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Interview with "Running Scared" Writer/Director Wayne Kramer


Interview with "Running Scared" Writer/Director Wayne Kramer

Paul Walker stars in "Running Scared."

© New Line Cinema
Page 2

Wayne Kramer Expects the Audience to Interact with “Running Scared:” “I’ve always said that this film is very interactive. I’ve been to a couple of audience screenings and I can tell you the beats where they start like talking back to the screen. The whole pedophile scene, you can just start to feel sort of the anxiety building and sort of the silent chanting which then becomes vocal like, ‘Do it, do it. Do it!’ You know what I mean?

I totally miss these kinds of movies that are these visceral, adrenaline rush experiences because Hollywood has become about the PG-13 watered-down film. And I remember growing up and seeing ‘The Warriors’ and even ‘48 Hours’ was a tough movie. You know, we think of it more as comedic today but that was R rated, just for the language itself. And the Peckinpah stuff and ‘Scarface,’ which is a classic. And I felt like the momentum of a movie like ‘Carlito’s Way,’ you know having to make it through the night and stuff like that. ‘Dirty Harry’…”

“Running Scared” also shares a similar tone to Charles Bronson’s work. “Oh yeah. It’s definitely got a Charles Bronson vibe. I don’t want to sound cheesy at all here when I mention this example of a movie that kind of seemed like wired through my brain on a subconscious level, but it was a Steven Seagal movie, ‘Out for Justice,’ you know where it takes place over the course of a night and he’s got to find the guy who’s killed his buddy. I’ll tell you, that is a bad a** movie - that movie. …To me that was the last like really real movie he made. They called it ‘Out for Justice’ but I remember that movie’s original title was ‘The Price of Our Blood.’ I thought that would have been a much better title.”

Wayne Kramer on Casting the Kids and the Film’s Tone: “I knew it was going to be challenging to find the right kids to be believable because if the kids did not work, I mean if it turned into Project Greenlight or something, the movie would fall apart. And initially the challenge is, ‘Is any parent out there going to let their kid do this movie?’ It turned out there were a lot of them. The parents also understood that we were not going for something exploitive in a sense that the kid was going to be uncomfortable. Even the most controversial scene in the film you never see anyone touch a kid. You don’t see a kid without their clothes on. It’s really implied but the tone is there.

It’s gritty and it’s dark and these kids are thrown into a violent, Grimms fairy tale nightmare. And I thought that played really well. The subtext became more apparent to me as I was heading towards production. I said to myself one day, ‘You know what I’ve got here? It’s a Grimms fairy tale canvas.’ Like the pimp is the Mad Hatter and the hooker is the Blue Fairy. The Dez and Edele house is the gingerbread house and they’re the witches. I tried to evoke that with like the silhouettes in the window in the bathroom. The music... All of it is very hallucinogenic. And using hand crank cameras to accentuate moments of tension and violence and just the color palettes.

My cinematographer James Whitaker, who worked with me on ‘The Cooler’ too, I just think he does an amazing job in creating this bruised look to the film. Like these damaged characters that populate this universe. But if you did not get any of that subtext, I think you still enjoy it as a straight mob thriller if you’re a fan of the genre. We do try to tie it together with the animated title sequence at the end where it takes you back through moments of the film, but this time in a very overtly Grimms’ painted way.”

Wayne Kramer Allowed His Actors Freedom with the Script: “Well that’s the thing. As a writer/director, once I put on the director’s hat then I’m the director and I’m going to do what’s best for the scene so I do give my actors a lot of leeway. When I want them to stick to a very particular line, I will emphasize that. But you don’t get a really from the gut kind of performance if you try to restrain them. One of the things about this film is that it’s a crazy primal scream and if you set actors loose with no brakes, you’re going to get the level of profanity, you know? I mean it was a pretty profane script to start with but I think it doubled on screen and that’s because I’m not stepping in there in moments of extreme tension or anger and saying, ‘You’ve got to dial it down.’ I just want them to go with what comes out. The film is exhausting and intense and Paul goes to such lengths but that’s because I was never putting the brakes on him.

It was funny. There was an actress in a scene who came to me and said – she was wearing a night dress or a gown or something and she said, ‘You know, is it a problem if my nipples are showing from beneath here?’ And I said, ‘No. Why would that be a problem?’ They’re so used to doing PG-13 movies where that’s such a consideration.”

Page 3: The Ending of "Running Scared" - Spoiler Alert

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