LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Interview with Bill Watterson director of Dave Made a Maze
By James Whittington, Sunday 4th November 2018
At Grimmfest 2017 we had the chance to view one of the most original pieces of cinema we'd seen in a long time, Dave Made a Maze. Directed by Bill Watterson it's an intelligent, thought-provoking film that deserves to reach a global audience and will be released here early 2019. We chatted to Bill about this incredible movie.
HC: Where did this concept come from?
WW: Three places: Steven was underway on a script called 'Operation: Death Maze,' or something cool like that. Portions of it were re-purposed after he jibed with a story I told about my mom coming home and seeing an incredible fort that I'd build in my bedroom, and concluding that I'd gotten lost within it when I didn't answer her calls (I was at a neighbour's house; I'd left a note!). He really dug that concept of being in your own room but somehow being lost at the same time. Thirdly, it was fueled by the frustrations that so many of us face when it comes to trying to be creative and not starve in the process. It gets more and more challenging to remain playfully inventive as the struggles of adulthood take hold. The more the script developed, the more the story became a metaphor for the creative life itself.
HC: Its surely one of the most original movies ever made, how long did it take to write?
WW: Thank you! Hard to say; Steven had a good 60+ pages before I ever came on board, and we spent so many years fundraising and trying to attach talent that in the downtime we kept revisiting and revising, tightening and solidifying. Then as we approached the actual production days, budget and personnel meant that certain ideas had to be left behind (the pit of deadly stop motion spiders!) while others came about very late in the game (the zoetrope!). From those first 60 pages to us shooting the movie was about 5 years, but obviously that wasn't all time spent writing.
HC: Was it written with a cast in mind?
WW: No, all of the early drafts were written with Steven's friends in mind. All of the characters were originally named after people we knew. Write what you know, write WHO you know! We drifted away from some of the specifics as we doubled down on and exaggerated what was unique about each character, as we changed genders of others, combined or cut others. And then the cast brought each one of them to life in ways we never could have anticipated. Lines that I heard as high energy in my head came out quiet and were a hundred times more effective for it, and vice versa. That cast really committed and brought it off the page.
HC: The set design is incredible, did you have a vision of how it would look, or did your set designer come to you with the concepts?
WW: A combo of both, mostly the latter. We pulled a lot of visual references as we started having pre-production meetings, and we hired artists who worked within and appreciated the medium of cardboard. They brought that experience, plus a willingness to experiment. A lot of looks were also based on what materials were available to us on the day, between what we could get from the dumpster next door, and what we had left from our original haul of donated cardboard. Sometimes it was just well, we've got THIS, and we've got to make THAT, let's see what happens! It was in the writing that it was a handmade cardboard world, and the art department went above and beyond to bring that world to life, and to give each room its own personality.
HC: As a first-time director, what did you learn about the craft whilst making this movie?
WW: I mean... everything! If I had known how much I didn't know going in, I probably wouldn't have had the guts to do it. I certainly learned how important it is to have trustworthy, engaged collaborators. How important it is to set your people up to succeed by giving them enough guidance but also enough freedom to stay creatively inspired. Listen to your people and let them have fun, too. That you can't be over-prepared, but you have to stay flexible to the realities that present themselves on the day. That everything matters: you can drive all your decisions through your theme, what it is you're trying to say, so that the frame can always be packed with information. I got that from Sidney Lumet's 'Making Movies,' but seeing it actually pan out was an eye-opener. That making a movie is easily 100 times harder than you think it is. That we got lucky because we had no weak links. That scheduling is everything. That you have to pick your battles; some things will just not work out, so you have to let them go, but others you have to really fight for, or the movie will suffer. That there's always a solution, so stay calm and stay open, and let some things come to you.
HC: It has a lot to say about awareness of people's state of mind and mental illness, is that what you set out to do?
WW: Not explicitly in regards to mental illness, although the relevance of it, and other things like addiction, were certainly discussed as bigger picture themes, particularly when breaking the movie down for the actors. It was expressly a metaphor for the creative process: exaggerating and bringing to life the pitfalls and dangers and traps, some of the dark, destructive side that tends to come hand in hand with the burning desire to make. But that didn't keep it from being relevant to other experiences. The Maze was Dave's mind-once you're in it, who knows what you'll find!
HC: Its been on the festival circuit, did each city/country react differently to it?
WW: Hard to say... I was lucky enough to attend many of the festivals, but by no means have I been able to gauge every audience. Some of the humour in the wordplay obviously didn't always translate, and the producer just informed me that absolutely no one laughed at any point during a screening in Japan. But it's not necessarily a laugh-out-loud kind of comedy. I was thrilled that people in France, Mexico City, Brazil, Spain, Austria, seemed to connect to the relationship at the heart of the film, as well as its metaphors. Creative types knew it was a movie for them, no matter the country.
HC: You're a man of many talents; do you have a favourite job?
WW: Nothing beats playing bass. If any one of the many bands I was in had taken off back in the day, I'd never be doing what I'm doing now. It just can't be topped.
HC: So, what are you up to at the moment?
WW: Writing scripts and breaking ideas for film and TV, trying to get that next thing made. I directed a couple music videos and a teaser for a TV pilot. Chasing every lead and trying not to become Dave at the beginning of the movie... trying to be more like Dave at the end of the movie.
HC: Bill Watterson, thank you very much.WW: Any time!
Related show tags: GRIMMFEST MORE ARTICLES This June, everything will be Child's Play!
Posted in News, Friday 17th May 2019
Vertigo Releasing has announced the acquisition of theatrical and certain downstream media of Orion Pictures' Child's Play for UK and Ireland. The movie will feature Mark Hamill as the voice of Chucky, along with Aubrey Plaza, Brian Tyree Henry and Gabriel Bateman.
The movie has been produced by David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith under their KatzSmith banner, whose film adaptation of Stephen King's It has earned over $700million worldwide. Aaron Schmidt and Chris Ferguson executive produced the project. The film is directed by new talent Lars Klevberg [director of the forthcoming horror chiller Polaroid], and written by Tyler Burton Smith, based on the original script. Aubrey Plaza stars as a single mother who buys her son A...SHARE: READ MORE Earth - Mostly Harmless according to the The Quintessential Phase
Posted in News, Friday 17th May 2019
The next four BBC Radio episodes of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy will be released on Friday 28th June following the successful release of the first four phases on vinyl earlier this year.The Quintessential Phase vinyl (episodes 23 - 26) is available to pre-order now from Amazon.
First broadcast in 2005, the Quintessential Phase is based upon Douglas Adams's fifth Hitchhiker's novel, Mostly Harmless. This is the first ever publication of the original radio edits of the Quintessential Phase, as heard on their original BBC Radio 4 broadcast.
The brand new first-time vinyl edition comes on heavyweight pink vinyl, packaged in the lavish style of the preceding LP releases with the Am...SHARE: READ MORE Horror will be at MCM Comic Con London 2019, and you could be too!
Posted in Features, News, Friday 17th May 2019
Horror will be at MCM Comic Con London 2019 and you've got the chance to be there too. More details on our Competitions Page.SHARE: READ MORE Brand new interview with Dee Wallace, star of Cujo, The Howling and now Beyond the Sky
Posted in Interviews, Sunday 12th May 2019
Dee Wallace is one of those people who seems to have be around forever and yet never ages in enthusiasm or her ability to bring to life some of cinema's most memorable characters. With a resume that includes E.T., The Hills Have Eyes, Cujo and now Beyond the Sky, we chatted to Dee about her career to date and how she prepares for each acting project.
HC: What made you want to be an actress?
DW: Oh, you know... I was born! (laughs) Seriously, I think creative people are just born to be creative and they have to find an outlet for that. My mother also was a beautiful actress, locally in my hometown and did all the plays at church so I think I naturally found my way into a family that supporte...SHARE: READ MORE Evil has found its superhero. Brand new clips from Brightburn
Posted in News, Saturday 11th May 2019
What if a child from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to mankind, he proved to be something far more sinister?
This is the chilling premise of Brightburn, the anticipated new movie from James Gunn, the visionary filmmaker of the global hit Guardians of the Galaxy and the creature feature Slither.
Brightburn is written by Mark Gunn and Brian Gunn, and has been directed by David Yarovesky.
The cast includes Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones and Meredith Hagner, and has a UK and Ireland release date of 19th June.
To get you into the mood, here are two clips from the movie courtesy of Sony Pictures UK, 'Di...SHARE: READ MORE Growing Things and Other Stories are ready to chill you
Posted in News, Saturday 11th May 2019
Featuring 19 tales, Growing Things and Other Stories is an incredible collection of horror and speculative fiction shorts from an award-winning author that offers a compelling look at the range of his imaginative prose and storytelling.
A chilling collection of psychological suspense and literary horror from multiple award-winning Paul Tremblay's most acclaimed short fiction (many of which are published here in the UK market for the first time), as well as new stories set in the worlds of two of his popular novels. This is a masterful anthology featuring nineteen pieces of short fiction that offer an exciting glimpse into Tremblay's fantastically fertile imagination.
The collecti...SHARE: READ MORE The 10th Doctor rides again... on green vinyl!
Posted in News, Saturday 11th May 2019
ASDA will launch Doctor Who: The Creeping Death starring 10th Doctor David Tennant and Catherine Tate as companion Donna Noble on Friday 24th May 2019 thanks to Demon Records.
The exclusive ASDA title will be released as a Limited Edition run of 1,000 copies on neon green vinyl and will be only available in the UK.
London, 1952, and a deadly smog envelops the capital. But something even more dangerous - and alien - is hiding within the mists. When the Doctor and Donna get lost in the fog, they find a motley group of Londoners trying to make their way home. Soon the stakes are raised as death creeps along fume-choked streets, and not e...SHARE: READ MORE Experience the Terror of Hallow's Eve thanks to FrightFest Presents
Posted in News, Saturday 11th May 2019
Brace yourself for a gore-filled, twisted and chaotic experience; Terror of Hallow's Eve is a nostalgic treat for the eyes, set to become a horror cult classic.
When 15-year-old Tim is brutally beaten up by High School bullies. Yearning for revenge while carving out a pumpkin head, unknowingly he summons up the evil spirit of the hideous Scarecrow. And before long Timmy has unleashed a mighty supernatural force offering to grant his dark desires to scare his hated enemies to death. Be careful what you wish for!
Directed by Todd Tucker and starring Doug Jones, Caleb Thomas, Christian Kane, Juliet Landau, Sarah Lancaster and Eric Roberts, Terror of Ha...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Horror's Channel Manager Stewart Bridle
Posted in Features, Interviews, Friday 10th May 2019 Stewart Bridle is Horror Channel's longest serving Channel Manager. He has guided Horror for almost a decade and has managed to bring to our screens many classics as well as introducing us to some new horror movie talent. In this, our 15th anniversary month we chat to Stewart about his role and some of the juicy pieces he has lined up for the rest of 2019.
HC: Have you always been a horror movie fan?
SB: Yes! I've always been interested and fascinated with horror and all genre stuff. I have an older brother who would manage to rent or get bootleg VHS of some great horror titles and I have memories of watching things like the original Dawn Of The Dead or slashers like The Burning while far too youn...SHARE: READ MORE Horror Bites - Now available on Freesat
Posted in Features, News, Wednesday 8th May 2019
Satellite TV audiences are now able to catch up on their favourite Horror Channel, CBS Reality, CBS Justice and CBS Drama programmes through their Freesat set top boxes as the CBS AMC UK Channels Partnership, a joint venture between AMC Networks International and CBS Studios International, launches Horror Bites and CBS Catchup Channels UK on Freesat, the UK's leading subscription free satellite TV platform.
Freesat viewers can now access content from the CBS UK channels, one of the fastest-growing channel portfolios in the UK, for up to thirty days after broadcast. Viewers can also watch on-demand content in the form of box sets and CBS Reality Original programming such as Ev...SHARE: READ MORE A brief history of Horror
Posted in Features, Friday 3rd May 2019
"Let the nightmares begin..."
It's hard to think that way back in 2004 that there wasn't a TV station dedicated to the darker side of cinema. We all had to make do with DVDs, late night repeats or subscribe to Sky Movies to get our fix of classic and contemporary chills.
The Horror Channel (for that it was called way back) was launched on May 3rd, 2004 on an unsuspecting public. This free-to-air destination for horror fans was filled with some true classics as well as the odd piece of news and some features. After a few months the channel had built up a loyal following and was noticed by a company, Zone Vision Networks Ltd in 2005 and in 2006 the channel was re-...SHARE: READ MORE Black Mirror meets True Detective in an original new novel Green Valley
Posted in News, Thursday 2nd May 2019
If you enjoy your sci-fi mixed with true possibilities then Green Valley by Louis Greenberg, the near future thriller that explores our complicated relationship with technology is for you.
In a city where digital technology was banned years ago, one place stays anchored in the bad old ways: Green Valley, a huge bunker where the inhabitants have retreated into the comfort of full-time virtual reality. But children are being abducted, and when Lucie Sterling's own niece is taken from her home inside Green Valley, Lucie will have to see through the ideal of the virtual world she was taken from to uncover the dark secrets that lurk beneath...
Louis Greenberg deftly explores the impac...SHARE: READ MORE Articles Archive: 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Wednesday 22nd May
Friday 31st May
Thursday 30th May