Jeffrey Reddick (Writer - 'Tamara') #2
'Creating The Perfect Bitc ... Sorry, Witch'
As a writer, Jeffrey Reddick has just completed work on 'Tamara' for Lions Gate Pictures. 'Tamara' is a super-natural horror-thriller that will be theatrically released in February 2006.
Reddick, born in Jackson, Kentucky and having attended Berea College in Berea, always wanted to be in filmmaking. At 14, after watching 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' he typed a 10-page prequel and sent it to New Line Cinema. But the studio wasn't sold on the unsolicited manuscript and sent it back to him, stating that Reddick had "a fertile imagination" but his story "lacked structure." Reddick then started a letter-and-phone relationship with them which eventually landed him an internship with the company during college ... which lasted over ten years.
Having also written the stories for 'Return to Cabin by the Lake' (2001) and the first and second 'Final Destination' movies, Reddick now turns his attention to a more "grounded" horror movie, along with a Romero remake of a classic zombie tale.
In Part 2 of this exclusive chat with the writer of the upcoming horror flick 'Tamara,' I first asked Jeff - who's county code prefix is amazingly 666 [”Yeah, I was born to be Evil!"] - that being that there have been four (4) other movies named ‘Tamara’ since 1968, was that always to have been the chosen name for this film/person? ”No, actually I always had the idea that it would be a one name movie, but the original title was ‘Helena.’ And I actually named it after one the witches that’s mentioned in the Dario Argento movie ‘Suspuria’ – which is also one of my favorite old movies about a witch coven at an all-girls school. But, it just didn’t sound scary when the characters were calling out her name in the movie, so we changed it to ‘Tamara’.”
So, that begs the question of where did the name ‘Tamara’ originate? ”Well, the funny thing is that there was this girl that I was at High School with named Tamara and she was a really pretty, tough girl that everybody thought she was a bitch! But, once you got to know her you realized that she was actually pretty cool, but was just very guarded and didn’t let people in very easy. So, I always liked her and remembered her ever since High School. And so when I was trying to think of another name that name just popped into my head.”
How do you handle writing scripts and then perhaps seeing certain beloved aspects of it getting cut from the final film? ”I think that, depending on the director and the cast, that can definitely change the way you saw the film from the way it was originally written. At first, as a writer, it’s frustrating, but I was very blessed with ‘Tamara’ as I was the only writer on the project. But yes, there was the situation a couple of weeks before we started filming where our budget and our production schedule were cut down. So they were like, ‘Well, we’ve got to now lose about twenty pages of the script.’ So, that was really hard to do.”
Any scene(s) in particular get chopped that you wish hadn’t? ”A couple of the gore scenes had to get toned down, but one of the scenes that we really toned down – that was really frustrating for me – was Tamara’s revenge on the two jock characters. Because, in the script [SPOILER ALERT!] it was very clear that these characters were jerks who basically would get girls doped up at parties and basically rape them. So, Tamara’s punishment on them was to basically have them do that to each other. And, in the script it was very graphic and very intense and nobody told me to cut it all the way through the process. But right before they started shooting this scene I started getting the calls … about how much I wanted to show. Yeah, that was definitely a scene where when I saw the dailies I was kind of annoyed as it had lost the intention of what the scene is. Now it’s like the two guys are making love and having a good time and that’s not what I wrote!”
Based on the ending, will there be a ‘Tamara 2: Grave Misunderstanding,’ or some such sequel title?! ”Yeah, ‘Tamara 2: Electric Boogaloo’,” he laughs. ”Yes, but we don’t want to count our chickens too far before they’re hatched. So, we’re kind holding off to see how the movie opens. But we have had discussions and definitely I would love to come back. And hopefully we’ll have a bigger budget and I can do everything that I want to do,” he laughs again.
OK, so just where does your fascination with death stem from?! ”Well, I think it’s just a universal fear. I think it’s just a fear of what lies beyond death. A lot of people think that death really is your final destination and a lot of people – like myself – think there’s something more afterwards. But, it’s kind of a fear of the unknown. I’ve always said I’m not afraid of dying ... I just don’t want to die painfully,” he laughs long and loud.
So, what’s upcoming for you? ”Well, ‘Tamara’ is coming out in February, I’m working on the ‘Day Of The Dead’ remake right now, and I have a few other horror scripts through my own Production Company, Short End Productions. We have two other scripts of mine that we’re working on getting the financing for this year … and I plan to direct one of them. I will finally make my directorial debut,” he laughs.
Wow, please do tell us more about your involvement in the 'Day Of The Dead' project, and will it be a shot-for-shot remake? "Well, while we are certainly paying homage to George Romero’s ‘Day Of The Dead’ Steve Miner [Director] and I have really worked hard to create a story that is definitely respectful of the original - whilst telling a new Zombie story for our generation. George Romero was very good about framing his movies in the time that they were set."
"Like, in the ‘60s with racial unrest in the ‘Night Of The Living Dead,’ and the consumerism in the Reagan eras with ‘Dawn Of The Dead.' And so what I want to do is set this movie in the here and now, the culture that we live in, and the fears that we have about our National Security and things like that. And so I wanted to take those things that George Romeo did and put my stamp on it.”
Did you have any major trepidation about taking on such a revered, beloved project? "Well, first of all when it was brought to my attention, I knew that all the fans were gonna hate me for doing another remake – and I don’t like remakes – but then I heard that Steve Miner was gonna direct it. And he’s directed a lot of my favorite genre films. Like ‘Friday The 13th, Part II,’ ‘Warlock,’ ‘House’ and ‘Halloween H2O.’ And so when I heard that he was attached I knew that the film itself would be in good hands. And then I started thinking that if I don’t take this job somebody else will and what if they hire somebody who’s not a fan of the genre and doesn’t respect George Romero’s original? And then they just make some really crappy sequel? So, I thought better me then some Joe off the street!”
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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