Storyline from IMDb:
A defiant teenage boy, struggling with his parent's imminent divorce, faces off with a thousand year-old witch, who is living beneath the skin of and posing as the woman next door.
Drew Pierce and his brother Brett Pierce resides in California. Their father, Bart Pierce, was the Special Effects Photography of Evil Dead. The brother's film "Deadheads" won Best Comedy at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2011. It also won Audience Choice Awards for Best Feature Film. The film won Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking at Newport Beach Film Festival.
Drew Pierce and Brett Pierce's latest film is titled The Wretched. It's a horror movie that you might want to get into. In the meantime, get to know the talented brothers and read their experience with creating The Wretched.
1. First off, what are your thoughts about the coronavirus pandemic and how are you two dealing with it?
It's both terrifying and the most fascinating test of character for the entire world. In stories you always want to push your characters to their limits to see their true colors. This epidemic is shining a light on everyone in the world at the same time and revealing the best and worst parts of humanity.
2. How did you guys come up with the story of The Wretched?
The Wretched is primarily inspired by our love for Roald Dahl’s The Witches and the experience of living through our parents’ divorce. For our creature, we wanted to develop our own unique mythology with its own set of rules, but we also wanted to draw from all the amazing stable of folklore witches we'd never seen depicted on the big screen. We cobbled together our favorite aspects of Black Annis, an English legend, and the Boo Hag of the Appalachian Mountains and fused it with our own creepy concepts. We wanted the creature to feel like the perfect predator for the modern self-absorbed families of today. In a culture where all our heads are down immersed in our cell phones, would you even notice if your family member was inhabited by a malevolent ancient witch? We're not so sure.
3. Who came up with the title The Wretched? Were there other titles you guys have in mind?
Naming a movie is like naming a child. Nothing feels right until it's out in the world and they begin to own that identity. We must have went through a thousand titles before landing on "The Wretched". The original working title was "Hag", but in early screenings we were surprised that several people associated it with negative connotations. As a storyteller you never want to alienate your audience in anyway that distracts from their enjoyment, so our hunt began. We're super happy with it now and couldn't imagine it any other way.
4. What was the most difficult thing about writing the screenplay?
The first act of the Wretched was especially tricky. We had so many ideas we wanted to setup for later payoffs, but that can leave the audience feeling anxious for some horror moments. You don't want to lose their trust, or even worse, their attention. We also needed the audience to care for "Ben" enough to want to go on a this journey with him. We didn't want the cliche character in a horror movie you just don't give a shit about. We wanted to give him real problems, but at the same time we didn't want him to feel too melodramatic. It's a real tight rope you're walking in the first act of any horror movie.
5. What was the most surprising thing you guys learned when writing The Wretched?
This shouldn't be surprising to us at this point, but we learned to trust our instincts completely. I feel like we re-learn this lesson time and time again. The audience is only going to love a scene as much as you do. The scenes that work the best are the ones we really trusted in. You have to write the story and characters you would love to see. If there is anything that you don't love, the audience will feel that. It's that simple.
6. Where and when do you write in general?
Mostly coffee shops. Most of writing is thinking though and we tend to get our best ideas laying in bed at night, or right when we wake up. There's something about the unconscious mind and how it solves problems. It only works if you've been struggling at it all day with your conscious brain. Somehow the frustration of thinking about it all day puts it in the cue for your unconscious to work on.
7. Which writers inspired you to become screenwriters?
Roald Dahl (The Witches), Lawrence Kasdan (Empire Strikes Back, Raiders), Mike Mignola (Hellboy), Paul Dini (Batman The Animated Series)
8. On average, how many draft scripts do you find yourself writing until you are happy and satisfied with your work?
We're directors too, so even in to production we are still revising. We usually know if something is really going to work about five drafts in. Throughout the process our mood is constantly vacillating between proud and feeling like a pathetic failure. It's a roller coaster of emotion and not for the faint of heart.
9. Could you give us an interesting fun fact about working with any of the cast members?
Drew's one year old son played the part of baby Sam.
10. Have you guys ever had a dream that influenced any screenplay of yours?
Our first feature entitled "DeadHeads" came from a dream in which I was a zombie walking up a hill to a cabin full of survivors. This was the initial inspiration for our zombie buddy road trip movie.
11. What piece of advice do you have for screenwriters starting out?
Everyone gives the same boring wisdom, so I'm going to share the best podcasts out there on the subject that can impart so much more: "The Write Along", "Scriptnotes", "Beyond the Screenplay", "The Writers Panel", and "The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith".
I do have one little tip that I rarely hear. There is no one structure for all stories that is very useful in writing. Each genre and sub genre has a set of rules or typical beats. Figure out which stories line up with the genres you want to include and dissect everything you can about what works for them. This is imperative, because your target audience will know those beats intuitively and expect you to hit them or at least subvert them in some way. There are no rules, but this is a huge tool in creating stories that connect with people.
12. Have you guys ever considered writing a short story, novella, or novel?
We just wrote a short story called Muzzle. It's a gritty, modern take on a Werewolf story.
13. Mr. Brett Pierce, what was the most memorable thing you took away from working on Deadheads?
That, no matter what, the only person who cares about the movie as if their life depended on it is you. Surround yourself with talented people but always know in the end its on you to make it all happen. Don't let others dissuade you from creatively what you know is the right decision at any time.
14. Mr. Drew Pierce, what was your fondest memory while working on The Interview? Could you express an interesting fun fact about James Franco, Seth Rogen or any of the cast members in that movie?
I served as a storyboard artist on the Interview just as Kim Jung Un had supposedly threatened the project. Suddenly the little comedy was the talk of the nation. I learned a lot seeing the discipline of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg in their writing process. They grind every day at ideas until the cream rises to the top. It made me realize the people that make it look easy are really just putting in the time it takes. It's all about persistence. I couldn't believe how many plates they had spinning at one time.
15. If a self-published author is seeking a director or screenwriter, how would one get you guys to read his or her story to see if it would make a compelling movie?
You can reach the entire world online now and everyone wants more great material. The key is to do the research and make sure you're targeting the right creators, so it's not a wast of their time. Don't send Brett and I romantic comedies, because we just don't make those. Everyone's extremely busy, so the best chance is to send a heart felt message of why the person is perfect fit for the material and offer to attach a brief synopsis.
16. If you guys could write and direct a film-adaptation of any novel/novella/short story, which one would you like to do?
Joe Abercrombie's First Law book series. Its a story screaming to be a series of films or television show. When you read those books the movie plays in your head. So much good character work in those books that would scream on the screen.
17. Last question, after this pandemic is over where would you like to visit first or what would you like to do?
Go to the movies. I miss it so much. I love every step of it from the concession stand, to the trailers, to the lights dimming before the film. Of course I watch films at home via streaming services but that's not remotely close to the experience I get out of the theater. I actually don't understand people who prefer watching at home. Its insane to me.
The Wretched will be release on May 1 on VOD. Many thanks to Drew Pierce and Brett Pierce for their time. All the best with their latest project. I hope they are open to do more interviews in the future on Novelpro Junkie. The Wretched looks like a terrifying treat. Don't miss out on this film. Thank you for taking your time to read this interview as well as the other interviews. Take care and I hope you have a great day.