October 28, 2015
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Fessenden, Reznick, Wexler on the DEATHWAVE Label

Blumhouse spoke with Fessenden, Graham Reznick, and GEP Producer Jenn Wexler (among others) about the development and use of the term “DEATHWAVE” to label horror movies with elevated plot and characterization.

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FESSENDEN: I think my films have a deliberate and determined vulnerability, dealing with melancholy and loss as much as the horror tropes that I clearly love. I have tried for authenticity in my work, tried to get at nagging truths about things as I see them. There is nothing calculated or commercial in the work (just ask my investors) and so the movies are inspiring to young filmmakers that come from a more idealistic place as they start out in the business. I have also championed the do-it-yourself approach which again is inspiring for those with few resources and a dream. Maybe most of all, I take horror movies seriously. I’m telling scary stories that matter to me, the viewer can tell that. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea of course.

Continue on to read the full piece.

September 19, 2015
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The Creators Project Interviewed Fessenden on the 10,000 Page UNTIL DAWN Script

Vice’s The Creators Project just spoke with Fessenden about the history behind and process of co-writing (with GEP pal Graham Reznick) a 10,000 page script for the PS4 game UNTIL DAWN.

From the interview on The Creators Project:

So, how long is the script for Until Dawn? “There’s an Easter Egg in the game that’s called ‘1000 pages’ and Graham and I were laughing about that, because all in all it ended up being around 10,000 pages that we wrote. That number’s derived from the fact that we wrote the game twice, once for Playstation 3, and once for Playstation 4.”

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Read on for the full conversation.

September 1, 2015
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Tribeca Film Reviews UNTIL DAWN and Speaks with Co-Writer Graham Reznick

Matt Barone, writing for Tribeca Film, spoke at length with Graham Reznick about UNTIL DAWN, the PS4 Horror Video Game written by Reznick and Fessenden.

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Until Dawn gives you a very stereotypical approach and very stereotypical characters and has them do the things you’re familiar with, but then it puts you in control,” says Reznick. “Our players are given a certain amount of control over the characters, which allows you to take a stereotypical character and mold them into something that’s more reflective of you, the person who’s playing. That immediately raises the stakes and makes things scarier, because you’re truly invested in the characters. With each move and decision they make, the game’s characters start to resemble aspects of the player’s own personality.”

Read on for the full review and conversation with Graham Reznick.

August 26, 2015
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GEP Pal and UNTIL DAWN Co-Writer Graham Reznick on Writing a Massive Video Game

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GEP pal and UNTIL DAWN co-writer Graham Reznick spoke with Venture Beat about the process of writing UNTIL DAWN with Fessenden. Reznick spoke about everything from the butterfly effect of the game:

“As far as the butterfly effect and the branching narrative, as a filmmaker and a screenwriter, you sit down with a character and a story, and then you immediately think of every possible version of that story at any given moment. You’re trying to find the best path for your screenplay. If a character has to go to the store and buy a loaf of bread, there’s a million ways that can happen. Who’s he gonna run into along the way? Does the store get held up when he gets there?”

To the balance between traditional gaming and surprising storytelling techniques in the game:

“Exactly. There’s a bit of a more traditional gameplay element built in where it’s like, okay, I have to make sure I hurry along this path or else I’m not going to get to someone in time. But then there are a lot of situations where, depending on the conversation you have with someone, it might result in their death almost immediately. You wouldn’t know that going into the conversation.”

To Reznick’s history with video games:

“I grew up on games. I’m 34, so I feel like I literally grew up with games every step of the way, from the earliest consoles on. I played pretty much everything as I grew up as much as I could. I played a lot of computer games, a lot of Sierra games. That was my bread and butter when I was a kid, almost more so than console games at first. Then CD-ROM games with a lot of FMV—We weren’t quite ready yet. Some of those were a lot of fun, but we weren’t ready to interact as deeply as we can with a story now, because of the technology.”

Check out the entirety of awesome interview, originally posted by Dean Takahashi on Venture Beat.

 

August 25, 2015
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UNTIL DAWN Available TODAY! Read the Engadget Review

Engadget just posted a great write-up on UNTIL DAWN. Copies are on sale TODAY, August 25th, 2015!

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From the review:

That Until Dawn feels like an awesome indie fright-fest rather than late-night Netflix stoner fare, like Zombeavers, is because it was written by Larry Fessenden and Graham Reznick, a pair of Hollywood scribes whose resumes read like contemporary horror’s greatest hits. In fact, the movie-poster-adorned walls of Dawn’s ski-lodge home theatre highlight the writers’ past IMDb credits: The InnkeepersThe House of the Devil and Stake Land. It’s a knowing wink to horror fans. Without the duo’s guidance, it’s possible Dawn could’ve devolved into a cheesy trope-fest.

Until Dawn feels like an awesome indie fright-fest rather than late-night Netflix stoner fare

It’s clear Fessenden and Reznick have the utmost respect for horror and they gleefully play with how well-tread genre archetypes generally work. There’s a scene where a jock and the “hottest girl in high school” slink away to a secluded spot to have sex, because that’s what happens in horror films. However, lines like, “It’s so cold in here my tongue would get stuck to your flagpole,” make the clichéd situation feel fresh, and most importantly funny. Dawn expertly balances between a genuine atmosphere of suspense and humor because a player can only take so much interactive stress before calling it quits.

August 20, 2015
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MCV Tells the Story of UNTIL DAWN

MCV tells an awesome story about the founding of the upcoming PS4 exclusive game UNTIL DAWN, as well as thoughts and quotes from the makers of the game!

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Read on for MCV’s entire story!

August 20, 2015
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Check Out 20 Minutes of Gameplay Footage from UNTIL DAWN

Playstation Underground has just released a whopping 20 minutes of new footage for the upcoming PS4 exclusive game UNTIL DAWN. Written by Fessenden and Graham Reznick, the game offers tons of choices, splintering paths, and a butterfly effect to every decision you make as a player.

Read on to see all the gameplay footage, and be sure to grab your copy of UNTIL DAWN when it hits stores this TUESDAY, AUGUST 25th!

August 15, 2015
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Spectacular Optical’s Q&A with GEP Pal Graham Reznick

Spectacular Optical just posted an awesome, in depth interview with GEP Pal Graham Reznick!

Here’s just a small snippet from the interview, where Reznick speaks about listening to music while writing:

I listen to a lot of noise when I write. It puts you in an emotional space, and it doesn’t distract you. I use music a lot as a kind of utility based on everyday life. It helps me get into a space. It’s hard for me to write to things that take all of my attention. Noise can go both ways. I can listen and hear every detail of it, or I can put it on, and let it affect me subconsciously. I’ll hear it but I won’t be hearing it. I know it’s a good writing day when I don’t realize the record has been on for forty-five minutes.

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Read on for the full interview!

June 22, 2015
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New Game Network Previewed UNTIL DAWN at E3!

Gaming website New Game Network just wrote a nice long piece about their time playing UNTIL DAWN at E3. UNTIL DAWN, written by Fessenden and Graham Reznick, hits game store shelves on August 25th.

Here’s the run down (kind of spoiler-y), written by Alex V, over on New Game Network:

Despite being first announced a few years ago, it would be a while until we heard about Until Dawn again. The PlayStation 4 exclusive horror title was first planned for PS3 release with motion controls at the core, but has since re-emerged as a more focused and perhaps serious title. Motion controls are still an option, but the game defaults to the classic button layout. We had a chance to play through a short section of the game at E3 2015.

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Before starting, the game showed off a recap of events based on simulated choices a player would have made thus far. We observed a group of college friends arriving at a ski lodge for a getaway vacation, without a care in the world. Unfortunately, they soon realized that there’s a serial killer on the loose in the area, and things don’t go well for their friends. There’s also some relationship drama that occurs within the group, in a classic teen horror film style. We pick up on the plot of Matt and Emily as they meet two survivors of the serial killer. Shocked, they decide the best course of action is to reach a nearby forest guard tower and radio for help.

They lose their way and somehow end up on a cliff. No problem – except they are suddenly surrounded by angry looking group of deer. As Emily begins to freak out, playing as Matt we get a dialog option to either insult her fear or comfort her. The choices that players make in conversation will decide their relationships with others, and maybe even their fate. As we cautiously began to move forward, most of the deer gave way, but one stood firm in the path. At this point, a prompt to attack appeared. Not knowing any better, we decided to take the hatchet to the deer’s neck. This freaked out the animals, and they pushed forward. Matt had to step back – and lost his footing. He grabbed on to the edge below the cliff, and we had to follow a series of QTE inputs in order to climb out. The inputs left surprisingly little time, perhaps giving an indication that this won’t be a forgiving story.

Indeed, given that almost all characters can die, and with a multitude of story and sequence branches, there will be a lot of replay value in Until Dawn. Looking over at other demo stations, we saw some players ignore the available prompt to attack the deer – and they passed safely through. Doing nothing is an option, and sometimes a good one, giving players another layer of choice. The developers call these branching story lines the Butterfly Effect, where presumably almost any action can have far reaching consequences.

Having made it back to the cliff, the deer have seemingly left, so we carried on to the guard tower. At this point the control switched to Emily, and we walked up the snowy road, using the left stick to move our flashlight around the environment. We found a totem on the side of the road, and upon inspecting it (holding R2 to pick up, using the stick to rotate) we got a vision of a character death. It didn’t amount to anything in the scope of the demo, but it”s likely these items can foreshadow possible events. The final game will jump between the story threads of different characters and attempt to link them together at one point or another.

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After walking up the steps and climbing a series of ladders to the guard tower, we found it to be without power. We had to guide Emily to the outside catwalk of the tower and flip the generator. Back indoors, there were a few interactable objects. A printer and a locker contained posters of missing students, said to be mysteriously gone over the past few weeks. But the goal here was to call for help, so we used the radio and actually got someone on the air.

Once again, with the signal being poor and the man on the other end acting rude and unsympathetic to our panicking heroes, we had a few conversation choices. Keep Emily calmly answering basic questions, or losing it and yelling for immediate help. Despite picking a calm approach, the man on the other side of the radio wasn’t much help. Suddenly, there was a noise outside, and a cutscene showed someone cutting the supporting cables of the tower.

It wasn’t long before the whole thing started to collapse. The two characters tried to hang on for dear life, but for a few moments all seemed to be lost. When the dust finally settled, we were in control of Matt again. He managed to reach the top of the tower and could see a safe ledge he could reach. Suddenly, he heard Emily cry for help – she was helplessly hanging on some railings below, above what appeared to be a deep cavern.

We had a few conversation choices again – keep Emily calm or just tell her to stop freaking out. At one point, we even had an opportunity to bring up earlier relationship drama that we learned about from the introductory recap. It would have been cheesy, but at least the option is there and some players would agree it perfectly fits the teen horror movie dialog cliches. But the most important choice came minutes later – try to save Emily or simply jump to safety. Given how very far down she was from Matt, it seemed a better option to leave her… so we did. Matt jumped to safety, and Emily plummeted to her doom. The demo ended.

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Again, peeking over to other players, we saw those who saved Emily instead saw a graphic death for Matt. Player choice and consequence is at the heart of Until Dawn, and from what we’ve played in the demo, it seems very competently executed. The atmospheric soundtrack, decent voice acting and good facial animations and level of detail means the game also looks the part. The game was written in collaboration with Larry Fessenden and Graham Reznick, two creators that are well versed in the horror genre. It also stars some Hollywood talent in the form of Hayden Panettiere, Brett Dalton and Rami Malek.

If you enjoy the “choose your own adventure” games with a cinematic focus, this title may very well fit the mold. It feels like a combination of horror, Heavy Rain, and Telltale’s TWD Season 1. And if Until Dawn can actually pull those great inspirations together into a satisfying experience, Sony will have another winner on their hands. Look for Until Dawn exclusively on PlayStation 4 this August.

June 10, 2015
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Just Announced: GEP and Graham Reznick’s THE DESIGNER at Frontières

News just hit that the GEP-produced and Graham Reznick-written/directed THE DESIGNER was invited into Frontières at Fantasia Fest. What is Frontières?

“Frontières is the first and only co-production market to connect North America with Europe in an environment specifically focused on genre film production and financing. Frontières marks its return to Fantasia with an expanded project line-up that will allow more projects to participate in live pitch sessions.”

Twitch has a full list of the second wave of projects heading to Frontières, but be sure to READ ON for the teaser for THE DESIGNER featuring Fessenden!