Today I am very pleased to announce that we have one of the OGs of the show, Mr. Tom Holland. Tom Holland is an American screenwriter, actor, and filmmaker and a household name for us horror fans as the writer director of two enormously important...
Today I am very pleased to announce that we have one of the OGs of the show, Mr. Tom Holland.
Tom Holland is an American screenwriter, actor, and filmmaker and a household name for us horror fans as the writer director of two enormously important classics, Fright Night and Child’s Play. Additionally, Tom has written a number of classics including Cloak & Dagger and Psycho 2, and directed a number of movies including the Stephen King adaptations of The Langoliers and Thinner.
He is a living legend and a downright wonderful and hilarious person and it was a privilege having this conversation with him.
Here are key takeaways for aspiring horror directors from this conversation with Tom Holland.
- It all comes down to LOVE. All intentions from heroes to protagonists to antagonists are all motivated by love of one kind or another. This is what makes a compelling, relatable and enduring narrative because it stems from the base psychology of human beings. This was a piece of advice given to Tom by the late Stewart Stern, screenwriter for Rebel Without a Cause. And this is the truth when you really think about it. All of the characters in Fright Night crave love in one way or another which is partially what gives the movie poignancy that makes it still endure today nearly 30 years later. Observe & acknowledge the love-based motivations of your character when you’re writing or directing to really get to their human truth.
- Quality is everything. When Tom was approached to write the screenplay for Psycho 2, it was originally intended to be a made for TV movie with a new actor playing Norman Bates. Tom meanwhile, really had his heart set on having Anthony Perkins return to the role so he did everything in his power to write something so high quality that he would draw Perkins into the project. Tom worked tirelessly on the Psycho 2 script, and in the end, not only did it attract Anthony Perkins back into the role, but the movie ended up getting a theatrical release. Here Tom took a project with little commercial potential and turned it into something bigger and a snowball effect ensued, all because of the quality of his script. Movies begin and end with the writing, and if your script is good enough you can move mountains. The quality of your script is best investment and your project’s most valuable source of equity.
- Surround yourself with friends. Tom has spoken about how in a ruthless business like Hollywood, you need to surround yourself with people you can rely on when the chips are down. The studio systems can be very cut-throat; executives can turn on you and so can key members of your crew, which can turn your production into a nightmare, or worse, bring it to a complete halt. Because of this, it’s priceless to find loyalty amongst your key crew members (like your DP, AD and EP90. Tom then went on to say that the best way to get loyalty is to be loyal. So nourish your relationships with your crew, because if you have their back when they need you, chances are they will have your back when you need them.
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