It’s a SCARY MOVIE comedy; Which means that in order to set the scene

When it came to creating the look of SCARY MOVIE 4, David Zucker was very clear about what he wanted: “let the script do the work.” Bob Weiss elaborates, “One of the keys to doing this kind of parody is to stimulate an archetype in the audience’s mind or a specific movie in the audience’s mind. They have an expectation of where that scene might go, based on the original movie and then we pull the rug out from underneath them…And to do that you need a great, great production team. And we were very lucky with our designer, Holger Gross, and with Tom Ackerman, our Cinematographer.”

Production Designer, Holger Gross (“Stargate: The Movie”, “The Chronicles of Riddick,” “The Negotiator,”) spent a lot of time studying the movies being spoofed asking, “What is the essence of that particular scene? What is the mood? What is the atmosphere and so on?” Gross admits, “It’s very different for me working this way, not actually doing my own concept that I set at the beginning.” Zucker recognizes what he was asking of Gross and his team, saying, “Their biggest challenge was to get everything done on time. Often, we were writing stuff in the morning and they had to have the set built in the afternoon. Holger has just done some amazing work.”

Zucker has equal praise for the rest of the team, including costume designer, Carol Ramsey: “(She) is really at the top of the field. We have a short-hand, she knows how to design so it doesn’t intrude.” Carol explains, “Costume design is not about making great little outfits. It’s about developing the character that is defined by the script. David Zucker has really specific ideas. His team, they have very specific ideas, and their aesthetic is they want it to be very normal. They never want to do a costume gag, unless it’s like motivated by the script.”

Director of Photography, Tom Ackerman, underscores that “it’s a SCARY MOVIE comedy;
Which means that in order to set the scene, we have to, in essence, shoot it not like a comedy. We want to create an image that is sometimes scary, that is sometimes
otherworldly, that is often action-packed and dramatic in a way that comedies sometimes are not. So the more on-the-nose the imagery is, the better the jokes work.”

Stunt Co-ordinator, Jacob Rupp, worked hard to design some “on-the-nose” sequences from the “War of the Worlds” epicentre scene. “We probably hired a hundred and twenty stunt people,” Rupp said. He also trained Anna Faris for many of her stunts and was impressed with how well she did, saying, “She keeps saying she’s not a very athletic person but she always pulls it off. Every time I had to work with her on stunt stuff. She’s always come through. She actually surprised herself and me.”

For Special Effects Co-ordinator, Alison Ramsey, the goal was to create a specific feeling for viewers: ”we’re parodying so that the audience immediately, and subconsciously, sort of puts themselves back in that story mode (of the original movie being spoofed). So, we almost have the same amount of work to do as the original, but with a much smaller budget, in a very short time frame, and also, we have all these additional gags on top of the original material.”

Tom Ackerman perhaps sums it up best in describing how, in spite of the many movies, and therefore styles, that were being emulated, the whole production team was ultimately working toward a seamless product: “At the end of the day, our movie had to be one movie. In essence, it’s visually the same thing that David, Craig, and Bob and the writers did with the structure of the film itself…Likewise, we wanted to make sure that, on the visual end, that this was one movie.”

Challenging? Absolutely! But for behind-the-scenes people like Carol Ramsey, going to work on the set of SCARY MOVIE 4 with David Zucker and Bob Weiss was usually a blast: “they are some of the funniest people I’ve every met in my life!”

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