“We have amassed over 700 never-before-seen photos.”
Fan-funded earlier this year, the forthcoming documentary Pennywise: The Story of IT couldn’t possibly be coming along at a better time. With Andy Muschietti’s re-adaptation of the iconic Stephen King novel still smashing insane records at the box office, after all, what better time to revisit the original 1990 mini-series?
The documentary from Dead Mouse Productions Ltd and Cult Screenings UK Ltd. is being directed by Chris Griffiths. It’s a fully independent retrospective into the making of Stephen King’s IT and its cultural impact over the last 28 years, set to “tell a story heard by few and showcase a wealth of behind-the-scenes footage and photos seen by even fewer.”
From exploring the historical and cultural phenomenon of coulrophobia (the fear of clowns) to Tim Curry’s magical portrayal of Pennywise the Clown to the impact Vancouver (aka “Hollywood North”) had on the 1990 made-for-TV miniseries, The Story of IT will dig deeper into the Pennywise phenomenon than anything ever has before.
We caught up with writer/co-producer John Campopiano and co-producer Gary Smart this week to get an update on the doc, which is nearly complete!
“After an amazing 3-week shoot in Los Angeles and Vancouver we are now managing a number of outsourced interviews with some additional key cast and crew,” Smart told us. “We’ve also started having the interviews transcribed so that John and I can produce the narrative structure of the documentary. It’ll then go to our editor, Nick Helmsley, who should have a basic rough cut of the film for John and I to sign off by December. We’re expecting a final cut by January with a *possible* release in April 2018.”
The team left no stone unturned in the interview department, chatting with anyone and everyone who was involved in the making of the 1990 mini-series. That includes stars Richard Thomas, Seth Green and Emily Perkins, to name just a few, along with director Tommy Lee Wallace and makeup effects master Bart J. Mixon.
And yes, Tim Curry even provided a rare interview!
“I was lucky enough to meet Tim once before our group interview with him this past July. That experience–plus our initial conversation via phone–hardly prepared me for the enormity of the moment of connecting with him at his home,” Campopiano recalled. “Tim and his staff welcomed us all, had coffee, water, and cookies for us, and just made us feel very comfortable. I vividly remember telling myself to try and sit back every so often and just savor the moment as much as possible. With so much happening at once (e.g., finalizing logistics for the interview, briefing staff about the film project, setting up equipment, making sure we don’t accidentally break anything!) it was easy to get swept up in it all and forget that what we’re doing is special likely a once in a lifetime opportunity. Finding those moments to breath, step back, and appreciate what was happening, was important for me. It’s an interview experience I’ll cherish forever.”
One of the coolest features of the doc is that we’ll be taken on a tour of the town that played the role of Derry, Maine in the mini-series, which is actually located in Vancouver.
“For me, visiting filming locations is always a powerful experience,” Campopiano explained to us. “I place a lot of significance in the power of place, so to step into the spaces where films I love were shot, I feel like I’m connecting with that film in a more meaningful way. Being in Vancouver was really special for that reason. At many spots very little had changed since 1990, so for a moment I felt like I was in that town of Derry I grew up watching. From the standpoint of the documentary, I think it’ll be a great treat for fans to see the places where the miniseries was set. Many people will never have the chance to visit Vancouver, so for those fans we’ll bring Vancouver to them.”
The doc will also be home to TONS of never-seen photos and on-set videos.
“We’ve been fortunate to work with SFX makeup legend, Bart Mixon, a few times already, so we have a great rapport with him. Pretty much from day one, Bart was on board and gave John over 3 hours of never-before-seen video footage,” Campopiano and Smart excitedly told us. “We have also amassed over 700 never-before-seen photos from Bart and the cast and crew. The biggest bonus on this project is the amount of gold we have unearthed–we really do think it’s going to be a visual treat for fans. The photos stem from make-up tests on Tim Curry to the kids just having fun on set. They really are an amazing chronicle of the making of IT.”
They added, “These photos (including those not featured in the final documentary) will be featured in the companion book slated for release around Christmas 2018.”
All the hard work, Campopiano promises, will result in something truly special for fans.
“I think fans are in for a real treat with this one,” he confidently noted. “Sure, in some ways it’ll be your straightforward “making of” documentary. But it’s also going to go deeper and examine some of the themes and subtexts that keep people coming back to this massive and rich story.”
Be sure to follow Pennywise: The Story of IT on Facebook for regular updates, and check out an exclusive, never-seen photo of Tim Curry on set that the team provided to us!