When one discusses horror films, the name of the late Wes Craven is probably one of the first that’ll come up in conversation, along with, perhaps, George Romero and John Carpenter. Wes Craven was a genius when it came to the horror genre and, as the great Alfred Hitchcock said when asked why he made horror films, he knew how to give the audiences what they wanted.
Although A Nightmare on Elm Street is his most famous work, 1996 was also a big year for both Wes Craven and the horror genre in general. Namely, on December 20, 1996, two days after the premiere in Los Angeles, the Scream movie hit theaters worldwide. It was this movie that marked the later phase of Wes Craven’s career, but also defined a whole subgenre of horror movies that would become highly influential through the 1990s and the 2000s.
The story of a group of teenagers being persecuted by a masked serial killer (the infamous Ghostface) became a premise that audiences loved. Although this wasn’t completely new, as both Wes Craven and John Carpenter focused on younger characters in their hit films A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween, respectively, the focus of those movies was the serial killer, a supernatural or superhuman entity that terrorized the communities. Scream was the first of many movies that actually focused on the victims themselves, thereby establishing the teen horror subgenre that dominated the horror scene for almost two decades, before slowly, but steadily being pushed aside by the resurgence of the semi-realistic supernatural horror, something that had been foreshadowed by The Blair Witch Project, which also influenced indie horrors of the 2010s and the 2020s. But, let’s get back to the topic, no one really likes history that much.
Scream has, as we’ve established, become a highly influential horror franchise. So far, the initial film resulted in a total of four sequel films and a three-season television series that aired from 2015 to 2019. With total revenue of $608,558,434 (for four films, as the fifth one is coming out next year), Scream is one of the most lucrative horror franchises ever.
But, although Scream is the topic of today’s article, it is actually one fan of the franchise, one Padraic Maroney, who is the main character of our article. This young writer has written an unauthorized look into the making of the first Scream movie and it is going to hit stores on August 24, 2021. Maroney has been heavily influenced by the Scream franchise and has decided to transform his passion into an in-depth view of the creative process that brought the first movie to life.
We at Fiction Horizon have had the pleasure of talking to Padraic Maroney about his book and his career, as well as about the inspirations and motivations that instigated his desire to bring us this amazing book. Here is what we talked about:
1. Can you tell me about It All Began With a Scream and what led you to bring this project to life?
This year is the 25th anniversary of the Scream franchise, and I have been a fan of the movies since they came out. I saw the first Scream in theaters on opening night and it was part of the reason that I became a writer. Along with the anniversary, there is a fifth movie coming out in January, so it felt like the perfect time to celebrate the films.
The book itself, I see as a celebration of the franchise and movies. I interviewed 30 of the cast and filmmakers to try to provide readers with a glimpse behind-the-scenes and to see what went into making these movies. It’s uncommon for a film to stay relevant in pop culture for a quarter of a century, but Scream is one of those rare movies that has stayed popular all these years and has such a dedicated fan base.
2. Where did your inspiration come from?
After seeing the original film, I really decided that I wanted to be a writer. With the urging of my 9th grade English teacher, I began writing for the local newspaper. My writing always seemed to circle back to Scream and those involved. The first movie that I reviewed was Wes Craven’s Music of the Heart. I’ve interviewed two dozen actors for projects that they worked on with Kevin Williamson (the writer of Scream). So it’s always been something that has been close to me.
3. What does the Scream franchise mean to you?
I’ve always been a horror fan, but in the mid-90s there weren’t that many good ones. The first one that I saw in theaters was Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, which also was a meta-horror film. But Scream was such a shot in the arm to the genre with the mixture of horror and comedy. It made horror cool again and really seemed to kick start the teen genre that boomed in the late 90s. As producer Marianne Maddalena says in the book, it was kismet. The movie came at the right time, with the cast, the script, and the right team behind-the-scenes.
4. Can you tell me about the interviewing process with those involved in the Scream franchise?
I have to say first off that everyone who I interviewed was so generous with their time and sharing stories, photos, and memorabilia, so that it could be included in the book. It was apparent from talking to them that Scream truly was something special for them and not just another job that they have on their resume. They all seemed to really think fondly of their place in Scream history. Many of them are still in contact with each other all these years later as well, and they were more than willing to help put me in contact with others.
Since we were in the middle of a pandemic when I started the process last summer, I began reaching out to people and did all of the interviews over Zoom. This is my first book, so I wasn’t sure what to expect and if people would want to talk to me. But after the initial few, the ball got rolling and people trusted me based on those who had already spoken to me.
I have to say that I was overwhelmed with the response too. When I was initially in the planning stages, writing the book proposal, my goal was to try to get 20 people to speak with me. I made a spreadsheet that had close to a 100 people associated with the films and the fact that I was able to surpass that original goal is amazing and again shows how much Scream means to those involved with it. (Some of the people that I wasn’t able to interview, it was due to schedules not working out, as they were busy on projects and didn’t have time to be interviewed.)
5. What can readers expect to gain from It All Began With a Scream?
Hopefully they will be able to tell that this is coming from a place of love for the movies and to want to celebrate them. But also, there are a lot of fun stories that I don’t think have been shared before from the filmmakers about what it took to make these movies. As much as we love them, I don’t think we as fans always appreciate the amount of work that it takes to create a movie. If people come away with a deeper appreciation for the movies after reading the book, and want to go back and watch the movies, that is the highest compliment.
I also think that it was clear talking to everyone how much Wes Craven really meant to everyone involved with the films and how much they loved him. Everyone spoke so lovingly about him and shared stories, like how he would dog sit for Rose McGowan during the filming or how thoughtful he was, and the parties he would throw.
6. What is your favorite Scream movie?
You’ve got to go with the first film. It’s the one that started it all, and that Drew Barrymore scene is just iconic and classic. It was so fresh and different from the other horror movies that had come out around that time, that you had to sit up and take notice. It was a shot in the arm for the genre and for fans.
About the author:
Padraic Maroney is an award-winning Marketing professional, writer, and now author from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He studied at West Chester University, where he received his degree in communications and media studies. After gaining extensive experience in communications, Maroney decided it was time to chase his dreams and become an author.
Maroney pays tribute to the franchise that inspired him to become a writer with his first book to hit the shelves, It All Began with a Scream.