Did you read that right?
Yep. You read that right.
Stephen Romano is now officially a creator of Lifetime Original Movies.
Sometimes life is really bizarre, huh?
The story of how I made these films is a long and sort of interesting one, and I’ll do some of that in a minute. I’ve been holding my tongue (almost) for an entire year until the official scheduling was done and the announcements were made, but I think it’s safe now to dish some dirt.
First up, we’ll talk basics and premiere dates.
On DECEMBER 9th 8:00pm at Lifetime Movie Network (LMN)
YOU KILLED MY MOTHER
See her? That’s Carlena Britch, who stars as our dark femme fatale. I wrote the screenplay from my own original story and the film was directed by Curtis Crawford, a veteran of such Lifetime classics as PREGNANT AT 17 and MOMMY’S LITTLE GIRL. All of these are executive produced by the legendary Pierre David, who made a generous handful of my favorite horror films, such as SCANNERS, VIDEODROME, VISITING HOURS, OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN, SCREAMERS and… well, PLATOON. I owe Pierre a great deal. He basically saved my career in the movies. Obviously it is an honor to work with one of my all time heroes. More later. Here’s what the official copy from our publicist says about the film:
When 19-year old Joanna “Jo” Flay (Carlena Britch) races her mother into the emergency room at midnight, Nurse Lynn Darcer (Sarah McVie ) informs Jo that Mom is dying of liver failure and the hospital director Miriam Preston (Ashley Jones) refuses to appeal her failed transplant request. This throws Jo into a violent fit of rage that leads to her arrest and committal into a mental hospital for two years. Jo looks back on the deadly acts of her abusive father and uses what she’s learned throughout the years to plot an insane and elaborate revenge scheme on those she believes are responsible for her mother’s death. As Miriam discovers the dark truth behind Jo’s brilliantly pathological killing spree and races against time to save her young son Bobby (Seamus Patterson), Jo becomes more and more obsessed with her final target . . . until the final, terrifying showdown, which only one of them will survive. YOU KILLED MY MOTHER is a dark portrait of revenge, love and obsession, and a relentless family thriller you will never forget.
Hot damn, huh?
On DECEMBER 30th on Lifetime
WEB CAM GIRLS
See her? That’s Lorynn York as Carolyn Hilers. LOST GIRLS was the film’s working title during production. Here’s what our press release says:
When 18 year old high school senior Alex Hilers (Sedona Legge) learns her cousin Carolyn (Lorynn York) is getting into online sex camming she is shocked. But what neither of them realize is that Carolyn’s wild double life is being closely monitored by someone very close to them–someone inside their inner circle of trust. And that someone is secretly a psychopathic serial killer who kidnaps cam girls and sells them as snuff clips on the worldwide dark web. Baiting an insidious trap for Carolyn, the mysterious online stalker kidnaps the girl and it falls upon Alex to follow the trail and save Carolyn’s life. With the deadly stakes getting higher and higher, it falls on the shoulders of Alex’s resourceful mother Rachel (Arianne Zucker) to crack the case, as they race to a desperate showdown with a madman who takes no chances . . . and no prisoners. WEB CAM GIRLS is a pulse-pounding dramatic thriller for young adults and their parents, ripped from today’s headlines, which will keep you at the edge of your seat until the very last frame!
Okay, now we’ll do some production info and personal reflections.
THE FIRST GO-ROUND
WEB CAM GIRLS is a very special movie for me. It was shot in March, just before MOTHER. It is, officially, my first-ever full length feature film. I’ve recently seen the final version with all the music and everything, and I almost started crying… because, well, I haven’t done this in more than ten years, and the experience of making the movie was a great gift to me by Pierre and his collaborators. Our awesome director was Doug Campbell, who does a lot of TV stuff, and does it very well. I learned a lot by watching the shots he designed, as they came in during dailies. He was able to communicate ideas, not just through actors, but through well-thought-out visual motifs that are almost “invisible” to the untrained eye. Plus, on a very tight TV schedule (all TV schedules are tight) he shot each and every scene in the script, word for word as I wrote them, and even re-shot a few things, coming in on time and under budget. I mean, when does that ever happen?
I saw it all come together as the film was made, one shot at a time. That was part of the great gift given to me by the producers: That I was allowed to see dailies, make comments and was trusted enough by production that my comments were taken seriously. When does THAT ever happen? (The answer, according to my colleague and sometimes-collaborator Patrick Melton, who wrote four of the SAW films, is “NEVER.”) I was even consulted during the casting of the film. In this area, I am very proud to say that I enthusiastically championed the selection of Lorynn York (above) and was not disappointed. Newcomer Sedona Legge was Pierre’s amazing “star discovery” on our movie. She plays our lead, Alex Hilers, whom I named after Malcom McDowel’s character in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and my best friend Scott Hiles. (The bad guy even calls her “Little Alex” at one point, in direct reference to Kubrick’s film.) The entire ensemble cast all did truly incredible work.
TRIBUTES AND HARD WORK
And speaking of tributes and in-jokes . . . I often work a few into my scripts. It’s a nasty habit I picked up from Luigi Cozzi, director of STARCRASH, who composes entire movies out of references to other movies. (Hell, I do it every day in casual conversation!) But I rather embraced my destiny this time, and not only was I able to name most of the major characters in WEB CAM GIRLS after friends and family… but I also hid a few Easter eggs. Harmless little things that our mainstream target audience will probably will never notice, but guys in my little club will. These are throwbacks to my most cherished inspirations, my way of saying I will never forget where I came from. My nod to Pierre’s own VIDEODROME was cut out of the film during editing. But my big-time mega-nods to Sam Raimi and Stuart Gordon remain, along with a few other, far more subtle ones. What are they? None of your business. TUNE IN DECEMBER 30th. (Moo-hoo-hah-hah!!!!)
The movie, thematically, is about children struggling to find themselves and how far away their parents sometimes are when they finally grow up. Yes, believe it or not, we actually think about things like theme and character when making these “thrillers for bored housewives” at Lifetime. It’s part of a lengthy development process that each script goes through, in which I work with Pierre and his seasoned production staff, who are also at his side during actual physical production. There were nine different drafts of WEB CAM GIRLS, three of which were penned just before and even during production. (That’s just how movies are; if you aren’t constantly revising things, you’re probably not doing it right.) The writing continued all through editing, as we cut a lot of stuff out, found a new rhythm for the first act, and wrote additional dialogue for the looping sessions. And yes, that means I was also consulted during editing as well. In my entire 20 year professional life as a screenwriter I’ve never been this closely involved with a movie’s making, not even on MASTERS OF HORROR.
Ah yes. MOH. My first movie. A Showtime thing, also made with one of my all-time horror heroes—well, two of them actually, Coscarelli and Lansdale. That was a real dream team, too. I think it’s still a pretty good film, twelve years later. For various reasons, however, that one was filled with bad mojo.
This one was not. And I am very grateful.
For those who may be interested, I met Pierre David years ago when he optioned my novel RESURRECTION EXPRESS for film. We are still developing that project to this day. It is called ELROY COFFIN, and I wrote the screenplay adaptation myself. Our partner on that is Arthur Sarkissian, who made the RUSH HOUR movies and even produced the latest Jackie Chan actioner THE FOREIGNER, which I thought was pretty damn good. It’s also based on a great, complex book, and you can tell. These guys are storytellers, first and foremost. They want to make good movies, regardless of venue. Pierre, on that note, has come to a good place in the past fifteen years or so, making Lifetime original films for domestic and international TV release as his main line of work. He strives to create worthwhile stories within that format and has built an impressive production company with his partner Tom Berry to do so. As a writer I found it a challenge to work with him on these and an opportunity to create memorable characters.
Also, just the idea of my name on a bunch of Lifetime originals while I’m waiting for Elroy Coffin to become an ultraviolent big screen action hero in the JOHN WICK tradition just tickles me to death. In the past 12 years, since MASTERS OF HORROR, I have developed countless scripts that never saw the light of day for one reason or another. I even sold a TV show to ABC. But guess what? Even though my check cleared, you never saw episode one of that show, did you? So yeah, being a part of a production company who have a business model that allows them to actually go out and make REAL movies is a luxury I can really appreciate. Also, you want to take notes from people like this and learn all you can from them. They are doing things—impressive things—while others are not. That’s a real accomplishment in today’s insanely diverse and bloated market climate of film, television and DOV.
So, yes, I’m proud of what this stuff is, within the genre and the guidelines we are required to honor. Some very talented people are involved with these films, our leader is fearless, and a lot of it is awesome art. (Said the guy who finds art in anything.) If you’re a true follower of my work… you may even see something familiar in there. I did, after all, write this stuff. And it’s hard to hide your soul when you do that, even on TV. I hope you dig it. We got away with murder. Literally. (Moo-hoo-hah-hah!)
And so, one last reminder:
YOU KILLED MY MOTHER on December 9 at LMN
WEB CAM GIRLS on December 30 on Lifetime
Come see us be bad little boys and girls!
Peace in the galaxy.