As every seasoned actor in Lalaland knows, life after a major series is never easy, but when you are as drop-dead gorgeous and talented as Carlson Young, life is never boring for long. So when MTV decided to completely reboot Scream, the series she starred in, with a whole new cast, Carlson decided to explore her artistic passions. For Carlson that meant bringing alive Margaret Cavendish’s classic novel “The Blazing World” in her short of the same name. Taking the lessons she learned by watching the directors on the set of Scream, Carlson was able to fully come into her own as she wrote, directed and starred “The Blazing World.” I got inspired to see her film, simply by listening to the passionate way she spoke about it.
Carlson Young, Life After Scream
Justin Howard for Black Chalk : So I love these images and just want to release them… I heard the news about what is going on with MTV’s Scream and it is kind of hilarious that they are trying to reboot the series with a whole new story and cast for season three?
Carlson Young : Yeah! It was kind of shocking to me, to be honest, just because I felt like there were still so many cliff hangers from the second season. But best wishes to the third season and its cast! Scream was an amazing experience.
Justin Howard : I think what they are trying to do is what Ryan Murphy is doing with American Horror Story. Where each season is a whole new story arc with a brand new cast of characters, as we moved from Freaks to Witches. You can’t do that easily with such an established brand like Scream and MTV’s audience loves continuity with their shows and their characters. They want to watch the same cast for five seasons, to see them ‘grow up’ and then they are done. But they want to see the same cast.
Carlson Young : Right? And I feel like that’s the beauty of a show like Scream, because literally everybody dies. I can’t help but feel like they could have threaded the Lakewood story out, satisfied the existing audience, and gone into another storyline at the same time. Built more of a bridge, and not abandoned two seasons of storyline. But more power to them, I feel like it was probably a blessing in disguise. I am free to work on new projects now.
Justin Howard : What are you working on right now?
Carlson Young : I just finished post on a short film that I wrote, directed, and starred in. I’m happy with how it turned out! It’s a script, and an idea, that i’ve had in my head for awhile. It’s a short now, but it’s a feature length story for sure. It’s called The Blazing World. I got the title and inspiration from the work of a 17th century writer, Margaret Cavendish. It’s a fantasy/science fiction work about nature, love and observations about the living world around us. I read it in college, not too long before Scream, and the idea of the story stuck with me and festered over months. It’s considered to be the first sci-fi novel, let alone the fact it was written by a woman. It is about this young girl who finds a way to an alternate universe where she becomes the empress and learns the ways this utopian society works.
This idea sat with me awhile (I’m obsessed with fantasy in general), and I wanted to bring my version of this story to life. I feel like the short pays major homage to David Lynch, Jodorowsky, and other directors I admire so much- visually and tonally.
Justin Howard : I am excited to see it, simply by listening to you speak about it so passionately. In my brain I see a little bit of the style of Jane Austen mixed in with the visual of the first sci-fi film ever made, the black and white Metropolis.
Carlson Young : It feels pretty modern and trippy to me… you’ll see. The feature conveys this more than the short. It’s definitely a coming of age tale, in a way. Going into a fantasy world. Battling the demons of childhood, human nature, learning from them… and becoming your own empress, in a way. Growing up. Everyone’s got to do it.
Justin Howard : Let’s touch on that for a moment. We seem to be entering into a new era of Women Directors who have it all. Prime example is Melissa McCarthy who write, directs and stars in her own film. We seem to be in a period of empowerment. Tell me, what was one lesson, one bit of wisdom you learned as a director that as an actor you never knew?
Carlson Young : This is one thing I’m very grateful to Scream for. We got to work with some really wonderful directors who knew the Horror genre amazingly well. I feel like I learned so much by being on set and watching these fantastic directors work. Scream was so influential for me in terms of preparedness. I feel like I really prepped for the short, and I got to have a really great dialogue with my DP- Ed Wu. We shot listed and shot listed again. Crew wise and producer wise, we were all very much on the same page. I prepared so much so I wouldn’t freak out when something didn’t go right- it can be stressful directing and then being like, oh wait now i have to go throw myself in the shot and act!
Justin Howard : Did you discover that your DP is the best tool in your director box of tricks?
Carlson Young : Oh yes! Yes, the DP is like the gas in the engine. You can’t go any where without the DP. So the fact that he understood my creative vision and that we were on the same page was extremely helpful. So that is something I learned, to trust the DP when I had to trust the DP. And I learned when to put my foot down and say “No, we need to make time for this shot.” I feel very prepared for my next script that I direct.
Justin Howard : It completely sounds like you are ready to shoot tomorrow. Like you are saying “Stand back, I’ve got this!”
Carlson Young : That is really how I feel. I couldn’t help but feel like this is what I meant to be doing.
Justin Howard : As an actor on a series, you get handed your lines and you are playing a role. When you are the creator : you are the actor, you are writing the lines and you are directing those scenes. What is the difference between these roles for you?
Carlson Young : It is kinda fun because they all go hand-in-hand. Yet at the same time when you are on a show, you are at the mercy of this way bigger story and the writers, network, etc etc. I didn’t know the whole story on Scream. I loved my character, Brooke, and tried to make her as interesting as possible without fully knowing what the bigger story was.
Just to know the bigger picture, in my own work, and understand what I’m trying to accomplish visually, narratively, etc. was sooo amazing. Just to have that creative authority is everything. It was fulfillment like I have never felt before. Creative control! Something an actor doesn’t really get. Don’t get me wrong- I LOVE acting. Definitely i’m an actor first and foremost for now. But getting a taste of that was pretty inspiring and certainly a propeller, in a way.
Justin Howard : I can literally see you glowing through the phone. You are talking about being passive in a sense, versus taking the reins of control and which you start talking about taking that power back your whole tone of voice completely changes to one of joy. It is very interesting to hear. I can literally imagine you smiling as you are talking about this.
Carlson Young : Yeah, you are right. It definitely left this sense of clarity that I didn’t have before.
Justin Howard : I am excited to see where this journey takes you. And I better get a screener copy of this short once it finally done.