The Time Wes Craven Called Out a High School in the Scream Credits
Next time you’re re-watching Scream, be sure to keep watching until the very end. Though most film credits thank people and organizations that assisted in the making of the movie, Wes Craven went out of his way to do just the opposite: "No thanks whatsoever to the Santa Rosa City School District Governing Board."
In early 1996, the Scream production crew decided Santa Rosa High School would be the perfect setting for their new horror film. The Sonoma County, California institution was no stranger to cameras invading their hallways: Movies like Peggy Sue Got Married and Inventing the Abbotts were also shot there, while the city itself has served as the backdrop for everything from Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt to Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.
The Scream crew said they received a verbal agreement from the school's principal that they could film at the school, and developed a shooting schedule around the dates provided. But the plan started to unravel shortly before filming was scheduled to begin. First, city representatives claimed that the crew hadn’t filed the proper paperwork. Even after the red tape had been dealt with, the school ultimately nixed production, saying it conflicted with final exams. Citizen complaints might also have played a part; it seems that area residents weren’t thrilled about a gory slasher film being shot in the hallowed halls of Santa Rosa High.
After scrambling to find a suitable substitute, the movie was relocated to the Sonoma Community Center, a former elementary school. Entire scenes had to be rewritten to accommodate the last-minute change, costing the production time and money. An unhappy Wes Craven allegedly did more than just call out the city in the film's final credits; rumor had it that he actually called for a Hollywood boycott of Santa Rosa and Sonoma County.
Craven never confirmed it publicly, but others in Hollywood talked about it, including producer Daniel Farrands, who also happened to graduate from Santa Rosa High School. “Santa Rosa is very high on the Hollywood black list of places not to take your productions,” Farrands told horror.com in 2011.
But according to Catherine De Prima, Sonoma County’s former film commissioner, there was never a problem. “There is always fluctuation in this business,” she said several years after the Scream debacle. She may be right, but if you look at the county’s movie sites map, you’ll notice that there aren’t too many recent films on the list. Blacklist or just regular industry ups and downs? It’s hard to say. Either way, crossing a horror movie master seems like a bad idea.