Out artist David Ayllon has a connection
“There’s never a bad time for a horror [movie],” creative director, graphic designer, and photographer David Ayllon says, commenting on the Scream 5 release, 25 years after the original movie. Ayllon has a special connection with the movie. “I think it was the first horror movie I had ever seen [when] I was about nine, way too young to be watching this movie,” he says, “but, to this day, it’s still one of my favorite movies of all time.”
One of the reasons it stuck with him was that, right after watching the movie, the phone rang. “And the last thing you want to do after watching [Scream] is answer the phone, but in my nine-year-old brain I had convinced myself that it was my grandmother, because it was really late and nobody else would be calling [at that hour]; so I picked up the phone and all I heard [was] ‘do you like scary movies?’ in a creepy voice. And you know it ended up being my dad [pretending] to be the killer from the movie. But it didn’t quite register cause I was so scared that my worst fear literally just came true, and I [raced to my mother] crying. I [couldn’t] even speak [full] sentences, and then I see my dad come up from the basement with his cell phone, laughing.” Ayllon laughs at the memory, and then adds, “I didn’t answer the phone again until we got caller ID in our house.”
Yet, to this day, Scream has been one of his favorite movies. Not only that but watching the movie has become “a rite of passage” in his family. What drew Ayllon to the movie was- and still is- its “strong female characters.” As a gay man, he tends to identify with strong femininity.
“You know, when you’re a young gay boy growing up, you’re kind of ridiculed for your femininity, and so anytime that there was a strong female on screen, I was always drawn to that. And Scream has such great characters [played by] actresses like Neve Campbell and Courtney Cox. They’re just amazing [not only in this particular] movie, but in general.” Soon he realized that the women in his own family were strong women, too.
Last year, his sister had a baby, and finding out that Scream 5 was going to come out this January, brother and sister joked about doing a Scream-themed baby photo shoot. And, joking aside, the project ended up being a really “cool” photo shoot that engaged, involved, and brought together his entire family. “It ended up being a big family affair,” Ayllon said.
His husband was part of the photo shoot. His parents were there, too. Everybody was helping out and doing their best to make his baby niece laugh. They even got some behind-the-scenes footage. “It became a really big production with my family. So, you could say that Scream brings us together,” he adds.
Ayllon thought through and planned everything for the shoot- from lighting to the nineties phones he found on eBay and props like a baby Ghostface costume for his niece and an outfit for his husband. Then, on the day of the shoot, his baby niece got scared of the lights going off in her face and he realized that he hadn’t thought of that. But then, showing his baby niece the mask seemed to take away her fears.
“When we pulled out the mask,” he said, “she started to play with it. She’s still learning and observing and trying to understand what’s going on. She’s had so much personality from the day she was born, she’s always had intense facial expressions. It felt like she was watching a movie that nobody else could see. I couldn’t have asked for a better baby model.”
Pondering on the future, he envisions his niece growing up around those photos being on the walls. “She’s either going to grow up to love horror movies or she’s going to think that the movie is so old and dated- because it’s even dated now, because no one has a landline cord phone anymore. I don’t know if that’ll turn her off from liking the movie.” Either way, he hopes that she’ll watch it with an open mind when she’ll be old enough, hopefully, older than nine-years-old. The Scream photo shoot with his niece is “pretty special.”
“I don’t think that I would be able to top it but I definitely will be doing more ridiculous photo shoots with [her] because she’s so cute. Maybe next time it’ll be something in line with what she’s into, whatever the kids watch these days.”
Ayllon knows that the fans of Scream are very loyal fans. In the months leading up to Scream 5, they would watch and pause the trailer and there was a lot of like speculation and excitement. Hence, for now, he’ll post images from the photo shoot online, to share with fellow fans that were also really excited about the movie.
“I saw the new movie, by the way, and I really liked it,” Ayllon said. “It felt a little darker than the original and I think that’s just the nature of a new writer, a new director. It’s a very different kind of movie but, still, you could tell that the creators of the movie were fans. It’s for a new, younger audience, so I have a feeling my niece when she grows up might like this one better than the first one, but who knows.
“It feels like I’ve been a part of this world since I was nine, so there is a very deep-seated nostalgia that I associate with these movies and these characters. [They] grow and evolve, and I like to see how that universe expands. I would be excited to see more, for sure.”
In reflecting on his Scream-themed photo shoot with his niece and with his family, he said, “getting to do a shoot with my family…it quickly turned from thinking ten steps ahead and planning everything out, to just being surrounded by almost my entire family. It quickly became a fun moment and I had a moment where I took a mental snapshot just to appreciate [it], because a lot is going on [especially considering the recent years] and nobody knows what’s going to happen tomorrow, so it’s important to have a good time and [surround yourself with] people that you love.”