Spotlight On: Todd Farmer (Screenwriter)

Todd interviewed by Bec Stafford.

 

1. Todd, you’re running a 2-day writing master class at the Gold Coast Film Festival. Who were your writing role models, and what would be the #1 tip you’d give an aspiring screenwriter?

Role model was without hesitation Stephen King.  Granted my influence was with his prose but also, writer’s write.  King’s ability to take everyday people and drop them into extraordinary circumstances had set him apart from all other horror writers and most  genre writers.  Plus he writes 362 days of the year.  Writer’s write.  That is the number one tip.  Stop planning.  Stop dreaming.  Write!  It’s easy to say I want to be a writer.  It’s easy to say I’m going to be a writer.  Get thee behind me, speech-maker!  Write!

2. Your first film, Jason X, was the 10th instalment in the Friday the 13th series. Were you a fan of the franchise before you got on-board? What are your favourite elements of the Friday the 13th story?

I was a fan of all horror.  I always leaned toward Halloween because I found that film was more believable and to be more disturbing.  BUT the Friday franchise had offensively in your face gore as well as fun.  Any movie that opens with Jason inside the James Bond opening wins my eternal love.  The F13 franchise could be both scary and fun.  And that has stuck with me through all my writing.

3. What is the greatest challenge about writing horror scripts and what is your favourite aspect of writing in the horror genre? Were you always a horror fan?

If you love and if you find beauty in the world then writing horror should be easy.  You simply write about what you fear losing.  As for a special challenge with horror, I think it’s the same challenge with any writing.  Your characters should be real.  They should follow their wants and desires rather than the wants and desires of the writer.  Ever watched a movie where the character does something completely out of character or simply dumb?  That act, 9 times out of 10 was to serve some needed purpose of the writer.  Not a fan of that.  And yes, I’m aware that some of the fun in horror is yelling at the screen telling the character, “Do not go out there!”  Then again, you don’t do that with JAWS or ALIEN or SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and those are horror in my book.  That said, every script could use a moron or two.  :)

4. How do you think horror audiences have evolved over time? Is it harder to shock contemporary horror fans?

I think all story is old or rehashed.  When I started it was just the main three: Michael, Jason and Freddy.  Then came SCREAM which did what I’d been told was forbidden and that was to make your characters self-aware.  100 million dollars later that rule had been tossed out the window.  A self-aware horror screenplay become commonplace.  Then came Japanese Horror with THE RING.  But even that wasn’t new.  It was an import.  That ran its course then it was torture porn.  That was pretty shocking but ran its course.  And that’s horror.  It’s cyclical.  Like life.  Fads come and go then return.  I’m still awaiting the return of bell bottoms.  Is it hard to shock?  No.  But the horror audience is smart.  Way smarter than the suits give them credit.  That’s what I like about them.

5. Which horror movies do you think have best stood the test of time and why?

Great Grandpa, Grandpa and Pa.  Great Grandpa is the classics.  Dracula, Wolfman, Mummy.  Grandpa is Exorcist, Oman and Rosemary’s Baby.  Dad is Michael, Jason and Freddy.  I really believe that most horror has those shoulders to thank.  In fact, you could easily make the argument that Freddy, Jason and Michael were simply the 80s versions of Drac, Wolfie and Mums.

6. What makes you jump, when you’re watching a horror film? As someone who understands the format so well, are you hard to scare?

I’m the easiest to scare!  I’m the BEST audience member because I go there!  I get in the mind of the characters.  My imagination tends to fill in the gaps.  I jump, cringe and cry out!  I think if nothing scares you then you likely should get out of the horror biz.

 7.  What are you working on at the moment?

I’m spread out within genres and mediums.  Just had a comic book come out.  Working on a couple of children’s books.  Pitching a TV shows based on a pilot I wrote with Patrick Lussier.  Working on a couple remakes, couple specs and the list goes on.  Hollywood can be frustrating because you have to throw a ton of mud at the wall to find something that sticks.  But writers write and as long as you embrace that then all is well.  :)


Todd is teaching a Masterclass at the Sofitel at Broadbeach, Gold Coast on Monday April 22 and Tuesday 23 2013 and is limited to 40 participants only.  During the two day session, there will be an allocated period where Farmer will hear all aspiring writers’ individual pitches and provide feedback to participants, which is invaluable to both aspiring and current writing practitioners.   

The master class fee is $444.38 (which includes GST and a $9.88 booking fee) guaranteeing that those people attending will be serious about learning the craft.

For more information please visit the festival website – 

http://www.gcfilmfestival.com/page/90/Screenwriting_Master_Class

Awards

davitt-award  aurealis-award   logo-curtin-university

Peacemaker - Aurealis Award
Best Science Fiction Novel 2014

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 (Sisters in Crime Australia) 

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