When it comes to “Scream” fandom, it doesn’t get much bigger than directors Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and producer Chad Villella, who are collectively known as Radio Silence. Talking to them, even for a few moments, it is very clear that there simply isn’t anyone else who could have brought this new “Scream” to life.
The team, who last worked on the wonderful locked-door horror thriller “Ready or Not,” talked with TheWrap about what it was like working on their dream project, attempting to sway the legacy cast members to come on board the new film, and reproducing the special formula that made the initial films so special, only without director Wes Craven (who passed away in 2015) and screenwriter Kevin Williamson (who was an executive producer; the new script was handled by James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick). Oh, and we get their thoughts on “The Last Jedi” too!
We’ll have more from our chat with the Radio Silence team, including digging into all those juicy spoiler details, very soon!
What was it like embarking on this journey?
Tyler Gillett: Yes, it was equal parts, terrifying and exciting. I think, it’s been an out body experience since we read the script for the first time in the top of 2020, it was just. And honestly, it started with hearing that that Jamie and Guy, who are two close friends, were writing it. This was before we were even involved. It was like, holy shit another “Scream” movie is coming out.
How much of the central idea was there and how much did you guys work on developing it? What was that initial screenplay like versus the final movie?
Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: The initial screenplay was very close…
Tyler Gillett: “Scream”-play.
Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: To what you saw. The story did not change. There were some scenes that got cut in post just for flow. And during the process of making it, as on every movie, just in production, you end up moving things around, figuring things out to make it work on the schedule, etc. But the story they wrote, that we read in February 2020 is what you’re seeing. And the other great thing about Guy and Jamie is that we are such good friends with them that throughout the process of making the movie we’re in constant communication. So whenever we have something that’s not quite working, we can bounce it off of them. They’ll send us something great right away. It’s just a very collaborative process the whole time.
There was an interview with Neve from 2020 where she talks about you guys writing her a letter. How touch-and-go was it, in terms of securing the returning cast members?
Tyler Gillett: It was pretty touch and go. I think we felt confident ultimately that they were going to sign on because what was on the page to us was just such a tribute to those characters while also being like the kind of perfect way to drop us back in the story of their lives 10 years later. I think we simultaneously had all the confidence in the world in this script. And what the blueprint was and how much it was resonating with us. We knew that it had to be and would ultimately, I think, resonate with anybody who read it that understood the “Scream” movies, but there’s also just a reality to schedules and all of that. And then also just the reality to the emotional weight of what these movies are for the legacy cast.
They came up as part of a family that Wes and Kevin built. And so to not have him around, I think also just gave everyone a moment of hesitation about, what could it be without his fingerprint? And so, I think for us it was really our job to let them all know that what we were setting out to make was something that was in every way influenced by Wes and Kevin and our love of their work and our love of the legacy cast and we have a real desire to carry the torch in a humble, generous way and not just pull the rug out from under what this franchise was, but to really do it justice and to really approach the whole process with a lot of love and a lot of fandom at the end of the day.
About that mixture of reverence and reinvention, did you reach out to any other key collaborators from those initial movies? And how did you achieve the alchemy of respecting what came before but not coming across like a bad imitation?
Chad Villella: That’s a fantastic question and I think it all starts with the script. And what Guy and Jamie brought to the script. And then when we come on board, we did reach out to Patrick Lussier who was Wes’ editor on the original “Scream” just to try to get into their mindset a little bit for what they did with the first movie.
And one of the things that Patrick told us that Wes always said is I want them to feel like they’re in the hands of a madman. And obviously with that opening, which is like one of the best movie openings of all time with Drew Barrymore. He quickly established that fear that any character could go at any time. And I think that’s something that we definitely wanted to approach ours with. And throughout the entire process, I think relying on the history of everything that is “Scream” was so vital to us. There were four movies before this and we are the biggest fans, not only us, but both the producers and the writers and everybody are huge “Scream” fans. It is fans making another “Scream” movie. We dove into the history of all four films and plucked the things that we thought would be great to include in this movie.
And then also challenged ourselves to build on that. Like you were saying, you don’t want to just pay homages and do Easter eggs and things. You need to build on it and you need to introduce new characters that fans of the franchise are going to love and hopefully respond to in a personal way, that is of the time now that they’re watching this. I think that’s all those elements are part of what we wanted to think about while we were going into making this and just opening up where the franchise is now and where it can go.
Was there any trepidation?
Chad Villella: I would say nothing but trepidation. I don’t know if it’s still here. It definitely is, obviously, leading up to this weekend. Also, again, this goes back to my answer earlier a little bit, we’re huge fans of all things “Scream.” So like, A) the opportunity presented itself for us to get on board and work with everybody on it. And we’re like, “yes, we have to.” And then through the entire process, we’re like, “holy shit, I can’t believe they’re letting us make a ‘Scream’ movie.” And then, even while we were in production, we’re like, “oh my God, we’re making a ‘Scream’ movie.” And now, a day out from release or that, I guess it releases tonight, it’s, wait what’s happening. It is actually is a “Scream” movie. It’s no big prank from the universe. We did this. We went can-
Tyler Gillett: Can’t unmake it now.
Chad Villella: Can’t can undo it now. I mean obviously all nerves, all love, all respect to taking on something like this. That means the world to so many fans out there including us.
Tyler Gillett: It’s just a unique experience just to have an audience already aware of the thing before it ever is introduced to the world. I think the day this project announced there were more people aware of it than were ever aware of “Ready or Not.” That’s a wild thing to know like, oh, we have to carry a couple of really specific buckets. One that is going to please people who are die-hard fans like we are, but also one that hopefully is going to introduce new audience members to the “Scream” franchise, but also the horror genre, which is of course what the original “Scream” did for us. There were really two responsibilities at all times, which is a just very unique experience for us. And it’s our first time with something of this scale.
How secretive were you about the screenplay? Was there an actual attempt to conceal parts of the script from the cast or was that just to keep up with the legacy of these movies?
Tyler Gillett: I think it ended up being mostly about us just having fun. I think if you ask the cast to give you an honest answer, I think they would all tell you, “yeah, we knew what the movie was,” because certain people had scripts and other people didn’t.
I think that there was a level of subterfuge we were trying to design, and shocker, they’re all great actors. They had us convinced that they didn’t know, but I think they probably knew. But everyone was really down for the cause. I think that was one of the fun things that that illuminated was just how much the cast was interested in the process offscreen. That the idea of making a “Scream” movie, the methodology of it is a unique part of what these movies are. And it’s part of the experience. Like outside of just showing up on set and doing your job in front of the camera, the offscreen story of how these movies get made is a part of the lore of what the franchise is. And everyone was just so down to be a part of that and to make new memories. It was a big part of what was just fun about the experience off set with everyone.
Supposedly you’ve been very elusive about this but considering it gets called out in “Scream,” it begs to be asked: what’d you think of “The Last Jedi?”
Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: Honestly though, I feel like nobody’s asked us that. Is everybody asked us that?
Tyler Gillett: We got asked it during the junket.
Chad Villella: Once.
Tyler Gillett: I love “The Last Jedi.” I am a fucking believer. I believe in its risks. I love the chances it takes. I am a fan.
Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: I think it’s the risk that makes it special, right? The stuff that’s caused the uproar is exactly what makes it special. Whether or not you like the movie, that’s what makes it so special is it’s taking risk. It’s trying something new. And I think it’s such a wonderful companion piece to “Force Awakens,” which does, and I don’t mean this in any way as a negative, I love “Force Awakens.” But it plays it safe. It plays it very much like, you remember this movie? Here it is again-
Tyler Gillett: Comfortable pair of slippers.
Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: And it’s new and have fun. And I love that comfortable pair of slippers. And then I love that in the second one, Rian Johnson was like, now let’s fuck with all of that and see how you feel. And that’s just so exciting.
Tyler Gillett: But what’s so fun is that, and I think that hopefully this is evident in the movie, is that we’re a part of that conversation, right? Like we’re fans and for as much as it’s calling out and I think trying to define the line between having an opinion and the expression of that opinion being dangerous, we consider ourselves a part of those fandoms. For as much as I think we’re exploring, that we’re also talking about ourselves.
Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: It was the thing we talked about on the movie. Like the whole process, we had this weird meta conversation with each other about what the movie’s about while we are literally fans making the new movie of a franchise. We had to put a lot of thought into it, you know, and make sure that we were taking it seriously.
“Scream” is in theaters everywhere right now.