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The Scribbler Writer Dan Schaffer Discusses His Story Coming to Life

Dan SchafferThe new film The Scribbler (review) stars Katie Cassidy and Garret Dillahunt and features Eliza Dushku, Michael Imperioli, Gina Gershon, and Ashlynne Yennie. But before it became a moving picture, The Scribbler was still pictures in the graphic novel by Dan Schaffer.

Schaffer adapted his own graphic novel for the film, which was directed by John Suits, and he recently sat down with Dread Central to talk about his fascinating story becoming a feature film.

Schaffer initially discussed his inspiration for The Scribbler. “I spent a lot of time studying neuropsychology and wanted to dramatically explore the nature of evil from that perspective,” Schaffer said. “Back when I wrote the graphic novel, the word ‘evil’ was being thrown around a lot as a political call to arms. People respond strongly to that word, but from a neuropsychological point of view, it’s not so black and white. So I wanted to write something that threw the usual good-versus-evil ideas into a big grey area where everyone’s a bit yin and a bit yang. That somehow led to a story about individuality which (and I swear I have no idea how this happened) ended up being something close to a superhero origin story.”

We asked Schaffer if he enjoyed the adaptation of his graphic novel to film. “Absolutely,” Schaffer said. “It’s a new interpretation, like a stylish, colorful American version of a grimy, de-saturated British story, but it has the same heartbeat underneath. John’s (Suits) vision is unique to him, and as the film itself is about the importance of individuality, I could practice what I was preaching by sitting back and watching his unique vision unfold. It was a lot of fun for me and, no doubt, a lot of hard work for him! John’s a good guy and a great director; I love what he did with the material.”

As the writer of the original graphic novel, Schaffer certainly had specific looks in mind for the characters in the film. He discussed how successful the filmmakers were in capturing his characters. “The cast on this film were somehow all perfectly synchronized with my brain. I’m not sure how that happened; it usually doesn’t,” Schaffer said. “Katie’s (Cassidy) version of Suki in particular was so in tune with mine, it was like she fell out of my head intact. Katie instinctively understood the complexities of that character, and everyone seems to agree that this is her best performance to date. Garret (Dillahunt) is one of my favorite actors and is always a joy to watch. His character, Hogan, has a very tricky psychology, but he knew exactly where the line was and danced around it with a great sense of humanity. Billy Campbell did the same with his character, Doctor Sinclair. In lesser hands the bad doctor could have become a cartoonish villain. Eliza (Dushku) and Michael (Imperioli) pull off a great double act as the bickering cop and psychologist, both great actors. Gina (Gershon) is consistently awesome in whatever she does, and she brought a wonderful mix of tragedy and sass to her character. And Ashlynn Yennie, who only has a small role, does something so cool with it I’ve become her biggest fan.”

The main setting for The Scribbler is a halfway-type house called Juniper Tower (aka Jumper Tower), and the location has so much atmosphere that it’s almost a character of the movie in itself. We asked Schaffer if that Wonderland-esque feel was deliberate. “Yes, it was intentional, and John ran with the idea by playing with the visuals to make the place ominous and hallucinatory at certain times,” Schaffer said. “Juniper Tower is like an analog building in a digital world; usual social rules don’t apply there. It’s perfectly reasonable for someone to push you down the stairs, for example, or walk around naked. But despite all the weirdness, the people who live there are incredibly tolerant and accepting of each other’s psychological disorders so, apart from a few homicidal tendencies, it’s almost the perfect micro society.”

Finally, Schaffer discussed the message he was delivering when he wrote The Scribbler. “Be yourself, I suppose. Don’t be a clone,” Schaffer said. “Don’t get assimilated unless you want to. Every person is unique. It’s one of life’s great gifts, but it’s also the first thing the bastards will bash out of you if you let them.”

The Scribbler Synopsis
The Scribbler follows Suki (Katie Cassidy), a young woman confronting her destructive mental illness using “The Siamese Burn,” an experimental machine designed to eliminate multiple personalities. The closer Suki comes to being “cured,” the more she’s haunted by a thought – what if the last unwanted identity turns out to be her?

The Scribbler

Scott Hallam