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 Andy Nyman about his role in the classic TV version of The Woman in Black
Posted on Sunday 9th August 2020
Andy Nyman is one of the most popular and hardworking actors working today. From thrillers to chillers, from comedy to drama, Andy can turn his hand to any genre. Thanks to Network Releasing we are able to appreciate his first ever TV appearance as they release a remastered version of the acclaimed television adaptation of The Woman in Black. We chatted to Andy about his role in this legendary piece.
HC: Let's chat about this TV version of The Woman in Black, was it one of your first ever roles very first TV role?
AN: That was my very first TV role, I was 23, the same age my son is now. It is a shock, isn't it? I was like, when I saw it ...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Airell Hayles writer and co-director of They're Outside
Posted on Saturday 1st August 2020
FrightFest is once again on the horizon but this time, due to global events the event has become a virtual experience with all films being accessed online. Horror is once again sponsoring the First Blood strand of the event. Here we chat to Airell Hayles whose movie They're Outside mixes found footage and pagan horror genres to great effect.
HC: Where did the idea for They're Outside come from?
AH: This idea for They're Outside came from a couple of things. I remember as a kid hearing that my uncle suffered mild agoraphobia, and when I learned what it was, I was fascinated by this idea of some people being kind of scared to leave their homes. Of course, the recent Covid-19 events h...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Fionn and Toby Watts, directors of Playhouse
Posted on Saturday 1st August 2020
FrightFest is once again on the horizon but this time, due to global events the event has become a virtual experience with all films being accessed online. Horror is once again sponsoring the First Blood strand of the event. Here we chat to talented brothers Fionn and Toby Watts who have delivered a gothic, creepy piece named Playhouse.
HC: Was there one film or person who influenced or inspired you to become film makers?
FW: As a young boy I remember being absolutely blown away by the image of The Terminator's exo-skeleton rising from the flames. Around the same time I saw Candyman at a sleepover (rented by my friend's 'older' brother...) and it was such an i...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Tony and Ryan Smith co-writers of Volition.
Posted on Tuesday 7th July 2020
FrightFest 2019 delivered some amazing movies and one of the best was Volition from the talented brothers Tony and Ryan Smith. Now that the movie has been unleashed onto Apple TV, Prime Video and other Digital Platforms we chatted to them about this acclaimed movie and their plans for the future.
HC: You both hail from South Africa, what's the movie industry like in that country at the moment?
TDS: I believe the South African film industry is very healthy and it's a place Ryan and I would love to revisit and make a movie about. I have a number of filmmaker friends who film there and absolutely love the people, the scenery and the incredible crews.
HC: Did you know from an...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Adam Green, director of Victor Crowley
Posted on Wednesday 13th May 2020
Ahead of Horror Channel's UK TV premiere of Adam Green's Victor Crowley, the great director shares his personal tragedies, George Romero's inspirational words, the importance of genre comedy and hints that the Bayou Butcher may rise again...
HC: Adam, you're back on Horror Channel with your latest Hatchet instalment, Victor Crowley. Excited?
AG: I'm always thrilled to hear that another one of my films will be playing on the UK's Horror Channel! It's crazy to think that the US hasn't had a horror specific television channel in 6 years now, only horror themed subscription platforms like Shudder. Then again - look at the real life horror we're dealing with here as far as our current President goes...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Lukas Feigelfeld, director of Hagazussa
Posted on Friday 17th April 2020
The themes of witchcraft and the occult are making a bit of a come back at the moment. Movies such as The Witch and Midsommer have brought the genre back into focus and now Hagazussa from writer/director Lukas Feigelfeld takes the genre to another, even darker level. Here he chats about this incredibly atmospheric movie which is being released on May 11th thanks to Arrow Video.
HC: Where did the idea for Hagazussa come from and how long did it take to write?
LF: I had been living with the idea of doing something witch and folklore related for many years. Part of my family originates from this particular area in the Austrian Alps, and from a young age on I was greatly fascin...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with actor Nicholas Vince star of Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II
Posted on Monday 30th March 2020
Fridays in April on Horror will deliver to you three of the most viscous and acclaimed horror movies ever made, Hellraiser, Hellraiser II: Hellbound and Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth. One of the stars of the first two movies was Nicholas Vince who brought so much to the character of "Chatterer".
Here he, err, chats to Horror about how he become involved in such memorable movies and his plans for the future.
(Photo credit Dawson James Photography)
HC: When did you first meet Clive Barker?
NV: I met him at a party in May 1984. We got on well and he invited me to model for him; for his painted covers of the first UK hardback editions of his Books of Blood.
HC: What...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Jen and Sylvia Soska, directors of Vendetta
Posted on Thursday 19th March 2020 Vengeance Season on Horror contains the UK TV premiere of Vendetta, the superb all-male maelstrom of mayhem from Jen and Sylvia Soska. We chatted to these incredible talented creatives about this action-packed thriller and what they have planned for the future.
HC: Have you always been wrestling fans and if so, when growing up, who were your faves?
Sylvia: We got introduced to wrestling during the epic Kane brother storyline during the Undertaker and Heartbreak Kid feud that led to the first ever Hell in a Cell. I mean after that kind of an introduction; how doesn't the magic of wrestling have your heart for the rest of your life? If it isn't obvious, I'm a Shawn Michaels fan.
Jen: Und...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Julien Seri, director of Anderson Falls
Posted on Tuesday 18th February 2020
Ahead of the UK premiere of serial killer thriller Anderson Falls at Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2020, director Julien Seri reflects on this, his first 'American' experience, challenging fight scenes and the importance of personal vision.
It has been five years since we premiered Night Fare at FrightFest London, what have you been up to since then?
JS: I worked on two, very singular, projects as a producer and/or director. I signed for both with Wild Bunch, but we've failed to produce them yet. So I keep fighting. And I did a lot of commercials, TV series and music videos.
When did you first hear about the Anderson Falls script and why did you think it was perfect for yo...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Adam Stovall, director of A Ghost Waits
Posted on Sunday 9th February 2020
Ahead of the World premiere of A Ghost Waits at Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2020, director Adam Stovall reflects on getting through depression, creating paranormal romance and the influence of Tom Waits...
You have an interesting CV - from comedy theatre and film journalism to writing for The Hollywood Reporter and second assistant directing. Was all this a game plan to becoming a fully-fledged director?
AS: I've known since I was a little kid sitting in the basement watching the network TV premiere of Back To The Future while holding my Back To The Future storybook and waiting for them to premiere the first footage from Back To The Future 2 during a commercial br...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Simeon Halligan, director of Habit
Posted on Sunday 9th February 2020
Simeon Halligan is one of the busiest people working in the industry today. Writer, director, producer, director of celebrated film festival Grimmfest, in fact the list goes on.
His latest film is the neon tinged, blood-splattered masterpiece Habit which is showing on Horror February 14th so we thought we should get the story on how he brought this shocker to the big screen.
HC: When did you first become aware of the book by Stephen McGeagh to which Habit is based?
SH: I read the book a couple of years back and really liked it. A combination of gritty realism and dark fantasy; set within a very recognisable Manchester. There's a juxtaposition in the book; from a kind of soc...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Jackson Stewart, director of Beyond The Gates
Posted on Wednesday 22nd January 2020
Jack Stewart's sublime retro horror Beyond the Gates was recently shown on Horror. Jackson is one of the strongest creatives around at the moment but he took time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about this contemporary classic and his future movie plans.
HC: Was there one film that you saw growing up which gave you the idea that you wanted to work in the film industry?
JS: There were definitely a number of them; I think the ones that stick out strongest in my memory were Temple Of Doom, Batman '89, Nightmare On Elm Street 4, Raising Arizona, Back To The Future, Marnie, Army Of Darkness, The Frighteners and Dirty Harry. All of them had a big emotional impact on me. Dirty Har...SHARE: READ MORE Interviews Archive: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Wednesday 26th August
Sunday 23rd August
Wednesday 26th August