How To Create Great Horror Characters by Peter Dukes

Film Courage: How do you create an awesome horror protagonist?

Peter Dukes, Writer/Director: How do you create an awesome horror protagonist…antagonist or protagonist?

Film Courage: Both. I said protagonist but let’s do both.

Peter: I think it just comes down to (for me in particular) what horror films inspired you the most. I have certain ones that were important or influenced me, certain horror directors that influenced me or so than others. Certain life experiences I think, certain real-life fears. I take the DNA contained with all of them I try to put it into a memorable but memorable character.

I don’t really want to do a character that we’ve seen a million times before if I can help it. I want to make someone where you truly don’t know what’s gonna happen next or you feel the stakes or heightened. One of the tropes and one of the consequences of following the similar structure when writing screenplays is the audience kind of by this point knows where it’s going most of the time, they’ve seen everything. It’s hard to really fool them. Whenever I’m putting together a story and coming up with characters whether it’s a protagonist and certainly an antagonist is I want to do someone who (if it’s a horror piece) someone who scares me. Where that comes from just depends on what the story is but I want him to be memorable.

I want them to be unique and to stand out. I think it’d be fun if one day I did that type of story, I made one of those guys who becomes iconic. Why not have it be the next Pennywise? You’ve seen these these fun posters they’ll do where all the bad guys are in a movie theater.

I want one of my guys to be there in that group. Someone that kind of just stands out, just like the filmmaker them self has to find a way to stand out from the crowd, I’d love to come up with a character that people remember and kind of stands the test of time I…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

 
 

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Bio [from IMDB]:

Peter Dukes is a prolific multi-award winning writer, director and producer who’s films have been distributed the world over. He founded Dream Seekers Productions in the early 2000’s and, after making a name for himself in the world of short form content with well over a dozen films such as Little Reaper, The Beast, The New World, Sweet Madness, A Goblins’s Tale and more, he rocketed into the feature world with Escape Room (2017), a horror film starring Skeet Ulrich (Scream, Riverdale) and Sean Young (Blade Runner, The Alienist), that screened theatrically across the world, opened up as the number one DVD/streamed movie in the UK and enjoyed a nationwide release in the US through Redbox and VOD. He followed that up with Portal (2018), starring Heather Langenkamp (of A Nightmare On Elm Street fame), Ryan Merriman (The Ring 2, Final Destination 3), Jamie Tisdale (The Devil’s Candy, From Dusk Til Dawn: The Series), Najarra Townsend (Contracted 1 & 2) and Reinaldo Zavarce (Jane The Virgin, Don Quixote). Known for being proactive in his approach to filmmaking, Peter has several more features in development.


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SAWGRASS on Youtube by Jack Peterson. Jack is an American filmmaker based in Chicago. He’s been featured in the New York Times, the Daily Beast, and ABC News for his work as an activist. His first feature film, Sawgrass, is a psychedelic journey through Florida, featuring an extensive interview with the brother of the Las Vegas shooter. Sawgrass also features a performance by the Rock-afire Explosion, a vintage animatronic band created by famed inventor Aaron Fechter. Jack’s next feature film, My Perfect Everything, tells the story of a magician chasing an imaginary woman he met in 1989. My Perfect Everything is currently in the early stages of pre-production.