Q1. During the screening of "100 Feet", the audience was thoroughly engaged in Marnie's experience. How important is it for you to watch a screening of your film with an audience? Have you ever gone back and re-edited scenes after viewing a film with an audience, or have your instincts always served you reliably the first time out?
ER: I always test preview my films with an audience to see if the story is working the way it should. You know just by sitting with the audience when the pace is right and when it's not, when the screams and laughs are in the right places and useful tweaks in the cutting always result.
I reshot the ending of "BODY PARTS" because the ending where the killer survived with a broken neck in a wheelchair in a sanitarium for the rest of his days was intellectually chilling but didn't give the audience the visceral catharsis they needed. They wanted Jeff Fahey to blow his frigging head off, so that's what I went back and reshot. In an exploitation film, the audience wants the good guy to kill the bad guy in the harshest terms, and you can't outmart yourself.
Q2. Did you write "100 Feet" with Famke Janssen in mind? Do you ever write scripts to fit a particular actor?
ER: No, never thought of Famke. It's better to write the character organically with his or her own voice and find an actor who fits later. The only role I ever wrote specifically for an actor was the Ghost in "100 FEET" because I knew Michael Paré had the presence and could act viscerally without dialogue, which the role required.
Q3. "Do Not Disturb" is creepy and hilarious! I love the ending! Any chance you might turn it into a short film?
ER: I recently finished a horror anthology screenplay and the episodes are five of my horror short stories. One of the episodes is in fact "Do No Disturb." I wrote that story on the plane flying back from NYC. I'd attended a con and stayed at a seedy New Jersey hotel where I noticed all the Do Not Disturb signs and got the idea.
Q4. Your ending for "The Guns of Santa Sangre" really makes me want to know what will happen at the next full moon! The cover art is great. Will there ever be actual printed copies available? Are you planning more serial novels?
ER: I hope to publish "THE GUNS OF SANTA SANGRE" in a collection of horror short stories, which I'm completing now. Some of them have already been published. "IN THE MIX" was in the "DARK DELICACIES III: HAUNTED" book anthology that just came out. "THE BUZZARD" is in the fall Weird Tales Magazine and Cemetery Dance Magazine is publishing "COLORBLIND" in one of the next issues.
As a sidenote, I've probably got more satisfaction as a writer out of these tales than any screenplay I've written. What's great about prose is there is nothing between you and the reader. A movie script needs cameras, actors, sets, editing music and all this other stuff to be realized. In fiction, the reader supplies their own pictures. When you finish writing a script it's just the beginning, but when you finish writing a story or book, it's done.
And no, no plans for further online internet serials like the one we did on AITH at JoBlo.com It was something I thought would be a fun experiment and we had a lot of fun doing it.
Q5. "Bad Moon" had so much more than just horror. How much of your story came straight from the original book, and how much developed from your own perception and after Michael Paré and the dog established a certain rapport? (Who was really the alpha dog there?)
ER: It's a family tale and a horror film with heart. I have to say the entire story and the whole theme was out of the book, except that the book was told from inside the dog's head and the family had more characters. The conflict came from a family pet whose unconditional love for his family is tested having to protect his pack from a family member who has become a werewolf, or another dog. That's what interested me about the project. I'd never seen it before.
Paré really supplied that animal magnetism and I love his scenes with the dog who had plenty of raw primal force of his own. They had chemistry alright.
Q6. Here is a question I would like to ask someone who has written about werewolves more than once: Why do the victims always wait and watch the werewolf change? Why don't your cowboys shoot while the darn things are transforming? As soon as the fangs start growing before their eyes or the bones start cracking, they should be shooting!
ER: That's hilarious and you just pointed out a classic cliché that I fell into there. I think in movies that characters stand around gawking during the transformation so the filmmakers can show off the special effects, and I confess to going for the literary equivalent in "GUNS OF SANTA SANGRE." But you scored a legitimate point. There should be a scene like in "RAIDERS" where somebody starts to change into a werewolf and the hero just goes "screw that" and shoots him with a silver bullet mid-transformation. That would be funny.
Q7. Have you gone back and been a mentor for student film makers or screenwriters at AFI? Have you considered teaching?
ER: I would love to. Haven't been asked.
Q8. Your scriptwriting tips blog is very helpful. Will you still be posting the follow-up blog you mentioned, where you talk about "high concept and how if you can't tell your story in three to four sentences, you don't have it"? I am looking forward to reading it!
ER: Yes, will be doing more screenwriting tips on the blog in the near future.
Q9. Michael Paré's fans hope to see him play a hero in an action thriller again! You mentioned that you promised to make him the good guy next time. Anything in the works at this time?
ER: A few things, but it's too early to talk about them. Next time, he will be a good guy for sure though. He's a good guy in real life.