Victor Miller [Interview]

Victor Miller
Happy Halloween everyone!  And welcome to Day 5 of Trainwreck’d Society’s 1st Annual Week of Horror Celebration!  It has been great to get to share the words given to us by so many fine folks involved in the world of horror, and film in general.  We’ve spoken with some great folks, and today is no different!
Today we have the distinct privilege of speaking with the man who created the original story behind one of the biggest horror franchises of all time.  Yes, this is Victor Miller.  Horror fans around the world should be familiar with his name.  And if not, take a look at yourself in the mirror once again and ask how big of a fan you truly are?  Fans of Friday the 13th definitely know the man as the one of the folks who helped kick off the world of Jason Voorhees as we know it.  Well, maybe not exactly as we “know it” (read further on to fully understand), but he is the writer on which the entire series was based.  The idea of a vengeance being brought upon horny and negligent teenagers and young people was born in this man’s brain when he penned the one and only, the original, Friday the 13th.  Mr. Miller has also accomplished so much outside of the Friday the 13th series, including winning three Primetime Emmys!  We were so fortunate enough to have Victor share a few words with us on our last day of our Week of Horror to talk about the Friday series, his past works, and some beautiful reflection on the world of horror, writing, film, and all sorts of things in which he has had great experience with over the years.  Enjoy, and thanks for reading everyone!
What kind of books did you read in your youth?  Were there any of them that inspired you to become a man of the word, as I like to call it?
I did not pick up words by reading.  I emerged from my mother’s womb speaking. Fiction appealed to me as my first memory is of lying to my mother about what I was doing with the neighbor girl in the bathroom when I was 3 or 4.  I thought in metaphors before I knew what one was. All pre-verbal memories are encoded pictures. From that inauspicious beginning I became me. I kept imagining new selves for myself and that helped me with the screenwriting.  As the middle child I figured I should entertain everyone to keep the craziness at bay.
I’ve heard that you have never watched the rest of the Friday the 13th franchise because you didn’t like that Jason became the killer (or survived at all).  Is this still so?  And would you care to explain further as to why you disagree with the route the franchise went?
Jason was dead. Brining him back to life may have been a revenue stream, but it eviscerated Mrs. Voorhees’ raison d’ murder.
Have you ever attempted to stop or alter the sequels or the “remake”?
I don’t have the rights, so that question is moot.
You have been pretty clear about the simplistic reality in the making Friday the 13th.  You’ve said that it took you two weeks to write and it was made to cash in on the success of Halloween.  So in that respect, if you were able to pull yourself away personally for a moment….which would you consider to be the better piece of work, Friday or Halloween?  
Friday simply because I made a mother become a super-villain, breaking the boundaries of horror and rewarding me with a fantasy mom who would kill to punish anyone who was mean to her kid.  My own mom might have said if I had drowned: “I told you not to go near the water. You are not a very good swimmer.”
Although Friday the 13th is an absolutely wonderful film, I found myself more drawn to 1982’s A Stranger Is Watching.  I don’t read much Mary Higgins Clark, but what you brought to the screen was incredible.  What was it like to adapt Clark’s work?  How much did you change, leave the same, or alter in some way?
If I recall correctly, I had to completely change the approach from Ms. Clark’s narrative style to lay out a story that made visual sense. Like any good novelist, she took twists and turns and wove a really good book that couldn’t be adapted flat out, page by page.
Victor Miller 3How did you enjoy the final product brought to the screen?
I liked it. I was disappointed in the publicity which promised a film from the folks who brought you Friday the 13th. Stranger was not a horror film. It was terror and so our audience was less than thrilled inasmuch as they wanted what they had seen from Crystal Lake.
Did you know if Mary ever saw the adaptation?
I never met or spoke with her, so i don’t know.
What exactly happened between you and Mr. Cunningham during the pre-production of Spring Break?
I wrote a few drafts and he called me on the phone one morning and said they were going another way which is movie-speak for you are fired. Inasmuch as we had been the very best of friends for many years, I was stunned that he didn’t tell me face to face.  End of story.
I understand you have a cameo coming up in the Victor Mathieu’s upcoming film Carnie Ville.  How did this come to be?
All thanks to The BIg Bear Lake Horror Film Festival where we met and I begged and pleaded for a chance to show what a terrible actor I am.  I got to play the shrink who tells the female lead she should go to a Carnival to get over her fear of clowns. In real life I should have had my therapist’s license revoked.  She goes and the rest is first-rate horror from Victor Mathieu.
How did you manage to get in to the world of writing for Soap Operas?
I was asked by a guy I had met through Sean if I would be interested in writing for the soaps. The people, the work, and the regular paycheck closed the deal for me.
What do you enjoy most about writing for Soap Operas?
That it was a group process. My background had been in improvisational theatre and writing in a group is like improvisation while seated around a table, drinking coffee and eating bad Chinese food.  I hate writing alone. I enjoyed playing with other people for money and fun. Currently I have co-authored three screenplays on Skype with folks and have enjoyed the hell out of it.
There has been quite a bit of drama behind the camera for the world of Soap Operas these days it seems.  In your obvious professional opinion, what do you see happening to that world?  Will it ever be the same again?
The trial of O.J. Simpson sealed the fate of daytime. We lost half our audience when the trial began and half of those folks never returned after he was judged innocent. Then came the lightbulb for the bean counters that “reality” TV was much much cheaper than paying actors and storing sets and paying writers all that money.  I love Judge Judy, but she has two sets, a bunch of producers and one major star.  We also saw the beginning of almost every nighttime drama series becoming serialized…. Before that you could run a nighttime show in any order. Now you have to follow the story line just like daytime did.  Daytime drama simply got replaced by cheaper products with comparatively low production costs.
We always ask the award winners this question….So, where do you keep your Emmy’s and is there any significance? 
I am vaguely embarrassed to say I have them on the mantelpiece so that people can see them as soon as they come in. I could not be prouder of the work I did with Agnes Nixon and my fellow writers on All My Children especially. (All 3 Emmys are for AMC)
You obviously have so much to be proud of in your career.  But, what would you consider to be your greatest accomplishment as a published author, screenwriter, and more?
Not being a dick.
What are your plans for Halloween?
To turn off the porch light and watch nighttime TV hoping no one rings our bell. There are 2 kinds of people in this world: people who like to wear costumes and people who do not. I am in the latter category. So is my wife.  In our neighborhood the kids can go through five pounds of free candy in an hour, the dog barks and I am too old to get up every time a Hello Kitty or a Jason knocks. My bad.
Victor Miller2What was the last thing that made you smile?
The people at Monster-Con in San Antonio.  The vibes were fabulous. The warmth and acceptance and outpouring back and forth could not have been sweeter. And the fact that this morning’s Google Horoscope told me not to be a dick.
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About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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