From Sasha Blore (@SashaFusion)
Q: What keeps you going when you’ve had a really tough day writing and your brain feels like mush?
A: I have two different answers to this question. If it’s a once-in-a-while occurrence, and the mushy brain is coming from other problems in your life, or a bad night of sleep, or stress... I usually throw up the white flag, put the computer down and call it a day. Treat yourself to some hours off, binge watch a show you’ve been dying to catch up on, walk the dog to the park, or answer emails that have clogged up your inbox. Your body needs rest after a physical work-out, and your brain is no different. If, however, these struggles plague you often, you’ve GOT to push through and find a way to keep going. Just make peace with the fact that this is going to be “the bad version” of the scene... jump forward and try to write a scene in the script that excites you later in the story... or trick your brain with consequences (“If I don’t get to the bottom of page 57 by 3:15 P.M., I’m not allowed to play Doodle Jump until next Sunday.”) I’ve actually deleted games off my phone because I lost a bet with myself... but at least I’ve got a few extra pages in the books.
From Reel To Real Productions (@ReelToRealPro)
Q: What helped land you the Jigsaw gig?
A: Getting hired on Jigsaw took YEARS. Literally. Having had a few horror movies under our belts (Pete and I wrote Piranha 3D and Sorority Row, as well as a few other horror scripts... for instance, we wrote a draft of Halloween before it moved over to Blumhouse), our agents were able to get us in the door when Lionsgate and the producers of Saw decided to start thinking about making another film after several years away from the franchise. Pete and I came up with a full 45 minute pitch, that detailed the entire movie... front to back, soup to nuts. It was COMPLETELY different from the final movie (to give you an example of JUST how different it was, our story took place in the middle of the ocean). We pitched our hearts out... and then... RADIO SILENCE. Nothing for close to six months. Then, we got a really nice phone call from Oren Koules, one of the producers, saying that they had heard dozens of pitches over the months and there was one moment in ours that he loved and couldn’t stop thinking about. That got us a SECOND chance at the plate. For our new story, we worked off of that one moment that Oren said he loved, and came up with a completely DIFFERENT pitch. We fleshed it out and went back in to the lion’s den to pitch out our new story. For context, there pitches are done in a room with all the producers of Saw, along with the head of Lionsgate and a few of the other execs that have worked on the franchise for years. It’s intimidating and grueling and you need to memorize your pitch and sell it hard. Again, we were close but… no cigar. This time, though, we won over two of the producers and worked with them on version number three. Which turned into versions number four and five. Each new pitch incorporated things that people liked from the LAST version and built upon it. Finally, we were “officially” hired (meaning we signed a contract and got paid to start writing). The final script was pretty similar in theme and general plot of that last verbal pitch, but it still veered off in some important ways (for instance, our first draft of the film, in script form, had 70% of the action happening OUTSIDE, but we eventually moved everything into the barn for both production reasons AND because it was decided that it would be more difficult to create that claustrophobic Saw atmosphere if we were shooting in the woods). When Pete and I were on set, he turned to me at one point to remind that we started on this journey close to three years prior. It was a long time coming but definitely worth the ride.
From Cody Starks (@StarksCody14)
Q: What inspired you to become a screenwriter/director/producer in Hollywood?
A: Short answer: Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Halloween. Slightly longer but not my complete life story answer: I was really into theater in high school. I loved acting (I was the Artful Dodger in Oliver and Teddy in Arsenic and Old Lace). I went to the University of Vermont to study theater, and THOUGHT I was going for acting, but I soon realized that I loved directing even more. I directed six student-produced shows there in four years (including West Side Story and Sexual Perversity in Chicago). After directing some summer stock theater after college, I moved out to Los Angeles and got a job as a producer’s assistant on a tv show (Parker Lewis Can’t Lose) and that’s where I fell in love with writing... from sitting in the writer’s room for hours every day. On that little show, I saw some of the greatest future writers working (Clyde Phillips of Dexter fame, Tom Spezialy of Desperate Housewives and The Leftovers, Adam Barr of Will & Grace, etc.) So... over many years, the job eventually found me.
From Nadja Seraphina (@nadja_seraphina)
Q: Is it more rewarding to write a book or a screenplay? And which writing process do you prefer?
A: “Rewarding” is a tricky word. If we’re talking FINANCIALLY rewarding, screenwriting wins hands down. Hell... it wins hands, feet and pretty much every part of your entire body... down. I won’t talk actual numbers here… BUT… my salary for writing my book (which is 340 pages of single spaced prose) is roughly 1/20th of what I was paid to write a half hour network sitcom (less than 30 pages). That said, taking money out of it completely, writing the book was an incredible experience because it’s a FINISHED product. Screenplays and teleplays are a blueprint for the final film and no one knows or sees your work on the page. I’ve written screenplays that I’ve LOVED that have turned into horrible movies, and that’s incredibly disappointing and demoralizing. But the high salary eases that pain a little. As for the “process” question, I am a dialogue guy. I love writing dialogue. And I love thinking about actors interpreting that dialogue. So, I guess I prefer writing screenplays for that reason. But I’ve already started my second novel, and I’m hoping that, as I continue to hone my voice, it will be something that I continue to do for many years to come.
From Nick Welborn (@PSRChannel):
Q: What horror movie would you like to see get a remake? For me, it has to be The Blob. The only way to do it is practical effect. A CGI Blob will be horrible.
A: First, I agree with you on the Blob. Could be a fun remake. I’ll push back SLIGHTLY on the CGI... if it was BIG budget, I think CGI could be an option, if you were REALLY paying for the effects. If you were doing CGI on a TV budget for a low cost film, then yes, it would be a disaster. As for the remake question, I’ve always LOVED remakes (as you can tell from my IMDb page), but I’ve always approached remakes with two underlying philosophies. First, that you don’t remake GREAT films. Why bother? If you’re remaking a movie, take a film that didn’t completely succeed and find a way to make it better. That said, I DID write a remake for To Catch a Thief at Paramount… that was a GREAT film… so even I break my own rules. Second, I also try to find a unique way into the material. I’m not saying that Piranha 3D is crazy inventive, but our way into it was “Piranha at Spring Break”. That hook made me smile... it made me think “Boy, I’d like to see that movie” and that’s why we decided to write it. Finally, to answer your main question: What movie would I like to see a remake of? A few of the movies I’d LOVE to remake are The Deep, The Outsiders (a modern take), The Last Airbender (Pete and I actually wrote the first two episodes of the Nick show and I DON’T think the movie did the source material justice), Terror Train (I’ve pursued this for YEARS), and The Entity (another film I’ve been in hot pursuit of). There are TWO more that I could list, but I’m CURRENTLY already working on them for studios so I can’t list them.
From Luke (@PhotoshopHorroz)
Q: During the time when you and Pete Goldfinger were writing Jigsaw, how did you come up with the idea for the spiral trap?
A: So, the spiralizer trap was a team effort, and I have to give FINAL credit more to the Spierig Brothers than to us. In our last script before the Spierigs came on board, our trap was different. We had Mitch hanging upside-down (the same as the final film) and we had the motorcycle powering the trap (the same as the final film), but instead of being lowered into the spiralizer, our trap had a pulley slowly inching toward him with spinning knives. In our script, this propeller-like device chopped Mitch up slowly... his guts leaking from his body as the skin was cut away before his insides were cut apart. His intestines came tumbling out of his belly, almost looking like a rope reaching to the floor… giving the sick feeling that he could climb down on his own intestines. The last beat of that scene from our script...
Blood and chunks of flesh rain to the ground.
Anna and Ryan turn away, unable to watch the carnage.
Finally, the engine mercifully stops. Mitch’s hacked apart body hangs... lifeless... gruesome. The remaining strands of skin strain against the weight of his top half.
ON THE GROUND with Ryan and Anna. After a beat... JUMPSCARE as the top half of Mitch’s body SUDDENLY falls. SLAMMING to the ground next to our remaining pair of survivors. BAM!”
So... a lot of the pieces were there, but, the truth is that the spiralizer ITSELF came from the twisted minds of Peter and Michael. I hope that satisfies your question.