a talk show, right, Kevin Williamson actually interviews him. We have Carl Dupree, one of the Assistant Editors, who I mentioned, wrote Detroit Rock City, he and I would joke, joke around in editorial about how Cotton should have his own TV show and it would be called 100% Cotton and told that to Wes and he liked it and sort of it sort of hung on. And we talked about it having being like a Jerry Springer show and that's what it became. And so Wes got that written into Scream 3, because originally the original open of opening of Scream 3 wasn't with Cotton Weary, it was with a character named Ben Damon, which was sort of a riff on Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. So some actor who dies in one version of that Scream 3 opening and a different version of the Scream 3 opening, it was a whole thing with Sid. And I think there was like a motion detector thing in that one.

Was any of that filmed?

No, the only thing that was filmed was that Cotton Weary version, although there were multiple versions of that.

What was the main differences?

The main difference would be the adding of Cotton's girlfriends. In the original version, it was all about Cotton's race to get back to the house to Christine, who when he arrived there, she falls out of a closet dead. So she's already dead when he shows up and then at the time, Kevin Williamson was involved in different projects. So he then weighed in when he saw that first cut and said, ‘it's impossible to care about somebody who just falls out of a closet'. So with his input, they rewrote the opening and reshot it. And there was a version where Cotton tried to climb out a skylight, and then that was redone to be the version that you have in the final film.

How did the production of Scream 3 differ from 2? Did you personally face any challenges because of some the issues the production had?

Yeah I mean, the challenges of Scream 3 were that there was a script that wasn't ready. It's written by a lot of people and on a daily basis, to get it to work, Wes had to do a lot of massaging to make it work himself and add different things. There's a lot of stuff in it that work really well, but its success story-wise and how the story actually works is—all the credit goes to Wes. I think it was even joked about, while it was being shot, it’s the most sort of Scooby Doo of the movies, and it feels like that. I think they had a different writer come in and do some rewriting on it and then the original Writer, Ehren Kruger, was also writing other things for Dimension at the time, so Wes didn't have the time to really work with him to get everything right. And the first week of shooting, or rather the first day of shooting was with Patrick Dempsey. The scene at the police station. Patrick had no idea—he was handed those pages right before he started. He had no idea if he was the killer, if he wasn't the killer, and so that's one of my favorite scenes in the film, because he plays it in a way that you don't know if he is or isn't.

 And I mean, at that point, you probably know like, which has been done many times is when people sort of break down the movie and figure out who was, where at what time, that must be hard to keep track of at times with the Scream series.

Yeah, I mean, you definitely have to track it. One of the issues you had was back in the original Scream there were really only a couple scenes that were cut out. But one of them, which was the most damning for the reveal at the end was before the party, after leaving school, there was a scene with just Billy and Stu talking about getting ready for tonight. And just the second you saw them together, they have one moment together. You're like, oh fuck. I think it did that so that's why I cut that because it took the hand too much, so with regards to the attitude that that was less than an issue seriously Scott Foley in the third one, and then Laurie Metcalf and Timothy Olyphant in the second one. That was less of an issue because it, you were there was so many possibilities of who could have done it. We were really leaning into that and the first one it was like we were less playing the gimmick of the who done it. And whereas in the others, we were much more playing that notion of trying to make you look here look there.

So it's been a few years now since Wes passed away. I mean, looking back on this, on this whole experience of working with him?

I remember I have so many great memories of Wes and I knew him for a lot of years and I would love how kind and generous he always was to my son, Devin, from the time my son was little and first met him when he was like two. And then when he was like seven, Wes had my son had a thing called ‘the everything store’ and where he would do anything for money. So Wes hired him to do these business cards, 10 business cards for $5. So and it said on one side ‘sanity in a unique package’. And then Wes's name and phone number on the other side, and they're all hand written in a seven-year-old kind of writing and they're badly sort of cut. Wes carried one of those in his wallet for years afterwards. Devon was working with us when he was 15 on Red Eye and turned 16. He has such fond memories of having worked with Wes and just his memories of having known Wes for so long in his life and Wes was, could be very kind, he could be very, very funny. I would constantly ask him questions about directing and learn so much from him and his process and his generosity of spirit and his generosity, his knowledge, and how he shared that. I remember him coming to the premiere of My Bloody Valentine and they were doing testimonials afterwards of people who'd seen the film and what they thought of it. And he immediately ran over to record one and talk about how much he loved the film. And I just remember being so touched by that and having that support from him. I think one of the last times that I saw him was at one of the screenings for Drive Angry, which is a film that I co-wrote and directed. It's one I edited with my son. Wes was always very supportive and very smart and had a really interesting take on the genre, certainly in direction. We talked about Scream all the time. We talked about how the mystery worked, how the emotionality work, how things needed to be personal and those were all lessons I learned from Wes. I wish I had seen him more in the last couple of years of his life when he had been spending a lot of time in Martha's Vineyard. And I regret being busy, doing other things at the time I was working on Terminator Genisys and had had co-written that and stuff. So, I was away a lot and didn't connect. I think one of the last emails I got from him was on my birthday of the year he passed and just sent me lovely birthday wishes from him. And so I think about them constantly and miss him all the time. He was such a major influence of both my life and the life of my family and not just work.

Scream composer Marco Beltrami, Patrick Lussier and Wes Craven.

Thanks for sharing your awesome memories of Wes. He sounds like he was such an outstanding, loving man and just great to work with. It’s been great talking to you, Patrick. Thanks so much for doing this interview!

You’re welcome!

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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