Lead photo: Carpenter directing Suburban Screams courtesy Gabriel Kuchta / Peacock

John Carpenter on shooting ‘Suburban Screams’ in Prague: “It doesn’t look like America”

John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams premieres on Peacock in the United States on Friday, and John Carpenter gave an typically candid interview with The Los Angeles Times to promote his first work as director in 13 years. Suburban Screams filmed in Prague earlier this year, with Carpenter remotely directing for the series from his home in L.A.

“I [directed from] a chair in the front room where I play video games, where I watch basketball and watch the news,” Carpenter told Jen Yamato from The Los Angeles Times describing his setup for directing Suburban Screams.

“It was all set up so the big screen TV has the [live camera feed] through the lens. That’s all in Prague, coming to you right here in L.A.”

Despite Suburban Screams bearing his name, Carpenter shot just a single episode of the series, but he served as an executive producer and also composed the score. He described the series to The L.A. Times in unfiltered fashion.

John Carpenter directing Suburban Screams from his home. Photo: Trae Patton / Peacock
John Carpenter directing Suburban Screams from his home. Photo: Trae Patton / Peacock

“They don’t want me to say ‘reality’ but it’s true stories,” he says. “These are all true stories dug up by researchers, and the one I chose was a phone stalker because I connected to it. They’re creepy stories. I shouldn’t say this, but they’re shot on reality show budgets, which is a challenge.”

The Prague locations utilized for Suburban Screams didn’t escape Carpenter’s bluntness.

“We were told where to shoot. [But Prague] doesn’t look like America. Come on, guys! You want to do a Viking movie or a Dracula movie, that’s the place for it. Not the suburbs […] It’s a different world. The people who run streaming, they’re not from show business.”

Carpenter might be right about the Dracula angle. Not coincidentally, a pair of vampire projects shot in Prague this year: Robert Eggers‘ remake of Nosferatu, which wrapped in Prague earlier this spring, and AMC’s Interview with the Vampire, which is now wrapping its local shoot after receiving a waiver from SAG-AFTRA amid the actors’ strike.

The Carpenter-directed episode of Suburban Screams details the true story of a woman who was stalked for six years, and includes interviews with the real-life victim. Julie Stevens, who earned the director’s praise, stars as his protagonist.

“I needed a really great actress, and I found her. That takes care of about 90% of my problem,” Carpenter says.

“This poor girl. Six years she’s been stalked, but they can’t find who it is. So I listened to her story. We hit the points that are going to translate into a visual story. Poor thing. And I remote-directed it, which was fun. That’s the way I’m going to do it now. I’m too old to run around, stomping around.”

Behind the scenes of Suburban Screams in Prague. Photo: Milk and Honey Pictures
Behind the scenes of Suburban Screams in Prague. Photo: Milk and Honey Pictures

Milk and Honey Pictures coordinated the production of John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams in Prague. The company’s other credits include the big-budget sci-fi series Foundation, which has currently paused production of its third season in the Czech Republic due to the SAG-AFTRA strike, and Netflix’s Haunted, a horror anthology similar to Suburban Screams.

In the United States, John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams premieres on NBC’s streaming service Peacock this Friday. Viewers in the Czech Republic will need to wait and see if it shows up on SkyShowtime, which carries Peacock content locally.

Lead photo: Carpenter directing Suburban Screams courtesy Gabriel Kuchta / Peacock

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Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at expats.cz and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at MaArtial.com.

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