Interview with John Carpenter

John Carpenter is one of the most well-known names in horror films. He created such iconic films as “Halloween”, “The Thing”, “Escape from New York”, “They Live” and the list goes on. John’s last theatrical film was “Ghosts of Mars” in 2001 but he is returning to features with his upcoming film “The Ward”. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with John about his career and his return with “The Ward”.

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Mike Gencarelli: Out of all of the films you have made, which is the one you are the most proud of and why?
John Carpenter: Oh man, I do not think I can do that.  It is kind of impossible.  I have invested so much in each one of them. I love them all. But I never want to see any of them again. I  hate them after a while because I see everything that I did wrong. I really can not say to be honest.

MG: Looking back on “Halloween”, would you have done anything different today?
JC: Sure, I think everyone would looking back.  Any director would do something different but you cannot play that game.  This is what you had at the time when you made it. You stand by the decisions you made and tried to make the best out of it.  You have to leave that crap behind.

MG: Was there ever a film you wanted to get made that you couldn’t?
JC: There were a couple I wanted to do that never came about.  That we couldn’t setup or the scripts weren’t right.  All sorts of things like that.  That sort of a thing always happens over a career.

MG: Was there a reason why you never did sequels to your films, Besides “Escape from L.A.”?
JC: Well, I did not think that some of my films had any more story in them.  “Halloween” is a good example, it didn’t really have much of a story left after the first.  But I was proven wrong wasn’t I?  After all these sequels, they just keep making them over and over again.

MG: You directed “The Thing” which was a remake and now they are doing it again, any feelings?
JC: They are doing sort of a prequel to my film.  So if it is good, great.  If it is not, that is too bad.  I have no control over it.  If it is something I do not have control over, I do not worry about it.

MG: Your sound for your scores are so unique, how do you create the music for your films?
JC: Most of the scores that I have done myself and I haven’t done them all but I worked on a synthesizer.  Over the years, the synthesizers are getting better and better.  The sound has gotten more sophisticated.  I started way back when, when you had to tune each synthesizer and amplifier manually.  Now a days you have a whole lot of really cool programs you can use.  The music I create is all improvised to each scene.

MG: Why did you choose not to do the score for “The Ward?
JC: A very, very talented composer by the name of Mark Kilian did the score.  It is too hard now.  I am too old to do it.  I want someone else to take that responsibility [laughs].

MG: Tell us about your return to feature film with “The Ward”?
JC: I stopped directing for a while.  But I did the two episodes for “Masters of Horror” and they were fun.  I thought “Well, I may try this again”. So “The Ward” came along and it was a small enough movie with a small enough cast.  It was contained, isolated and perfect for what I wanted to do at the time.  Even though it was a little film , they are always challenging and I always enjoy making them.  Those are the basic reasons, plus it was a neat little thriller.

MG: What was the hardest aspect returning to directing with “The Ward”?
JC: Every movie has challenges.  Every single one of them.  In this case, it was stuffing all this material into a very short amount of time to shoot.  That is always a challenge with a low budget film.  You have to figure out how are you going to get these scenes done in a very short amount of time.  There is a lot of pre-thinking that goes into that.  You have to figure out exactly how you are going to show a certain part of the story ahead of time.  I spent a lot of my time preparing on that film.

MG: How did you get involved with the upcoming video game “F.E.A.R. 3”?
JC: Steve Niles is a friend of mine.  He is a comic book writer of “30 Days of Night” series.  He called me up and said “I am working on this “F.E.A.R. 3″ game and it is a lot of fun, do you want work on it?”  I said “Sure” and that was it.  I have no role in the game.  We are working mostly on the dialogue.  Video games are different because they involve game play which drives the whole thing.  It is not story, it is game play.  So we are slaves to that.  Basically, Steve and I finessed the characters and their dialogue.  We did a lot of the scenes that connect all the action together.

MG: Have you ever considered writing a memoir to cover your amazing career?
JC: Yeah, sometimes I actually do think about it.  But maybe we will see.  I am not ready to do it yet. We’ll see!

MG: What can you tell us about the upcoming “Fangland” film?
JC: Right now, that is in the stage of development.  It may become a movie right now or it may not.  It is like one of those deals in Hollywood.

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