Last Saturday night at Hyaena Gallery – a Burbank, CA boutique that caters in “odd things for eclectic tastes” – owner Bill Shaffer hosted the opening of a special Scream exhibit featuring several works of art used in the upcoming fourth installment, as well as an assortment of props courtesy of Skip Crank, who served as one of the prop masters on Screams 1-4. B-D’s Chris Eggertsen attended the special event and caught up with Nicolas Caesar – owner of the “Scary-Art Collective“, whose members were commissioned to create the original artworks specifically for the film – in addition to taking some photos of the pieces on display. See inside for the full report!The Hyaena Gallery in Burbank, CA was humming on Saturday night with the opening of “The Art of Stab“, an exhibit featuring Scream-inspired artwork and a whole host of items – courtesy of prop master extraordinaire Skip Crank – that have been featured in all four films of the franchise. The artworks were commissioned by the Scream 4 production for use in a scene where some “cultish things” occur (this according to artist Nicolas Caesar, who founded the artist’s collective that was asked to create the pieces) in a barn filled with Stab fan art (Stab being the “franchise-within-a-franchise” that has been featured in all of the Scream sequels).
“It’s basically a section of the film where there’s a big cult, and it’s all about fan art“, said the enthusiastic Caesar when I caught up with him at the exhibit. The opportunity for he and his group, known as the “Scary-Art Collective“, to contribute to the film came as a result of his working relationship with Crank on the long-dormant adaptation (“It’s never gonna be made“) of the Clock Tower series of video games released for the Playstation in the latter half of the ‘90s and early ‘00s.
“That’s how I got the job initially working with Skip“, he continued. “So when this came up the idea was, ‘We should do fan art, we should have art in the film. I know this guy, he can make quality work, he knows a lot of artists.’ So Bill Shaffer at Hyaena Gallery and I sorta teamed up. And we just went down our database and we invited everybody. And we were just like, ‘Alright, here’s the deal. You have a week to do this. It has to be the [Ghostface] character, but you can’t use the word ‘Scream’, you have to use ‘Stab’…and you can basically do what you want, one piece, and Hyaena has a stake.’”
Especially given the fact that the artists only had a week to come up with the pieces, the majority of them were extraordinary – some wonderfully bizarre and imaginative, others more straightforward but nevertheless made with supreme craftsmanship, they were, using Caesar’s own words, “museum-quality“.
“How often do you get a masterpiece in a few days?” he asked rhetorically. “One of the great things about it was people were just getting obsessive and maniacal about it, which totally came out in the art. Looking at all the art and the displays, that emotion, that stress, and that whole thing of like ‘you have to make this deadline for it to be in the film’ I think created some really fucked-up and really awesome pieces.”
Indeed, Craven himself was so impressed with the artwork (which he’d originally planned to use less prominently) that he not only asked for it to be hung in his office prior to the start of shooting but, at the suggestion of the production design team, decided to give the works a much grander showcase in the barn scene. Of course, the inevitable questions of, ‘what’s gonna happen with all this artwork once we’re done with the movie?’ began popping up, leading Caesar to go into protective mode on behalf of the other artists.
“A lot of people who worked on the film were like, ‘Oh, this is neat! I wanna take this home!’” Caesar recollected. “And we were like, ‘No, these are artists! They live off this [stuff]!’”
Of course, Craven couldn’t help but put down dibs on some of his favorite pieces from the collection (which I’m assuming he paid for), even going so far as to ask for his office to be decorated with the ones he chose.
“Wes was like, ‘I want you to do my office. I want you to dress it like you did“, said Caesar. “So basically Skip had all this stuff with him on hold for Wes Craven. It was like, ‘I have all this stuff and Bill [Shaffer] had a cancellation in November, let’s just put together a ‘Scream’ show! Let’s open [it] up to the public.’ Because it’s really rare that you actually get to see props and art from a film that’s not some shitty ‘Tango & Cash’ piece in Planet Hollywood or Hard Rock Café or whatever, where it’s actually a film that you give a shit about.”
Perhaps the most exciting development to arise from Caesar and his collective’s involvement in the highly-anticipated sequel is that it’s resulted in many more offers for them to create original artwork for films. And while some of those are coming from outside the horror genre, at the end of the day it’s the sick and twisted stuff that inspired them to become artists in the first place.
“All of us who grew up on slasher films and everything, it’s a part of our culture“, said Caesar passionately. “Some kids went to church, we went to creature features.”
And now, on to the gallery!