A chat with 'Scooter' director Matt Wohl
Publicists submitted the following information regarding filmmaker Matt Wohl on his horror/suspense film 'Scooter,' which came out this month. Read a review of the film here.
"Matt Wohl, writer-director of the Miami-set feature Scooter, on how a combination of people making wrong choices and a love of two-wheeled transportation inspired his daunting indie road thriller."
Speed did it with a bus, Under Siege did it with a boat… you’re doing it with a scooter. Might this be the first action-thriller set on a scooter?
I think it might be. I can’t think of another one.
Was the concept your idea?
The concept was my idea. A producer I was working with years ago had said he was looking for a found footage film. I really didn’t think I was the right guy. Then, one night the idea formed in my brain… at 3 AM.
And how long did it take to pen the script?
I had the idea for years before I actually wrote it. I was working on other things, and it wasn’t really a priority. Then, when the idea wouldn’t go away I started to write. Since I’d pitched the idea to friends a bunch, the idea was pretty solid in my head. So, I wrote the script in a few weeks.
And is the version on screen now essentially the film you imagined way back when?
The film on screen is pretty close to the original concept. There is a component of race and society that wasn’t there, but that’s one of the things I really like about the final version.
With the social media element of the story, we have to ask, is this a personal story?
I suppose in some ways it is. I think the allure of fame and attention causes people to make bad choices. I could easily see myself doing some stupid things and saying… it’s what the audience wants. Actually, I did improv for years. I have done stupid things and said, “it’s what the audience wants”. I guess the difference is that I hope that in my personal story, I rise above that and make slightly better choices.
But should we be aware of the dangers of technology?
Absolutely. This film is about living for the technological world, while ignoring the real world. The real world wins. The real world always wins.
Is being a YouTube celeb or influencer hazardous for your health, you think?
I don’t think it has to be. There are plenty of people who do it well. Then, there’s the others. If YouTube wasn’t hazardous to their health, they’d find something else to be a hazard.
The movie is clearly made by someone with a love of both action and thrillers. Any you’d say Scooter was directly or circuitously influenced by?
Well, when it comes to found footage, I have always felt that the original Blair Witch did a great job. It was ground-breaking at the time. They had a great construct, and they stuck with it. So, I wanted to make sure we stuck with rules we set out in our film. I also really love road trip movies. I love the Coen’s so there’s a bit of their influence for sure. There’s a touch of Cool Hand Luke in there as well. Also, on a practical level, my son and I were watching a lot of the British show, Top Gear. I wanted to take that feeling, and apply it to YouTubers. My main goal was to add to the “road trip gone bad” sub-genre of films.
What about the ‘Scooter’ element- is that your preferred method of transportation?
Ha. I do own a scooter. My first scooter was a small 50cc thing. It had a top speed of 40 miles an hour. I had to have it towed once, which really amused my neighbours. Now, I own one a bit bigger. But, I’ve always thought about taking my scooter for a long trip. Then, my brain kicks in, and I think about all the things that could go wrong, and then I ended up with my plot.
At any time during the scripting process did that mode of transportation change though – maybe a jet ski or tricycle?
Nope. Scooters all the way. It’s what I knew, and they became such a part of the story.
What does the component of the scooter add to proceedings, in your opinion?
Scooters give you freedom. It’s the same feeling as a motorcycle, on a much smaller scale. When you’re riding you get the sense you could go anywhere, do anything. Then the reality that you have a one gallon gas tank and a horribly low top speed set in. So, what does it add, unpredictability. It’s also a world most people don’t know. We travel in cars. We go on highways. We try to get places as quickly as possible. This is a very different way to travel.
How fast can one of those things go?
The ones in the film went just over 40mph.
Did all of your actors know how to ride one or was there a scooter camp before production?
One had ridden before, Yosh. The other two had not. So, capturing their discomfort was part of the fun.
Speaking of, where did you find the cast?
I used a casting agency, Beth Marshall Presents. They were great. Dondre had worked with our Executive Producer before. He was great.
Can you talk about some of the locations used for the movie?
We shot the film entirely in Miami Dade County. The city shots were actually done near where I lived in North Miami. The “country” shots were all in and around Homestead. We rented a county campground, too. Staying close let us have a much more compressed shooting schedule.
SCOOTER will screen at the following locations :
Burlington, VT Sept. 26 Merrill’s Roxy cinemas
Los Angeles, CA Oct. 2 Cinemark 18 & XD
Denver, CO Oct. 10 Alamo Drafthouse Sloans lake
New York , NY Oct. 16 UA Court Street 12 & RPX
Atlanta, GA Oct. 24 Landmark Midtown Art Cinema
Boston, MA OCT 29 Landmark Embassy
Sarasota, FL Nov. 6 AMC Sarasota 12 & IMAX
Austin, TX Nov 14 Alamo Drafthouse Mueller