Sean Clark, Filmmaker, Writer
Y Spy: Who are you and why are you here?
Sean Clark: My name is Sean Clark, and I’m here because my parents had sex.
Y Spy: Why are you in this room? Same reason?
Clark: No, they had nothing to do with that part. I’m here promoting my movie, “The Black Waters of Echo’s Pond,” which I wrote and produced. It’s coming out on about 350 screens. I also write for HorrorHound Magazine, who is putting on this show. So I’m here pulling double duty.
Y Spy: What is the movie about?
Clark: About 90 minutes. [Punny laughter] That never gets old. It’s about nine friends who every year get together and take a trip. This year they rent a Victorian house on a private island. Through a series of circumstances they uncover a hidden room in the basement of the house that has all these artifacts from an excavation in the early 1900s in Turkey. One of the things they find appears to be a game, so they take it upstairs and start playing it. As they play the game it turns them against each other. It’s kind of a possession thing, but it affects everyone differently. What it ends up being are nine friends on an island, stalking each other.
Y Spy: Is it more of a psychological thriller or a straight horror film?
Clark: It’s got a lot of elements of everything. There’s a lot of psychological horror, there’s a thriller aspect, there’s a slasher aspect, and a supernatural aspect. It’s different. That’s what I think fans will appreciate. It isn’t the same bullshit that they’re used to being spoonfed. I’ve had real positive feedback. One of the best compliments [I’ve received] is that it’s original. It’s not a remake; it’s something new.
Y Spy: So what’s your take on the current state of horror?
Clark: Fear is an adrenaline rush. That’s why we love to be scared. We love to be able to go to a movie and get the shit scared out of us, but be safe. Nowadays it is fucking hard to be scared in a movie. I am so disconnected, or perhaps inundated with horror that it’s very hard to get scared. The last movie I saw that genuinely freaked me out was when I went to a screening of “Session 9” in a big empty theater. It’s one of my favorite movies. It’s really hard to scare people nowadays, and I hope I can achieve that in my career.
There’s a lot of good stuff coming out, more independent. All the big studios are interested in now is capitalizing on a title and remaking it. They’re not even remaking the movies so much as just taking the name. Some of them are nothing like the original. They’re pointless. And it’s paying off! At the end of the day, all they care about is money. The filmmaker has integrity, but he’s at the mercy of the people who are financing it.
Y Spy: Is it harder to scare audiences because modern horror films are putting less emphasis on characterization?
Clark: I agree with that. One thing you will notice about “Black Waters,” something that I am very strict about: I am big, big, big on character development. The first 45 minutes of this movie almost plays out like “The Breakfast Club.” It’s people sitting around, and you’re getting to know them and their relationships. You genuinely care about these characters when the shit starts to hit the fan. That’s important to me.
Let’s take the last “Friday the 13th” remake. You didn’t give a shit about any of those people. When they start getting offed, it means nothing to you. When I’m in a slasher film, I wanna know that I want the bitch to get killed, I wanna know that I want the cool guy to live. It frustrates me when I see movies that are just gratuitous. I want people to care.
Y Spy: How was writing and producing this movie?
Clark: It was completely independent. We had investors, and for the most part they left us alone. There was nobody breathing down our neck. We did have a schedule, and it did get tight at times. There were a couple things we had to comply to, put a couple of people in the movie who they wanted. Beyond that they let us do what we wanted to do. It was a lot of freedom. As a writer, I was completely spoiled. I’ll probably never have an experience as good as this again.
Y Spy: What is your writing experience, and how did you end up writing this film?
Clark: I’ve been trying to get my original scripts off the ground since about 1999. This is my first theatrical. I’ve written stuff that’s been optioned, almost was made. This is the first thing that’s actually been made. It’s finally happening. The experience of writing it was great. The constant rewrites were challenging, especially rewrites during filming, which happened a lot. There was a major location that we lost at the 11th hour that really changed things. I had to come up with something new. Beyond that it was great.
As far as writing for HorrorHound, it’s a completely different thing. I’m not so much a journalist for HorrorHound; I write a specific feature article called “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds,” which is a retrospective on the filming locations of a classic film. I pick one per issue and do that. I’m not having to interview people and go to press junkets and screenings. I did that before; I used to write for Dread Central and bloodydisgusting.com. I did that for years and am trying to get away from that, doing more of my own creative thing.
Y Spy: What are you planning next?
Clark: I’m writing a script called “Sugar,” which is a horror film. I want that to be my directorial debut. I’ve been finishing the “Nightmare on Elm Street” episode of “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds,” the TV version of it. That’s gonna be on the new “Nightmare on Elm Street” documentary, “Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy.” That’s coming out at the end of April. It’s all filmed; we’re just editing right now.
Y Spy: What frightens you?
Clark: Not a whole lot, to be honest. I guess I have a fear of heights. I mean super high. You’ll never catch me sky-diving.
“The Black Waters of Echo’s Pond” is out now. Visit www.theblackwaters.com for more details.
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