Tuesday, November 13

UCLA’s Don Mancini creates Chucky, gets lucky, breaks into show biz


Wednesday, January 20, 1999

UCLA’s Don Mancini creates Chucky, gets lucky, breaks into show
biz

FILM: Thanks to horror series, former Bruin, writer, producer
realizes his Hollywood dreams

By Alice Suh

Daily Bruin Contributor

Who is Don Mancini? Although his name may still be quite
unfamiliar to the general public, his creation is not.

Mancini is the mastermind responsible for that infamous doll we
have all come to love or hate, simply known as Chucky – a character
he created while he was still a struggling film student at
UCLA.

Mancini’s latest Chucky movie, "The Bride of Chucky," screening
tonight at the James Bridges Theater, is the fourth in the
series.

Although initially Mancini had attended Columbia University as
an English student for two years, he wasn’t happy with the progress
he was making.

"I wanted to get a solid liberal arts background," Mancini says.
"But after two years, I mean I really knew what I wanted to do; so
I was a little bit frustrated and I decided that I would transfer
to UCLA and just go right into film."

Mancini’s determination to stay in California was also
influenced by the lure of Hollywood.

"I was interested in the idea of being in Southern California -
being in Los Angeles where films were made," Mancini says. "And I
knew that just being there would be stimulating and that I was
likely to make connections and meet people in the film industry. I
knew that being in Los Angeles would help my career – which, in
fact, it did."

Mancini recalls always having a desire to work for the film
industry. His interest in making horror movies intensified after
watching his father work in the advertising business, marketing the
Cabbage Patch Kids.

Mancini was surprised at the the aggressiveness of the market,
and contemplated the idea of as a living demonic doll, and that’s
how Chucky came about.

Once Mancini had converted his idea into a script, he started
his efforts to get the movie made. Unlike other struggling
screenwriters, Mancini did not go door-to-door in search of an
agent.

"One of my roommates worked as someone’s assistant at Orion
Pictures, and she showed the first ‘Child’s Play’ script to someone
who worked there," Mancini says. "Anyways this woman who was a
writer read the script and liked it, and passed it on to her agent
and he in turn agreed to represent me."

Although Mancini was finally able to get into the business and
fulfill his dreams of working in Hollywood, he was not completely
satisfied.

"I was very young, and completely inexperienced when I sold that
script," Mancini says. "Immediately, a director was hired, who was
also a writer and he re-wrote that script, which happens a lot in
Hollywood and it’s very frustrating … The director wouldn’t even
allow me on the set which was obviously heartbreaking."

Thanks to the new rules from the Writers’ Guild, this type of
exclusion is no longer allowed.

Through this law, as well as the friendly relationship Mancini
maintained with producer David Kirschner, Mancini was able to have
more control and creative input for the other "Chucky" movies.
Mancini has also gradually worked up from his position as a
screenwriter to a director.

"In the sequels, I was involved in everything, so by the time of
‘Bride of Chucky,’ I was actually a producer on it," Mancini says.
"I’ve learned a lot about filmmaking in general from working on
these films and have grown into being a producer and now a
director."

Mancini, though proud of his work on the series, does concede
that the films are not perfect.

"There are scenes from ‘Child’s Play 2 and 3′ that I can’t even
watch, just because you grow as a writer," Don Mancini. "I was very
young, and I mean there were good things in all of those films, but
particularly in ‘Child’s Play 2 and 3,’ there are scenes in there
that I do cringe and think (are) horrible."

"The people who have long careers in Hollywood are those people
who just don’t give up."

"You just have to keep writing and working on your craft because
the wheels are always turning."Photo by Peter Lovino

Don Mancini, a UCLA graduate, wrote the "Child’s Play" series -
which stars Chucky, a possessed doll.

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