Confession. This Shock writer was honestly not too familiar with the first season of VH1's Scream Queens
prior to walking on set for this report on a cold, brisk December morning here in Los Angeles. But as a life long devoted horror fan, I was familiar (and intrigued) with the premise of the show and was impressed with actress Tenedra Howard's first big screen appearance in the opening scene of Saw VI
, an opportunity which came about as the grand prize for last season's competition.
Shepherding the show into its second season are returning executive producers Joke Fincioen and Biagio Messina with judge and acting coach John Homa also returning. However, due to scheduling conflicts, director James Gunn (off shooting his new feature Super
) and Saw
veteran Shawnee Smith had to bow out. Judging duties have been put in more then capable hands as season two�s new judges are genre vets Tim Sullivan and Jaime King. Sullivan co-wrote and directed 2001 Maniacs
, its upcoming sequel 2001 Maniacs: Field Of Screams
, as well as Driftwood
. King appeared in the genre flicks My Bloody Valentine 3D
, as well as David Arquette�s directorial debut The Tripper
, and will next be seen in Darren Lynn Bousman's Mother's Day
This season's cast of 10 hopeful female actresses will once again be put through a horror film boot camp with intense physical challenges, learning how to work with creatures, gore and stunts, while also building their acting chops. The winning actress will have to prove to the panel of judges that she has the talent, the looks, and especially the lungs to be a true Scream Queen.
While I can't divulge the specifics of the challenge I'm witnessing on this particular day of shooting just yet, I can assure you that it's one of the funnest backdrops I've had the opportunity to see on a set visit and director Tim Sullivan looks to be having a blast. When asked what they learned from the first season and how they're approaching this latest season, producer Biagio Messina explains, "We had a lot more actresses come out for season two. Season one, nobody knew what a horror acting competition on VH1 was going to look like, and I think that people were scared to take a chance on us. However, as we found out from the many more actresses who came out this year, people really saw that we took both acting and the horror genre seriously on Scream Queens."
"Season one also strengthened a notion we've had since the beginning: there is no tougher acting job than being a Scream Queen,"
continues Messina. "Good acting in a horror film takes real talent, hard work, and a performer who is not afraid to get their hands dirty... so we highlight those facts even more this season. A lot of talent came out for season two, and I think you'll see we challenged them with more difficult scenarios."
As far as finding a suitable replacement for James Gunn, Messina tells us, "We met with a lot of great directors to possibly replace James and what stood out about Tim were several things. First, he as an unbridled passion for the horror genre, as well as an encyclopedic knowledge of all things horror-related. We needed a real, die-hard member of the horror community to help tell a true story of what an actress in the horror world would face. Tim was that guy."
"We needed someone who could both mentor and judge,"
adds exec producer Joke Fincioen. "It's a tough combination for anyone. On one hand you have to gain the trust of the actresses to direct them to a believable performance, on the other hand, you see them a few hours later in the grand ballroom for judgment and have to give them constructive criticism."
"Tim's very eloquent and passionate when he speaks about horror and when he gives his opinion of an actress,"
continues Messina. "He's not afraid to be honest, and we need that. Fake words of kindness to an actress who just blew a scene don't help her any."
"Tim, John and Jaime are great this season at walking that balance because they care so much for the girls,"
says Fincioen. "While only one can win, they want all to grow and succeed. We have great stories of growth this season and that is because the judges gave so much of themselves to this process."
We�ll have more from the set of Scream Queens
season two shortly!
*Set photos courtesy of John Sampson