Q&A: Sean Clark on “THE BLACK WATERS OF ECHO’S POND”
With THE BLACK WATERS OF ECHO’S POND now flowing on DVD and Blu-ray from Anchor Bay, screenwriter and associate producer Sean Clark sat down with FANGORIA to give us the gory details of the supernatural chiller.
FANGORIA: Where did the concept for BLACK WATERS come from? Was it based on any urban legends or myths?
SEAN CLARK: The original concept was director/co-writer Gabriel Bologna’s. He wrote a draft with another writer, and I was given that script to read by a producer friend of mine, Michael Shahoud, just to give my opinion. I told him what I thought, and he asked me if I would meet with Gabriel and tell him personally. I did, and we immediately hit it off. I was being pretty kind and not bashing it too hard, until he looked me square in the eyes and said, “If this was your film, what would you do?” So I really tore it apart and gave it to him straight. He sat there for a moment taking it all very well, and said, “Go for it!” I said, “What?” He said, “Go for it. Rewrite it.” So I did. What I turned in was very different from his script, but the core idea was still there. The game, the Greek mythology and such—that all came from Gabe. I just took that and ran with it, and it was my version that got the project greenlighted.
FANG: When you were writing the movie, did you have any specific actors in mind?
CLARK: I absolutely did. I always thought of Danielle Harris as the lead, Kathy. She’s a friend, but at that time, she and I had had some sort of falling out. Honestly, I don’t even remember what it was over, but for whatever reason we were not speaking. So I wrote the part with her in mind, but gave it to another actress, Hanna Hall. Then, about two weeks before filming, she had to back out for personal reasons. The producers came to me in a panic and asked me if I had anyone else in mind for the part, and I said, “Danielle, but I don’t know if she will even talk to me.” I reached out to her, and she was very professional and read the script and loved it. So we put our differences aside, and have been close ever since.
As for other roles, I did write Rick for James Duval. I originally wrote Erica and Renee as two best pals with no one in particular in mind, but after becoming good friends with Elise and Electra Avellan, I went back and rewrote them as twin sisters, which changed the script a great deal.
CLARK: Very different, especially since what I do on HORROR’S HALLOWED GROUNDS isn’t very scripted. It’s more of a reality show, with some spoof skits tossed in here and there. Writing a script is a lot more work.
FANG: How long was the process from the beginning stages of filming to the final edit of BLACK WATERS?
CLARK: It was a 19-day shoot, and then once the first rough cut was put together, it was pretty obvious the opening didn’t work at all. Sometime things work on paper, but on screen is another story. Another issue everyone seemed to have was the Pan character, who is like a goat-man. No one understood what he meant or why he was there. I always thought of him as a puppetmaster; he was the one pulling the strings from the shadows. Their attitude was that he was just confusing, so let’s just cut him out of the film all together. Well, the big problem was that we had already started promoting the hell out of the film, and the key artwork featured him quite prominently. So they said, “Well then, you need to figure out how to put him in the movie more!”
They gave us some more money, and I completely rewrote the opening and thought up a few more ways to stick Pan in there. A year and a month after principal photography had wrapped, we were back doing three days of reshoots. After a few others gave cutting the film a crack with little success, I was asked to go in with editor Andrew Cohen and see what we could do. He and I hit it off immediately, and we were on the same page. Working with Andrew taught me a lot about editing, and I believe I really have a talent for it. During that process, we realized we were still missing a couple of very small shots to help tie a few things together. So Gabe and I went to his parent’s house in Beverly Hills and did a day of pickup shots, and we were finally done.
FANG: How grueling of a process was it to transform actor Kurt Carley into Pan each day he worked?
CLARK: It wasn’t too bad. He had finger extensions and some hair added to his arms, but that was about it, with the exception of the animatronic head Patrick Mcgee made. That took a couple of guys to work via remote control. You never really see him below the waist, so it wasn’t too bad. I actually finally acquired the Pan head from Patrick recently. I own almost every key prop from the film now.
FANG: What do you have coming next?
CLARK: Well, I’ve been really fortunate lately to be working quite a bit on Shout! Factory’s Scream Factory line and producing new episodes of HORROR’S HALLOWED GROUNDS for a lot of their new DVD and Blu-ray releases. In the last 12 months I’ve done HALLOWEEN II, HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH, THE HOWLING, THE FOG and PRINCE OF DARKNESS. I’ve also moderated audio commentaries on THE FOG, HALLOWEEN III and, with Wes Craven, both SWAMP THING and DEADLY BLESSING.
As for another feature film, I would absolutely love to get back into it. I have a rough draft for a slasher film called SUGAR that I really want to direct, but until my busy schedule gives me the chance, I am quite happy doing what I’m doing for the time being.