***WARNING: This interview contains massive spoilers for Scream VI.***
“Who gives a fuck about the movies?!” That’s what Ghostface yells moments before fatally slashing their next victim in the riveting opening scene of Scream VI, the hit horror sequel that proved fans still have multiple fucks to give when it comes to this venerable slasher series, which recently scored a franchise-best opening weekend at the box office. The Scream VI filmmaking team known as Radio Silence—comprised of directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett and producer Chad Villella—did not shy away from expanding upon the Scream franchise’s very meta take on horror in their brutal and tense follow-up to 2022’s Scream, the fifth entry in the series.
By using Scream VI’s teaser and its nesting doll-esque structure of reveals and twists to establish that tone early on, the filmmaking trio also put their unique stamp on the series. It’s a scene and film that isn’t merely fueled by blood and jump scares—though Scream VI contains a generous helping of both. Rather, it’s a vision that doubles down on making this sequel the most character-driven and thematically ambitious of the bunch. Radio Silence spoke with The A.V. Club about the making of their latest Scream success, what goes into shooting a Ghostface call, and the one scene they didn’t want to cut.
The A.V. Club: Before we do a deep dive, I gotta ask: Who came up with the cool idea to have some of the stars in the Paramount Pictures logo make the “knife shink” sound when they scrape the water?
Tyler Gillett: Thank you! Didn’t Jay [Prychidny, Scream VI’s editor] do that?
Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: Yeah, Jay did that. In his assembly cut.
TG: And the second that we heard that, the first time we saw it we noticed it as well, and we thought it was the coolest choice.
Chad Villella: Special thanks to Paramount for allowing us to mess with the fanfare and the logo [sound design] too. I think that was kind of nice. That was something that we had to request, and it had to go up the chain a little bit to be able to do [a new] sound design over the logos. But, at the end of the day, they allowed us to do it, and I think it just really sets the mood for the movie in a much better way.
AVC: I’m guessing that process of “going up the chain” for approvals wasn’t especially easy.
CV: It wasn’t [Laughs]. But we’re here now, and we’re all happy.
AVC: In a recent interview you mentioned that when the Scream VI script went out, it did not include the third act. So when you’re sending out drafts, does the script just stop with no warning at page 72 or something?
TG: We sort of tell everybody ahead of time: “Look, you’re gonna get this chunk, you’re gonna get like three quarters, and when it’s time to prep the last quarter, everyone will get what they need.” So that people can do their job successfully, which is important to us that they feel that they can. But we’re pretty upfront and I think that everybody involved is really down for the experiment of that. I think that for them as, as Scream fans, they are also excited about this sort of subterfuge—the kind of secrecy around it. I think it’s part of what makes the “whodunit” aspect of these movies fun for them. There’s just a fun texture to have in the experience of making the thing.
AVC: The opening teaser of a Scream movie is obviously a key piece of narrative real estate, and Scream VI’s is one of the most inventive yet. When you saw that in the script for the first time, did you know it was coming or was it a surprise?
MB: It was a surprise for us. I think we had a reaction reading it that, hopefully, people have watching it. It was the moment in the script, about five minutes or so [into the teaser], when you just kind of go: “Wait, what the hell is going on? What is this movie?” And I think it helped set the tone for how we approached making this one.
AVC: The line that got the biggest laugh when I saw the movie was when Samara Weaving is asked over the phone in a mock-Ghostface voice,“What’s your favorite scary movie?” and she responds sarcastically: “Well, not that one.”
TG: [Laughs] We love it when the movie kind of shits on itself, you know? One of my favorite parts of working on these movies is that, because they’re so self-referential, we get to kind of make fun of ourselves in a way and make fun of the process in general. And it feels like that’s such a valuable way to get the audience on your side. You let them know: “Look, we know that this is sort of a big, ridiculous movie. Just sit down and enjoy it.” You’re kinda saying to them:
“We are going to deal with and see some serious things, but we’re not gonna take ourselves too seriously in the process.”
CV: I definitely think the studio now also knows, and is aware, of what the DNA of a Scream movie is, and what makes a Scream movie so evergreen in a way, is because the state of horror is constantly changing, and you could keep making a comment on that. I think that’s very important to keep in mind and it’s a big part of the appeal of what’s going on within the movie. So I think, [the studio] had a chuckle about it, too. Once they saw that scene, that moment, they had to laugh when the audience had to laugh. Paramount was like, “Okay, we understand what you guys are going for. Let’s keep going.”
AVC: Now, this is maybe an outlier, but one of the best scenes for me in the movie is where Tara confronts Sam on campus after the Halloween party—
TG and CV: Yes! Thank you!
MB: I think that was, collectively, one of our favorite scenes from day one. The filming of it was really fun, too, because, we’re out on a quad and there’s Halloween-costumed people running around, and it was [shot] a little deeper into the schedule, which provided kind of a nice break from, you know, climbing across ladders and all the kill scenes. But I know when we got to the edit—watching the assembly cut that Jay, our editor, put together—it changed maybe five percent from that early cut. In the entire [editing] process, we were expecting that maybe we’re going to get the pacing note. Like, “there’s no way people are gonna let us keep this in. We’re gonna have to cut this down.” We were expecting that people weren’t going to let us keep this scene all the way through. And we had a note on our Google Doc that just said: “Do not touch a fucking frame of this scene.” And to everyone involved’s credit, none of this scene was ever on the chopping block. They made it all the way through and I think it’s because you need those character beats like that, because that’s when you latch in and it makes everything else better for the rest of the movie.
AVC: Another memorable scene is Gale Weathers’ first-ever Ghostface call. I saw that you had Roger L. Jackson, the voice of Ghostface, call in for this scene. How is that accomplished? Is Roger piped-in offstage via speaker, or is he actually on the phone with Courtney Cox?
TG: We always solve that so that he can be talking on the [prop phone], over the landline.
AVC: So that’s Roger literally calling in on that phone?
TG: Yeah. So production creates a wireless account that allows for all of that to happen so we can have it on the day be as real as possible. It’s just something we love and that’s how it has happened on the other movies. We think that there’s something really cool and kind of precious about that part of the process; these very, kind of legendary, iconic characters get to have as real an experience with Ghostface as you can have on set. We love that, and we think it’s worth protecting. Roger is always, always game to call in. Even if he there is a significant time difference, or he’s not on the same coast, he’s always been really game to be a part of it in that way.
Scream VI is now playing in theaters everywhere.