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 INTERVIEWS Interview with Paul Davis, director of Uncanny Annie
Posted on Wednesday 16th October 2019
Ahead of the International premiere of Uncanny Annie at Arrow Video FrightFest Halloween 2019, director Paul Davis reflects on working for Blumhouse, bemoans attitudes to British genre film funding and reveals the movies that inspire him the most...
HC: Tell us how Uncanny Annie came about?
PD: Uncanny Annie is my second movie for Blumhouse as part of Hulu's Into The Dark movie series. I had the opportunity to actually kick off last October with a feature adaptation of my short film The Body (which had its world premiere at FF in 2013). The concept was to release a movie a month, for twelve months, with each revolving around a holiday or particular day for the month of its released. With The Bod...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Lars Klevberg, director of Child's Play (2019)
Posted on Thursday 10th October 2019 It was the remake everyone was against! The interweb was ablaze with negativity but director Lars Klevberg and his team managed to pull off one of the best horror movies of 2019. Here he chats about the smart shocker, Child's Play.
HC: How nervous were you taking on a re-imagining of such a beloved concept and franchise?
LK: I was in fact very nervous the minute I signed on to do the movie. Before that, I worked relentlessly for weeks to get the job, but immediately after getting it my body had a very stressful reaction. I was fully aware of the legacy I was about to re-open so, I didn't sleep one minute that night.
HC: W...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Chris Bavota, co-director of Dead Dicks
Posted on Sunday 6th October 2019
Horror is the perfect genre for getting across very serious issues. Dead Dicks, which is showing at Grimmfest today does exactly that by looking at the sensitive subject of mental health. Here co-director Chris Bavota talks about this intriguing movie.
HC: How did you and co-writer and co-director Lee Paula Springer first meet?
CB: In case people don't know, Lee and I have been married for almost 10 years and we have 2 young daughters. Making movies somehow came as a natural evolution of that but wasn't really a part of our lives until about three or four years ago. We originally met back around 2004 through a mutual friend and honestly, we didn't really ge...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Robi Michael, writer and director of Every Time I Die
Posted on Saturday 5th October 2019
Grimmfest 2019 is well underway and one of the stand out movies so far has been Every Time I Die from director Robi Michael. Here he chats about this gripping movie.
HC: Was there one person or movie that you saw that made you want to be a director?
RM: Hard to think of one person or movie, because as long as I remember, it was clear to me that all I want to do is make movies - I was in love with films and decided to pursue it from a very early age. I was too young to realized what it takes to make movies or what is the job of a director. I can say that an early big influence in story telling is the legendary graphic novel writer, Alan Moore. Books like "Watchmen" and "V for...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Tom Botchii, director of Artik
Posted on Wednesday 2nd October 2019
Grimmfest 2019 begins tomorrow and Horror will be there bringing you news of all that happens as well as three Facebook Live events on the 4th, 5th and 6th of October.
One of the movies showing is Artik from director Tom Botchii so we chatted to him about this superb, brutal shocker.
HC: Where did the idea for Artik come from?
TB: The idea of Artik came from two things - 1) Getting my car broken into and seeing the initials A-T-K tagged on the wall behind it. When discussing with police they said that stands for a local gang member named ARTIK and when he spray paints ATK it means that you're marked and he or one of the other gang members is coming back to brea...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Rob Grant, director of Harpoon
Posted on Monday 30th September 2019
Grimmfest 2019 is only days away and Horror Channel will be there delivering all the info you'd want from this fear-filled festival as well as bringing to you three Facebook Live events on 4th, 5th and 6th October.
Here we chat to Grimmfest regular Rob Grant about his superior psychological shocker Harpoon which is showing at the festival this year.
HC: It's been a couple of years since we last chatted when Fake Blood played at Grimmfest, what have you been up to since then?
RG: Been very busy... was a director for hire on Alive. that I unfortunately had to miss at last year's Grimmfest due to an illness in the family, made Harpoon and been travelling around ...SHARE: READ MORE Brand new interview with Dee Wallace, star of Cujo, The Howling and now Beyond the Sky
Posted on 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 Interview with Horror's Channel Manager Stewart Bridle
Posted on 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 Interview with exploitation legend David McGillivray
Posted on Wednesday 24th April 2019 Ahead of Horror Channel's premiere of Pete Walker's Schizo on April 27th, horror and sexploitation movie writer/director David McGillivray reflects on disastrous scripts, his volatile relationship with Walker and writing smut for Julian Clary.
Q: Schizo is unusual in your body of work with director Pete Walker because the concept and narrative were not of your choosing. How much of a problem was that for you?
DM: Huge. I thought the script that we re-worked was terribly old-fashioned and this led to big arguments with Walker that ended our relationship.
Q: You often play a cameo in the movies you've written - you're 'Man at Seance' in Schizo. Any particular reason?
DM:...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Abner Pastoll, director of Road Games
Posted on Thursday 21st March 2019
Horror Channel loves to promote new talent in the industry and one of the most exciting new directors around is Abner Pastoll. His first feature, Road Games, is an adrenaline packed killer of a thriller which is showing on the channel on March 22nd at 9pm. We decided to chat to Abner about this tense movie and his plans for the future.
HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to work in the film industry?
AP: Yes. I remember being as young as 4 or 5 and just knowing with such clarity that I needed to make films. My family had a cinema, drive-in and video store, all of which certainly enhanced my obsession with movies of all shapes and sizes.
HC: Was there one film t...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Zach Lipovsky, director of Leprechaun: Origins.
Posted on Thursday 28th February 2019
On March 1st, Horror is bringing you the UK TV premiere of a real corker of a shocker, Leprechaun: Origins. The movie follows two couples backpacking through the Irish countryside who end up spending the night in an old cabin, and learn the terrible truth about Ireland's most famous legend. So begins a living nightmare... The movie is a smart entry into the franchise so we decided to chat to its director, Zach Lipovsky.
HC: Did you know from an early age that you wanted to work in this industry?
ZL: Yes, I grew up as a child actor. Mostly as an excuse to be on set and not at school. I was quickly more interested in making movies than acting and from the age of 10 started shooting silly pro...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Tom Paton, director of Redwood
Posted on Monday 4th February 2019
Ahead of Horror Channel's UK TV premiere of Redwood, director Tom Paton reveals the secrets of his prolific work-rate, talks about tackling the subject of fake news and the twists and turns of his new film Stairs.
HC: Redwood gets its UK TV premiere on Friday 8 February, courtesy of Horror Channel. Excited or what?
TP: Honestly, I'm so proud that Redwood has made its way onto Horror Channel. I've been a huge fan since the channel launched and over the past decade I've discovered so many horror gems on there from classic through to films I'd never heard of but now love. It feels incredible to know that someone might discover Redwood in the exact same way.
HC: Is it true y...SHARE: READ MORE Interviews Archive: 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Wednesday 30th October
Tuesday 29th October
Saturday 26th October