STIR OF ECHOES
A Supernatural Journey Begins
For Stir of Echoes, David Koepp took Richard Matheson's classic ghost story and crafted it into a unique, big-screen convergence of the darkly supernatural with the incredibly ordinary
For Stir of Echoes, David Koepp took
Richard Matheson's classic ghost story and crafted it into a unique,
big-screen convergence of the darkly supernatural with the incredibly
ordinary. But the starting point, clearly, was Matheson's novel,
which simply swept Koepp away when he read it.
"I had read several other books by Richard Matheson, but
I had never seen Stir of Echoes until I came across it
in a used bookstore a couple of years ago," Koepp says. "As
soon as I read it, I fell in love with it. I went and hunted down
the rights, which were over at Universal. Matheson had sold it
to them about 35 years ago, but that studio never did anything
with it. I made a deal with Universal that let me write them a
screenplay on spec. They agreed to either make it or give me an
option on it if they did not make the film. Universal ended up
giving me an option, and now, in partnership with Artisan Entertainment,
we've finally made the film I had envisioned."
Matheson has fueled the imaginations of readers and audiences
around the world for over 50 years, as both a novelist and a screenwriter.
He first caught Hollywood's eye when he wrote the screenplay for
The Incredible Shrinking Man, starring Grant Williams in
1957. He's also responsible for several memorable episodes of
the original "The Twilight Zone", and he wrote the novels
on which the films Duel, (the feature film that launched
Steven Spielberg's directorial career), Somewhere in Time,
What Dreams May Come, were based.
But for Stir of Echoes, his original treatment has been
lovingly massaged by writer/director Koepp. Matheson's novel revolves
around a blue-collar family living in a Southern California housing
tract during the mid-l950s. There, after several inexplicable
visions and encounters with an anguished ghost, protagonist Tom
Witzky discovers a horrifying neighborhood secret. For the feature
film, however, Koepp chose to relocate the story to a working-class
neighborhood in the heart of Chicago.
"The world Richard wrote about in the book - tract
housing in a young, booming Southern California - doesn't really
exist anymore," says Koepp. "Besides, since I was writing
and directing the piece, I wanted to put the story into a different
working-class environment - one I had personal knowledge of. Growing
up, I spent a lot of time with my mother's large Irish family
on the south side of Chicago and knew that environment very well.
So I brought the story into that world. I felt it was important
that the neighborhood and the people in it be very believable.
I thought the scariness of the movie was going to be in direct
relation to how real we could make the world in which the events
Therefore, Filmmakers brought the production to three different
ethnic neighborhoods in the Chicago area during September and
October of 1998 -Wicker Park, Polish Village and Brighton Park,
which editor Jill Savitt later wove together to create a single
Chicago neighborhood. All exteriors were shot in those areas,
with interiors, designed by Nelson Coates, brought to life on
sets built at the abandoned Lakeside Press building near the heart
To maintain the working-class texture, filmmakers hired several
Chicago-area native or long-time resident actors, and used primarily
a Chicago-based crew. Kathryn Erbe, the film's co-star, grew up
in the Midwest and ha
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