GET HOME SAFE
Story line from IMDb: In this new psychological horror-thriller from director Tate Taylor and Blumhouse, a lonely woman befriends a group of teenagers and decides to let them party at her house. Just when the kids think their luck couldn't get any better, things start happening that make them question the intention of their host.
Starring: Octavia Spencer, Juliette Lewis, Diana Silvers, Luke Evans, Missi Pyle, McKaley Miller, and Allison Janney
Mr. Scotty Landes is an incredible screenwriter that worked on such projects as Workaholics, Who is America, and Adam Devine's House Party. Now, he is here to tell us about his latest one titled MA. So, please relax and take this time to know all about him and his writing process of MA.
1. First off, what’s your favorite horror movie growing up?
Thanks for asking. My favorite horror movie was "Jaws" for so many reasons. The most important reason: It scared the shit out of me. I also liked The Thing and Gremlins a lot. I still do.
2. What is the genesis of MA?
Ma is the combination of a few nights that I experienced in high school. Anytime a group of teenagers is hanging out regularly with an adult, there is something wrong with the situation and I wanted to write a movie about the dread I felt watching my friends partying along with people who should have their own, adult friends. Ma is the focused version of a larger problem that a lot of people can probably (hopefully) relate to.
3. How did you come up with the title MA?
I knew the title before I started writing the movie. "Ma" is slang, at least it was when I wrote the first draft, and it taps into the idea of an older woman who pretends to care about a group of teenagers. I loved it right away. Even in my first notes, the title was already in place. There was briefly a discussion of changing the title but Octavia said, "I love it. That's what all the kids call me online!" So, the title stayed.
4. What is your writing habit in general? Do you write in the daytime or at night?
I start with a logline and a title. I expand that into a few pages of paragraphs that simply explain what I think the story of the movie will be. I usually discover some cool things while just writing the basics, the character names, the big twists. Then I outline. Once I start writing a feature, I usually write from about 8:30 to 11:00 every morning. I don't have a set routine, for example, I wrote Ma in my house at my desk. The next two features I wrote were at a weird cafe in La Crescenta that is always empty. I write two scenes every day and then stop and email it to myself as a back-up. If I have a deadline that is shorter than I'd like, I'll write three scenes a day. It might not seem like a lot, but if you do that seven days a week without missing a day, you can get a lot of writing done, and fast.
5. What is your favorite line from MA?
Chaz, Haley, and Darell all have some funny lines, but I wanted Ma to be a mean movie, so probably one of Octavia's lines about how hard it is to always be on the outside, "Because the view from the inside is glorious." It's just so weird to watch that character double-down on her inappropriate behavior when cornered by another adult.
6. An authentic villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain to write a character like Ma?
Anyone who has ever been picked last in gym, not invited to a party, not asked to prom, will understand Sue Ann. The hurt and shame and embarrassment we go through as young people leaves a lasting impact. Sue Ann is an outsider and a loser. She has been her whole life. Everyone has a breaking point. Sue Ann simply reaches her's and it's a lot worse than anyone could expect.
7. Have been a comedian, in any way, help you as a screenwriter?
I only did stand-up in college. I've always written with comics and tried to support as many as I could while starting out as an aspiring writer in NYC. I'm sure watching hundreds of nights of stand-up in my early 20's benefited me in so many ways. I think watching people like Kristen Schaal work her stand-up material every night and then go onto TV and film success let me know that hard work can pay off, especially if you have a true point-of-view.
8. What do you wish you had known when you were starting your screenwriting career?
I wish I had known that the internet would change the way audiences think and the types of movies they want to watch (and where they want to watch them). If I had known that Netflix would be more than a DVD delivery company, I would have written smaller, smarter scripts instead of the big, stupid, broad comedies that I liked as a kid.
9. What are your thoughts on Ms. Octavia Spencer playing Sue Ann “Ma”? Did you ever meet her on set?
Octavia is the greatest casting I could have ever imagined. When Blumhouse first mentioned that she wanted to play Sue Ann, I played it cool but I knew that would be a huge addition. I did meet her on set but I tend to leave actors alone. They are doing their thing and I don't need to insert myself into their world. Having someone like Octavia, who has so many gears as an actor, play an emotionally complex character like Sue Ann is a perfect match. No one would have played this role better. Not even Gilbert Godfrey.
10. Could you also express your feelings about Juliette Lewis, Luke Evans, Missi Pyle, and/or Allison Janney playing characters that you wrote?
My feelings are simply shock and gratitude. The cast of this movie, including the young actors that play the main friend group, were all excellent. I was shocked when the cast was announced and incredibly thankful that they wanted to be a part of the movie. Also, Luke Evans gives a truly terrifying performance that completely elevated the part. I watched an early cut and thought, "Oh fuck yeah!"
11. Were you ever on set for the making of MA? If so, could you tell me what scene you were present at?
I was but I was working on other projects so I was only there for 3 days. Thankfully, it was during one of the party scenes and I was able to watch Octavia and the teenagers dancing and laughing.... and then not dancing and not laughing. It was great.
12. List five adjectives to describe yourself.
I hate doing this but I appreciate your interest so: Social, supportive, considerate, organized, fun-to-party-with.
13. What do you like best about yourself?
I like who my friends are and how we all treat each other.
14. If a self-published author is seeking a screenwriter/ producer, how would one get you or any expert to read his or her story to see if it would make a compelling movie?
There are so many ways to get your story to someone. I don't know how anyone makes it using the traditional channels. I've never known agents or managers to read something sent from total strangers. I guess it happens, but all of my friends who are agents and managers or development executives (befriending these people is a good idea IF you actually LIKE them) tend to only read or meet with people recommended by their peers. I sent postcards to production companies, worked the door at dozens of shows, supported everyone I thought was special or unique, and wrote dozens of pilots and features that have not and will not ever be read. You must tirelessly pursue this dream and out-smart everyone and find ways to get your story read. Be creative without being annoying. Be confident without being an asshole. Also, be aware of what you think everyone else is writing and stay ahead of that curve. Or, be related to a famous person. That helps.
15. Which novel/novella/short story/article have you read that you would like to turn to a screenplay?
I wanted to do one called "Dark Harvest" so bad but a huge production company already had the rights. I'm currently trying to turn "Gilchrist: A Novel" into a TV series with the author Christian Galacar. He rules. I would GLADLY read any horror short stories by any of your readers, including yourself, if they are ready to share it. If you post my PO Box below, I'll read a hard copy of their manuscript or story. I love doing that!
16. As a former comedian, what is your favorite joke?
"My dog has no nose."
"How does it smell?"
17. Last question, what do you miss most about childhood?
I actually love being an adult. I'm in my 30s and I love my 30s even more than my 20s and I liked my 20s more than being a teenager. I look forward and hope to be the best version of myself and the best person I can be to my friends with every coming decade. That being said, riding bikes with my friends and playing flashlight tag in my childhood neighborhood was always fun as hell.
Thank you very much!
Likewise, thank you Mr. Landes for answering my questions. Go check out MA and see how a great horror/thriller is written.The movie's release date is on Friday, May 31. If you want to know more about the film MA, just visit the website: https://www.mamovie.com/ you can also reach him on twitter:@marylandMudflap. Thank you for visiting my blog once again.I hope everyone have a great and safe Memorial Day as we honor our fallen veterans. Take care.