Our content partner and good friend Jorge Duran interviews John Jarratt from the Wolf Creek movies and sneaks in a question from MDP. See if you can pick which one it is!
Thanks to Spotlight Report for letting us share this video.
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.
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 –
First of all, thanks so much for your time Martin.
When did you get the idea of writing House of Lies: How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and Then Tell You the Time?
It was about my second year on the job, almost ten years ago now. I had been a TV writer before going to business school, so I was very much an outsider in the corporate world, and it just seemed to me that everybody talked in a kind of strange jargon. Like they said “pushback” instead of “response” and “leverage” instead of “use” and “deliverable” instead of “report.” The book started as a dictionary of consulting terms and grew from there.
How much involvement did you have with the adaptation of House of Lies to the small screen?
My role from the beginning has been to be the guy who paints the picture of the industry. I’m a consultant, ironically enough. Early on, I talked to the show’s creator, Matt Carnahan, and I went in and talked to the writers. I told them all the stories I could think of from my years as a consultant – and a lot of them turned up, in one form or another, in the show. But I don’t do any of the actual writing.
Are you satisfied with how your book has been portrayed?
Of course. I am literally the only person in America who has written a memoir that has been adapted into a prime-time comedy. It would be crazy for me to be ungrateful with those odds. I’m actually relieved the show isn’t more like my real life. If it were, nobody would watch it. Not even my mother.
Nobody asked me about casting. To tell you the truth, I’m not that up on pop culture. I’m a bookish kind of guy. My television is in the basement and it’s cold down there. I wasn’t even watching the Golden Globes when Cheadle won. My guess is any success the show is having – including getting renewed for season three – has a lot more to do with his talent than mine. He’s the man I wish I was. Seriously.
Who is your favourite character in the show and why?
I have a fondness for Jeannie (played by Kristen Bell). Not just because I’m in love with her. Who isn’t? No – it’s because she seems like the only sane person in an absurd world. She’s living in a parallel universe. I told Kristen that of all the characters in the show, she’s the most like an actual management consultant.
What book would you like to see adapted to a feature film or TV show?
My book Bad Dog. I need the money.
Would you consider working full time as an author, or do you like to keep your hand in digital marketing?
If my boss is reading this, for the record I love my career in digital marketing and analytics. If he isn’t, let me turn the question back on you: What do you think? Of course I’d like to be a full-time writer. I can’t afford it yet.
Can you tell the story behind the inspiration for Bad Dog: A Love Story?
It’s more serious than my previous two memoirs. It’s the story of an alcoholic who hits bottom and has a dog who is out of control. His wife leaves him with this maniac dog, and he decides to step-by-step reform himself and his dog and get the girl back. The man is me, and the dog is my beloved Bernese mountain dog, Hola. It has a happy ending.
What is the most common question fans ask you?
Why I’m not rich. The answer is pretty simple: Book writers don’t get paid as much as you obviously think they do. Even if House of Lies runs for years, I’ll never retire off it. But the question says more about other peoples’ fantasies than it does about me. I feel lucky.
Do you have any advice for young Australian writers?
Quit. Right now. And if you’re the kind of person who won’t take that advice, then maybe you have what it takes. It’s a very long – a lifelong – project. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. You won’t know how it turns out until it’s over, like any good story.
Thanks for your time and we wish you a great 2013!
House Of Lies – Season 1 on DVD March 6.
Interview courtesy of our Creative Content Partner The Spotlight Report
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