Interview : David Zucker

In his comprehensive career, Director David Zucker has made quite a name for himself as the man to get if your film needs a good environment gag, prop snigger or ribbing. And from “Flying High” to “The Naked Gun”, they’ve all been quite a treat. In this one on one with Clint Morris, Zucker talks about his latest film “Scary Movie 3”, as well as spilling the beans on a fourth instalment and a movie with satirical magazine, The Onion.

The great thing about your movies David is that they don’t age
Funny you should say that, we had a Q and A before the screening of “Scary Movie 3” here last night and they showed clips of my earlier movies. I saw stuff in “The Naked Gun” clips that I hadn’t seen in a long time, it was like seeing it for the first time. I don’t often watch my movies, so this was good, I actually laughed!

So what interested you about Scary Movie 3?
I wasn’t very interested originally. Bob Weinstein [from Miramax] called me and asked me if I was interested in directing it and told him I don’t like horror movies or slasher movies or haunted house movies. He then told me that they wanted to do The Rings and Signs this time, and thought that sounded like a good idea. Real movies for a change. I mean, a video tape that kills, aliens leaving crop circles – they’re already funny. I assembled a great time of writers, and we had some fun. As we went along more and more movies made their way into the film – like “8 mile”, “The Others” and “The Matrix” – it was a good time.

Did you purposely decide you didn’t want to do it like the Wayans brothers?
I couldn’t do what they did. They’ve a different type of humour than me; we’re like apples and oranges. The first Scary Movie was a gross-out R Rated movie; I wouldn’t even want to try to beat that. The studio wanted to expand the franchise, so that the younger brothers and sisters of the people that went to the first movies could now be included on the joke too.

Was the deal that you’d do a Scary Movie 3 and a Scary Movie 4 at the same time?
No, it was just for Scary Movie 3. However when we got the rushes back, the studio decided they quickly wanted to do a 4.

And what’s the current status of Scary Movie 4?
We’ve a writer working on it at the moment. I’ve been told we should have something first quarter 04. It’s a bit early if you ask me, we should wait at least until M.Night Shyamalan brings out another movie. They’re a gift from heaven, his movies.

Do you hope to have everyone back for number 4? Leslie Nielsen, Charlie Sheen etcetera?
Sure, I’d like to try and get everyone back. There’s not one person I wouldn’t like to come back for it.

How was it working with Leslie Nielsen again?
It was just great. We had this character of a bumbling president, and whenever you have an authority figure that’s tripping over stuff etc, it’s always funny. We took a lot at it, and realised we’d written this for Leslie Nielsen. I was very happy to work with him again.

Any chance of you guys re-teaming for another “Naked Gun” in the future?
We would really like to. The studio just doesn’t get the joke though. They’re not interested in the franchise. Funny thing was, Scary Movie 3 opened up against a Paramount movie at the box office on the same week of release and the Paramount movie disappeared without a trace. They still may not get it, but if they really wanted to see whether spoof movies still work they should’ve taken a look that week, even back when Scary one came out. And if they think that’s a different case because it was an R rated spoof movie, they should look at ours – it’s PG-13.

Any competition between you and your directing brother, Jerry Zucker?
Competition? No. We both do different types of things. He did “Ghost”, which I loved but wouldn’t have wanted to do, it never interested me, “First Knight” which was a very serious movie, and then “Rat Race” – All different concepts, but not my cup of tea.

What’s he working on now?
He’s working on a musical actually, so he’s definitely into varying directions. He tends not to make movies as often, where as I like to have one in can, either writing the next or out here promoting one, like this.

And is Scary Movie 4 your next movie?
It could be, if it’s readuy in time. If not, Dimension wants me to direct another movie for them. It’s a romantic comedy – still untitled – about a wedding reality show. I’m also producing a sketch movie called “The Onion Movie” which is written by the gang that do the satirical newspaper, mainly on the web.

And what can we expect on the Scary Movie 3 DVD?
A lot of material that didn’t make it into the movie. Also expecting to do a lot of commentary, we’re going to need to explain everything.

And what are you up to while over here in Australia?
Promoting the movie and seeing some friends. He worked on “My Boss’s Daughter” with me.

Which reminds me, that was supposed to get a release here in Australia a couple of weeks back. But it never happened
We’re pushed back again probably. They’ll probably capitalize on Scary Movie 3. ‘From the director of..’ [Laughs]

SCARY MOVIE 3 Commences Thursday across Australia