We want to hear you scream

That’s what Leigh Whannell and James Wan (the Saw creators) said as they introduced their new horror flick Insidious at an Australians in Film screening tonight. I needed no further encouragement.

Now, we know that I am not a fan of horror films, so how come I ended up at a horror film made by the guys whose Saw films I can barely even bring myself to look at the trailers for? Well, as we have a horror script in our arsenal, I figured I needed to go and check it out. Perhaps you could say, confront my fear, before we make something scary ourselves.

I briefed a new friend beside me as to what to expect from me; screaming, jumping, hiding behind my shawl and the like. I needn’t have bothered, because whilst she was a diehard horror fan, she was more terrified than me. Don’t get me wrong here. I screamed. Loudly. Loud and often enough to come away with a sore throat. I also jumped out of my skin, spent a good deal of time covering my face with my shawl and biting the end of it and doing little panting breaths in the scary aftermath. But in amongst the scary stuff (which was thankfully not gory stuff), there was some really nice comic relief. How can you not laugh at the comedy Angus Sampson brings?

So despite the film being out of my comfort zone, I enjoyed it. I thought it was an interesting story that came together and I think other scaredy cats like me would enjoy it too.

Perhaps the best bits for me were the introduction of the film and the follow-up q&a with Leigh and James. These Aussie guys are so down to earth and incredibly funny. They have an infectious enthusiasm and when they talk about Insidious, their other films, their creative process and each other, you can’t help but feel excited for them and inspired at the same time.

On the job, reading scripts

I read my first script today. Well not technically the first, but my first script as a PROFESSIONAL in the film industry.

It’s an upcoming project for Yellow Brick Films and it is a horror/thriller, the one I was doing research for a few days ago. We’ve already ascertained that this genre is not my strong suit, but reading a script whilst thinking “how will we make this work, where will we find this location, who will play this character” is very different to seeing the end product with the special effects, clever editing, eerie soundtrack and gruesome visuals all rolled frighteningly together with the intent to make me squeal and squirm.

Being such a novice and with only one previous script read under my belt, my friend Richard Gray’s early version of Summer Coda in 2006, I wasn’t really sure how I should approach the task.

  • Should I just read and read and read my way through the hundred odd pages of Courier New typfaced script or pace my way through it with loo breaks and coffee pit stops?
  • Should I read it onscreen or print it out?
  • Should I make notes, comments and suggestions as I read?
  • Should I proof read it (I am a pretty talented proof reader and usually struggle to hold back proofing urges all the time, particularly when reading restaurant menus) and pick up the typos? 
  • Should I read it while munching on popcorn, just to get in the cinema swing of things?
Reading scripts
Isn't this how they read the scripts in Entourage?

In the end I read it onscreen (common sense and frugality dictated that I wasn’t going to print out 100 pages if I was paying for the ink cartridges). I read it all in one two-hour lounge session on the couch with an already brewed pot of coffee and only small breaks to get some chocolate and respond to a message on Skype from a friend with “Am reading Richie’s script for a horror/thriller right now, otherwise I’d suggest getting on for a chat” and to tell my brother to be quiet because I was working (even though it looked like a big old internet surf session). 

My long-held aversion to the Courier New font was overcome. For some reason it did not bother me one iota, far unlike receiving email replies in that font after my messages in clear and simple Arial. I think that font just works for scripts. So I will accept the industry standard font and embrace it … but only for scripts.

I made some notes as I went, marking down the page numbers with my questions such as “Is this mystery character Amanda I haven’t read about before supposed to be Claire, did she have a name change?” and making  a couple of brief comments. Not even a page though. I mostly immersed myself into the script, cheering on the bad decisions the characters always make in a horror film. Only once did my concentration waver, and I put that down to a crick in my back caused from un-ergonomic posture on the couch.

So now I’m excited. I’m revved up and ready to make a movie, even if it is one that might scare me half to death at the end, or bludgeon me to a bloody pulp in the process.

I’m scared just thinking about it

I don’t do scary movies very well. I am big on anticipation so I jump, scream or break out in a petrified sweat before the scary bit even happens. 

The thought of sitting in a darkened cinema being surrounded by frightening sounds, screams and super scary activities makes my skin crawl. Perhaps because I get so swept up into a film that it becomes my reality for a couple of hours is the reason why I don’t like scary movies. I can’t make that delineation between what’s real and what’s not and so I feel like I could be a possible victim in the storyline.

One of the more memorable moments was when I watched Jurassic Park on a school outing to the cinema in Year 9. It was during the scene where the kids are hiding in the kitchen and the raptor is stalking around outside them. The moment the raptor’s head appeared in the round porthole window, I screamed loudly. I was the only person in the cinema screaming. And I got teased mercilessly for that.

So it’s quite ironic that I am researching horror films right now. Just looking at the poster art makes me a little squeamish, so I’m thankful for the bright sunshine and birds chirping outside. Many of the titles are somewhat familiar, but I’ve only watched a handful of them.

So if you’re a horror fan, maybe you could help me out here. What type of scary movies do you like? What are your stand out horror films and why?