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Things continue to get buggy for Dustin Warburton. While the
East Coast—based writer has been busy juggling horror fiction (TASTE, STRANGE
THINGS and MORTICIANS FOOD), young adult novels and children’s books (including
THE LITTLE MONSTERS GUIDE ON HOW TO SCARE CHILDREN), as well as co-authoring
books with major sports figures like Dennis Rodman (!), he now makes his
motion-picture debut this year with the big bug flick SPIDERS 3D, produced by
that nature amok/Syfy-friendly Nu Image company. Warburton whipped up the story
for recent festival-fave SPIDERS 3D with veteran frightmaster Tibor Takacs (THE
GATE, ICE SPIDERS, I, MADMAN, etc.), who then handed final screenwriting chores
to Joseph Farrugia.
In SPIDERS 3D (which stars STARSHIP TROOPERS’ Patrick
Muldoon, 2001 MANIACS’ Christa Campbell and ALIENS’ William Hope), a Soviet
spacecraft crashes into a New York City subway tunnel (Sandy wasn’t enough?!),
unleashing a horde of giant mutated arachnids.
FANGORIA: How did you first become involved with SPIDERS 3D?
DUSTIN WARBURTON: I had been collaborating with [director]
Tibor Takacs for a few years, ever since he contacted me after my second book
was released in 2007. Tibor and I became friends, and he coached me as a screenwriter
for a few years. How this came to be was pretty amazing, because it was on my
29th birthday, December
15, 2009, that I received a phone call from Tibor regarding this
project. Tibor told me that he could set up a pitch meeting for me to meet with
a producer, who was Boaz Davidson. He said the meeting was for December 21 in
LA, which meant I had a week to come up with a solid pitch. This being my
first-ever pitch meeting with a real producer, needless to say I was very excited
and nervous at the same time, but I work well under pressure.
FANG: Is there any connection with the previous two films,
and did you see them?
WARBURTON: No, there isn’t any connection that I am aware
of. Other than Nu Image taking an interest in spiders, I felt this project was
something new and very much different than any other spider/disaster film out
there. It’s pretty funny actually, I noticed the Nu Image SPIDERS movies on Netflix
recently, but I didn’t watch them.
FANG: What kind of instructions were you given from your producers?
WARBURTON: Well, the only instructions I was given in the
beginning were from Tibor regarding how to prepare the pitch in terms of the
written structure. Tibor told me he wanted to do a SPIDERS film in New York City,
the rest was up to me. When I first got the call about the meeting, I literally
locked myself in my apartment for three days where I studied and analyzed
dozens of invasive species. I looked at the python surge in Florida, bacteria
plaguing lakes in upstate New York, and the cane toads in Australia. This
eventually led me to start looking at new species of spiders being discovered
year after year in isolated areas across the world ranging from jungles to
deserts. The only instruction I basically had was to make it original, which of
course is the trick in any killer bug movie.
FANG: When did the 3D element come into play? Did the 3D
element affect your story in any way?
knew Tibor wanted to do a 3D film for quite some time. He had been attending
training conferences and had been studying the new cameras used in shooting the
current 3D films. So when I started developing the story and the characters, I
knew he intended for it to be in 3D, but I didn’t think about that at all when
I was working on the story. I knew the 3D element would come into play later
when the script was being rewritten in order to accommodate the 3D shots.
FANG: Was the story adapted from one of your pre-existing
WARBURTON: For many years I studied invasive species as a
hobby, and I knew that someday I’d be able to incorporate something invasive
into a story, but no, it didn’t come from anything I had written previously.
Interesting enough, my third book was a children’s book titled MY BROTHER EATS SPIDERS. To this day, it’s one of my favorite
works because it’s about my two sons, but when I think about it now, I find it
interesting how the spider book may have led me to the SPIDERS film without
even knowing it.
FANG: Why didn’t you get a screenplay credit?
role basically ended after I developed the pitch and treatment and co-wrote the
story. I had been given the impression Nu Image wanted the script done ASAP,
and when I was writing the story in December, January and February, I was also
going through a divorce. I have two small boys and at that particular time, I
couldn’t leave them for a month to go to LA and work on the script with Tibor.
FANG: How do you think your writing is unique compared to
WARBURTON: All of us have a different style, a different
voice from within. Everything I read I take in like a sponge and try to take
something from it while adding it to my own writing arsenal. I worked in a
prison for four years while attending college full time, and during that
experience I learned what real horror is all about. It changed my thoughts on
what makes something horrifying and without a doubt humbled me in a way. What
makes me different is I’ve taken an untraditional road through all of this. I
was a young father learning how to be a man all the while learning how to
control the internal drive to create. Ever since I was 9 years old, I thought
my writing was bizarre, and to this day I still continue to shock myself. But
at the same time, I’m changing as a writer. Not only do I write horror, but now
I love working in the children’s genre. The combination is incredible and it
adds to the overall element of what I’m trying to accomplish. In short, what
makes my writing unique is the fact that I try to put myself in the shoes of
whomever or whatever I’m writing about. I try to be realistic while really
putting myself in the situation I’m creating, even though the situation might
FANG: Could you describe your writing process?
is a good question! My process is unlike anything I can even describe, but I’ll
do my best. First, I start with an idea, then I think about it while flushing
out notes in a notebook or piece of paper. I always like to work on paper first
and then move onto the computer, thus creating my rough outline before I even
turn the computer on. I then tear the pages out and scatter them on the floor
beneath me, resembling a giant puzzle. I move papers around and start to
visualize what can be done with the idea now that it’s starting to take shape.
Once that happens, I go to work and dig deeper in each element within the
story. I break down the characters along with each of their personalities. I
always try to identify a weakness in the protagonist so that the story will
pave the way for the character’s change. After all, who wants to read a story
about a character who doesn’t change by the end of a story? I will mention one
odd thing I do: I never edit anything on the computer, I always print stuff out
and edit it by pen. That’s the old school writer in me, but at the end of the
day there is no recipe for creativity other than trying to not lose it as we
grow older. We all have ideas, and the difference between creative minds and
regular minds is the fact that creative minds make it happen. Anyone can watch
a movie, and everyone in Hollywood considers himself or herself a writer, but
not everyone can write a story simply because they’ve seen thousands of films
and read hundreds of books. They must first understand the concept of structure
and then begin understanding the elements that make up the story from the
opening sentence to the last word. When it comes to structure, you must be able
to break down the story in all its elements before you even begin to write it.
Creativity is the driving force behind every story and every movie, and
although the two worlds seem distant, they are considerably more similar than
most people realize.
FANG: Any other film things in the works?
WARBURTON: Yes, I have two projects that I am very excited
about. I just finished the second draft to a psychological horror film titled BLACK
ASYLUM. I wrote it with horror actor Robert [VAMP] Rusler, and he plans on
making his directorial debut with this film. At the current moment, most of my
focus is going toward my other film project titled THE WINDMILL KIDS. I became
friends and writing partners with Zach Galligan, who is known for his role in GREMLINS.
Several years ago, Zach and I had the idea to write a modern day GOONIES/GREMLINS-type
film because we felt that modern day adventure films are not what they used to
be. So needless to say, Zach and I are finished and we are going to bring back
the ’80s in a kickass way! Who better to write an ’80s adventure film other
than Zach? I learned a lot from him, and it’s always a blast!
FANG: Any other future plans?
WARBURTON: Well, it’s kind of like business as usual now. I’m finding myself
getting busier with less time during the day for everything! I guess that’s
something we all have to deal with as we press on. I’m currently preparing for
the release of a new children’s book soon, DENNIS THE WILD BULL, written by
Dennis Rodman. I assisted as the co-writer. It is the most discussed children’s
book of the year. It’s illustrated by Dan Monroe, who also illustrated my last
two books, JESSE AND THE BOOGEYMAN,
co-written with a former lightweight world champion boxer, Jesse James Leija,
and BULLIES AREN’T SCARY, co-written with the former undisputed world champion
and 2011 Hall of Fame boxer, Kostya Tszyu. I’m looking at my future in a good
way. I have a wonderful fiancé, two sons and a daughter, so that’s pretty much
my motivation. I intend to make a name for myself in Hollywood with my films
and with my books. Now that I’ve broken into Hollywood with SPIDERS 3D, I’m
excited to see what happens next. But I’m still the same guy who loves nothing
more than snorkeling in the Caribbean and hanging with family, while always
attempting to create the next best thing. My mind never stops, therefore my
project slate continues to grow and grow. I’m determined to grow as a writer
and challenge myself in every way possible in order to learn as much as I can.
I never stop learning, and I always think I can improve. In the long run, I
hope to make my mark not only in the world of horror and in film, but in the
world of children’s literature as well.
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