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Journey of a Screenwriter
Monday, February 15, 2010
Interview with Travis Legge of Raymond Did It
How did you get started writing screenplays?
I had been writing comic book scripts. I don’t draw so I had to find an artist. That search eventually led to doing the horror role playing game Contagion. After that I enrolled in the excellent film production program at Rock Valley College. That taught me a lot about filmmaking. I started making very simple comedy shorts and just fell in love with the process of making movies. I worked my way up to where I felt ready to tackle a feature.
Were you always a horror fan?
Horror has always been one of my favorite genres. I grew up in a very small town. Its one saving grace was that it had a video store with an excellent B movie selection. I saw Evil Dead and I Spit On Your Grave probably at a much younger age than I should have. From there I discovered the classic EC Comics and then explored the rest of the genre.
How did you come up with the idea for Raymond Did It?
I’d always wanted to write a slasher film and on the Troma website there was an open call for screenplays. I started writing it but I liked it so much I decided to make it my feature film debut instead of submitting it.
How did you go about writing the script?
I just sat down and wrote it. Typically when I write, something just pops into my head and I sit down and bang out a first draft as fast as I can. I like to get that out of the way as quickly as possible then rewrite it. I’ll have music playing normally as I write, music that’s appropriate to the scene I’m working on. I also keep a number of windows open with Google or other search engines so I can research while I write. That’s a habit I picked up while working on Contagion. For example there’s a scene in the script where a character, who’s had a very rough time, is reaching for her prescribed medicine. Originally I just had “she reaches for her medicine” but after I did some research I found out what kind of pills she would be taken given the kind of trauma she had suffered. That helped further define the character.
What was the hardest part of writing the script?
Writing entire scenes where there was little or no dialogue. It’s a big change from my shorts which were comedies and had a lot of dialogue. But it helps that I will be directing this movie so I can be more visual with my writing.
What was the easiest part?
Writing the kills. We have a lot of them and they have a lot of variation. They were a lot of fun.
Were you at all concerned about the budget?
Budget should be the last thing a writer is concerned about. I am very fortunate to have Tim Stotz as my DP and Robert Williams as my editor. They were available when I was writing. If there was a section I had a question about, I’d just call up and ask, “Can you manage X, Y and Z” and they’d usually say “Sure, no problem.” I also can’t say enough about the Rock Valley College Filmmaking program which, when it comes to equipment and know how, I put on par with Columbia’s. I really learned a lot. I learned what you can shoot and what you can fix in post. So writing a practical script wasn’t a problem for me.
What are some of your other horror projects?
I did a short for Nation Undead. This is a site that is collecting zombie related shorts from all over. When they get enough they intend to edit them all together as a feature movie.
What is the status of Raymond?
We’re in pre-production. We’ve already acquired one half of our targeted budget. We’ve secured Lindsey Felton (Caitlin’s Way and Scream Queens) to play Tammy. We also have Elissa Dowling (Clive Barker’s Dread) on board as well. We sent Elissa the audition sides and she asked for the completed script. After she read the script she committed to the project.
Anything you’d like to add in closing?
Read a lot. Write a lot. Don’t be afraid to bend or break the rules. There are no such things as rules, there are guidelines. But apart from formatting the guidelines were all meant to be broken or bent. I got this far because I was too dumb to know better and it paid off.
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