‘Smile’ Writer/Director Parker Finn on the Film’s Practical Effects and Horror Influences [Interview]


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As a documentary filmmaker and archivist, I depend on a quantity of crucial issues when placing collectively a new movie venture. The first thing is patience; discovering uncommon and barely seen supplies is commonly a marathon, not a sprint. The other thing I depend on is the cooperation from and collaboration with the holders of said rare material. Special FX make-up artists, script supervisors, stand-ins, and journalists have been my saving grace on nearly each documentary film challenge I’ve labored on. For our newest feature length documentary, Pennywise: The Story of IT, there have been several individuals who opened their archives to our group and it was this generosity that actually helped us elevate the documentary. One of these people was Bart Mixon, Special FX Makeup Supervisor, and one other – and the topic of this article and interview – was Canadian journalist, Steve Newton.

As an leisure journalist who has been covering music and film for over 40 years, Steve Newton has in all probability seen all of it (and talked to everyone). In phrases of movie and tv, Steve has interviewed a few of the most revered names in horror cinema and pop culture: Robert Englund, Jeff Goldblum, Clive Barker, Ozzy Osbourne, Alicia Silverstone, Tim Curry, the list goes on. In 2018, Steve published a coffee desk guide titled Gord Downie, in regards to the late frontman of Canada’s hottest rock band, the Tragically Hip.

I first met Steve while our staff was chin-deep in production on our latest documentary which examines the making and legacy of Stephen King’s 1990 miniseries hit, IT. It was a uncommon alternative and a spotlight of Steve’s diversified profession to be the only journalist to visit the set of the miniseries in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Steve’s writing for Fangoria and subsequent audio interview with Tim Curry is nothing wanting horror archive gold. He made this material available to our staff and in doing so offered us an opportunity to further enhance the quality of the film and be certain that viewers could be in for something really particular.

In my latest interview with Steve, we talked about every little thing from how he broke into the enterprise, a few of the different horror film units he has found himself on, and what it was like to be the one person to interview our beloved Pennywise in the heart of 1990 Derry.

John Campopiano: How did you first get your begin within the business of film & music journalism?

Steve Newton: Well, I grew up within the small Canadian town of Chilliwack, British Columbia, about an hour’s drive east of Vancouver, within the Fraser Valley, near the united states border. I was born in 1957, so sufficiently old to recollect when the Beatles invaded America in 1964, and made their legendary appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. All my spare cash went to purchasing music. I prefer to say that my associates had good automobiles, I had nice information.

I was additionally lucky to see newer bands like Kiss, Molly Hatchet, Sammy Hagar, and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers at a nightclub known as the Commodore Ballroom.

Coupled with my love of rock music was a deep curiosity in horror motion pictures. I distinctly remember being scared spitless as a kid by It! The Terror from Beyond Space. When they found that useless guy within the air duct with the black rings round his eyes, that was nightmare material for me. I was also terrified, as a kid, by the witch in The Wizard of Oz. As a youth I would head out to the Chilliwack Drive-in Theatre to see ’70s and ’80s horror and exploitation (grindhouse) flicks whenever I may.

As far as stepping into journalism goes, I was finding out to get my B.A. at Vancouver’s University of British Columbia, but taking breaks in my early 20s to earn some money working at a food processing plant near Chilliwack. This place was an actual hell-hole, and dangerous–I noticed one poor man get crippled when he tried to dislodge some jammed juice cans and obtained his leg caught within the machinery. Then at some point I just got fed up and stop. The next day I went and applied at the native weekly paper, The Chilliwack Progress, they usually hired me on as a “stringer”, masking metropolis council conferences and group events. But I also talked them into letting me interview native bands, and that’s where I obtained my begin in music journalism.

The following yr, after getting my B.A., I was in a one-year teacher program at UBC, but determined educating wasn’t for me, so I dropped out. It was the spring of 1982 and I had tickets for a Black Sabbath (with Ronnie James Dio) concert, so on a whim I dropped into the office of the Georgia Straight, a struggling different weekly that had been around since 1967. The first person I met there was founder-publisher Dan McLeod, who just happened to be standing around after I walked in. He nixed the thought of my reviewing the Sabbath present that night as a end result of at the time all the concerts have been coated by someone else.

After relaying the heartbreaking information about Sabbath, McLeod did point out that he was on the lookout for anyone to cover the then-burgeoning heavy-metal scene, and earlier than lengthy I was on the cellphone interviewing my heroes in Iron Maiden, Scorpions, and Judas Priest. My journalism profession quickly reached its apex when he put my Ozzy Osbourne story on the duvet of a June ’82 issue.

About 5 or 6 years later I brought my love of horror into the combo when Fangoria journal made me their Vancouver correspondent, and I began masking local movie shoots for them. Around that point I additionally started reviewing horror movies for the Georgia Straight, and I’ve obtained nicely over 300 of them collected on my website, earofnewt.com.

JC: It looks like you’ve spent extra time at concerts and in green rooms with musicians than you’ve on film units with actors. Are there any variations between interviewing musicians vs. actors?

SN: Interviewing actors was a totally completely different experience from interviewing musicians, as a result of it often involved a “set visit”, where you’d show up on a movie set and spend a quantity of hours there, speaking to varied actors, directors, producers, and makeup-FX artists. If you have been fortunate you’d get to see one thing cool being filmed. For a high-profile horror flick like Friday the 13th: Jason Takes Manhattan or Halloween: Resurrection or the Stephen King-based Needful Things, Fangoria would typically want 3,000 phrases, so between getting to the set, interviewing everyone, driving home, transcribing the tape, and writing the article, it took plenty of time. I did it more for my love of horror than for the freelance check, which, if I recall, wasn’t all that incredible.

JC: You’re fairly candid on your web site about most of the films you coated not being hits. That mentioned, you probably did interview a variety of the greatest names within the sport, together with Jeff Goldblum, Tim Curry, Alicia Silverstone, and Robert Englund. What was it like assembly these icons of the film and TV worlds?

SN: There have been some very cool moments concerned with meeting these icons. I remember interviewing Jeff Goldblum on the Britannia Mine, off the Sea to Sky Highway between Vancouver and Whistler, B.C. He was filming an adaptation of Dean Koontz’s novel, Hideaway, and invited me into his trailer and provided me a smoothie, then made a comment about how nice my Chicago Black Hawks jacket seemed. He was just an superior fellow. And Alicia Silverstone – I interviewed her for Hideaway as nicely, but even before that, on Halloween of 1992, I met her in downtown Vancouver the place she was filming the thriller, The Crush. I believe that was earlier than she blew up as “the chick within the Aerosmith videos.”. She seemed actually with it, and down to earth, for a 16-year-old.

JC: In reality, your encounter with Robert Englund signaled one of a number of opportunities to cowl not just horror feature films, but additionally horror that was made-for-TV. Walk us by way of your experience assembly one of many horror genre’s biggest names, Robert Englund.

SN: He was a great man. I went on the North Vancouver set of the short-lived TV series Nightmare Cafe, where he played the wise-cracking proprietor named Blackie. Though it was executive-produced by terror titan Wes Craven, it wasn’t a horror present a lot as a fantasy-comedy. “There’s a lot of banter in it,” Englund advised me at the time, “and lots of quipping. People have a tendency to suppose of Wes when it comes to his horror contributions, however the true Wes Craven fans additionally know the humorousness in his work. He has this nice type of surreal comic side too, and on this episode–which is type of like National Enquirer meets E.T.–he really gets to indicate that.” I received Englund to autograph an 8-by-10 promo photo of himself from The Phantom of the Opera – he wrote “Happy Halloween Steve!”

JC: Can you speak about some of the extra memorable experiences you had reporting from varied horror movie units in Vancouver?

SN: Being the one journalist on the earth invited to interview Tim Curry on the set of Stephen King’s IT was a highlight. What’s extra, having Amanda Plummer and Valerie Bromfield enthusiastically present me across the set constructed for Needful Things was a hoot and hanging with Alien author Dan O’Bannon on the set of his 1992 Lovecraft flick The Resurrected was also pretty cool. I enjoyed meeting Billy Zane on the set of Dean Koontz’s Sole Survivor in 2000. Other highlights, though not in-person, included doing telephone interviews with Max von Sydow (for Needful Things) in 1993, Pam Grier (for the Snoop Dogg-starring, Bones) in 2001, Tom Savini (for the Night of the Living Dead remake) in 1993, and Dean Koontz (for Watchers) in 1988.

JC: Your web site serves as a great archive on your extensive work through the years. How long have you ever been operating the site and what are your plans for the future?

SN: I launched the positioning on Halloween of 2013, and it includes a lot of the music stories and horror reviews I’ve written as a freelancer over the previous 40 years. There’s also a piece referred to as “Horror in Vancouver” that features my Fangoria set visits for movies like Deep Rising, Final Destination, and Omen IV. For several years I’ve been digitizing the outdated interviews that I’ve collected on tons of of cassettes since 1982 and have been posting those on my Patreon web page. I’ve obtained the complete audio of over 300 of my uncut, one-on-one interviews with music legends, from AC/DC to ZZ Top, on there. I intend to add hundreds more interviews to the site.

JC: Speaking of Stephen King’s IT, you generously contributed a number of the audio out of your interview with Tim Curry to our new documentary. Looking back on it, what was that have like to fulfill and communicate with both Tim Curry and Bart Mixon, and did you notice at the time what a uncommon alternative it was given that you were the only journalist to visit the set of the miniseries?

SN: At the time I had no idea that I would get a “world exclusive” with Tim Curry. I interviewed him on a wonderful day in Vancouver’s Stanley Park in 1990. He was on his lunch break in the makeup tent, carrying the full Pennywise make-up, with makeup-FX artist Bart Mixon standing by to dab at his work and make occasional comments. I keep in mind starting the interview with a fake pas, calling Curry’s clown character “Pennywhistle” as an alternative of Pennywise, and having him correct me. I guess it didn’t assist a lot that, although I was an enormous Stephen King fan, I hadn’t actually read It. I’d tried once, but discovered it too convoluted. I a lot prefer King’s leaner novels, like Misery and The Dead Zone.

I nonetheless have the whole audio of the interview, which has by no means been published in full, and was hoping that maybe sometime it might be used as a “special feature” on an It Blu-ray or something. It’s out there for the highest bidder if any film studio or Tim Curry fan needs to buy it.

And by the way: I’m not afraid of clowns!

You can watch Pennywise: The Story of IT on SCREAMBOX now!



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