Scout Taylor-Compton On Making Her Directorial Debut [Exclusive Interview]

scout taylor-compton

Scream Queen Scout Taylor-Compton (A Creature Was Stirring) is set to make her directorial debut with the crime-thriller Bring The Law, starring fellow Halloween alum Danielle Harris and Academy-Award nominee Mickey Rourke (Angel Heart). Bring The Law is centered on a “grieving homicide detective” who begins to “unravel a conspiracy involving his own department.” 

As Bring The Law enters post-production, Scout Taylor-Compton sat down with Dread Central to discuss how growing up as a mortician’s daughter prepped her for the job, directing her podcasting co-host Danielle Harris, and the experiences of being a woman stepping into the “Boy’s Club” of the L.A.P.D. 

Dread Central: I was so jazzed when you mentioned in our last interview that you started your journey as a director. So let me ask what made you choose Bring the Law as your directorial debut, and what was the journey behind that?

Scout Taylor-Compton: I had been pushing the thought of directing because I just didn’t think I could accomplish it, I didn’t believe in myself enough throughout my years. So I thought “Ugh, there’s no way.” So when I tackled my book, The Mortician’s Daughter, I realized the courage, the strength, and the power I have as a person came out in that book.

When I was starting to pitch it as a series to people, and when they were hanging onto every word, I was like “Wow, other people see this version of myself that I pushed aside, or second-guessed.” Which, we all do that. I hadn’t realized that I was the person standing in my own way.

I was stopping all these opportunities in my path to even accomplish directing. So I went to Thailand to film a movie. It was with ​​Daemon Hillin, a producer I’ve worked with multiple times. I’ve worked with him since I was 18 years old, the first movie was Ghost House.

I’d done a Western with him, I’ve done horror, I’ve done comedies, I’ve done so many movies with him. I was ranting to him, confessing this passion in directing that I had. I guess in that one little conversation, a few months later, he comes in and says “I have this movie for you.” 

Sometimes it takes people believing in you for you to believe in yourself, which is so great. That’s why, when someone’s venting to me, I’m always like “We always have to help one another.” Sometimes to say just “trust in yourself.” And I had one of those people in my corner, so I knew that I was going to be safe. If I was going to do it with anyone, this was the time and the person that I knew was going to be the safest path. And I was correct.

Dread Central: What was it about this project that clicked with you? 

STC: So when he brought it to me, I thought it was a horror movie. Okay, cool. I can do this in my sleep. Then I was shocked when he sent it to me and it was a cop-drama-action movie. I got so excited and giddy. These are the movies I love to watch. I either go for those types of films, or a horror movie, they go hand-in-hand. 

I think that my love of crime cases and cops comes from growing up in a mortuary. My Dad was a mortician, but he was also a coroner. There were so many times I would get caught looking at his case files. I always wanted to dissect it, like, we have to get to the bottom of this.

And I love movies like The Town, Nightcrawler, or The Departed. That’s what this movie was. 

DC: It sounds like as a kid you were researching for this movie already.

STC: [Laugh] I just didn’t know it. My voice, from what I’m trying to do, the hardships, the good times, and as a woman, it didn’t show in what I was trying to do in this movie. People will look at this movie and think “It’s all dudes.” But you have a woman director behind it, there’s a lot of raw emotion in there. There are going to be things in this that make it more than “another dude movie directed by a guy.”

DC: This is set in the “Boy’s Club” of the L.A.P.D. How did bringing a woman’s perspective influence the project?

STC: I’ve always been a part of the “Boy’s Club” my entire life. I’m that girl. I’ve noticed a lot of respect from men, and it goes both ways. I learn from them, they learn from me. There are life lessons that can be learned, and there was a lot I learned from my male actors and my female actors. Then I combined that with what I’ve learned to create a kickass set. 

[The shoot] was rough. It was 12 days, 37 characters, nine plus locations. Load in, load out. You lose 3 hours of filming a day. It was a family affair.

So everybody had this boy-gang vibe. Everybody vibed, and had the same language. The community of film can’t lose the joy and the fun and the love and the passion with people who equally share that.

You need people who are down to play. If you’re not down for that, you probably shouldn’t be doing independent filmmaking. [laughs] But I think that’s the joy of it, the problem-solving. I don’t want to do it by myself, I want to work with people just as crazy as me to come to a solution. 

And another thing about being a woman director is that I’ve shocked a bunch of people who were like “Wow, this is a big project for you to handle for your first job. And, it’s a dude film.”

Life is different layers, there’s no fine line. We’ve got layers within ourselves, whether you’re male of female. There are layers we can discover in these types of movies.

DC: So let’s segue to the directing process itself. What were the challenges you were expecting, and what were the challenges that surprised you when you got down to shooting the film?

STC: So we have an action movie with a lot of gunplay, 37 actors, and 12 days. And you have to film in Los Angeles.

I found out pretty quickly that, we all know LA is expensive, but LA is expensive. My producer Amy did something really fun. We scouted all these locations, I told her that I wanted all these places. She said, “Okay. Here’s your monopoly money.” She literally gave me monopoly money. She said “I put all these locations on all these postcards. Now you’re going to pay for me each of these locations.”

I learned very fast that there were some locations I couldn’t get. I had to put together a puzzle. Like, “If you want this police station, you’re going to have to give up this.” It was heartwrenching, but it definitely helped and put things in perspective. How cool is that? Your producer cares so much that she’s willing to create a board game based on your production.

But yeah, I knew there were going to be challenges. I think the biggest challenge for me was, as a person, I care about how every person is feeling. Whether I see you through the entire day, or when I see you for one scene, I need to make sure you’re having a good time. I’ve never been exhausted in my entire life. I do horror movies where I scream and die, but afterward, I can shake it all off. I’ve never been so mentally tired. 

I think that’s my job as a director, that we’re all okay and that we’re all in a community. I was really doubting that because it was really tough, and everyone worked their asses off. I’m proud of each and every one of them. 

On our last day, we started at 11:00 p.m. and went overnight until 10:00 a.m. That night, I threw them a wrap party. I thought they weren’t going to come because everyone was exhausted and tired. Everybody showed up. The fact that everyone had a good time through the chaos meant so much. I can’t wait to work with all of them again.

DC: Unfortunately it’s not a given that every director would take it upon themselves to not only run through the production but to create a good work environment.

STC: Yeah, but that’s our job. If you’re a producer or director, or if you have a bigger voice, it’s your job to protect everybody. 

DC: Was there any advice that directors you’ve worked with gave you, or anything you’ve learned from previous collaborators that helped you in some material way?

STC: On every set, I’ve learned lessons. I’ve learned lessons throughout my life, and I’ve learned while directing. When I’ve worked on some sets, this is when I knew I was ready to direct, I was always looking at other things. Like, “The call sheet is wrong” or “The eyeline is wrong.” 

I’ve learned so many lessons throughout my whole career. But I think the “one” thing is: grab your inserts. [Laughs] Always grab your inserts. Don’t forget ‘em. You’ll be surprised at what you end up using.

DC: You worked with a great cast, including your co-host Danielle Harris. How was working with Mickey Rourke?

STC: It’s pretty remarkable that I was able to work with an Oscar-nominated actor for my first movie. I’m still in awe that it was even possible.

Obviously he’s a polished actor who’s been around for many years, so when you’re working with someone with his name, I feel like you already know it’s going to be a big adventure. Like, you’ve been around the block, man. What have you learned, what are you going to do?

It was a wild, cool adventure, and I was excited to work with him. What we created together is going to add to why people love and appreciate his work. So yeah, it was pretty cool to have him as the villain.

DC: And what was it like directing Danielle after working with her as a co-star and now as a co-host?

STC: When I got the script and read it, I instantly thought of Danielle as the lead girl. She’s insanely talented and so great. The only thing I had to tell Danielle was that.

So I was really excited to direct her, but there’s not much “directing” that needs to happen when you have someone who’s that wonderful and great. There are so many actors that I cast because I worked with them prior, and I knew what they could accomplish. I wasn’t the type of director who went in and said “Can you change that?” I went in and asked, “How did that feel?”

Most of the time when I asked that, they knew what they wanted to do. They were thinking what I was thinking. So I don’t need to come in here and tell you what I need to change. Let’s just go again. Usually, they change it, find those colors, or do it differently. That’s how you know someone’s a polished actor. They can play around, they know the character enough to feel it out. 

Bring the Law is currently in post-production. For updates and developments, follow Scout Taylor-Compton on her Instagram. Follow her podcast Talk Scary to Me with co-host Danielle Harris here.



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