Film Courage: So then (if I understand this correctly) that FINAL DESTINATION was the first screenplay that you actually sold?
Jeffrey Reddick: That was the first one I sold. I wrote one and it never got made but I was actually hired to write a sequel for a movie called PUMPKINHEAD, which is one of my favorites and they are remaking it now and so hopefully I can use my sequel idea for the sequel of the remake. But before I got an agent, I got hired because Brad Krevoy was the producer and he was taking pitch meetings and I wrote a pitch that he liked and he basically hired me and another writer to finish the rest of the script. Then the company got bought by somebody and all of this, so neither one of our scripts ever got made. But no, that was my first paying job as a writer (which was fun). That was a little crazy because you are like “Wow! I am writing something that I grew up loving.” That was the first thing that I actually sold and I’d written like 5 or 6 or 7 scripts before FINAL DESTINATION that never got…and rightly so for some of them when you go back and read them, it’s like “Whoah! These are pretty bad.” But there’s a couple of nuggets of ideas that I might turn into something some day.
Film Courage: I’m just wondering how did it happen? What were the details? So you are working at New Line Cinema they had known you for years…
Jeffrey Reddick: They had known me for years. I was trying to get a TV agent and then my friend Mark Callen was like “Oh, this would make a great idea for a feature.” Back in the day you could actually sell a treatment to a studio. You didn’t have to write a whole script and because I worked at the studio, I knew how the winds would change very frequently. So something would be hot one week and not the next week. I was like “Let me write a treatment, because it’s a great concept.” And some friends of mine worked for a producer outside of the studio that had to deal with the studio, so I’m like let me go work with him and their producing partner and bring the idea back to the studio because I knew that would give me a better chance of getting that set up (it was with the producer attached).
I had the treatment and then they were all grown ups [in this version of the script] and then SCREAM came out (and I love SCREAM) and Kevin Williams is a dear friend of mine. And the minute that came out it was like “Let’s make them all teenagers.” I had to go rewrite the treatment to make them all teenagers and then the studio just couldn’t get their head around certain aspects like having death be the killer. They were like “It’s great. It’s cool, but how can death be the killer? It just doesn’t make any sense?” And I’m like “That’s the whole point to having a horror film.”
So the studio just kept passing on it and finally the producers (it was Warren Zide and Craig Perry) they were like “Well, if you pass on it again, we’re going to go to Dimension” which was kind of New Line’s rival, Miramax at the time. And they were like “We’ll buy it!”
Film Courage: You said the magic word.
Jeffrey Reddick: So then they bought the treatment and then they hired me to write the first draft of the script and then we went out to directors after that.
It was a pretty quick process. We sold the original story in ’97 and the movie came out in 2000, so in Hollywood time, that’s pretty, pretty fast.
Film Courage: When you did the casting for it, how did you find the lead?
Jeffrey Reddick: Actually, New Line did all the casting through their casting department. I’d put my list together of my dream cast at the time. But I love the cast that we ended up with. And it’s funny because I’m friends with Devon (Sawa), he’s directing now and he’s got a new TV show so I produced his first short that he did and he’s a really talented guy. We’ve actually reconnected in the last few years and he’s just a great guy.
It is funny because when I was writing the movie I was kind of (you know) trying to turn some of the tropes on their heads and so there are very few movies that have a final guy in it, it’s always a final girl. So I wanted to write a movie with a final guy in it. And his character I think definitely stands out and he’s such a great actor, too. He did such a great job and he was CASPER, too. It’s always funny making fun of him because he was in CASPER floating around in with Christina Ricci when they were kids, dancing ridiculous. Devon, if you’re watching this, ridiculous.
Film Courage: I would see him in so many things because I used to go into Blockbuster Video all the time and I just remember “There he was again!” [on a DVD cover].
Jeffrey Reddick: Yeah, we was really hot then, too. I think he…ah man…there is something North? I’m blanking on the name of it…there were some coyotes and people in the wilderness. I’m trying to think of the name of it, I’ll try to look the movie up…but it was a really big movie. It was CASPER and then that one, he did IDLE HANDS…I think IDLE HANDS…I don’t know if that was pre or post FINAL DESTINATION? I think it might have been post FINAL DESTINATION. But yeah, he was definitely on everybody’s like ones-to-watch-list. And we shot it in Canada, so it’s got a lot of Canadian talent, as well.
Question For the Viewers: When you think of the FINAL DESTINATION franchise, what scene comes to mind first?
Bio (via IMDB):
Jeffrey Reddick is best known for creating the Final Destination (2000) film franchise. He also co-wrote the story for, and executive produced, Final Destination 2 (2003). Jeffrey lives in Los Angeles. He grew up in Eastern Kentucky and attended Berea College. Jeffrey made his first connection to the film industry at age 14, when he wrote a prequel to A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and mailed it Bob Shaye, the President of New Line Cinema. Bob returned the material for being unsolicited. But the young man wrote Bob an aggressive reply, which won him over. Bob read the treatment and got back to Jeffrey. Bob, and his assistant, Joy Mann, stayed in contact with Jeffrey for over five years. When he went to The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York at age 19, Bob offered him an internship at New Line Cinema. This internship turned into an 11-year stint at the studio.
Aside from Final Destination (2000), which spawned four successful sequels, Jeffrey’s other credits include Lions Gate’s thriller, Tamara (2005) and the remake of George Romero’s classic, Day of the Dead (2008).
Jeffrey has several feature and TV projects in development and he directed his first short, Good Samaritan (2014) in 2014.
MORE VIDEOS WITH JEFFREY REDDICK
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