- Wes Craven’s motivation to make movies came from a fear of going back to driving a cab, as represented by his hack license from the 1970s.
- Craven’s impact on the horror genre is undeniable, from controversial films like The Last House on the Left to iconic works like A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream.
- Despite his success, Craven’s motivation technique reveals a vulnerable side of the horror icon and shows that even acclaimed filmmakers have doubts.
Wes Craven‘s emotional and intense way of motivating himself to make movies scared Scream star Jamie Kennedy. Kennedy worked alongside the director on both the 1996 slasher Scream and its 1997 sequel, where he portrayed film fanatic Randy Meeks. Craven is responsible for a number of iconic horror films alongside Scream, including The Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, and A Nightmare on Elm Street.
When speaking to Michael Rosenbaum for his Inside of You podcast, Kennedy reflected on his experience with Craven, including a moment where he discovered one way that the Scream franchise director motivated himself. Check out Kennedy’s full recollection below:
“His place was like this, where he would have memorabilia from all his different movies. Next to his bed was this little frame of something. I said, ‘What is that?’ He said, ‘That’s my hack license.’ And a hack license is a license to drive a cab in New York City, and it said Wes Craven, LAC Cab, 1971 to 1972.
“I said ‘Why do you keep that next to your bed?’ And he says “Because when I get up every morning I look at it, and I say to myself this is something I never want to go back to.’ And the fear that he would have to drive a cab again fueled him to make movies… The fear of that license put the fear in him, and he scared us.”
Wes Craven Both Laid The Groundwork For The Horror Genre & Reimagined It
While Craven’s early career saw him work on adult films, he would soon become well-known for his impact on the horror genre. Though The Last House on the Left‘s graphic content sparked controversy across the globe and could have spelled an early end to his career, 1977’s The Hills Have Eyes was received much better and firmly cemented Craven as a horror director, despite any reluctance he had about being limited by the genre. He would further solidify his status with A Nightmare On Elm Street, introducing audiences to now-iconic villain Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) and helping establish many tropes that would define the slasher genre.
Though Craven would continue to direct horror features throughout the ’80s and ’90s, he also played a part in shaking up the genre with Scream. Through its self-aware, horror-savvy recognition of the works of Craven and his other slasher contemporaries, Scream stood out as a feature that was willing to lovingly poke fun at the groundwork Craven himself helped establish. As such, despite Craven’s reluctance to direct Scream initially, he played a role in reinvigorating the genre, further inspiring future filmmakers.
With his incredible impact on the genre, Craven’s motivation technique certainly is surprising, since it’s hard to believe he had any doubt he’d continue to make movies. Craven is responsible for many pieces of horror that have not only been the subject of critical praise but continuous analysis and reevaluation, giving him an unshakable impact on the genre. As such, Kennedy’s recollection is an interesting glance at a more vulnerable side of the horror icon.