EXCLUSIVE: Beau McCombs – Best Screenplay of FFA’18 (Interview)

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The SAW saga has left its mark on the horror genre since it graced the screen with its premiere in 2004. For over a decade horror buffs have been exposed to the creations and ‘tests’ of Jigsaw.  With such terror and scares, comes the opposite of humor and laughter. Comedic horror is nothing new, but is rarely pulled off right.
One of the few that have been able to create the perfect balance is none other than Beau McCombs with Litteraly a Saw Parody. It was no contest that he is our winner for Best Screenplay for the 2018 Fan Film Awards. His short had left our judges both holding onto their seats and rolling in them by the end of the film!
Here is our interview from Beau McCombs on his twist to the SAW universe and what inspired him to contribute his humorous take to the franchise.
What inspired you to create the film? Are you a horror film fan?  What made you chose the SAW universe as the setting for your film?
I have two cats that I adore. However cat litter is hands-down the grossest substance on the planet, and I have to look at it, sift through it every day. Because my mind often wonders in ways like this but thought occurred to me “could I eat a box of cat litter to save my wife’s life?”, which opened the door to so many other questions: would it even be physically possible to eat that much cat litter? Could my stomach hold it all? If I were in this position, how would I approach it, litter first or clumps? Would it get easier as I ate more? What could someone hold over my head to convince me to do this? Each question held so many opportunities for comedy. And it just devolved from there.
The concept itself lent towards the Saw franchise, so that’s the direction I went. I’m not really a fan of the series, but I knew the concept and aesthetic, the sense of danger would transfer to comedy well.
Horror and comedy are a common combo genre, but very difficult to pull off. What balance did you give to both genres in your script? Did it start one way and end differently? Did the end product turn out the way that you originally visualized?
The horror part of the script is all in the setup, that first half page to page where the stakes are set. I knew it had to be played straight-It’s life and death. It’s a terrifying situation being chained in front of your best friend who is strapped to a death machine. The moment the cat litter comes out, it’s comedy- and it’s funnier because of those life and death stakes- like- how much does Colin hate cat litter? And I then I got to play with all those questions that sparked the script in the first place. The finished product is better and more disgusting than I ever could have imagined.
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This being said, keeping to the SAW aesthetic with the way you played with the cinematography, was it difficult jumping out to the comedy and then back in? What were the fan liberties that you took and how did it balance with the SAW aesthetic.
My cinematographer Nich Musco and I wanted to shoot it as straight as possible, to light and shoot it like a horror film. We were asking each other how can we work Colin and Phil’s conflict into each frame? How horribly uncomfortable would it be for each of them? The comedy was going to come so much from the epic task before him, so we knew we needed to visually escalate this. Musco really worked magic on this. I had a kind of cooler look in my mind’s eye, and when he started lighting the set a sickly yellow, it threw me off guard. But once he had his frame up, I was like- “Oh. It looks EXACTLY like a Saw movie.” He nailed it.
I think the main liberty that we took with the franchise (besides the whole ridiculous concept) is having pig face present the entire time – though I’ve only seen the first two films, I don’t think he’s present when people are struggling out of there traps. But having him wheel in that TV really help set the horror tone right out of the gate
The plot revolves around this box of stale kitty litter. I see kitty litter box cake tutorials floating around the internet, but yours seems far more convincing to the real thing. Was creating the prop box a trial and error? How did you come up with the final prop?

It’s real cat litter.

Kidding. Finding a substitute cat litter was a challenge. I had considered Using real cat litter, but with sugar water and melted chocolate and playing the role of Colin myself, because there is no way I would be able to ask an actor to do that. But I knew I needed to be behind the camera on this one. I watched SOOO many tutorials on the litter cake, and tried making one myself, and it just didn’t sell as the real McCoy. I was on the hunt for the holy trinity of dusty, gritty, and clumpy. I got a couple boxes of whole oats and steel cut oats and started with a food processor, breaking the whole oats into dust. The color was way off, so I tried throwing food processed Booberry cereal in, but it didn’t help. However, adding in water and letting it sit gave the perfect texture. I had resigned myself to fixing the color in post, but My cinematographer’s sickly yellow lighting covered for me.

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What the main character has to do in the film is pretty terrible. When writing the script, what motives did you use to push the main character to eat the box of litter? Did you know when you started writing it that there had to be a certain relationship to drive the plot between the two characters?
The whole story sprang forth from the cat litter, rather than vice versa- so I was coming from it backwards. I just knew it needed to be life and death, friendship, and guilt.
I usually don’t see the characters or the plot until after that first strong image or question comes into my head, and then I build around that.
What do you hope SAW and Horror fans can take away from your film? Is there anything you were hoping to add to the universe with this film?

The whole story sprang forth from the cat litter, rather than vice versa- so I was coming from it backwards. I just knew it needed to be life and death, friendship, and guilt.
I usually don’t see the characters or the plot until after that first strong image or question comes into my head, and then I build around that.

Thank you for sharing your humorous screenplay. What are some other works from you and your team that we can look forward to?

I’m wrapping up a stop motion music video this weekend, and will hopefully finish post on that in a few weeks. The video is titled 7-20-12 by Peter Stewart.
I’m writing an adaptation of a one act play that we’re hoping to shoot in a few months.
Also writing a feature length action comedy, that would be so much fun to shoot. We’ll see about that one.

You can find more of Beau’s work on his website:
http://beaumccombs.com/

or subscribe to his YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/user/faceheadproductions/featured

 

Thank you for joining us for this interview, here is Litterally a Saw Parody:

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One thought on “EXCLUSIVE: Beau McCombs – Best Screenplay of FFA’18 (Interview)

  1. I happen to like these sorts of movies, but must admit I never quite grasped how one would develop the concept. That the fanfilm took its inspiration from his cat’s litterbox make the concept even funnier.

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