Today, Scream Franchise Examiner is in the distinguished company of R.J. Torbert.
As the opening of Scream 4 nears (as do the releases of the “Still Screaming” and “Scream: The Inside Story” documentaries), the excitement for one of the most anticipated motion pictures in recent memory continues to build. SFE is very proud to publish two exclusive announcements in what will be Torbert’s final interview before the film’s theatrical debut.
For the purpose of understanding and appreciating this interview and the announcements contained within, it is important to first offer a brief recap of the history of the GhostFace mask, and of the four people who were involved in its rise to prominence throughout the last sixteen years.
It was Alan Geller who created the look of the mask with a Chinese sculptor in the early 90’s, and, like most things that go on to become a phenomenon, he was not aware of the impact it would make. After all, he has given his stamp of approval on thousands of Halloween items over the past twenty five years. Wes Craven was looking for a mask to be used in Scream during location scouting when he found one which was marketed as a part of Fantastic Faces assortment. Miramax then contacted Fun World, which resulted in meetings that involved Stanley Geller, Alan Geller and R.J. Torbert in regards to the mask’s use and licensing authorization, not only in regards to the movie but in relation to merchandising and marketing. It was during these meetings that Torbert insisted that a name be given to the mask. He felt strongly that if by some chance Wes Craven had another “Freddie” on his hands that it would be to the benefit of Fun World, not to mention history, if the mask had a legitimate name.
Steps were taken to have the merchandise described as GhostFace as seen in the motion picture Scream. Torbert even had correspondence revised when answering Miramax letters. Individuals would write “Mask” or “Scream” Mask or “Mask aka Fantastic Faces” and Torbert would then amend the subject line to read GhostFace as seen in the motion picture Scream. It was considered extreme at the time, but Torbert says the owners “humored” him during this period and eventually let him run with the legal baptism of GhostFace. To be sure there wouldn’t be a question as to the name, Torbert took the extra step and had the original copyright of the mask amended to read GhostFace, thus forever linking the name and image together. Torbert even refused to license the mask out to the first licensee, Equity Marketing, unless the name GhostFace was used.
There were several meetings between Miramax and the Gellers and Torbert in regards to many issues and possible scenarios that would lead to Scream 2 and 3. “It was an extremely challenging time and of course we had no idea as to the magnitude this franchise would have. However, I had a feeling there was something special in the air.” Torbert says. “Let’s face it. Wes Craven was at the helm.” The meetings continued on and off for over eighteen months, which led to the ultimate involvement of Fun World in the original Scary Movie as well as the first two Spy Kids movies in regards to licensing. From the merchandising side of things, it has been Alan Geller who has been responsible for the development of GhostFace since the inception of the design. From the licensing and public side of GhostFace, it has been Torbert who has championed the continued protection of the trademarks/copyrights; he has also worked with The Weinstein Company (during production/special projects) and Wes Craven, ensuring that the needs on-set during the filming of Scream 4 were met.
Now, in his final interview before the opening of Scream 4, Torbert speaks to a very special project that he served as co-executive producer on and offers a giveaway not to be believed. Read on…
SFE: Let’s get right to it. You must be getting excited…
RJT: Yes, we all are.
SFE: You are driving twitter fans crazy with the cryptic messages…
RJT: I hope they take it for what it is intended to do. To have fun, keep the passion going and for those hardcore fans who are keeping track, they will see there is meaning and maybe even smile or giggle when they connect certain things between the movie and the tweets. I never intended for the twitter thing to grow in popularity. It just evolved over time. I continue to be impressed by the talent of the fans, their loyalty to Scream and GhostFace and their fun nature. I have enjoyed them and I think they can tell.
SFE: A rumor has recently surfaced that you may be the actual voice of GhostFace (and that R.J. may stand for Roger Jackson). How would you respond to that?
RJT: Wow! Now that is really creative! Whoever came up with that one is really thinking things over. It never even occurred to me. Gosh. I wish that were true, but it’s not. But if Roger Jackson doesn’t do Scream 5 (if this film does well), I would love to audition! Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, some of my cryptic messages use the word ME in them. The intent is to speak from GF, not to come across as the Voice. But that’s what puzzle messages are for–to get people thinking. I’m still amazed by this one…
SFE: Have you continued to communicate with Wes Craven?
RJT: Yes. There are not enough good things I can say about him. I will say the exchanges we had on him wearing the tie was funny.
SFE: Still working and communicating with the Weinstein Company?
RJT: Yes, two to three times weekly at this point.
SFE: Do you know anything about a cast poster?
RJT: I wish I did, for I have gotten many inquiries, but I really do not know. It may be one of those secrets to surprise everyone and it may not be. I hope for the fans’ sake that there is one, but I really have not heard anything.
SFE: What did you think of the last Horror Hound publication on GhostFace/Scream?
RJT: As with many different articles that have been published, I think it’s fair to say it was fine. While I’m disappointed some things were written to create controversy I have been assured that the folks at Horror Hound are good people and fans of what we are doing.
SFE: Then you have spoken to people involved?
RJT: Yes, I have. I won’t name names, but I have spoken directly to people involved in some of the things written.
SFE: Do you want to elaborate?
RJT: I’d rather not. There’s no point, but there is one thing that there is no mystery on. FunWorld is the sole owner of the mask/image/copyrights and trademarks on GhostFace. Alan Geller states in the documentary that he worked with a Chinese sculptor in China which by the way he names in the documentary “Still Screaming” in regards to the genesis of the mask.
SFE: Have you been in contact with Anthony Masi and Ryan Turek?
RJT: Yes, we communicate about various issues and have remained in contact. They are hard working good guys and I hope the film is another stepping stone in a successful career.
SFE: What about the other documentary Scream: The Inside Story?
RJT: I really did not have much contact with them other than our initial communication. However, I did just hear from them in regards to my thoughts on the poster for the documentary. I have confidence it will be very good and the fans will enjoy it.
SFE: You have a couple of special announcements?
RJT: Yes, I’m proud to announce I have had the honor to be co-creator and co-executive producer of a project licensed from FunWorld to Red Dot Media for a download application for IPod touch and IPhone for GhostFace and Scream called Sightings: GhostFace. This project has been in collaboration with The Weinstein Company. It’s filled with many fun downloads and I’m pleased to say some free download tokens will be given away courtesy of FunWorld/Red Dot Media and The Weinstein Company for Gamefaceguy followers. Jef Workman is also co-executive producer and will elaborate more with you next week. The application should be available during premiere week. Announcements will be made on twitter, so stayed tuned…
SFE: So the never-before-seen photo of GhostFace you released on twitter will be on the download application?
SFE: You mentioned there was another announcement giveaway?
RJT: Yes, as most followers know over the last sixteen years, people have come and gone during this incredible journey behind the scenes in regard to the use of “GhostFace”. The one constant has been the original four people since Scream 1 on usage and marketing/licensing has involved Stanley Geller, Alan Geller and myself and of course Wes Craven. There are six GhostFace masks locked away with all four of our signatures on the front of the mask. One of them will be auctioned off on EBay to raise money for the Brooke Jackman Foundation in New York. This will happen around the time of the opening. I have also decided to give one of them away. As most of you know I have been very involved on twitter and also going on to the websites. The passion and excitement and the work and effort put into some of these things have made quite an impression on me. With that said, I would like to announce the webmaster, Tim Wagstaff of GhostFace.co.uk will be given one of the masks to hopefully cherish and pass down to future generations. The gift is in appreciation of his outstanding work and passionate drive to have high standards with our trademark on his website.
SFE: Does he know?
RJT: He knows if he is reading this!
SFE: Are you going to the premiere?
RJT: I was going to say you would have to kill me to keep me away. However, it appears I won’t make it. I wanted my family to attend with me and due to scheduling conflicts they would not be able to share this special time with me. Therefore, it looks like I won’t attend. Alan Geller was also invited but a scheduling conflict will cause him to be unable to attend.
SFE: Any other projects in the works for licensing and merchandise?
RJT: Yes, this Halloween, a special exclusive will be available at Spencer Gifts. Details will follow but the fans will be very happy.
SFE: To follow tradition, any special message you would like to leave us with?
RJT: (Laughing) How about a question – Who would be the last person you would ever want to see alive?
With thanks to R.J. Torbert for continuing to take readers behind-the-Screams.
SFE is happy to announce that Jef Workman, Co-Executive Producer of the Sightings: GhostFace application, will be interviewed here within the next 7 – 10 days. Stay tuned…
SFE is now on Facebook. Go ahead and “like” us (or you just might receive an unwelcome phone call…).
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