Posted on | November 16, 2008 |
Maximillian Whitney has always had a fascination with horror films. With the recent launch of his new company, Dark House of Whitney, Max, along with his father, have written several scripts within the past few years and have an upcoming script underway taking place in New York. After ditching a career in the jewelry business and making an attempt to concentrate full-heartedly on his first passion, Whitney has a new website which will seek to disclose and discuss urban legends that take place within the confines of New York City. Take a look below. By Yale Breslin.
Tell us a little bit about “Dark House of Whitney”. What compelled you to launch this company?
Well, DHW is a business partnership I formed with my father. He and I have written several horror scripts in the past couple of years, with another soon to be completed tale set here in New York. Two of the scripts are in PRE-PRE-Production and hopefully they’ll progress, economic recession willing. They’ve both attracted two Producers with very different tastes—one of the scripts is more poignant and creepy while the other is more violent and bloody. So, we formed DHW to deal with that.. Hopefully one day DHW will evolve into a real production house and even act, hopefully, in a charitable capacity, to be a resource and outlet for aspiring young horror and supernatural writers. It’s just incredibly hard to break into this industry as a writer, and it’s heartbreaking to think about all the great stories which are sitting out there and no one will look at them.
Where does the fascination with horror films stem from? What is it about horror films that you have always been attracted to?
We were raised by our Dad, sort of unconventionally. Instead of Disney movies and picture books before bed, it was horror films and Durant’s “History of Civilization”. Usually accompanied by Chinese food. So, I think we were kind of programmed to be not only curious intellectually about history, but also have this almost academic curiosity and fascination with bizarre and sometimes horrifying things.
There’s a famous quote by this British writer, G.K. Chestertonger, from the 1930s:
“Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed.”
I think horror reminds us that we all have this innate potential to be great, to be Heroes, and that even as a teeny little kid, petrified in the dark, alone and helpless at night, we can find the strength and the courage to defy fear. And if you can defy fear, you can defy anything. Look at the original horror classics, like Dracula, they were made during the Great Depression, when people and starving and petrified. Clearly, people need to escape their lives and horror is one incredibly fun and stimulating way to do that. Adrenaline in a movie. It’s like nightmares you can’t wake up from, but you also don’t want to: exhilarating and terrifying and intoxicating all at the same time.
Also, who doesn’t like being scared? I know I do.
You are in the pre-stages of planning a website which will explore New York’s haunted places and people. What can we expect from the site?
Well, it’s shocking to me something like that doesn’t already exist. New York, with it’s diversity of cultures and beliefs and it’s density, has a real energy about it. Add to that this incredible atmosphere of creativity and aspiration and you can feel people’s hopes and dreams in a room, you can feel an almost magic potential. How many people, great people, have lived and dreamt and died here? New York is most certainly haunted and most certainly magical.
There’s a reason Times Square is called the crossroads of the world. Because it’s in New York. In ancient times “all roads lead to Rome.” Then in the middle ages all roads lead to Jerusalem. And now, without a doubt, it’s New York City. That kind of energy and faith in a place, it’s got to mean something on a higher level.
I would hope that the website would span the gamut from the urban legend about Alligators in sewers, to the witchcraft shops in the East Village and maybe some self-proclaimed witches there, to New York’s myriad hauntings like Sid Vicious in the elevator of the Chelsea Hotel, or the headless ghost of St. Paul’s Chapel. And also, littler things, that maybe you’ve noticed out of the corner of your eye: an ancient Roman palindrome scratched into a door of a subway station or shadowy figures that apparently paralyze people with fear and give them seizures. There’s a surprising amount of hypothetical explanation and literature on that stuff. It’s just, you know, too scary to research on your own.
From the jewelry-world to the realm of scriptwriting - what triggered the switch?
Realizing how scary people in fashion are! Just kidding. I’ve always been a writer. I remember filling legal pads with these elaborate stories about vampires who became dragons who became gods and so on, when I was teeeeeny. So, I think it was just a matter of time. And there are similarities between design and writing. They’re both tremendously technical. Screenwriting is definitely a craft. And jewelry design is a craft, without a doubt. The intoxication of being able to craft a world, an entire universe from nothing more than your imagination and a word processor or pen and paper—that’s as close as we get to magic. I don’t know how anyone resists that call.