Exclusive: New Scream Showrunners Michael Gans and Richard Register Go Crazy in Season 2

While the remake of the miniseries “Roots” is debuting on several channels this coming Memorial Day Weekend, horror fans have the option of tuning in to the premiere of the second second of MTV’s “Scream.” The first episode of the new round of stab ‘n slab is entitled “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” and the story goes like this: “After Emma returns from a recovering retreat, one of her friends is killed, and she’s left to figure out who the other killer is.”

We had an opportunity to sit down with the series’ new showrunners, Michael Gans and Richard Register. Here’s what they had to say about hitting the ground running for Season 2 of the hit TV show, which kicks off exactly one week from tonight.

Dread Central: How did you manage to keep from going insane with all the story threads and plot lines you guys had to pick up since you are both new showrunners this season?

Michael Gan: Lot and lots of drugs… No, that’s not true; we’re already insane. The way you have to do it is you have to tell exciting stories that you love, and people underestimate the complications of really getting slasher stuff right.

Richard Register: Especially this version of slasher, which has a lot of wicked winks anyway.

MG: And the nature of this storytelling is to be able to tell serialized storytelling, kill people, be brutal storytellers that are not afraid of killing people that you love. In fact, you have to kill the people that you love, or you don’t care. That is not easy. We had a great staff, a great writing staff this season who busted their asses, too, and the cast is capable of some of the messed of shit that we do to them and put them in crazy situations. I can’t give anything away. but the kills this year are extraordinarily dramatic. Various stuff happens to some people, and one that we wrote… I think the guy is going to kill us for it.

But as far as maintaining sanity, you just have to commit to the story. We’re huge fanboys of the original franchise; we actually perform a live stage musical of the original every year, an homage musical we did with a bunch of people for fun; we did this crazy show.

DC: Some of us, *ahem*, are old enough to have seen the original Scream movies when they came out. So, are you trying to please both existing fans and new ones, or is this all a show for teenagers?

MG: Well, you know what’s kind of crazy about it is… [there are] generations of people who watch this movie, like people watch It’s a Wonderful Life or something; it’s very well known by certain people. You are doing this beautiful little homage to the entire franchise… if you saw the first few minutes, you saw us blow a kiss to Scream 2 for sure in that sequence and consequently the first Scream, which to us is one of the smartest and most interesting movies that’s ever been made. It certainly changed everything with horror movies, but you also have to… you have to be aware… you have to be willing to reference Psycho, you have to be willing to reference Nostferatu, and you have to be able to reference Saw and It Follows and everything, and you have to not be afraid to do anything and give in to the fact that the original movie was about that generation of kids, the phone situation, the communication situation, the conflict of sex and how we felt about sex and where we were with horror movies and what our choice was in regards to what we choose to entertain ourselves with and how that could affect our lives. It’s definitely a big part of that movie, and you have to be aware… if you loved that movie and loved the movies that followed, it’s not hard to say to yourself, “Oh, I want to write it right now.” It’s scarier to me in the slasher genre; it could be happening to me right now. It could be happening in my house, in my garage, in my car… if I’m watching it on my phone, it can happen over my shoulder; it’s right there! And the more ‘now’ it feels, the more possible it is that I could be the one next to have my head sawed off.

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DC: Horror on television is so mainstream now. Which is great for you guys. Everything is kind of self-referential, too, and the first Scream movie was iconic like that in a time when that wink wasn’t the norm.

MG: I think you look at the obsession in the very first Scream film: It’s about what happens when a horror film happens to people who are nuts about horror movies, slasher movies in particular. And so now it seems like fanboy-ness has become gigantic; even beyond 1996, it’s grown twenty years beyond that. You know when you have all the websites and all the Twitter and all the social media…

RR: And people making their own movies.

MG: And all that… so this was huge in 1996, that it was happening to fanboys — you know, slasher films. The idea [of] fans and nerds for a certain concept or genre has grown even more.

DC: As fans of the original movies, how did it feel to come on board to the series and honor Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson’s vision?

MG: It’s kind of crazy… we love it, we’ve always loved it, and I remember as a kid sitting in the bedroom with my family for some reason and we were watching television and there was some sort of documentary on about horror films, and I happened to be ten years old. I think it was on PBS, and I knew every movie, and it totally freaked my parents out. But nowadays that isn’t a thing they could do; they’re kind of afraid of it. If you go back in the annals of television, you could find a few really good parts of it that they would…

We pitched something a very long time ago, which was very, very Scream-ish because it was inspired from loving that, and people were so afraid that they thought you couldn’t do it. Now horror is so much a part of what television is, lots of different versions of it, from “The Walking Dead” to “Scream Queens,” the elevated comedy of that, “American Horror Story”… it’s everywhere, and it just keeps going; there are more new ones every day. It is amazing to us and gives us huge freedom in the fact that you can explore that.

Someone asked us, “How do you keep the Scream series going?”  And we said,  Well, it’s about sex, romance, fear, comedy… I don’t want that movie to end. Nobody wants that movie to end; it has all the pieces.” It’s the greatest experience ever… to have television now embrace the possibilities of killing people.  Honestly, it was crazy enough this season, and there are probably guidelines, [but] we go very far and haven’t been stopped yet in regards to killing… [like] “Game of Thrones” — they’ve done everything you can do; they chop people’s body parts off. We haven’t been stopped in any way, and we’re pushing. We go for it this season… we have yet to be told, “That’s too much; you can’t do that,” and that’s all because of this evolution that you’re talking about.

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DC: Did you guys work on Season 1 of “Scream” at all?

MG: We did not work on Season 1; we were on another show at that time. We heard after the other showrunners departed that the job was available, and we were such freaks about it… we loved the first season; we thought it was a great platform. It was interesting; especially in the horror genre and slasher movies, there’s always a tremendous back story, almost like a movie that existed before the movie. And in this series, too, there is always a story that you have to uncover, a mystery, and it was beautiful because ours was shot and existed in this great world, the town of Lakewood, that was realized and unique and new and a challenging thing. Because here is this amazing franchise that changed horror movies in a certain way and has a huge contribution and a great history, creatively, involved with it and they took daring creative choices and people liked it. So we had this thing that already had a back story built into it, and that was a great gift, [but] challenging to have to live by because we are telling a serialized story.  We’re not doing a whole new [story], like an “American Horror Story’; it’s the same people as their lives go forward.

One of the things we wanted to do was to work it out and twist it up and say they have this life experience, now what happens to them? All those truths were revealed in the first season by the end. How has that changed Emma? What is the psychosis that follows after being through something like that, and how do you sort of bring that Hitchcock into that Wes Craven/Kevin Williamson world and freak out. I mean, that’s what we kind of say: We took it there, and we freaked it out.

DC: I’ve only seen the first few minutes of the first episode of Season 2 – we were only allowed a tease – but I have to say that you packed a lot of twists and turns into just seven minutes!

MG: I think we kind of have a weird way of telling stories. One of the things we were excited about was, like you said, you don’t know what you’re going to see; it’s surprisingly different. There’s also kind of a crazy, psychotic bend to it.

RR: I’d say we’re going at a pace… not just the pace in an episode, but how an episode lays out and goes forward… it’s a little different from last season. We’re very much about a little drop of insanity.

MG: I hope that this appeals to [the audience] because we’re a little crazy. When you say, “How do you maintain your sanity?,” we purposely do not, so that might be something that you will see in this season.

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