Horror Screenwriting – The Nature of Fear with Devin Watson
I was glad to take a deep dive into the deep end of horror screenwriting with writer and producer, Devin Watson, notably known for writing and producing The Cursed (2010) which was the first draft he wrote in only two days.
He’s also written several books, the latest of which is Horror Screenwriting: The Nature of Fear.
Horror has, among all of the genres in film and written works, one of the longest, most distinguished, and often misunderstood bloodlines in history. It is often overlooked by critics who don’t see anything more than blood and guts on the screen or a collection of cheap scares.
But what is missed is the hard-hitting commentary on society and life contained in those works.
Devin got his start working with the website, ‘moviepartners.com’ in the late 90s which was one of the first websites out there that really had any kind of information on independent filmmaking.
Eventually, he decided to try out writing some scripts. But reading what every he could find to prepare him for scriptwriting. He was influenced in a big way by Lew Hunter’s book, Screenwriting 434.
Here, Lew Hunter shares the secrets of his course on the screenwriting process by actually writing an original script, step by step in Screenwriting 434.
When he felt ready, Devin wrote his first five scripts, all of which turned out not very good. Not until November 2006 that he wrote a script in 2 days for his friend, Phil Melfi. That was when he felt confident in his work. That script became his debut production and writing, The Cursed, which is still a sci-fi channel Halloween rotation regular.
Devin’s book Horror Screenwriting really dives into the craft of horror and screenwriting pretty deeply.
Enjoy my conversation with Devin Watson.
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Alex Ferrari 0:11
I like to welcome to the show Devin Watson man, how you doing Devin?
Devin Watson 0:14
I'm doing great. How are you?
Alex Ferrari 0:15
I'm doing great, man. Thank you so much for jumping on the show. Man. I truly appreciate it. I'm looking forward to diving into the deep end of horror screenwriting with you today. Now, before we get started, how did you get started in the in the film industry and the love of what you do.
Devin Watson 0:32
Also, while a bow bow, I would say probably the late 90s I worked on a website called movie partners calm. And that's kind of gone the way of the dodo now. But that was basically one of the first websites out there that really had any kind of information on independent filmmaking. around at the time, there was even somebody wrote their, their graduation thesis on it as like, what was going to happen. And they were pre staging like YouTube and Vimeo and things like that long, long before it actually came around. But that was that was where I really got my, my start was on the technology side of things. And eventually, I'm like, you know, I should really start writing some stuff, too. So I ended up reading a few books. I mean, that's kind of where I am is like, if I'm gonna learn something, I'm gonna go get some books. So I started out with, really, the one book that helped me the most at that time, was screenwriting for 34 by blue Hunter, because there wasn't a whole lot out there. A point in time, so that the 90s Definitely, yeah, yeah. So that's, that's where I basically got my, my, my start in that. And then I wrote four or five scripts. And, yeah, they sucked, like, gonna lie, I try to tell people that your first couple of scripts are just going to be bad, but that's okay. Because as long as you get a little bit better with each one, it's not going to be a total loss. And you can always go back later and revise them if you want. If you want to see if you can polish them up and make them into what you originally thought they should be, you can do that. And then I moved to Tennessee, and that's I was living with my producing partner at the time, Phil Melfi. And that's when, like, basically right after Thanksgiving. 2006. I wrote a basically he said, if you write a script, I will read it. And I won't. I won't just toss it in the trashcan. I was like, okay, so on that bet. I just sat down over the weekend and just turned out like a real serious one that I wanted to do. Because I had had all these ideas floating around in my head. And finally, they just all coalesced. And I said, Okay, now I got to write this thing. So I got out as fast as I could. Because I had another gig on Monday. And it's like, like, I only got the weekend. I got to do this. So I finished it late Sunday night. Phil was already asleep. But I emailed it to him. And then I went into his room and I said, Okay, I finished it. So he popped up out of bed, and he just read the thing, and came outside. And you know, his mouth was open. Because he knew I'd started it. He didn't realize I was gonna finish it then, and I said, Well, was it really that bad? So he was like, No, no, it's actually really good. And, you know, a couple months later, we actually managed to get financing for it. And that became the cursed, which is still out. sci fi channel picked it up. And they like to put that in their regular Halloween rotation on in October, but it's also available on Amazon. So it's, it's amazing just to see something like that. Get up there. And it's like, wow, it's up there.
Alex Ferrari 4:05
But then you show you and you wrote it in in two days?
Devin Watson 4:08
Pretty much yeah.
Alex Ferrari 4:09
So that was like most screenplays are written most screenplays are written in two days. You really don't need to take more than two days to write a screenplay. Right?
Devin Watson 4:17
I didn't find out till after that. You're supposed to take three months and like okay, well, I mean, I did revise I did like two or three more drafts. Like the next week I would just say like Well, I don't really like how this part went so but that's mostly just to not you know, once you get to a point so
Alex Ferrari 4:38
well so I mean, your book about horror screenwriting really dives into the into the craft of horror, screenwriting specifically pretty deeply. What were some of the first horror films ever made and what can we learn from them today?
Devin Watson 4:54
Well, believe it or not one of the first actual films ever made was a horror film. So That's a I think it's called the dark castle in 1896. So, horror has been around as long as filmmaking has been around.
Alex Ferrari 5:11
And what was that? What was that movie about?
Devin Watson 5:14
Well, it's a short obviously it was. Well, yeah. Yeah. It's really just about a haunted house. Dark spooky castle. That's really what it what it's about. So. Yeah, I mean, even back then people were there were afraid of the dark, scary places. And they were like, Hey, we can play on that. Because that's what people are afraid of. And they want to get scared, but they can get scared safely by just watching a film. And I think that was was it the lumieres? I think it was the Lumiere brothers.
Alex Ferrari 5:43
Did that one. Yeah.
Devin Watson 5:45
So when Nosferatu showed up when that was the first iteration was, I want to say in the early 20s.
Alex Ferrari 5:57
Also still like, yeah, that's 20 years later. So it was Yeah. And frankenz. And I'm assuming that was, was there a Frankenstein adaptation insanely times?
Devin Watson 6:05
Yep. There's actually one from night believe 1916. That is Edison. Edison studios. That was one of the first ones. And that's actually in public domain now. And you can watch it on archive.org. It's up there and the dark castle is up there. Well, it's as much of it is could be found and restored, is available out there as well. And people have actually taking those Nosferatu. And since it's in public domain, they've done all kinds of things to it. Like they've added their own film score. So like you want to hear it with, like the classical organ pieces you want to hear with an orchestra or you want to hear it with like goth metal. Somebody did a goth goth metal version of it. That's to say.
Alex Ferrari 6:54
So, and I'm assuming they were hits back then. I mean, well, first of all movies were hit just because it was a movie. But whore really started to get was there a specific movie back then that really caused a stir? That really kind of like scared the limit like good for us. It was like the actresses like the exorcist. This is the first one of our generation that I can think of. That was the movie that literally just scared the bejesus out of everybody like it just terrified. I mean, psycho to a certain extent, too, but Exorcist is a whole other level.
Devin Watson 7:26
Oh, yeah. Yeah, that that was like the pure shock value of it. It's like wow, then bad enough that Billy Graham says there's the devil is in the celluloid? I can I've seen it.
Alex Ferrari 7:38
Jesus, literally Jesus.
Devin Watson 7:43
Yeah, I think no, Serato was definitely one of the one of the first big ones because it also it plays into German Expressionism. And right was was one of the one of the big founding factors art wise, because just like, just like Now, a lot of films don't have enough budget. So what do you do you work with what you got, and German expression isn't. German Expressionism is really good for that because it doesn't rely on a lot of big fancy sets or anything. You just you fill it in, fill in the gaps with your imagination.
Alex Ferrari 8:22
Now throughout society throughout throughout history, society has really kind of shaped and culture and the culture has shaped how horror films are presented depending on what's what country you're from, what time period you're from, you know, obviously, like the exorcist played up on in America specifically, the you know, the Judeo Christianity, Christian Christianity. I can't say the word Jewish Christian. Kind of taboos. And it really touched on that culturally. How do it throughout history, though? How have how society and culture really affected the horror genre? Well, even
Devin Watson 9:05
going way, way back, you have like the ancient Sumerians, who they created gods, specifically to scare children into being obedient. Like if you go out after dark, this God is going to come and grab you and eat you. So scaring somebody when somebody is scared. They will. They'll do things they don't normally do. It's it's a, it's a one way to just like you see, in the slasher flicks. Like Friday the 13th and everything we see the teenage girl screaming and running away through the woods. It's like, No, no, no, don't go that way. It was like, Well, she's scared out of her mind. She's gonna do, she's gonna do the exact opposite of what she should do.
Alex Ferrari 9:51
Like, why are you going into that room alone? Like, why, seriously? What's the point of that? And then obviously, the Sumerian gods were then showed up and Ghostbusters. Were took care of them. I honestly, obviously
Devin Watson 10:05
and I honestly I mean if you didn't make the bad guys truly bad gozer wouldn't have been the thing that really would have I mean yeah it's it's it's a comedy but it's a horror comedy so it's
Alex Ferrari 10:18
it's a weird Ghostbusters was a weird because I've been horror comedies I assume they would horror comedies prior to that, but but Ghostbusters just took it to it and obviously Ghostbusters is a lot more comedy than horror but there is there is some scary. There's some scary moments in that like in the bottom of the library that terrified me as a kid. I was like Jesus, I mean Slimer wasn't as scary, but still, it could definitely be scary. I'm actually kind of excited about the new one. The one that's a direct sequel to the Ghostbusters with Jason Reitman's. Oh, yeah, it looks like he's paying really nice homage to him. He actually made me really miss Harold Ramis a lot after I watch that trailer. I was like tearing up. I'm like, Harold. Oh my god.
Devin Watson 11:03
I believe me. I got it. I have this here in my iTunes like, Oh, I so want to see this. I will. I will. I will go to the theater. And I will see this and I will gladly watch it because it just looks so amazing what they did. And I think Paul Rudd is somebody that could definitely pick up the mantle, so to speak. At least from the comedy side of things, at least looking at the extended trailers and seeing him with a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Oh,
Alex Ferrari 11:34
that was so great. Great. I'm looking for I'm really looking forward to. And again, for younger viewers listening there'll be like, Oh, it looks like another movie. But for guys like you and me who grew up with Ghostbusters and saw it in the theater. We just like Jason knew exactly what he was doing when he wrote the script like he he is touching nerves that needed to be touched. I think that was probably one of the reasons why the the all female Ghostbusters movie got such backlash is because it was so disrespectful to the original lore of it. And many people thought of it that way. I thought it was fine. But it was just not a sequel. It was just it was something else it was something other thing that was you know that lived on its own fine. It was a fine. But I think it was it was we were we are going off the deep end and the Ghostbusters world so I apologize everybody. It's just it is it's what happens when film geeks get together. But anyway, now there's so many different kinds of horror. What are the different kind of horror movies because a lot of people just think horrors or but there's many sub genres within horror.
Devin Watson 12:38
Oh, yeah, yeah, there's, well you've you've got like the kind of a surface layer of just the popcorn movies, as I call it like where you just disengage brain and you just watch it and try not to analyze it because it's going to you won't get anything out of it. You won't enjoy it like, like watching Halloween or the Friday 13th series or Nightmare on Elm Street. The other ones you've got, you've got the supernatural type horror films like like basically most of your Benson price movies from the 50s and 60s and the hammer horror films where you got the something closer to what would be considered body horror now like Frankenstein. And you have Dracula and other supernatural being that was I was another area right there. And then you have like, you're going to stuff like a David Cronenberg, like the fly and stuff like that. Well, basically, all of his early films dealt with your body changing into something horrible, and you can't do anything about it. And that's
Alex Ferrari 13:49
the horror within almost, right,
Devin Watson 13:51
right. It's like there's this and there's, there's something existential about it as well. If you really want to dive deep into that, there's that. And then you've got, like zombie films, where the monsters are the well you think that's the zombies, but then you find like, Oh, well, they're still alive.
Alex Ferrari 14:09
It's generally the humans who are the monsters if A Night of the Living Dead taught us anything? It was the people were the monsters, not the zombies. But then there's obviously like, you know, vampire films, Ghost films, torture porn, like the jigsaw and saw movies and hostile hostels and awesome hostile, hostile films, and those kinds of things. So there's a lot of there and then of course there's the the the monster movie to a certain extent but like the killer monster movie like alien well there's there's literally the monster movie but then you've got the Halloween that the serial killer but like then the supernatural aspects of those. So like, there's a lot like Freddie is a combination of a bunch of different and Freddie just the first the first time around. It was fairly terrifying especially for its time. But then he became it literally was a comedy routine after after think after the second one. It was like Freddie's hilarious. Yeah,
Devin Watson 15:11
yeah, that's, I call him the he's the cruel Jester at that point, because he's like, Yeah, yes, I'm gonna kill you, but I'm gonna have fun doing it. And I'm gonna crack jokes while I'm doing it.
Alex Ferrari 15:21
Right. Yeah. Whereas in Michael Myers, and Jason never changed. They're always the same just unstoppable force that comes in. And I still consider one of the greatest horror movies of all time is straws is still around. It's still holds To this day, you can watch it. And we know it's a mechanical shark. And when the shark does come out, it's not a it's not horrible, but it's definitely not, you know, completely 100% believable, but yet, it's Spielberg is just, it's absolutely brilliant.
Devin Watson 15:55
Yeah, and I think that from a visual perspective, I mean, part of what scares the bejesus out of you with jaws is that you just see the fin for most of the movie. It's not until you're like way deep into the movie. Before you ever worry. Schneider's chumming the water, looking and that thing just comes out of the water. And you're like, holy, whoa, okay. Now we got it. Now we see things like 20 feet long, and it's um, it's a monstrosity.
Alex Ferrari 16:24
Yeah. And I mean, and Spielberg single handedly has destroyed a species because people are still terrified by sharks, and want to kill them and all this kind of stuff because of that movie. And it's, it's hard. It's funny, but it's horrible at the same time, but yeah, but he was able to able to do that. And you watch something like Poltergeist, which is to be Toby Hooper. But, and I was talking to a filmmaker the other day about this. I'm like, you know, I'm a fan of Toby. But Toby really never got as good as poltergeists ever again, and from what I heard from behind the scenes is that Steven had a hand in this. That's why Poltergeist is it's a masterwork.
Devin Watson 17:02
Yeah, yeah. And what I, from what I understand, Stephen was a Spielberg was under contract that he couldn't direct two movies at the same time. So, so he was like, Okay, I'm gonna go do et but here's all my notes that I had already done for Poltergeist. So yeah, Toby. Toby had help. I would think a little bit from that. But still, he was the one actually doing it. And I think the the scene where the guy is ripping his face off in front of your, the hands, the hands were actually Steven Spielberg's.
Alex Ferrari 17:39
Yeah, it's interesting. Steven has not gone back to Hoare. Even though he kind of started his career as a as a scare might even in even in close encounters, Close Encounters has a lot of scary, scary moments in it. Even he has some scary moments in it. He has that wonderful ability, but he never went back to it. If I ever have him on the show. I'll ask him. When are you going to do another horror movie? Steven.
Devin Watson 18:05
The nice thing is you don't you? You do not have to have a huge budget to make a horror film, which is why it's so easily accessible to independent filmmakers. Like we look at The Blair Witch Project. I mean, that was made for like pocket change. And the probably the most my biggest adjusted for inflation, it probably still is one of the most successful indie films ever made.
Alex Ferrari 18:28
It is it was a very successful indie film. And I actually had Eduardo, one of the directors on the show a while ago, and I told them I'm like, you know, man, I love the movie. But and this is a spoiler alert, if anyone's listening, skip 15 seconds ahead of 30 seconds ahead, but the only thing that would have made that film perfect for me, is at the end, when the camera falls, you would just see a pair of floating feet just go by. Oh yeah, that would have I just got chills thinking about Could you imagine if you would have just seen some floating feet just go by?
Devin Watson 19:01
No, that's very reminiscent of the the previous generation of found footage, movies like basically what I call the second Italian Renaissance in the 70s where you have like the green Inferno. Lucio fulci. Those guys just Mario Bava just cranking them out left and right. Italian actors dubbed in Dubbed into English. And a lot of those ended, they would end on a shot of like, the camera hits the ground, but then you see one of the principal characters that's still left, they hit the ground and their head is just like split open and one and it's like, okay, it's over.
Alex Ferrari 19:39
And seen. Now, you know, us as a species, our I think on an evolutionary standpoint, we're very fearful because we're afraid about what is going to kill us. That's just instinctual. Like, what's around the corner is that I always use the tide is a tiger down by that by the Like, is the tire gonna get me around the corner? So you're always looking for that kind of fear thing, where in your opinion does fear come from in our species as a general statement?
Devin Watson 20:10
Believe it or not, I believe, I believe that is a survival trait. It's what kept us kept us alive as a species. Although now we can actually use that we can leverage that as screenwriters to really play on it. And it's like, oh, you're afraid of this? Okay. We're gonna we're gonna really, people are afraid of clowns because of it. But people were already afraid of clowns, even before it came around. But I mean, to be fair, clowns.
Alex Ferrari 20:41
Yeah, are are an abomination and need to be stopped.
Devin Watson 20:46
Oh, yeah. Trust me, seeing seeing that clown and poltergeists from behind them. Okay.
Alex Ferrari 20:54
All right. So let's, let's, before we start, let's just go over here. The scariest moment of my youth was sleeping over at a friend's house, who had HBO because we didn't have HBO, because that's only for rich people. And he was and I walked in and they're like, What are you watching? I'm, like, are watching this film called poltergeists. And I sat there for three minutes. And it was a scene where the little kid got taken down by the clown, the the life size, whatever the you know, kid size clown and took him under the bed. That's still to this day terrifies me. Not the clowns. I mean, I don't like lose my mind. If I see a clown. I'm like, dude, that's just Dude, you're a grown ass, man. Stop it. It just I'm sorry for all the clowns out there. I can't I just can't. It just No. But I went home that night. Other than the next day, I went home and I had a Sylvester, like for Sylvester and Tweety, which was about the same size as that clown. So then I put them in the corner. And I aimed all my GI Joes and Transformers with guns aimed at him in his half circle. So I could go to sleep. And then my mom walked in. She's like, Alex, what's, what does Sylvester Do you? Like when um, you don't want to know he's just shady. It's not It's not what he's done is what he's going to do what he has the potential of doing for me. And this is prior to Chucky or anything like that. I only imagine if I would have said something like Chucky, when I was that age. But continue, sir, I'm sorry. You are giving your fear where fear comes from?
Devin Watson 22:27
Yeah, where fear comes from? Yeah, it's it's a base survival instincts. If something scares you the fight or flight response, most the time it's flight, like, get me out of here. I want to want to get away from this. And then what is like Stephen King can do is they tap into a very universal fear of something. Like for him. He's like the fear of clowns. That's one thing. Fear, he has a fear of mice or rats. So you got something like graveyard shift your things, your stories like that. And that's where I try to teach people in book is like, start with what scares you. And try to understand why it scares you. And it all just comes from a lot of it just stems from the unknown. It's like, I don't know what that is, but it seems really scary. So I'm gonna stay away from it. So if you can tap that, especially with yourself, you've got to be kind of honest with yourself, like what really scares you. And that's even just straight up jumpscares which I think are kind of a cheap thing to do. I don't mind if a movie does it, like once or twice?
Alex Ferrari 23:39
Yes. Yeah, it's fun. It's a rollercoaster ride. It's a job. It's a drop,
Devin Watson 23:43
right? But if you're relying on that constantly, throughout your, your film, I mean, it's gonna lose, it's gonna lose its, its efficacy, it's not going to the 10th time around, it's not not as good as like the first time I was kind of like saying the same joke over and over and over again. It just stops getting funny.
Alex Ferrari 24:00
Right? Or the villain never dies and just keeps coming back and keeps going. That's what I love about scream that just literally just poked fun at all the tropes while doing them. While doing them. It was it was absolutely brilliant work. And I think that's one of the things I think he's talking about tapping into universal fears. m Night Shyamalan his new movie old. I mean, that's terrifying. Yeah. I mean, it's like you You walk in and you're like, Oh, my God, I'm I'm growing older. As as we speak rapidly. That is a terrifying. Has that ever been in cinema before? I don't think it has.
Devin Watson 24:36
No, I don't really well. There's.
Alex Ferrari 24:40
I mean, there's elements of it, but not like that. Right?
Devin Watson 24:41
Not not at that rate or speed or anything like that worse.
Alex Ferrari 24:47
Well, what's his name? What's the famous book a portrait of Dorian Gray. It says it has a similar fear of aging.
Devin Watson 24:56
Right, right. Which that goes back way, way back. So Yeah, but yeah, that's if you can tap that there's this existential dread of like, this is inevitable, it's happening to you. And you cannot get away from it that that can terrify so many people just by saying, Yeah, there's nothing you can do about it.
Alex Ferrari 25:17
But like the fly like you were saying Cronenberg like the fly, it is something that's like you are turning into a monster. Right? We have noticed like, again, tapping into Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde again at that point, to a certain extent.
Devin Watson 25:30
Yeah. And when you all the time period, okay, so Cronenberg has vehemently denied in connection with being an allegory for AIDS. But it was very much in the forefront of people's minds that like, okay, because there was at that was mid 80s. And that's exactly
Alex Ferrari 25:49
when it exploded. Yeah.
Devin Watson 25:50
Yeah. So people were like, automatically connecting that in their minds, say, yeah, this is, this could very well be a story about somebody with AIDS, or an allegory about it. And he's like, No, no, it's not really about that. But yeah, you could easily make the connections yourself in your mind. And that's one thing that good work could do is your audience can find connections that you've never thought of, with things like 90 of the Living Dead. A lot of people make the the original night of living dead make the connection, that it was about mindless consumerism. Just people like ricambi were becoming zombies. You know, they can find some greater social message inside of a horror film that on its surface. Yeah, it's about zombies and people holed up in a house and fighting with each other. But
Alex Ferrari 26:39
I think George actually, Romero made that even more clear. Is it Donna the dead or when it was in the mall? Yeah. I mean, he literally was not hiding and
Devin Watson 26:50
yeah, he's like, Okay, I'm gonna run with this now. You say it is okay. Exactly, exactly. And then you've got I mean, one seem to me that always sums up existential dread is this there's a scene in the original alien when Lambert is cornered. And Parker's just been killed. And it's just very slowly showing this thing creeping towards her. This look on her face, like, Oh my God, this thing's gonna kill me. And you see its tail just go between her legs and upper back. And it's just very, very slowly shot. And then you and then right at the end of it, you hear her scream? And then the next thing you know all you can hear is her just breathing really rapidly over the speaker system in the in the ship and then and then you hear the thing, the the alien just make a mega noise and she screams one last time. And that's it. And all you're hearing at that point is just rippling running down the hallway. And that's it. It's like, okay, we know she's dead now. But that was like her biggest fear was that thing killing her? Because she was freaking out. Long before that happened is like yeah, it's almost like she was the course she was speaking for the audience like, Oh, yeah, we're not kidding. That thing. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 28:09
Yeah. And alien and alien itself is a masterwork in in horror, and genre smashing with the sci fi. I think it's, I'm not sure if it was a first sci fi horror, but it definitely is the granddaddy of it. Yeah.
Devin Watson 28:25
Yeah, definitely. I think without that, because it was the haunted house in space idea, where you've got this thing working around it set. It really put a lot of concrete rules. Not really solely concrete. But you've got these rules of like, you don't have to show the entire creature because your audience's imagination is going to fill it in for you. And it's like, okay, we don't need such a huge budget to show this thing. And like, this thing looks terrifying. I think without that, without alien, we probably would not have had event horizon. Because they're both the haunted house in space kind of ideas, but instead of an alien monster running around you, the ship itself is haunted, and went to hell, or something approximating it.
Alex Ferrari 29:12
Right. And then the sequel, which was just alien on steroids, which is aliens James Cameron's masterpiece is another genre, you know, clashing with his action horror, which you don't see as much action or anymore. I mean, you did a little bit now with with Zack Snyder's new zombie film that came out.
Devin Watson 29:35
Yeah, it's I think it's harder. It's not just harder to put together but with action you've got, you know, stunts, explosions, Pyro, you've got the whole nine yards and it just ratchets up the difficulty level shooting with also budgets as well. And yeah, aliens again. It's like, wow, that was incredible. I didn't think they could actually do do Really good sequel. It's like, okay, we're just gonna go in this other direction. And then alien three came around and Fincher to get kind of back to the original roots, which was
Alex Ferrari 30:13
that house, it was a haunted house, I would have loved to actually see his version, not just version, I would love to see a Dave a real David Fincher Director's Cut, which I don't think he'll ever, ever do, because he hated that process. So it almost drove through almost he almost left the business. But thankfully, he went on and gave us seven, and fight club and so on, and so on, and so on and so on. Now, in your book, you talk about the talking head problem, what is the talking head problem?
Devin Watson 30:44
Okay, the talking head problem is where you're just running dialogue. And just like constantly just talking back and forth. It's really easy to fall into that trap, where you just have the characters talk about things to tell the audience what's going on. And you don't have to I mean, a screenplay is showing not telling, it's a screen play. So that's where a lot of especially first time writers they fall down, is they just go very dialogue heavy. And in a horror film, it's more about just, you know, here's to here's to what the audience added up to four. And that really can help. Well, I mean, look, look at how much dialogue is in a nightmare. The original Nightmare on Elm Street. Not a lot. Freddy doesn't even talk Really? I mean, you know, he's just
Alex Ferrari 31:36
Yeah, he did. Yeah, he didn't come he didn't get his personality till the second one. Really? Right.
Devin Watson 31:40
Yeah. And it's the same thing with Halloween, Michael Myers never talked at all. And that's makes them all the scare here. But and same thing with Jason never talked at all really? Unless you count the very end of Manhattan. But we we try not to think about Manhattan.
Yeah. That was one of those ones that's like that, that ending? I can't figure it out.
Alex Ferrari 32:06
I remember when it came out. I was like, Really? You guys are just running out of stuff.
Devin Watson 32:13
What just happened here? Yes. But yeah, you if you can keep the people talking, there's definitely some need for it in certain parts. And usually it's right in the front, like, Event Horizon had that scene where they're on the ship, and they're setting things up, after they get out of status. And they're just talking about like, okay, what's happening? Why are we here, that kind of thing. And there's trying to fill in the blanks as, as quickly as possible, but just enough of the blanks where you, the audience can start to piece things together more easily later.
Alex Ferrari 32:55
Right? in a movie, like the thing. Which is another one of those that there's just a bunch of people locked in place. And there I don't remember there being a talking head issue there. But there definitely is some talking heads in there.
Devin Watson 33:09
Yeah, yeah. And it's but it's, it's spread out. And it's, it's very, they're not like going on for page after page after page. They're just, there's like, Okay, we got to do this right now. And most of the dialogue is arguing back and forth about like, you know, like, Well, okay, Who, who, who led all the blood out of the, of the storage, and like, Where's the keys and all this kind of stuff? It's, it's more like them trying to figure out the mystery all amongst themselves, but the paranoia levels are just going up and up. No. Well,
Alex Ferrari 33:39
one thing that I, I love one little tip I I have gotten from James Cameron films, and he's the one that said it very clearly in the Terminator is when you have backstory, that you need to tell the audience instead of two people sitting down at a table telling you like, Well, you know, yeah, there's from the future. And you know, there's a killer robot after you it's a cyber, instead of that, do it with inaction. Yep. Which is a great way to do it. Yep,
Devin Watson 34:11
calories did that. While they were being chased by the Terminator. He was like, Yes, Sue, come with me if you want to live and get in the car, and they're running away from that thing. So right. Yeah, and by the time Terminator two runs or comes around, and you got the T 1000. chasing them, there's no talking at that point. Cuz like, we know what's going on now.
Alex Ferrari 34:30
Right? But that's but that's the thing so many people tell. But you know, you're just here to, you know, just dialogue that just sitting there just like, Oh, God, I don't want to, I mean, you need this backstory, or else the movie doesn't work, but it has to be done in an entertaining fashion. So while you're running away from a monster or something like that, if you can tell if there is absolute necessity for you to tell the backstory of something. If you could do it with inaction. god it's so much it's more entertaining. Always good.
Devin Watson 34:58
If you're gonna have to explain something you At least give them something to do. So it doesn't look so boring. And it's like, oh yeah, they're doing something important that's going to help advance the plot somewhere. But at the same time, they're also giving information but not in an, in a so direct way. So that that really helps. really helps keep your audience from falling asleep for one thing.
Alex Ferrari 35:21
And the other thing I can't stand when I'm watching not only horror movies, but horror movies in general screenwriting, is when there's so on the nose with stuff, like I know, like, I know, like, if you and me are in a scene and you meet our brothers, and we really need to talk about that we're brothers, or that we, that the story is reliant that we that the audience knows that you and I are related. You know, you don't go Hi, brother, how are you from the same mother? Like you know that but I've seen that as opposed to doing something in the dialogue that's like, Oh, you know, cuz you're always mom's favorite. That that one line says, okay, that's established that we're brothers now as opposed to saying, Hello, brother.
Devin Watson 36:02
Yeah, well, good line about that. It's the beginning of the abyss ahead here. He gets off when he gets off the video call with with his wife, but yes, that point we don't know that he's like, got a Mitch and then the other guy says probably shouldn't married her then. So such a brilliant
Alex Ferrari 36:23
line and Cameron has and I've said this on the show many times Cameron is one of the most underrated screenwriters. I think one of the most underrated screenwriters in history because he's such a predominant he's known as a director. And obviously one of the most successful actually the most successful depending on the gross numbers. One of the most successful directors of all time by his writing is his reader scripts for aliens. Um, it's it's a masterwork. It's an absolute masterwork.
Devin Watson 36:52
Oh, yeah. Yeah, I try to point people towards things and say, like, you can't Well, obviously, that's a big thing in screenwriting is watch movies, that you that watch movies, if they're good or bad, watch him because you can't learn. You're not gonna learn as much from the good as you can from the bad like, well, that's what you don't do. But also read the screenplays that went behind it. So then you can see, especially if you can get a copy of the production drafts that actually was used. So they can see what they cut out and try to figure out why they did that, why it was cut out for a long time or anything like that. Sunday, you can fine tune your process when you write saying, Okay, this might not work, but I'll leave it in and try to keep it lean and mean, if you can.
Alex Ferrari 37:37
Yeah, and I think that the it's a lot harder to learn from really good scripts than it is to learn from really bad scripts. Because when you read Tarantino or Cameron or, you know, or some of these master screenwriters, they make it look so easy. That it's like, well, it's kind of like looking at a painting by the Vinci like, it's not that easy. But yet when you watch a bad movie, and you're like, oh, that that character shouldn't have said that or the plots horrible. You learn a lot. It's a lot easier to fix bad than it is to emulate perfection.
Devin Watson 38:11
Yeah, you know, like a plan nine from outer space or mouse the hands of fate. So I like the room. The room. Yeah, that one? That one I'm still scratching my head about. It's like, okay, it got made. I don't know, really, the
Alex Ferrari 38:24
room is arguably one of the greatest films of all time, and you can only watch it with other people. If you don't watch it with other people. It's sad. But especially if you can watch it with other filmmakers, which is what I did last time I saw it was at Sundance with my crew while we were shooting a movie, and none of us had seen it before. And we're all just yelling at the screen. Why are you using the same stock footage shot twice? Is he humping her belly button? Why is there a football scene? What is going on? It's so great.
Devin Watson 38:52
And Tommy with those never going to say? He's like, well, I guess it's one of those. Well, you just don't understand it. No, he's
Alex Ferrari 39:02
like, no, this is all part of my plan. I wanted to make a spoof No, you didn't you wanted to make the greatest movie of all time. And the reason why it's the greatest movie. Now it's because you actually intended it to be that if you intended it to be a spoof, it would have died on the vine.
Devin Watson 39:18
Yeah. I can see that. I mean, I can take away a lesson from Kubrick as well. You don't have to serve all the answers on a silver platter to your audience. Kubrick doesn't. Yeah, the shining on 2001 premiered. It was at the Cinerama dome, I think. There were a lot of ala stars on the time watching it and they came out and one of them was a Rock Hudson. He said, like, what the hell did I just watch? And people were always calling or writing to him asking questions about what what did this mean and what did that mean? And he actually loved Those kinds of things because he said like if you're walking away from a film and you're asking questions and you're starting a dialogue about it, then I've done my job.
Alex Ferrari 40:08
I mean, it's the shining is a perfect example of that. I mean, if you want to talk about horror movies, argue one of the greatest horror movies of all time, even though it's very far removed from King's original work, but as a as a piece of art as a piece of cinema. What he did is is a masterwork and I always found that movie to probably be one of the scariest not particularly, because there's a lot of jumps jumpscares and there's maybe a couple but it is that it's terrifying on a psychological level. And I found out because I'm a Cooper account, that he actually went to ad agencies and learned about subliminal, subliminal advertising. So he would sneak their stuff inside of the shining that's built just to screw with a psychologically the vices know the stuff that he did in the shining, where it's just like, it's terrifying. And you can't put you can't point at it. Like in Freddie like, oh, Freddie scares the hell out of me. Or Jaws, like oh, that scares the hell they are the haunted house in China, you're just like, it's about a dude losing his mind and is about to kill his family, which is also a terrifying idea that your father could lose his mind and kill you. Like that's also a very, very Primal Primal Fear that somebody close
Devin Watson 41:31
to you that you love and that loves you is suddenly just gonna snap and try to kill you.
Alex Ferrari 41:36
Right let alone your father or your mother. But I think specifically the father figure in throughout humanity, I think isn't there some sort of thing that the the baby when it's born within like, the first few weeks looks more like the bad evolutionary so that so that that doesn't kill it, thinking that it's something it's somebody else's baby or something along those lines? It's something really deep seated, but then add in all the craziness. And then do you I mean, I'm assuming you saw room was it from two? on two through seven? Yeah. 283370. My God, what a great like you just sit there going? Well, that that makes sense. Like, I did it do that? Why is that window go nowhere? What are you doing, Stanley?
Devin Watson 42:17
Yep. Well, that's, that's the funny thing about Kubrick that I always I loved is that he was just a stickler for detail with everything. And if it's in there, it's in there for a reason that he had in his mind. So it if you find it, he wanted it there.
Alex Ferrari 42:33
Okay, you're not gonna make mistakes, you're not gonna make mistakes. He doesn't make those kind of like, oh, that just kind of fell into it. Like, no, he's, he spends three years, 456 years, seven years, prepping a film, so it was insane. Now, one thing that horror movies have a lot of is disposable characters. Can you explain why there's so many disposable characters in horror movies?
Devin Watson 42:57
Okay, so, to me, the disposable character is one who, if you can get them to convey some important piece of information, that's great. But usually you want something like the victim, like you need somebody to be the victim of something. I'm trying to remember that one.
Alex Ferrari 43:15
Well, in jaws in Jaws, the very first the very first victim at the beginning of the movie, the girl. Yeah, we don't know who she is. All we know, she's a pretty girl swimming in the ocean at night, which obviously is not a good idea.
Devin Watson 43:28
Right? And then you see her just get yanked a little bit, and then she's trying to stay up off the water and then boom, she's gone. She's there to convey the information to the audience. Like there's something in the water, it's big, and it's hungry, and it ate her very quick, very, very quickly. The beginning of the movie prophecy. That's what I was thinking of. Her walking. Yeah, no, no, actually the one from the 70s it's the environmental. It has Armand Assante in it actually.
Alex Ferrari 43:56
Oh yeah. Yeah.
Devin Watson 43:56
Yeah, the the very beginning you have these guys are hunting out in the woods with some dogs and the dogs kind of over a cliff with with their own ropes or something. And then you hear the dogs just like start freaking out and then they don't hear anything and they start climbing down and you see it from one of the they've got like spiel and or helmets on so they're, they're going down into this like crevasse is and you see, really from one guy's perspective after he's been yanked down in there. And he's on the ground. He's all he's already bloody but you just you hear something coming out. I mean, he's just screaming his head off as he's about to get torn apart by this mythical beast thing.
Alex Ferrari 44:45
That's insane. Now what are some of the common pitfalls in in horror screenwriting?
Devin Watson 44:52
The one thing that I've seen a lot of is it's it's actually not just horror, but it expands everything. Writing too description in scene action words like, like, Okay, look at what is it's called scene action things are happening, make it happen, don't describe the books on the bookshelf, or anything like that. It's like, they don't care about that unless it's unless it's really important that your character has red hair, and it's gonna become important later. Don't Don't even bother divulging that information you don't have to
Alex Ferrari 45:22
write in that is absolutely true. And that's why I always called screenwriting, the Haiku of writing. Narrative writing because it's, it's you got to say a lot more with less. And that's the that's, that's the art of it, as opposed to a novel where you can do a page of the book, and the leather bound glistened off the
Devin Watson 45:46
I, I, I try to tell people, the first five pages in a horror scripts are the most important. You got to get to the point really fast, which not you don't want to get the entire point is to say like, there's something dangerous in the woods, that's killing people. Okay. Explain. In five pages show in five pages, what makes it so dangerous to go in the woods? Or don't go into that house? You know, somebody, somebody got murdered in there like 30 years ago, and it's haunted. You got that first. If you can even do it in less, that's even better?
Alex Ferrari 46:22
Well, just jazz is a perfect example.
Devin Watson 46:25
Yeah. And if you keep it under five, great, and then once you've got that, then you could you got a good framework to build on, because then you say, like, Alright, how much do we show or not show? Well, the nice thing about horror is, it's about not showing as much as about showing.
Alex Ferrari 46:41
Yeah, I mean, it's got, I mean, I'm sure it's just not the first to do this. But he always said that you'll you want to hear the murderer behind the door. You don't want to actually see it, because it's gonna be a lot more terrifying that way. And it's, it's very, very true. I mean, that mean, the masterwork of psychos shower scene, which is you don't ever see the knife go enter ever. Right. But we do in our mind.
Devin Watson 47:07
And then you see the blood trickle down the drain is a masterwork. Yeah. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 47:13
I mean, there's a document there's a documentary just dedicated to the shower. See? Yeah, I've seen it. And it's so good.
Devin Watson 47:20
It's so good. Just the deep analysis of it. It's like, wow, okay, that's pretty awesome. Um, the same thing with Reservoir Dogs the the ear seen? No, because they pan away when he's about to cut the guy's ear off. And all you hear is him screaming. And then later on, you see the guy with the ears saying hello, hey,
Alex Ferrari 47:43
did they actually I remember that? I'm not sure if I remember in the lore, did Quintin shoot the year and then shot that other version, just to see, or he or he's, or he's had that idea? Like, I don't let's let's pan away, which obviously just makes the scene so much more gruesome and terrifying. And it's, it's, it's absolute insanity.
Devin Watson 48:04
Oh, yeah. And that's, that's part of with horror, what I call the, like, the million ILM theory of your audience's imagination has the power of a million ILM that definitely could not pay you and not have enough money in your budget to pay for the kind of effects that you would want. But it's by simply moving it away, panning away or not showing it but you just hear it, you know, sound is half the picture. So if you can, if you can get a good Foley mix, then that's a lot easier to do. And a lot cheaper to do than say, coming up with a bunch of gore and makeup effects and things like that. It probably showed the after effects you want. But you
Alex Ferrari 48:48
know that there is a story. That I mean, this movie we're talking about a little bit of a side note here, but taxi driver, not are arguably a horror movie, but definitely a disturbing, and definitely a pretty bloody one as well. Talking about filmmakers, the lore is, and I actually heard this, Quentin Tarantino was telling this story, and he didn't even know if it was really because I don't think you'd ever confirmed it with Marty or not. But the way the story goes is that in taxi driver, they went through the the rating process in 1976. And it came back as x rated. And then the studio executive said you're gonna have to cut this this or this out, or else this movie's not gonna get released. And Marty, at that age at that time, was so distraught that someone was going to I mean, kill his masterwork that he got a loaded gun, sat in his room and got drunk with a loaded gun. And a bunch of his friends came over which were like the Palma. Steven Coppola they all came over because they heard what was going on. And they talked him out of not going to kill the executive. But then the the way he got around that, did you know the you know how he got the R rating?
Devin Watson 50:19
I think what did you read just resubmit it?
Alex Ferrari 50:22
No, he did resubmit it. But he just took one point off the red in the blue. So the Bloods a little bit more burgundy as it as opposed to a bright red. That's all he did. He didn't just change the color grade. That's it. And he did not cut he did not cut a frame.
Devin Watson 50:42
And that's, that's Yeah, I can't believe that as something that would have happened. The funny thing, Texas Chainsaw Massacre got an extra rating when it first came out. And it was like, well, it's so it's so gory. And like, if you go and watch it, nobody actually except for except for one guy gets hung up on a meat hook. And leatherface gets himself in the leg with the chainsaw. So like a tiny cut. Really? There's no real I mean, there's no gore on screen. Really. It's like got skeletons you got.
Alex Ferrari 51:18
It's disturbing. It's disturbing. Yeah.
Devin Watson 51:20
Right. It's all the implied horror of things. The implied terror of like there's a scary guy's wearing a human base for his Reza mask and he's got a chainsaw and it's like, yep, okay.
Alex Ferrari 51:32
Yeah, x rating. Now, what advice do you have for screenwriters wanting to add twists and turns to their horror screenplay, which arguably one of the best twist of all time is Sixth Sense. And if you haven't seen that movie, I'm sorry. We're gonna now ruin it for you. It's not our fault since it came out in the 90s. not our fault. But yeah, that's one of the Greatest Artists of All Time. Is there any and then of course, m night. I think he's been fighting to get back to that ever since. And he kind of I think he almost pigeon holed themselves into like, okay, now every single script they do has to have an insane twist at the end of it, or else it's not an M Night Shyamalan thing, because it was just so powerful. But I'm a huge fan of M night. I think he's, he says his missus, but everybody has his business.
Devin Watson 52:18
Well, I would say if you want to include a twist to make it, try to make it something that's going to take it to a homeowner wobbles like, okay, you think you're watching this straight up, slash reflect. And at the end, you put a twist in where it's like, Oh, well. This guy is actually killing people for a reason. Every bad all they say every villain is telling their own story. They're the hero. They're the hero of their story. Absolutely. Like I try to use a classic one I've used as Vader. from Star Wars. It's like right yeah, he's in his mind he's he's actually a good guy because he's trying to stop the world sup the galaxy from collapsing into chaos. And well, it didn't quite work out for him but
Alex Ferrari 53:04
Devin Watson 53:06
Ricardo montalban con in Star Trek to probably one of the greatest villains ever on screen that I've ever seen. He he feels like he's righteously justified in doing everything he did. He did to Kirk because he stranded them on that planet. He the planet was basically destroyed and turned into a desert. His wife died. all this other stuff is like, yeah, yeah, I'm going to the minute I get out of here, I'm coming for you. So you don't have to just have a generic villain. That's one way to actually add a twist to it. My Bloody Valentine is a good example of that horror genre. You can even make the villain sympathetic in that way more. Like I can kind of understand why he's why he or she is doing this. Well, I
Alex Ferrari 53:59
mean, Hannibal. I mean, Hannibal Lecter? I mean, oh, yeah. I mean, we, you he almost becomes a hero, not inside in Sansa lambs, kind of because, okay, he could argue it. But he's definitely an antihero if he is a hero, but he's not the main villain built Buffalo Bill is in the first house and lamps. But the other movies that came afterwards. He's essentially the hero of those Hannibal and I mean, it's the brilliance of that character and of Anthony Hopkins portrayal is in Sansa Lynch you're rooting for Hannibal, you you want him to get out? You arguably want them to eat some people. And it's disturbing. It's disturbing as an audience member that you're rooting for a Catholic cannibalistic serial killer,
Devin Watson 54:48
right? Well, you got the the heat prefers to eat free range rude. So it's like, oh, he's taking care of a problem we all have.
Alex Ferrari 54:56
Right? He's that eating a little girl in the puppy.
Devin Watson 55:01
Yeah, but I mean he's also has very well I guess you could say refined tastes because this
Alex Ferrari 55:05
fava beans obviously,
Devin Watson 55:07
yes. And also it's like, Okay, well he he ate that one the one flutist in the orchestra because he wasn't playing right? Because you wanted the orchestra to sound better.
Alex Ferrari 55:20
But you know, but we laugh but that's an A great character, like a great thing for that character to be because in his whacked out world that makes sense on the ending. I mean, when he's like, I'm gonna have an old friend for dinner one of the greatest ending lines of movie history. You want him to eat him? You want him that guy was such a prick. It's just absolutely a brilliant portrayal and that that won the Oscar, I think is one of the few horror movies that won the Oscar I don't think or is it the first I'm not even sure.
Devin Watson 55:51
Actually, it's swept pretty.
Alex Ferrari 55:54
Yeah. All five out of five majors. Yeah.
Devin Watson 55:56
Yeah. So and then actually, I think that tied. But it was, it was one of the first ones I think that actually got serious recognition by the Academy. And just by it's not like we go back to Poltergeist or something like that. It's like, oh, here's here's a fun summer horror film. It's like, no, this is real serious dark stuff. psychological horror. That you the monster is a human but he's super intelligent. Both Buffalo Bill and Hannibal Lecter. But you you really you want to cheer on him. You want buffalo Billy a cot? I mean, that's just kind of given even. I keep going back to was clerks to with when they were parroting the whole scene with goodbye horses. With that, but yeah, I mean, even Buffalo Bill, he's he's a smart guy. So you're dealing with highly intelligent people who are also well in one case, cannibalistic The other one is just making a pseudo suit out of women and
Alex Ferrari 57:09
such a terrifying and for screenwriters listening to make a villain. Just a couple of decisions, changes Hannibal from the guy we're rooting for, to an absolutely despicable person. And in the in the hands of a worse screenwriter and a worse director and a worse performer. Hannibal could have been a throwaway character who had no depth there. We really didn't love it. The what makes us love Silence of the Lambs is not only the plot, but it's Hannibal and his interactions with clarities. But Buffalo Bill does nothing redeemable where Hannibal even when he's escaping, and he's like, you know, terrifying. You know, eating those guys and they kick the dog in many ways. And that's the things like if you want you want to make a villain villain just him kick a dog or slap a baby and he's an automatic villain, or she's an automatic villain. Well, that's what the that's what the screenwriter did with Hannibal, but Hannibal was the dog. So you wanted the dog to get revenge in many ways. You know,
Devin Watson 58:18
I I did kind of go there with the curse as well, we we had this one character that was a little girl. That was the daughter of the acting Sheriff and the monster gets her. And later on, the sheriff, the acting sheriff, played by Lewis Mandalore. He finds basically her hand in that's it. That's all it's all up to her. At that point. I was like, Yeah, I can't look it. Okay. It looks like I had to go there because I had to give him enough strong enough reason to number one, I was trying to kill two birds with one stone with us. I
Alex Ferrari 59:00
was no pun intended.
Devin Watson 59:01
Yeah, I was trying to make sure that he had a strong enough reason to go after this thing to believe that it was real, but also to let the main character off the hook because he kept thinking that main character was the one doing all this was killing. So I was like, Well, I guess I'm just gonna have to well, first I killed the cat and then I killed her. So I didn't save the cat. I killed it.
Alex Ferrari 59:27
Now, I'm gonna ask you a few questions. Ask all my guests are what are three screenplays every screenwriter should read?
Devin Watson 59:36
I really think aliens. James Cameron script is a good one to read. Especially if you can get a copy of that Scott everything, especially stuff that was like eventually cut out. That's a really good read. longer, but not bad. I'm North by Northwest. Hitchcock. Yes, definitely want to read that one. And I do want to say read Clockwork Orange, read the script for Clockwork Orange. But at the same time, if you haven't read the the novel that it's based on by Anthony Burgess, get that to, just so you can see how far Cooper deviated
Alex Ferrari 1:00:21
it was. Yeah.
Devin Watson 1:00:23
But as far as it being close to the material, it's like, okay, I can see, I can see where he drew this from, you want to if you want to, if you're especially if you're getting into adaptations, you, that's a good one to look at when you want to compare the two. Because you have basically a record of, here's what Anthony Burgess wrote, here's what Kubrick wrote. And that's what's on the screen. So you can actually follow that path.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:43
And I watched, I watched Clockwork Orange the other day for I hadn't seen in years, and I just watched just the first 15 minutes. How that was ever released is beyond me how that got past sensors, how that got a studio put money behind that. It is, in fact got released today, it would be it would be an uproar that nobody would even understand. And he was doing it in the 70s it's absolutely remarkable, really is.
Devin Watson 1:01:16
Right. And I think part of why he was able to get away with it was after 2001, which was huge budget. Um, he was he really couldn't find because of the, you know, box office numbers and everything with that he wasn't able to get the kind of budgets that he wanted similar. So he's like, well, what can I do that I can just kind of run and gun it almost.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:45
Yeah, it's an It almost looks like an indie film. Like, I know exactly what you're saying.
Devin Watson 1:01:49
Yeah. Yeah. And, and he, he didn't have exactly a really huge budget on it. But he was because of that he was, I think, got a lot more control leniency at least from the, from the studio producing it. And then Warner Brothers was the distributor. And I think there was some problems that did get initially an X rating. He did have to cut a few bits and pieces. That's one of the reasons why the William Tell Overture scene is in is it's super fast. Because he originally did sorry, he originally did shoot it, just regular speed, but it's like, Okay, if we speed it up, it's gonna be harder for people to you know, make out stuff in there. So
Alex Ferrari 1:02:33
because he was having like, manassa tie was it was
Devin Watson 1:02:37
Yeah, was pretty graphic. Yeah, with two underage girls. So
Alex Ferrari 1:02:40
no, I didn't even realize it was Jesus Christ. That's true.
Devin Watson 1:02:43
Yeah. The way this stuff is. Yeah, the the, the book was a lot more graphic about that it was not wants to say completely consensual. So yeah, so that again, that's another one of those things. Like, here's how you can skate around stuff. Nowadays. You can release video on demand digital, plenty of platforms. And without
Alex Ferrari 1:03:07
ratings. Yeah. Without ratings.
Devin Watson 1:03:09
Yeah. And that's, that's kind of nice. If you wanted to, but if you ever want your thing to go, you want your film to go on to like, say you want to get on HBO or something like that. Yeah. Yeah. Or, or even even Showtime. I mean. So looking at David Lynch's revival Twin Peaks, and it's like, okay, that the big budget, even he actually finally got to do a lot of the things you've wanted to do with that show. And still further kind of explore the horror in that too. Which was nice. And even had his Kubrick Ian moment as well. And one episode, I call it the Kubrick Ian moment when they're flashing back to the creation of Bob with the nuclear test blast. That whole sequence is like, yeah, this is like the Stargate almost one.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:02
Now, what advice would you give a screenwriter trying to break into the business today?
Devin Watson 1:04:07
You don't have to go and hit studios up. You mean nowadays, man with camera technology, what it is, and everything else. You can you can be a Robert Rodriguez if you want. You can. You can write it, you can polish it, you can actually put it up yourself if you want. There are a lot more alternative avenues now. Then, like, Oh, I got to go get an agent and I have to get representation and I have to do all these writing assignments and things like that. You don't necessarily have to do that these days. There are filmmakers popping up all over the place and especially like this past year. As with the with the lockdown happening and everything. One thing that I noticed was a lot of solo filmmakers were making, essentially existential horror and putting them up shortfilms putting them up on YouTube. And there were they're actually pretty amazing because it's like, all I got nothing better to do I got a camera, it's me, and I'm trapped in here. So let's make
Alex Ferrari 1:05:10
that happen. Yeah, let's make something happen. Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?
Devin Watson 1:05:19
Basically, there's what you know, and there's a whole lot of stuff that you don't know any of, it's gonna take you a long time to figure it out. So if you're in your 20s you don't think you know everything? I mean, you think you know everything, but you're probably not going to figure it all out until you hit maybe your mid 30s. And then even then, it's not everything.
Alex Ferrari 1:05:40
No, no. Yeah. But that can be said every decade. You think you knew everything, but you don't. But I would agree with you. Yeah, it's gonna take a minute. Yeah, is that this is not gonna happen overnight, you're gonna learn a whole bunch along the way. And can you tell me about the work that you're doing with the abl artists foundation?
Devin Watson 1:05:59
Oh, yes, that is. Steven latinus is a film composer, who he's he's blind, he has retinitis pigmentosa. And one day, we actually, we talked on the phone and he said, Hey, I'm thinking about trying to do this nonprofit that helps disabled musicians be able to, you know, get not only access to hardware and software and things like that for for composing, but also to promote the work of disabled musicians. And he ended up while I and one other person Stacy, we sat down and we actually came up with a design and we built the thing out, and we're actually just doing a refit now on the whole thing, because now we're doing he's doing contests and grants, and everything else is really expanding very fast now. But yeah, any anybody that's a partner company on there, gets they offer all their services and stuff for basically 50% off like the minimum you have to you can offer 50% so once you're verified disabled person, which there's a verification process and it's actually not that hard to do. Once you do that, then you have access to all these massive discounts on software and and I think even hardware and even lessons. Yeah, and it's, it's keeps growing. I think we're still getting suggestions from people like, Hey, you got to hit these people up like okay, well, and Stephens really grown out from that, to the point where he's, he's become almost a spokesperson now for disabled musicians and don't composers and everything. And it's
Alex Ferrari 1:07:51
awesome. And where can people find your movies and your books?
Devin Watson 1:07:56
Oh, they're available on amazon.com there's the cursed and there's also that's the movie, main feature. And then for screenwriting, the nature of fear is on available on Amazon. I do have some short films up on YouTube as well that I did. And there was one I worked on it was supposed to be a pilot for a web series called asphalt she Wolf's nice, great title, which is Yeah, that was actually my, my writing partner on that producing partner help with that. And then golden opportunity which is more of a sci fi dystopian it's kind of weird that I when I look back on it now, we shot it a few years before Trump became president and then I look at it go like this is what could have happened.
Alex Ferrari 1:08:50
Very cool, man. Nevermind thank you so much for being on the show. Man I enjoyed are going down the rabbit hole of horror of war in order screenwriting and, and just geeking out a little bit with another film geek. So I appreciate you man. Thank you so much.
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