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Horror Stories



Auckland, 2 November 2006
For Immediate Release


STS's Rebecca Kunin with horror writers Stephen Sinclair, Kathryn Burnett, and Nick Ward.

Horror Stories

Horror films spring from our most basic and fundamental fears, they push all the primal buttons we don't really want pushed - and let us look into the shadows from the safety of a cinema,' began MC screenwriter Kathryn Burnett as she introduced a Halloween edition of The Writer's Room this Tuesday, with special guests and masters of all things gruesome, Nick Ward (Stickmen, The Ferryman) and Stephen Sinclair (Ladies Night, Meet The Feebles, Braindead, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers).

Burnett began by highlighting a snobbery that has labeled horror movies as simplistic and only for those who take sadistic delight in cheap thrills and gore. But is this reputation deserved? 'The crafting [of a horror] is actually very complex and the challenge is always to do something new,' said Sinclair, 'you have to come up with an idea that is strong enough to last until the end. The bar is high and so a horror writer has to be radically creative.' For Sinclair, finding a strong, unique idea, crafting a fast paced narrative and drawing believable characters are vital ingredients for a great horror script. Ward pointed out that some of the best ideas or antagonists in horror are so strong that they spawn sequels more than any other genre. 'But it has to be good,' noted Ward, 'because horror audiences are very savvy and they can pick up on cheats right away.'

Cliché can be the greatest danger for aspiring horror writers. Sending the main character down the cellar stairs in the dark, or checking to see if the zombie is really dead this time, will fail to convince seasoned horror fans. Ward said that while horror often follows a strong classic structure it is an original twist, or a fresh take on the genre that audiences are looking for. 'If you want to write good horror, don't watch other horror movies', advised Ward, 'write about what scares you. There are elements of horror in everything and the every day can provide that. What I really enjoy about writing horror,' said Ward 'is that I can explore the dark places without really having to go there myself.'

"I was thrilled with the turnout we had at our special Halloween Writer's Room", said Script to Screen Executive Director Rebecca Kunin. "It shows that the genre is being taken very seriously by the industry with several home-grown horror features including The Ferryman about to be released in the New Year. I am keenly anticipating these upcoming features and look forward to the next wave of local writers who are ready to expose their inner demons on the big screen."

About Script to Screen

Script to Screen is an independent, industry wide initiative, established to develop the culture of screenwriting in Aotearoa / New Zealand. Script to Screen is a charitable trust that is core funded by the New Zealand Film Commission and governed by a board of trustees. Our trustees are appointed by the New Zealand Writers Guild, Nga Aho Whakaari, and the New Zealand Film Commission.


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