This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 194: Screenwriters Bobby Roe and Zack Andrews Talk About Their Horror Sequel, The Houses October Built 2.
Ashley: Welcome to episode #194 of the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I’m
Ashley Scott Meyers Screenwriter and Blogger over at – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today, I’m interviewing Screenwriters, Bobby Roe, and Zack Andrews, they were on episode #43 of the SYS Podcast. And are now back to talk about the sequel to the original film that I talked about on episode #43, “The Houses October Built – Part 2.” So, stay tuned for that interview.
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So, now let’s get into the main segment, today I’m interviewing Screenwriters Bobby Roe and Zack Andrews, here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Zack and Bobby to, the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I really appreciate you coming on the show and talking with me today.
Bobby: Yeah, thanks for having us.
Ashley: So, you guys were on the Podcast almost 2 years ago, with
“The Houses October Built – Part 1” finished. So, I’m going to refer people to that episode to learn more about your background. And how you kinda got that original film off the ground. So, that’s episode #43 of the SYS Podcast, and we will link to that in the show notes. So, now let’s dig into, “The Houses October Built – 2.” Just to start out, maybe you can give us a quick pitch or a log-line for the film, and what this film is all about?
Bobby: I think it’s about this group of friends, you know, getting back on the road to find the most extreme haunted house.
Ashley: A-huh, perfect. So, how did this.
Bobby: It’s also, no, go ahead Ashley.
Ashley: No, go ahead, no your explanation so go ahead.
Bobby: But I think it’s mostly importantly to expand on the world. You know, I think that’s the biggest thing, you can probably do with it, a sequel is to you know, you need to grow from it. And there is so much in the theaters, that all over the world. That we wanted to show that, and continue the story. Because we never, it was always planned we never finished. Of when we were telling a story, “Part 1” and so, this, this was a continuation. To set a brand new story, and to tell a story as well.
Ashley: Okay, perfect. So, how did this idea for a sequel come about? Was it a creative one as you’re just describing it. Sort of you felt like there was more story to tell. Was it a business one, where the producers and the financier, says, listen, we think we can get this financed because the first one did enough business that it makes a sequel. Maybe, just talk about how a sequel kind of came about?
Bobby: I think it was always we were creating the story. I mean, back in 2010. We always going to have the overall story art, to be these 2 movies together. And we always looked at the first one as just a “Part 1.” And hopefully, it did well enough to speak on your point business wise. It, you know, when it did, we got to continue, you know, that story we wanted to tell. And we just looked at this as an intermission. So, I think that it wasn’t so much of like, well, let’s make the first movie, and then, oh can now let’s come up with another one. We were just kind a like, crossing our fingers and back and hoping that the numbers would allow us, to continue the journey.
Ashley: And so, is it there, potentially enough of a universe for a part 3? Is that 3 part of your intention? And what do you have in mind, just as far as the full scope of this franchise?
Bobby: A, well, we’ll save it, you know, globally, people do Haunts in lots of different ways. And there’s a big world out there. And I think that, that’s you know, our characters can expand on that, we’ll just kinda leave it at that.
Ashley: Okay, okay, perfect. And I wonder if are there some other projects? And I’m just kinda trying to get a sense of the scope, of sort of the entirety of your career? What else are you working on? Aren’t there some other projects that you guys were putting together and pushing forward? And maybe you can just talk about that? Sort of the trials and tribulations of pushing some of these, other projects forward if you have them. And ultimately why they have or you came back to this particular story.
Bobby: Sure (both at the same time) About 5 months ago. We brought on about 9 months ago to re-write a film. And then, direct it actually, in February or March 2018. Which some of the producers of “The Walking Dead.” So, mixed with kind of a nice release for us to. Filming being in post, being something in the haunt world, but having this out, to write a different script. You know, this much more narrative in fashion, and more of a feature. So, that’s been really fun for us to do. We can’t talk too much about it. But that’ll be for next year.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. And I’m curious
Bobby: It’s important,
Ashley: Go ahead.
Zack: But, I was just going to say, you know it’s important for you know, anybody that’s writing or filming. Film makers just have a lot of different things that, different stages of the funnel. Because you know, it all starts with an idea. And then you, got to, flush that idea out. And then, write the screenplay. And then try and get finance thing. And then start production, and then editing. And then hope that it does well. But, there’s so many stages. And so, it’ll, and this film, we’re kind of at the end. And we’ve got to have other movies and other ideas, kind of at different stages of development. Because you just want to say that you can, and it, if you kind of rest on your laurels a little bit, all of a sudden you can pick-up and you’ve got 3 projects at the same time. And you’ve got to stage 1, and we all know how hard it is to get from
stage 1 to stage 99, right? So, I think that’s something that Bobby and I switch to like, you know, a more mature enough in our film making career, have realized. And so, we’ve got different things at different stages. Which is fully good.
Ashley: Yeah, that sounds like good advice for sure. I’m curious too, just in terms of your careers. Do you feel like you’ve been pigeon holed as horror guys? Because your first film was a horror film. And have you tried to work out of that? Or just kind of accepted that and decided to run with that? And just basically, build on that niche.
Zac: I think everybody does, no matter what you are? Comedy, action, horror, you know? In the beginning, we’re going to be held towards that genre. Because it’s easier for the show, if you adhere to trust somebody. You know, and so, we understand that. I mean, If you, that’s probably any occupation in life. Of course, we want to be as well rounded as we can. We love the whole world, and we want to continue to be in that, as long as we can. But sure, there’s other stories we want to tell, and different genres and that. And that’s what it’s going to be about, and you know, and we’re always going to try and, we have those ideas. We have those scripts, and you know, when the time is right for that, you know. Until that happens, you know we love it over in the horror world. It’s fun, and the one thing that keeps people probably forget about us, take for granted is, horror allows for such amazing ideas. You know, just stories, in general. But you, don’t need, “A-List” actors, you know, I’ve noticed, in life. It’s one of the few genres that allows for that. And so that’s what I would any of your inspiring horror writers, that anything can happen at that. Because you don’t actually need Tom Cruise to get it “Green Lighted.” But, you just need a better idea.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, for sure. So, let’s talk about your writing process a little bit. First, let’s just start out with collaborating. How do you guys collaborate, are you in the same room writing? Do you, outline, and divide up scenes. Maybe just take us through your writing process. And even some of the specific tools that you guys use for collaboration.
Zack: Yeah, I think we’re, we used to live together, and so. I think that allowed more you know, of the collaboration in the same room. But now, Bobby’s married with 2 little kids, that not a writing room with kids. So, he can the challenges of that. But, I think that we just always been friends for so long, and writing partners for so long. That we really just trust each other with, we go back and forth with kind of color coated drafts. Until it’s like, okay, it’s your turn to you know, look over these 24 pages and kind of make your notes and edits. And then we hop on the phone, and just discuss them. I know Bobby would feel the same way. That we would set aside, you know, 2 or 3 hours, thinking that we are going to be able to get done. And we get to, you know, we have 20 pages of it, a 95 page script in that amount of time. And we said, it always takes a lot longer. You know, somethings we always move quickly on, and then, it can just be one specific line or scene. That ends up being a 30-minute discussion because, you know, it’s when you’re passionate about. That you want your, you want to take all angles and really know and make sure that you’re going to cut that from the script. Like once you cut it, you, it kinda goes away. And so, we try to make sure that you’re making good choices. And then, if it’s something really, we both are really banging our heads against a wall. We’ll kinda put it out there to a couple of people, there to me as well.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, Bobby, maybe you can speak to the difficulties or the challenges. I should say, being a screenwriter, and having small children. Do you write in your house? Or do you have an office? Do you go outside of the house, to kinda get away from things? Maybe just describe your writing set up.
Bobby: So, yeah. You try to, sometimes you, I have an office in the house. And you try to use it. They someplace. I mean, speaking to all of the dads out there. If you are within a certain range of your children. You know, they want to come see you, or talk to you. In a, and I’m like a very much in this zone person. And you don’t ever want to be a bad dad. You don’t ever want to not be able to go out there, see them, get a hug in. So, you know, there comes a point where some of it is anyone else’s job. You need to find an office, do an office spot outside of the house for a reason. For a certain amount of time. What’s nice about being around others, you have a little bit of liberties, in your scheduled time. And so, hopefully I am able to stay and spend more time with my children. That I would if I was commuting over you know, doing a job further away from home. So, that’s been nice, you do have to be very disciplined. And you have to know when you have to, when you have family and kids around, it’s very, very, tough. But, I’m glad that I can be near them. But, there are certain times when you have that balance.
Ashley: Yeah, for sure. So, how much time do you guys spend outlining, versus actually opening up, “Final Draft” and writing scene script pages.
Bobby: And that starts a big part of us, before we even get into anything. And we want to make sure that, it’s as fine-tuned as we can. Because there’s no reason to go off on some tangent that’s ultimately never going to matter. So, we try to get that, down deeper, deep as much as we can. And Zack’s really good at that. Always, always, just dissecting the ideas. And looking at ourselves and where we need to be. And so, that’s the whole process.
Ashley: And just in terms of
Bobby: It’s cliché that it’s.
Ashley: I’m sorry, go ahead.
Bobby: Like I said, all the in’s it sounds cliché. But, it’s like the you know, the colored index cards, and things like that, I mean, it really does help. You know, there’s a reason why, that somebody’s you know, screenwriting books or suggestions, or whatever. They are helpful, because people had gone on this path before you, and so I think. You know, you kind of find your own message. But, I think it’s important to listen to people, that have been successful in this business. And try to emulate some of this thing that they are doing. Because they are actually saving you a lot of headaches, they’ve already fought the battle.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, just in terms of like actual time. How much did you guys spend on this script, in terms of the outline stage? Are we talking like, are we outlining for a month and then wrote for a month? Maybe, just give us some ballpark figures in terms of time.
Bobby: Well, the hard part about this script is, we had to write in generic haunts. Because we weren’t sure where we were going to shoot? We knew everything, all the expodition, we knew exactly what we needed to, each, you know, formal haunt. But, when you didn’t have the actual geographic location, mixed with the theme of the haunt. Little parts of the story, changed. They also didn’t know where we would have clearance. We really wanted to shoot it, the “Zombie 5K” in Minneapolis, with 30,000 zombies. But, we didn’t know if we would get approved for that? And we did. And the same with the “Zombie Cave.” We just wanted to show some different fun experiences within the confines of Halloween Haunting and how simple, we spoke from you know, call it something “Haunt A” call something else “Haunt B.” And we wrote the narrative within that. And the second we got approval, then there was a 3rd. Not an over-haul script, but. Call it a 20% change. Because we think, and then we would have an idea scene of let’s change our scene this way. So, you just have to kind of call some audibles when you’re shooting on live sets with a movie making vets.
Ashley: So, what is your development process, look like? So, you’ve spent a while, while you develop this script. You’ve written it up. And then how does that develop process look like? Do you send it out to the actors? In this case you’re in kind of a unique position. You’re using many of the same actors from the first movie. Did you send it to them, to get feedback? Do you send it to the producers, and financiers what is your development process, look like? Who do you get notes from?
Bobby: Yeah, we get some from, you know, with Michael, who’s one of the actors who plays my brother, he’s like a brother. Although, we’ve always held back, you know with him, he gave and was able to separate himself, and get it in a constructive way. And then, there are certain parts with Randy, including the finale at the end. We didn’t want her to see everything around the corner. Because I think it’s helpful on trying to get away from you know, the standard four trumps that come with found footage. We want things to feel as organic as possible. And sometimes, you know, you can’t fake a scare, you just, one of the hardest things for an actor to do, is play drunk. Like, little things like, that, you want to make sure we have the believability acting going on. So, I think everybody kind of has a different role in that, in how we get this movie completely safe. But, yeah, there’s people we have a, probably about 10 people a trust circle we have, that we go back and forth with. But we don’t improve the actors. Zack and kind of go from there.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. And was there any.
Zack: And I think the
Ashley: Go ahead. I’m sorry, go ahead.
Bobby: I think to more of answer your question? About, you know, showing somebody the full script. This, I think we kinda did it more in scenes with people, you know, just a, sometimes you would give Brandy a change a scene, then the night before, and she’s like, “Oh my Gosh, we’re going to go through this?!” Yep! Because we didn’t want her to you know, act too much of an expectations of what she is doing. And then at other times, sometimes it would be something we would need to kind of get to, or hell he’d just be in the moment. And the other thing, that’s why Brandy is so key to this film is, she really is a team player, and a trooper and she is, trusts us to know, that we know what we’re doing. And she just kinda sometimes has to blindly just go within the dark with us that I hope that, that helps the authenticity, the organic-ness of having a cool moment that we can capture on film that you just couldn’t even write it.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, talk to me just quickly about the approval. You just said, you know, getting approval. Talk about just sort of the steps of this thing? Did the financiers of this film, did they finance you or basically “Green-Light” you before the script. Or was it more like, okay you guys write a script and then we’ll talk? How did that process actually go?
Bobby: When you have a “Part 1” when you are able to be fortunate enough to have a successful movie, that’s going to follow along the same lines and story. Trust is so much different, than one, when we walked into “Part 1.” When nobody knew exactly what we were going to execute? They didn’t have that trust factor going on. So, for part 2 we were able to kinda be a little bit more-close to the chest about certain things. Because by the financiers trusted us from “Part1” and that made it a process of little bit easier. And you’re allowed to take a little bit more chances. Sometimes on paper, people are a scratch their head at, and don’t understand.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. So, How can people see
Zack: And I think that, it says a little bit about Mark, (Inaudible) and I think what Bobby is saying is I think, when the numbers came in to support it equal, it was great that he, it was just you guys, I trust you guys, got it figured out. He was such a big fan of us, and being first time film makers. Then he was able to say, I believe you guys. You guys will come up with something great. And he just said, go to it. I got a rare thing to be with us. To have that absorption. With him reportedly doing more stuff with him in the future.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah, for sure. So, how can people see that, “Houses October Built 2?” Do you know what the release schedule is going to be like?
Bobby: Well, it’s in theaters like, DOD day release. And it’ll be playing in the major cities of East Chicago, Dallas, Miami, New York, Houston, Seattle, Cleveland, I’m probably missing one or two, in there. But, most of the major cities, it’ll be playing in there. But, if you’re not within those cities, it’ll be out on DOD, and you can always catch Part 1 is still on that, on NetFlix.
Ashley: Perfect, and what’s the best way.
Bobby: And I advise anybody that’s with me, to see, or re-watch “Part 1.” I think it’s very helpful, especially since the two movies button up. So, If you are listening to this and you haven’t seen it in a while? I would definitely see “Part 1, again.”
Ashley: Okay. Perfect, perfect. So, how can people, sorry, what’s the best way for people to keep up with what you’re doing? If you have a blog, website, Facebook, Twitter. Anything you feel comfortable sharing? I will round all that up and put it in the show notes. But, you can just give us that information now.
Bobby: Sure, the Facebook site for the movie, is basically follows along with what we are doing. And then the Instagram, is just – Octoberbuilt, which is almost portfolio tried, you know, there’s a lot of head shots of scare actors, and cool, behind the scenes pics. Stuff like that, that really sticks out of, so we kept up with almost 4 or 5 years. There’s a lot of stuff there. And Zack and I are both on Twitter on @BobbyRoe1. And Zack is, @ZackAndrews, is what? 13
Bobby: Everyone should start there.
Ashley: Perfect. I will round all that up and put it in the show notes. Bobby and Zack another great interview, I really appreciate it. Congratulations on getting another film finished. And I look forward to you your next film.
Bobby: Okay, very good, thanks, great talking to you.
Ashley: I just want to mention two things I am doing at “Selling Your Screenplay” to help screenwriters find producers that are looking for new material.
First I’ve created a monthly newsletter that will be sent directly to producers. Every member of SYS Select can submit one log-line per newsletter, per month. I went and Emailed my large database of Industry contacts and asked them if they would like to receive this newsletter of monthly pitches. So far I have well over 400 producers who have signed-up to receive it. These producers are hungry for new material and are happy to read scripts from new writers. So, if you would like to participate in this pitch newsletter and get your script into the hands of lots of producers. Sign-up at – www.sellingyourscreenplayselect.com, that’s – www.sellingyourscreenplayselect.com.
And secondly I’ve contacted one of the premier paid screenwriting leads sites. So I can syndicate their leads onto SYS Select members. There are lots of great paid leads coming in each week from our partner. Recently I’ve been getting about five to ten, high quality paid screenwriting leads per week. These are producers and production companies who are actively looking to buy material. Or are looking to hire a screenwriter for a specific project. If you
sign-up for SYS Select you’ll get these leads Emailed to you directly several times per week. These leads run the gambit from production companies looking for a specific type of spec. script. To producers looking to hire a screenwriter to write up one of their ideas, or properties. Producers are looking for shorts, features, TV and web series pilots, it’s a huge aray of different types of projects that these producers are looking for. And these leads are exclusive to our partner and
SYS Select members. To sign-up again, go to – www.sellingyourscreenplayselect.com, again that’s – www.sellingyourscreenplayselect.com
On the next episode of the Podcast I’m going to be interviewing Spanish Screenwriter and Director Mateo Gil, he wrote the original “Open Your Eyes” screenplay. Which starred Penelope Cruise, and went on to be made into the film called, “Vanilla Sky” in this country. So, we talk about his latest sci-fi film called, “Realive” which he wrote and directed. So, keep an eye out for that episode next week.
To wrap things up, I just want to touch on a few things from today’s interview with Bobby and Zack. One of the things that stood out to me as they were talking was? The part that they mentioned about having a lot of different projects in-between various stages of development. This is so important. I’ve recently been Emailing back and forth with a screenwriter, who is just stuck, and I would say, in sort of development hell with her project. She’s been re-writing it, she submitted it to a number of different analyst services, contests and she’s just wondering? You know, why hasn’t it gone further in contests. I’m trying to re-write it. And I just get the sense that she’s being a little bit of a perfectionist on this one script. And it’s a balancing act. But, I feel like, what Bobby and Zack are kinda getting at, is you need scripts in different stages of development. And the reason for that, is because you’re not going to ever know which ones are actually going to take off. And which ones are actually going to go. So, if you just, you’ve got one project going. It may or may not go and back to the woman I was talking about. She’s just constantly re-writing this one project, submitting it to contests. She’s been Emailing me to see if maybe my SYS Script Analysis Service, might be of use to her. And my advice really, in those situations is? To just finish the script and move onto another script.
That’s just so important. Because then you’ve got 2 scripts out there ready to go. And again, it’s a balancing act, you don’t want to be just writing drack, and pushing it out, it’s got to be polished, and up to professional standards. But, by the same token, you don’t want to spend 5 years working on it, the same script. You’ve got to be pushing it, material out there. Getting different projects going. And I try and hold myself up as an example of this. Obviously, I have my feature film,
“The Pinch.” Which is done, wrapping post-production on as we speak. I also have a number of other writing assignments, I mention on the Podcast episodes. I have these two TV Pilots that I have been working with a producer. So, these are very, very, early stages of sort of development. “The Pinch” is sort of at the end of the development process. I don’t, I also have a number of scripts optioned, and are at various stages. Some of them have been really written a lot. At least now, trying to raise some money. Some of them probably need a little bit of polish. Some of them the directors or producers are trying to attach talent. So, I’ve got a good number of projects in different stages of development. And again, I just think that’s so important. I’m going to be lucky if any of these, scripts go, you know, I’ve got, I’ve also got some in the early stages. I’ve talked, since doing the Podcast, I’ve my thriller, my female driven thriller, that I wrote last spring. I also polished up my Rom-Com last winter. Again, these are just scripts that I’ve got out there, and that I’m trying to get going. I’ve gotten a little bit of interest on both of those. There’s no formal Option Agreement. But, I found a little bit of it, just on those. Again, those are really early stage, of what you can really expect with a script, just finding a little bit of interest. Maybe there will be an option agreement around those? Maybe there will, and maybe they won’t? But again, I’m just, I have more projects than I can push out. And then, A good example The
Rom-Com, I just mentioned that I re-wrote last winter. It was an old script that I had wrote many years ago, it just needed an update. So, I went and spent quite a bit of time re-writing it. Sent it out to some of my contacts. And just sort of coincidentally, a month or so, after I had finished up the polish or two. Or three months after I had finished up the polish. I got an Email from a director, whom I have worked with before. And he said, he had a friend who was just doing financing for a film. He had taken place in a restaurant he was looking to promote. So, again I had this script, coincidentally, that script that I had just polished up. It takes place 60%-70% takes place in a restaurant, the bar. So that way, it was the perfect script for his needs. And again, if I hadn’t had a script, very that he was looking for in this case. Something that takes place. Apparently in a restaurant. I wouldn’t have been able to work on this with him. And if you’ve got, you know, 3, 4, 5, 6, or maybe even 10 or 12 polished scripts. It’s just going to give you a much greater chance of finding a match. Ever are producers looking for, you’ve got 15 polished scripts, and a producer comes to you, and says, I need this, that, and the other. There’s a good chance that those 15 scripts that you’ve got are polished up and ready to go. But, you’re going to have something that’s a good fit. I only have one script. that’s super polished, super developed, that’s great help. However, you’re going to miss down the line, a lot of opportunities. And this just a trickles down, I get the leads from “Ink Tip” every week. I send out leads myself, to
SYS Select, that service. Again, in those cases, the producers are looking for are very, very, specific. And if you only have one script. It’s going to be very, very, tough, for you to constantly be submitting those types of submissions. Because you just won’t have a script. Whether it be different genres, female horror scripts. You know, scripts that a certain location. I see those types of scripts all the time, in Ink Tip and through SYS Select Leads, when you’re sending out. There will be a producer who has access to a very special specific location. Saw one a couple of weeks ago, that was a school wanted something that takes place primarily in a school.
I’d seen one location was, he had a rural farm house. And clearly, those producers had a list of those locations. And so, they’re trying to find a good script, that they can shoot and take advantage of this location that they have. So again, it’s a fine line and it’s a balancing act. You don’t want to just push out stuff that’s not developed, not polished. By the same token don’t want to spend too long just constantly rewriting, trying to polish a script. It’s better at some point, to just move on and to have more scripts. Than it is to have one very, very, polished script. It’s probably better to have 5 scripts, even if they are not quite as polished, But, obviously still have to be up to professional standards.
Anyway, that’s the show, thank you for listening.