Daniel Waters talked to MoviePilot about Vampire Academy:
When you got the job for Vampire Academy, where did it fall in the vampire and teen lit phenomenon? Were there already some teen lit movies, or was this even before that started?
Oh, no, it was definitely late in the game. Perhaps naively, my brother and I thought, much like the way at the end of the ‘80s, people were sick of teen films and nobody wanted to see another teen film, but I did the movie Heathers and it was a new way of looking at the teen film so it was responded to quite well. Even if it didn’t make a lot of money, people liked it. Mark and I thought, “Okay, people are sick of vampire movies, but this book has its own kind of personality and its own kind of style. If we bring that to life, people will of course see what an original take on the vampire lore this is.” I think we just came at the wrong time where no matter what we did, people just had fatigue about the whole vampire genre and there was nothing we could do to change that.
For fans of the book, if they get the DVD, are some of the additional scenes you wrote included?
Yeah, there are some additional scenes. Definitely there’s a big flashback scene that was in the book that was mystifyingly cut out of the movie. I know that’s on the DVD. I haven’t actually seen the final list of deleted scenes. To me there’s a lot of things just personally, stuff within scenes that exist in the movie now that I thought were cut down a bit too much. To me the famous scene from the book, the charm necklace scene, to me it went through an ABC Family Channelization process. It was much sexier before. Maybe I’m an old perv, but I miss the old version where it was much more sexy.
It sounds like you disagree with some of the cuts. Did you get into it with your brother over that?
Yes, yes, we had a very awkward Thanksgiving, let’s just say that. Stuffing went flying across the table. This is the problem. I think my brother loves cutting movies tight. He likes to cut movies tight and then Harvey Weinstein likes to come in and whatever the director thinks is tight, he needs to cut that much more out of it. So I was working with two guys who don’t like to let people stand around and talk and I love movies that were just okay, it’s not about keeping the story moving. This isn’t like a bomb on a bus and if the speed goes under 50 miles an hour, the bus blows up. It’s not that kind of movie. I wish it was a little more leisurely.
Speaking of feeling rushed, there is a lot of background to the Strigoi and St. Vincent’s. Were there points in reading Richelle’s book that felt like, “Come on, Richelle, you’re killing me. Don’t give me all this stuff to explain!”
Definitely the first movie. We thought, “Oh, just get us to the second movie and we can relax a bit more.” It’s a 300 page book that I thought was going to be a two hour movie, ended up being a 90 minute movie. Of course there are some fans of the book that wouldn’t even like the longer version of the movie because they want a five hour movie that has every single thing in the book. It’s just not going to happen. Yeah, definitely for my adult friends who hadn’t read the book, I would show them early drafts of the script and their eyes would glaze over. “Moroi? Strigoi? What’s going on? Help me.” I think we need to give people a menu before they walked in that had everything on a big placard. We could wait to start the movie for 10 minutes and have them read everything.
Speaking of scenes of people standing around talking, was there a part of you that would have wanted to throw out a lot of background and just do a wacky high school movie with vampires?
The thing is, some people criticized us like, “Oh, the guys who did Mean Girls and Heathers are not the right person to do the movie.” But we never wanted to do just Mean Girls with fangs. We really wanted to capture everything about Vampire Academy. I’m someone, if you look at the movies I’ve done, I’ve never met a tone I didn’t like. I like darkness and fantasy mixed with humor and I thought the book had all of that. We tried to get it all. My first approach was even less explanatory. It was more like okay, I’m just going to pretend that you’re backstage at a concert and this is just the way this school is and you’ve got to play catch up yourself. Richelle liked that version the best, but then we ended up doing [a draft] explaining every little thing. Then that was too long, so I think we ended up with this middle version that is simultaneously too much exposition, too many facts and figures and also for some people not enough explanation. I think just the pure information of it was a tough nut that we never quite cracked. But please, buy the DVD.