SCREENWRITER MATT MOSLEY
I’ve already previewed the upcoming indie horror film Sparrow on this site with an exclusive interview with actor Thomas James Longley.
Now, I’ve got a special behind the scenes look at how the screenplay for Sparrow came together from co-writer Matt Mosley.
Writing a feature film is a difficult task to complete but getting it made can be even tougher. The journey Sparrow took from idea to completed film was long but definitely unique and includes a number of interesting twists and turns.
Beyond that, what fascinated me most was Mosley’s passion for the slasher genre and that’s exactly where the story of Sparrow begins…
Many fans of horror films have a soft spot for the slasher genre. It’s especially true if you are a horror screenwriter who loves the slasher genre. You basically have limitless kills, scares and most importantly villains around to help inspire your own interpretation.
I used to sneak down stairs at 3am as a kid to pop in A Nightmare On Elm Street, sounds creepy I know, part 3 still creeps me out and I just turned 27.
While his favorites include many of the usual suspects such as Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Urban Legend, Friday the 13th, Halloween, Bloody Murder 1 and 2 and Shredder, his inspiration for Sparrow came from a slightly unlikely source.
You’ll laugh if you’ve seen it but yes, CAMP BLOOD. It’s just sooooo bad I can’t begin to explain it and it sold like crazy. It was done in this cheap 3D back in 1999 and the U.K release is completely washed out colour-wise so it’s just terrible, but good terrible. There are 3 of them now, oddly enough part 2 was commissioned directly after the producer David sterling watched the final cut of the first.
Loving the genre so much, it was inevitable that he would attempt his own slasher movie and Sparrow was born.
After a failed attempt at a production in 2005 I decided I wanted to make something that I could do all by myself, like Robert Rodriquez with El Mariachi. So I started a thread on CampKillersForum where I told everyone (there were only about 8 of us on there) to come up with a character and name them, we’d each do one and try and write a script together.
I started with the character SITCOM who was joined by 5 other characters and it was off and running. I came up with an opening scene and everyone else seemed either lose interest or had no ideas. I still wanted to go ahead with it so I took those characters and wrote a 2-page treatment for the basic story. It had to be basic to shoot on a low budget, I decided to write it around a location I had access to which was at the bottom of my street.
As the draft progressed, Matt invited fellow Slasher fan Justin DiFebo on board to help complete the screenplay.
We met on a message board for a straight-to-video (yes video) slasher movie called BLOODY MURDER back in 2002, a blatant Friday the 13th rip-off we both have a special love for, and after that terrible first movie (which I grew to love) I wrote my own summer-camp slasher script called CAMP KILL.
The pair went on to create various Bloody Murder fan fiction together.
It’s a perfect example of taking something you are passionate about and using that passion to create something new and unique. Their mutual love of horror movies eventually led to their collaboration on Sparrow. Matt, who lives in the U.K and Justin, who resides in the U.S started working back and forth sending each other pages through email. Justin eventually completed the first draft and Sparrow’s journey into production officially began.
WRITE A MOVIE. MAKE THE MOVIE
Originally, the duo intended to produce the film themselves.
I brought a camera and tried to find actors. I ended up one important actor short and so it all fell through.
It can be extremely difficult to get any movie made but they never gave up on their project. Proof that if you are determined to accomplish something, anything can happen.
SIMPLYSCRIPTS.COM TO THE RESCUE!
In 2007, I was almost an investor on a script called “E”. It was a zombie thing that I loved when I read it. To get the guy some attention I put it up on simplyscripts.com so he could get feedback. The script ended up being spotted by a producer, purchased and produced, all because I put it there for him. So a year later when I heard this I thought “Great, I’ll put a couple of scripts up there myself, you never know and it can’t really hurt”. I uploaded the script and within a year I got an email from the producer saying he was a film student looking for a script to produce as an end of year project, could he use Sparrow? We made the deal in November of 2009 and in March 2010 he said things were moving nicely. They shot the film in June 2010.
You never know what will happen if you don’t put yourself out there. Whether it’s reaching out to people who share your interests on message boards or using sites like Simplyscripts.com to advertise your work, it’s all about taking risks and going for it.
SPARROW doesn’t try to be funny like most other slashers. It’s just an old school, back to basics slasher movie based in the woods with realistic characters who go camping in the wrong part of town…
As for Matt, he is still writing and plans to continue pursuing his filmmaking dreams! Special thanks to Mr. Mosley and the entire cast and crew of Sparrow.