The end credits of Wes Craven’s Scream had something to say about the school board that withdrew filming permissions at the very last minute.
In an era where services such as Netflix cut the credits short, and cinema ushers tend to move in as soon as they start, it appears it’s very much the exception rather than the rule to sit through the list of names of everyone involved in a particular production at the end of a movie.
A pity though. Not only do you get the appreciation of just how much sheer heft is involved in bringing even the weakest of movies to the screen, but just occasionally, you find a little titbit hidden in there that’s worth going off and finding a bit more about.
A case in point is to be found in the end credits of Wes Craven’s post-modern horror thriller, Scream. The film is, as you more than likely know, a mix of comedy and horror, and it was a big surprise hit in 1996. Not only that, it spawned a host of imitators, several sequels and a TV series. Another sequel is also on its way, that’s due for release in 2021.
Production on the first film though was not without its challenges. In particular, because the movie was going to be set in a high school, director Craven and his team needed to find one willing to be used by the production. And all concerned thought they’d struck gold when they happened upon Santa Rose High School, located in Santa Rosa, California.
The local school board was sounded out to see if it’d be open to hosting filming, and pre-production work got underway on the movie. Outline permission had been granted to the filmmakers and a reported verbal agreement arrived at with the school board, although there was a problem just around the corner. But still, the school was no stranger to the movies, with the film Peggy Sue Got Married one of those shot there previously.
And yet with shooting edging very close, someone at the aforementioned school board decided to have a proper look at the script. And the film it had assumed was a high school comedy turned out to be, well, not. The governing board struggled with the frisky characters and the assorted murders, and promptly withdrew permission for filming. This was very late in the day, and it had ramifications.
What’s more, as you might expect, this did not go down well. The production was forced at the very last minute to seek an alternate location, and one was just about sought in time. In the end, the movie would film in another area of California. But a fuming Wes Craven very much wanted to have his say on the matter.
As such, scroll through to those end credits of Scream, and here’s the special tribute to the Santa Rose City School District Governing Board…
Yet the impact for the area in which the school fell would go beyond being called out in the end credits to a film that grossed more than $100m in the US alone. As this article from Metro Active notes, the area found itself with a bad name amongst some in Hollywood, with the California Film Commission offering a warning that the Sonoma County area had been “film unfriendly”.
Craven, as you might expect, elected to film the Scream sequels elsewhere (although some location work was still shot in the area for the first film). It wasn’t just Craven though who would give the area a miss, as word spread about what had happened on Scream. Many other productions seemed to look further afield too. In fact, in the two years after the whole Scream furore, only one Hollywood production – Lawrence Kasdan’s underrated movie Mumford – would shoot in the area.
The unsaid was that the area had been blacklisted by film productions. This was never formal or admitted, but the notable drop off in films shooting in the area was pretty clear. In fact, according to Sonoma County’s own film database on its website, only the Bruce Willis-headlined Bandits would shoot in Santa Rosa in the 2000s, and The Animal and Bottle Shock were the two features filmed in the city of Sonoma in the same area.
In fact, it only seems that in recent times fortunes have reversed. The TV series 13 Reasons Why appears to have brought high profile, major filmmaking back to the area, and that suggests a brighter future for filming in and around Santa Rosa. That said, there’ll always be the footnote in those Scream credits to remind anyone interested just how it managed to piss off a major Hollywood director.
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