Exclusive: Editor Lito Velasco Discusses New Elm Street Book!
Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy—The Making of Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street is a new book that promises to be the ultimate making-of chronicle for the original Nightmare and provide readers a fresh behind-the-scenes look at one of horror’s most terrifying films. Written by Thommy Hutson, Never Sleep Again features exclusive interviews with dozens of cast and crew, never-before-seen photographs, storyboards, conceptual drawings, publicity materials, archival documents, a forward by director Wes Craven, and an afterward by star Heather Langenkamp. This impressive body of work comes packaged as a hardcover coffee table book and sports an original cover painted by artist Nathan Milliner.
Lito Velasco, who serves as Never Sleep Again’s editor, took some time to discuss the new book, his editing process, and what fans can expect from this commemorative offering.
“Thommy [Hutson] and I began working together in 2010 on the documentary Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy,” explains Velasco of how he became editor. “Since then, we’ve collaborated on four other projects including this one. I think because of that history, and also due to my steeped knowledge of and passion for all things Elm Street, Thommy originally asked me to come on board as Research Coordinator. However, last fall, the original editor had to move on to another project. At that point, I approached Thommy with the idea of me stepping into the role. Happily, he agreed.”
Velasco is certainly no stranger to documentaries or genre projects. You will find his name attached to documentary films such as Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy, More Brains! A Return to the Living Dead, and Scream: The Inside Story. This time, however, Velasco would be editing a 200-page literary project based on a 30-year-old film. What goes into editing a project like this one? “Reading, reading, and more reading,” laughs Velasco. “Really, the bulk of the job is precisely that. I go over the chapters with a fine-tooth comb, checking for any possible corrections that need to be made, suggesting “tweaking” of material, and offering input as to what I think will help the flow of the book. The beauty of my job is Thommy’s an excellent writer. So, honestly, there’s not much that needs tweaking. I’ve been quite fortunate in that regard. Of course, there’s always the occasional typoh (see what I did there?).”
Never Sleep Again also presents a number of color and black-and-white photos, so it comes as no surprise the book will benefit from using an oversized, “coffee table” format. “When Thommy proposed utilizing this format, it really seemed like a no-brainer,” Velasco says. “He suggested this presentation for two reasons, I think: he wanted a format that would beautifully showcase the wealth of rare and never-before-seen (to the average fan, anyway) pictures we have access to in a way fans like myself would relish and treasure, and we both own many coffee table books about the making of our favorite films—like the original Star Wars Trilogy, the Indiana Jones series, Jaws, and Crystal Lake Memories—and we both adore every single one of them. Not only does the size lend itself to a more enriching reading experience, in my opinion, but it’s just something that looks great on the shelf, your favorite chair, or…well…the coffee table.”
Another highlight of Never Sleep Again is its striking cover by artist Nathan Milliner. Milliner is probably best known for his artwork which appears on several of Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray and DVD releases through their Scream Factory subsidiary. His artwork often blends classic horror imagery with a slightly modern bent and the cover for Never Sleep Again reflects this style in spades. “Nathan and I have been friends for a few years and I’m a longtime fan of his incredible art,” Velasco notes. “Anyone who’s familiar with his work would have no trouble ascertaining he’s as big a fan of the series as I am. When the idea to create new artwork for the book cover was broached by Thommy, I told him, “I think I know just the guy.” Thommy wanted something new that would not only be unique to the book but would also visually symbolize the content of the book itself; this is the story of not just the film and the nightmare within but also the crafting and making of those things. We brainstormed some ideas, discussed them with Nathan, and then let him run with them. What he delivered was something I think is not only beautifully horrific but also perfect for what we wanted him to visually convey.”
Film documentary Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy dove deep into A Nightmare on Elm Street’s backstory and gave audiences an extensive look behind the scenes. Readers can expect the content of this new book will differ from the documentary’s segment. “There was so much unused footage from Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy that it only made sense to put that material to good use in the book,” reasons Velasco. “So the treasure trove of great, additional stories from those interviews is being used to the fullest. Additionally, Thommy went to great lengths to contact as many people as he could from the cast and crew of the 1984 film in order to procure all-new interviews. There’s new material from many of the principle cast and crew like Wes Craven, Robert “Bob” Shaye, Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, and Amanda Wyss, along with people who didn’t participate in the video documentary including (but not limited to) Ronee Blakley, RaMona Fleetwood, Sandy Lipton and…the infamous “Jump Rope Girls”! Yeah. He tracked them down and spoke to all of them. I’m pretty sure it was their first “real” interview about the film. Oh, did I mention he also interviewed Charlie Sheen? If you want to know why, you’ll have to read the book! All of this new material allowed him to craft the most definitive account of the creation of a horror classic. We also got the opportunity to set a few matters straight. What topics would those be? You’ll have to read the book to discover those facts!”
With another retrospective under his credits, Velasco has had the opportunity to immerse himself in a number of horror properties. All of them have left their mark on the genre in some way, but A Nightmare on Elm Street remains a leader in fantasy horror. How does A Nightmare on Elm Street stand out from the rest? “I don’t want it to sound like I’m choosing favorites simply because…I adore the topic of every documentary I’ve been lucky enough to be called upon to help create,” Velasco muses. “But…Nightmare stands out for many reasons. The film means a little something more to me for very personal reasons; mainly the memory of first seeing the film with loved ones and then sharing the film with other loved ones who are now gone and adored the film as much as I do. This entire book is a passion project for many of us involved. We’re doing it because we simply adore this film, it’s affected our lives in profound ways, and we wanted to pay loving tribute to it in book form much in the same way we did with the video documentary. Nightmare was such a unique concept and different type of horror when it was unleashed upon the world in 1984. We’d seen villainous fiends before, but none quite like Fred Krueger. We’d seen horror affecting the lives of victims on screen before, but not in the surreal and horrifying way that this film showcased those terrors. Wes Craven tapped into something truly amazing with the structure and concept of his film; it changed the face of fear, it affected pop culture in a deep way, and it helped create a film studio empire. For those many reasons, Nightmare is in a class of its own.”
Although the writing of Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy—The Making of Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street is complete, fans must reserve copies of the book before it can see print. The team behind Never Sleep Again launched a Kickstarter campaign, so fans can pledge to reserve their copies with ease. Currently, the campaign needs a little under 1,000 pledges at the $50US level to reach the necessary print goal. These pledges act to pre-order a copy of the book; a simple $50 pledge reserves your copy and covers its shipping cost! (Never Sleep Again is a luxurious but heavy coffee table book—excellent savings on shipping!!!) If you live outside of the United States, there is a pledge option for you as well. Higher pledge tiers are also available with some terrific bonuses. See the campaign’s Kickstarter page for details.
Do not delay: This campaign ends on Monday, May 5 at 7:16 AM PST! If the goal is not met, then the book will not see print.
Only with your support will this distinctive look at Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street be published!
The NOES Companion would like to thank Lito for his time. Be sure to pledge to reserve your copy of Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy—The Making of Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street here.