Angela Bettis, Cameron Cloutier, Comedy, Coming of Age, Director, Drama, Filmmaker, Horror, Interview, Jack Ketchum, Lucky McKee, Masters of Horror, May, Pollyanna McIntosh, Scary, Showtime, Sick, Sick Girl, The Woman, Twisted
My interview with filmmaker, Lucky McKee (“May” and “Sick Girl”).
Cameron: Your acclaimed new film, “The Woman,” sounds very ambitious. How did this project come about and what are some of the underlying themes?
Lucky McKee: The Woman came about as a result of a previous film entitled OFFSPRING which was written by Jack Ketchum, directed by Andrew van den Houten and starred Pollyanna McIntosh. I was so impressed with what Polly did in that film it gave me an idea of how to continue the story in an unconventional way. To take the villain of the previous film and turn her into the victim was very interesting to me. So we just went for it. I co-wrote the script and book with Ketchum and Andrew produced with Polly starring yet again.
Cameron: You are known for confronting horror through the eyes of strong female protagonists. Where do you think you get that from? What inspirations do you draw from?
Lucky McKee: I admire women. I’ve known and know many great ones in my life. I work well with actresses. Guess I’m just going with what works. I pull inspiration from anywhere I can get it.
Cameron: Between projects, how do you keep yourself creative? Do you take some time off and then attempt to climb another mountain or are you constantly brainstorming projects awaiting the next one to take off?
Lucky McKee: There’s always tons of stories to tell. It is very hard to readjust between films. It’s easy to finish a script and move on to the next one, but with a film it gets harder and harder for me. I try to put all the collected knowledge I have into any film and when it comes to an end, I have no gas left in the tank. So I start watching a lot of films, reading a lot and just listen to my gut and when it says I’m ready for the next one. One nice thing is that I get to travel with a completed film, and traveling is always a nice way to re-energize the brain. Eventually the traveling gets too tiring and I want the comfort of my cave and that’s when the writing comes.
Cameron: Now that you have made (and acted) in several films, has the process become any easier or are there still difficulties? How do you keep yourself focused?
Lucky McKee: You keep yourself focused by sticking to what you believe in. You have to be insistent, but you also have to be realistic in terms of your resources. As far as I’m concerned, even in the low budget world, there is no such thing as compromise. If you can’t get the ten shots you planned to get that day, then you damn well better come up with two or three shots that are better for the story than your original outlook.
Cameron: What is your creative process like when you are writing? Do you keep rigorous hours or are you more of a stream of consciousness writer? Is the plot entirely mapped out beforehand?
Lucky McKee: It depends on the project. Sometimes I outline and outline, other times I have a vague idea of where I’m going and I feel my way through. Some scripts like ROMAN were written in a matter of days, others takes years.
Cameron: You definitely had yourself a nice one, two punch with “May” and then “Sick Girl.” Did those two great experiences blindside you to the difficulties you would soon find on “The Woods?” Can you discuss some of the challenges you faced on that production and how you learned from it?
Lucky McKee: Well, that’s the order they were released, but I made The Woods right after May. It was just a protracted process with the studio changing hands every other week. The biggest thing I learned is to never abandon you film no matter how hard you’re getting beat up. If hadn’t stayed with The Woods all the way through, it would have been watered down to nothing. There are a lot of flourishes I wish were still in the film and I wish they didn’t cut me short on the special effects needed for the ending, but I did the best I could do for a 27 year old making his first studio film.
Cameron: At the beginning of your film, “May,” it begins with a frightening image of the main character screaming and holding her eye. Was that always how the script began? Or were you (and producers) worried that the initial tone of the first hour would keep away the horror crowd unless you let them know right off the bat that terrible things were going to happen?
Lucky McKee: That moment was discovered in the editing process. Sure, it functions the way you are describing. It’s also a nod to Nirvana. A scream that says, “Hey. I’m here. And life hurts.”
Cameron: What are you like during the editorial process? What are your favorite/least favorite parts about the filmmaking process?
Lucky McKee: I wouldn’t do this job if I had a least favorite part of the process. It’s when the process is over that I feel empty inside. During editing, I fart around on the computer a lot, going over footage, cutting a few scenes myself, but ultimately I find a good cutter such as Zach Passero and tell him what I was thinking when shooting and he puts it together and we go over it together until it feels right.
Cameron: I just have to ask. Your first project, “All Cheerleaders Die” has become legendary? Any chance of it being released on dvd or as a bonus feature to one of your existing films? Perhaps a “May” blu ray?
Lucky McKee: I hope we do release it someday. It’s really fun!
Cameron: Have you decided what your next project is going to be? If so, what is it about?
Lucky McKee: I have decided, but I can’t talk about it! Don’t want to spoil the surprise!
Cameron: Lucky, it’s always wonderful to touch base with you. Good luck with your latest film.
Lucky McKee: Cheers.