Interview with “In Search of Darkness” Writer/Director David A. Weiner

At over four hours, and featuring more than 45 interviewees, IN SEARCH OF DARKNESS is an expansive look back at the greatest decade in horror cinema, with the artists who helped shape the landscape of the genre alongside those who have been highly influenced their work. In support the this fantastic documentary and its upcoming release, we got a chance to speak with writer/director David A. Weiner. Take some time to read what he had to say about putting this documentary together, what he learned from it, his opinion on remakes, and much more…

-PH: So we have to start at the beginning, how did this documentary come to light?

-David: Everyone working on this project loves, lives and breathes ‘80s horror movies. In Search of Darkness sprung from the mind of executive producer Robin Block, who wanted to create a rollercoaster journey, year-by-year, through one of our favorite decades of genre filmmaking. He surrounded himself with a smart, tight-knit team at CreatorVC, kickstarted the concept in October of 2018, and I came onboard at that time to help carry this epic idea over the finish line.

-PH: While many people struggle at crowdfunding, the campaign for the documentary seemed to go extremely well. Knowing that fans were really excited for this did you feel any added pressure?

-David: No added pressure whatsoever, but rather an incredible amount of encouragement. We met our Kickstarter goal in only two days, and the support and excitement from the horror community really energized our production. Having their validation for the teaser trailer and promotional art and early talent attached told me that we were on to something big. Their attention and feedback served to fine-tune our focus to make sure we would deliver something that horror fans of all walks would want to see.

-PH: It almost seems like the right time to do a documentary on the ’80s with all the remakes, and even newer shows and movies like “Stranger Things,” and “Summer of ’84.” Did the timing feel right to you as well?

-David: It felt absolutely right. I think we are lucky to be part of a larger zeitgeist moment in pop-culture in terms of ‘80s appreciation.

-PH: Speaking of remakes, it sometimes feels like every movie has one, but after watching the documentary you realize how many don’t. Do you think there should be more remakes, or let the originals hold their place in horror history?

-David: That’s a good question, because in general I am not a fan of remakes, nor do I encourage them. Joe Bob Briggs says in our film that ‘80s filmmakers were thriving in a climate where they were asking, “What can we make? Not what can we remake?” I agree with that sentiment. However, some of my favorite films in the ‘80s happen to be remakes, such as The Thing, The Blob, and The Fly. When done right, they can be great films and even help to transcend the genre. The problem is that original ideas have a tougher time getting made in today’s marketplace, even as audiences have shown a very fickle response to remakes. Hollywood had always chased ideas and trends that do well at the box office, and if remakes continue to recoup their investments and turn a tidy profit, they will always be part of the landscape. I love all sorts of movies, but I tend to reward more original, riskier cinematic choices with my vote at the box office.

-PH: Can you talk about the time you put in behind the scenes, and the time you spent putting everything together? Was editing it all together as hard as I imagine it to be?

-David: We did this all in a calendar year, essentially. In Search of Darkness was quite an effort to produce in terms of the amount of time devoted to assembling it, but not difficult to edit, really, because we had such a wealth of great interview material. We interviewed just about 50 people for anywhere between one to two hours over the course of a few months this past spring, then I set about to script the entire film by assembling transcribed bites to tell collective stories about individual films and concepts. My incredibly talented editor Samuel Way, who has a great knack for pacing and finding just the right footage to illustrate our various talking points, cut the film with me over the summer. It came together very nicely, but the more we edited the more the running time creeped past five hours and counting. So the biggest challenge was trimming it back to four hours and 20 minutes by cutting segments and anecdotes while maintaining coherence and a breadth of relevant material covering 10 years of film.

-PH: What are some of the most important things you want the audience to get out of it?

-David: I want the audience to walk away from this film excited about ‘80s horror and chomping at the bit to dive into more of these wonderful films. My intention was to create a viewing experience that felt like you are hanging out with a group of industry insiders and experts who are just as enthusiastic and knowledgable as fans can be, sharing their stories and observations about one of the most creative and entertaining genres in filmmaking. To show that there was a wide variety of approaches to storytelling, indie and mainstream. And to introduce those who may be new to the genre to an amazing array of films to binge watch.

-PH: Is there anything that you wanted to include in the documentary, but couldn’t fit it in?

-David: Loads. Longer stories from the talent. International horror. More straight-to-video titles, more obscure titles, more genre-straddling movies that may arguably not be considered to be horror. Lots of tough choices had to be made to streamline a four-plus-hour film that still only scratches the surface of such a dense decade.

-PH: What are somethings you learned while doing the documentary? Maybe about certain movies, or about the people you interviewed that you didn’t know before?

-David: I learned that it took a lot more time for the horror genre to gain some respect from the Hollywood community, and that impressive box-office returns did not enable that respect as much as basic disdain for the successes of what was always considered B-movie material. And I learned that one cannot tackle a decade of filmmaking without disappointing some horror fans who wish that their particular favorite film was included. I wish it could be done, but it’s an impossible task. I had to cut several of my own favorite films in the interest of time or for lack of robust material.

-PH: A lot of the people you interviewed fans would expect to see in an ’80s horror documentary, but who was the one or two people you were surprised to get, or you think fans will be surprised to see?

-David: I think many people in the horror community have not heard Larry Cohen talk about his films, such as the It’s Alive franchise, Q, and The Stuff. It was a real privilege to speak with him and get his stories on film just before he passed. He had such a clever wit and consistent sense of humor. He is missed.

-PH: If you were sitting in the interview seat, what would you have said about 80’s horror?

-David: My passion for film covers many categories and sub-categories, but horror and Sci-Fi are really the two genres that made me want to learn about the craft of filmmaking and learn from those who participated in the industry. I have my horror movie loves, likes and dislikes, but most importantly I think all filmmaking and creativity should be celebrated. We are all allowed our opinions of course, but I choose to sidestep cynicism and elitism in the social-media circus. I’d rather curate and cultivate curiosity and wonder and appreciation in my sphere.

-PH: If you had to pick another decade to do a similar documentary what would it be?

-David: I love every decade of genre filmmaking, so it’s hard to pick one, but I am very tuned in to ‘60s and ‘70s horror filmmaking. That being said, Robin Block and I are in development for another documentary in a similar vein. Stay tuned for news about In Search of Tomorrow, our epic journey through iconic ‘80s Sci-Fi movies!

We would like to thank David for taking the time to answer our questions. Hopefully this gave you a closer look at the documentary, and how it was made. It’s a must see for any fan of 80’s horror. You still have a little time to pre-order your copies of IN SEARCH OF DARKNESS at through midnight on Thursday, October 31st, and the documentary will be available on both Blu-ray and DVD formats. Everyone who pre-orders their copy of IN SEARCH OF DARKNESS will also receive an exclusive poster, enamel pin and a digital download of the documentary, perfect for viewing anywhere! Orders will ship in November 2019, just in time for the holiday season.

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