29 March, 2009

Script Study: "Heathers"


The Hollywood Interview:

"First there were the John Hughes teen films. Then there was Heathers. To truly understand the impact of Heathers on the teen/high school genre of feature films, it certainly helps to have lived through the 80s. But when it arrived in theaters in 1989, Heathers was like the first blasts of punk demolishing the stale and bloated dinosaurs of 70s rock. It was a black comedy about murder and suicide in a genre where the endings generally featured the nerdy lead winning over their true love at the prom or its equivalent. Heathers, on the other hand, concluded with Winona Ryder trying to stop her romantic interest Christian Slater from blowing up the entire high school. The dialogue was laced with comedic arsenic, and quickly became oft-quoted. Its influences can be traced directly to hits of today like Juno and Mean Girls, along with blatant rip-offs like 1999’s Jawbreaker. Think the Plastics of Mean Girls were totally original? How very."

The story of you writing Heathers while working in a video store is all true?


Daniel Waters:
Yeah, and I was doing it before I knew it was a cliché [laughs]. It was in Silver Lake and everyone thinks it was one of the cool video stores in Silver Lake. I was in the least cool video store [laughs]. There’s a Jon Voight movie called Conrack where he goes to the South and teaches kids. That’s like the video store I was at. Teaching poor children not to rent Zone Troopers just because it’s a new release, and to rent Alien instead. It’s funny, you know, I’ve been talking a lot recently about the importance of naivete. When I came out here, I didn’t read Variety. I didn’t know what scripts were hot and what scripts weren’t hot. I just wrote Heathers because I wanted to see Heathers. And it certainly wasn’t a movie that anyone thought would get made, even though it did get me a lot of attention. Everyone was always like, “Oh, well, what a great writing sample.” But I think the naivete of just writing in the first place was very important. I think a lot of upcoming writers today are just way too savvy in certain ways. They try to think in a manner like, “I hear horror films aren’t hot right now.” Well, my rule is if Variety says something isn’t hot, that’s when you should start writing it. If Variety says something’s hot, then it’s already dead." "

Article in full


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Pretty Scary:

"You were a late twenties-er when Heathers was made into a film. What possessed you to write Heathers, and why from the point of view of a girl facing an evil clique instead of the point of view of a guy?


Daniel Waters:
Heathers was written purely out of my own consumer need to see a film about teenagers that had the comical sting of real high school. No offense to John Hughes, but your “heart dies” way before you become an adult. As far as a female protagonist is concerned, adult white men may rule the world, but in high school, they're a bunch of clueless goofballs. The high school power center is female-at that age, boys are checkers and girls are chess. Anybody can do “nerd trying to get laid”. The politics and psychology of a teenage female-now that's an exhilarating challenge!"

Article in full

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Heathers - shooting script

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Heathers is free with The Observer today

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