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 Gary J. Tunnicliffe, writer and director of Hellraiser: Judgement
Posted on Saturday 20th February 2021
Director and long-time Hellraiser franchise SFX artist Gary John Tunnicliffe has a new entry into the Hellraiser series for us all to enjoy, Hellraiser: Judgement. Here he chats about this gritty horror.
HC: Was there one person or film which inspired you to want to be in the effects industry?
GJT: I can't remember one film that directly inspired me to be in the effects industry, it would definitely have been around 1982 (when I was 14) when The Thing AND American Werewolf in London came out (as well as a mass of FX laden movies) but more than anything it was when s...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Chee Keong Cheung, director of Redcon-1
Posted on Wednesday 17th February 2021
Fast-paced British zombie thriller, Redcon-1 will be having its UK TV premiere on Horror on Saturday 20th February so we decided to chat with its writer and director Chee Keong Cheung about this acclaimed movie.
HC: Where did the idea for Redcon-1 come from and are you a fan of zombie movies?
CKC: I'm a huge fan of the zombie genre and in particular, Danny Boyle's '28 Days Later', Zak Snyder's 'Dawn of the Dead' and of course George Romero's original works which helped to pave the way for the genre and was a real inspiration for me growing up. I remember watching 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Black Hawk Down' on TV and had always been drawn to the men on a m...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Scott Reiniger star of the original Dawn of the Dead
Posted on Sunday 15th November 2020
On the eve of a stunning new 4K box set of George A Romero's Dawn of the Dead from Second Sight Films, we chat to one of its stars, Scott Reiniger about this incredible film.
HC: How did you first become involved with Dawn of the Dead?
SR: Well, I was in New York, I was a stage actor in New York and I went to college with Christine Forrest, who later became George's wife and she asked me if I wanted to audition for this film called Dawn of the Dead, she wanted to know if I knew who George Romero was and I said, "Yeah, he was the guy who directed Night of the Living Dead". So, they sent the script over and I read it and it was pr...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Steve Speirs, star of Concrete Plans
Posted on Sunday 1st November 2020
Welsh, Scottish and Ukranian dialects clash in Concrete Plans, a stand-out movie from Will Jewell which has just been released by FrightFest Presents via Signature. Its a super and very dark thriller with an outstanding cast headed up by Steve Speirs. Here he chats about this amazing piece.
Be warned this interview contains some spoilers about the movie. If in doubt watch the movie before reading. You have been warned!
HC: Was there one actor of one film you saw when you were younger that made you want to be an actor?
SS: Oh, I've never been asked that actually. When I started to get into watching films, I'd always wanted to be an actor for as long as I can ...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Shayne Ward, star of The Ascent
Posted on Thursday 22nd October 2020
A special ops team on a mission in a war-torn country find themselves trapped on a never-ending staircase that they must climb - or they die! This is the premise for Tom Paton's superb, action-packed horror The Ascent which is having its UK TV premiere at 9pm on October 23rd. Here its star, Shayne Ward tells all about his career to date and how he became involved in this sci-fi shocker.
HC: How much did the X-Factor change your life?
SW: Oh, like anyone can say who has been on it, who has done well on the show, it does change your life because it catapults you into the limelight, into the public eye. One day you are relatively unknown...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Ryan Kruger, writer and director of Fried Barry
Posted on Sunday 11th October 2020
Anyone who as been to Grimmfest will know that the team behind the event try their very best to bring to their audience films that challenge and push as many envelopes as possible. Fried Barry from director Ryan Kruger is such a movie. Packed with mind-bending imagery and and emotional punch, this polarizing movie has to be seen just for its creativity and strong storytelling. Here, Ryan chats about this incredible movie.
HC: Where did Fried Barry come from?
RK: Fried Barry was born out of total frustration where I was in my career. I am known in South Africa as a music video director for doing narrative story telling within music vids and sharp visuals. Although I al...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Deiondre Teagle, star of Death Ranch
Posted on Sunday 11th October 2020
Grimmfest 2020 is packed with new talent and one actor that stands out is Deiondre Teagle who styars in Charlie Steeds' grindhouse homage, Death Ranch. Here Deiondre explains his role and what it was like being part of such a bold movie.
HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to be an actor?
DT: I've definitely known my whole life I've wanted to be an actor. One of my favourite movies of all time is the original Men In Black. When I was little (about 3 or 4 years old), I would re-watch my VHS copy of that movie over and over and over again. I would re-enact every scene. Since then, my love for acting and film has just grown. I have such a love for the...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Faith Monique, star of Death Ranch
Posted on Sunday 11th October 2020
Grimmfest 2020 is packed with world premieres and none so bold as Charlie Steed's Death Ranch. We chatted to one of its main stars, Faith Monique about her role in this brutal and brilliant movie.
HC: Was there one person you saw at a young age who inspired you to want to become an actress?
FM: Funny fact, I grew up without a TV! So, at a young age, I never had an actor that inspired me and to this day I still don't. Acting did not become a dream of mine until 2016 and for inspiration, I like to dig deep into my own soul to find truth to bring into each character.
HC: Are you a big fan of horror movies and were you aware of grindhouse and e...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Charlie Steeds, writer and director of Death Ranch
Posted on Saturday 10th October 2020
Horror movies and controversy always go hand in hand but when they tackle serious issues by using extreme violence to hammer home a point they can be very worthy. Death Ranch from Charlie Steeds is having its world premiere at Grimmfest so we chatted to him about this very strong movie.
HC: What inspired you to write Death Ranch?
CS: I'd always wanted to try making a movie with a 70s Grindhouse/Exploitation style and was watching old Grindhouse trailers for inspiration. I came across the movie Brotherhood of Death, where black characters fight back against the KKK for some of the film (the tagline is 'Watch these brothers stick it to the Klan!') and that conce...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Nicholas Santos, writer and director of It Cuts Deep
Posted on Saturday 10th October 2020
At Grimmfest we're used to comedy horror but none as well written as It Cuts Deep from writer/director Nicholas Santos. Here he chats about this true dissection of a romance going terribly wrong.
HC: Have you always been a big horror fan?
NS: I've been a big horror fan since I was a little kid. Some of my favourite childhood memories are seeing Event Horizon with my dad when I was in second grade, being absolutely terrified by Chucky from Child's Play at every waking moment and watching Psycho for the first time on VHS when I was 7 years old.
HC: Where did the idea for It Cuts Deep come from and did it take long to write?
NS: It Cuts Deep is a hor...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Robert Woods, director of An Ideal Host
Posted on Saturday 10th October 2020
Ever had the dinner party from Hell with people you don't really relate to and seem alien? Well this is the premise of the the hilarious horror comedy An Ideal Host from director Robert Woods. Here he tells Horror about this cracking movie.
HC: What did you think of the script when you first read it and what made you decide that this would be your first project as a director?
RW: Tyler and I had been writing theatre together for a decade, but movies are our first love and we wanted to give it a crack as well. Tyler came up with the initial idea but we worked on the story together and it evolved a great deal from the initial pitch. As it was my first time directing, I think we were j...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Chad Ferrin, writer and director of The Deep Ones
Posted on Friday 9th October 2020
H.P. Lovecraft's influence on horror cinema is immeasurable and continues to this very day. In fact, today at Grimmfest a movie called The Deep Ones is showing so we asked its writer and director Chad Ferrin and how the great man himself has influenced his work.
HC: When was the first time you heard or read anything by or about HP Lovecraft?
CF: My parents worked nights, so the television was my babysitter. I must have been around six years old when I saw an episode of Rod Serling's Night Gallery called "Pickman's Model". Seeing that monster carrying off Louise Sorel terrified me beyond belief and seared the name H.P. Lovecraft into my...SHARE: READ MORE Interviews Archive: 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Sunday 16th May
Sunday 9th May
Wednesday 12th May