Carlson Young has appeared on screen in a number of popular shows beginning with Disney Channel’s As the Bell Rings and then going on to score a lead role in MTV’s much-buzzed about Scream series. But now she’s making a concerted effort to focus on another part of her craft – her work behind the camera. Young’s very first directorial effort, the short film The Blazing World, made waves at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, scoring Young a nomination for the Short Film Grand Jury Prize. Now she returns to the festival to celebrate yet another milestone – premiering her very first feature film, the feature-length version of The Blazing World.

Young also stars in the movie as Margaret. When she was just six-years-old, Margaret’s sister drowned while her parents were in the middle of an extremely heated argument. Now, as a young woman, Margaret finds herself on the brink of suicide, challenged to navigate a dreamlike realm in an effort to confront the demons of her past.

Carlson Young and Vanessa Shaw in The Blazing World
Image via Sundance

With The Blazing World celebrating its world premiere at Sundance on Sunday, January 31st, Young joined us for an episode of The Witching Hour to discuss what it took to make her first feature a reality. A significant part of that process? Turns out, it was actually the Scream TV series. Here’s what Young said when asked how that popular show impacted her career:

“It opened a lot of doors. It also led me to a really internal place after that show. I was very like, ‘What do I want to do, really?’ That’s how The Blazing World was born, out of a sort of, ‘I know that I love to do this and I know that I can do this, but what do I have to say?’ And with that character that I was playing on Scream, Brooke, was in a lot of ways the kind of textbook popular girl and looked a certain way, especially at the start of the show, and I made it my personal mission to transform her by the end and make her more complicated and interesting, because that’s just how all people are in the core of it. Interestingly enough, after that experience, I think I kind of went on a journey like that personally.”

Carlson Young, Bex Taylor-Klaus and John Karna in MTV's Scream
Image via MTV

Brooke turned out to be a fan favorite on the show and I’m a big believer that had a lot to do with Young’s mission to up the complexity of the character as the series progressed. If you need proof of Young being an especially popular member of that ensemble, just take a quick look at her social media following. Not only did Brooke win viewers over on the show, but the character also inspired many to keep up with Young via social media. While it must be an exciting thing to see your star rise in that sense, Young did discuss the challenges that came with managing that aspect of the show’s popularity:

“I think social media’s interesting because it’s such a facade. It’s real but it’s not real, and so it’s very nice to have those numbers grow. I think it absolutely helps in so, so, so many ways, but it didn’t help with how I felt on the inside. I’m kind of saying these things and realizing a lot just in real time too, but it’s like the more that kind of stuff rose, the more depressed I got. Just to be brutally honest. So it’s amazing, but you also have to have the internal confidence to deal with it, so that’s just been something that you can take day by day. It’s blessing to have the visibility for sure.”

MTV's Scream Mask
Image via MTV

As an especially big Scream franchise fan, I had to ask Young about the way MTV closed out the show. As you’ll hear in our chat, Scream is one of my favorite movies of all-time. Initially, I was very concerned about the show not feeling worthy of the Scream title for a number of reasons, most notably the choice to ditch the Ghostface mask. Before long though, the show’s ensemble grew on me. I quite enjoyed following their stories through Seasons 1 and 2, and then was thrilled to hear they’d continue them in a third season – until it was revealed that Season 3 was ditching the cast in favor of a reboot. Did Young and her co-stars know that was the intention for the third season? Here’s how she described the situation:

“That was shocking. It was like, ‘You got renewed for a third season!’ Then it was quiet. And we’re like, ‘What does that mean?’ And especially just the way the show ended. There’s these cliffhangers and, I don’t know, it didn’t feel wrapped up. But when they decided to do the reboot, it was like, ‘Ok. Ok! Ok,’ and just sort of moving right along and kind of taking the entire experience with gratitude, and I even have a fraction to do with the Scream fanbase, which is the best and just the franchise in general.”

Young also offered up a way MTV could have wrapped things up quickly for that original ensemble. It’s extreme, but as Young says, it’s Scream; they could have done it!

“I’m just speaking for myself, but I feel like the other actors would say the same thing, we were just trying to do the best we could within this framework and to make this TV version something different and interesting. And so, I do feel like there could have been a really great episode where we all die. Like, why don’t you just kill everybody? It’s Scream! But, you know, just my thoughts!”

Carlson Young in The Blazing World
Image via Sundance

As much as I would have loved to see a Scream Season 3 with Young, Willa Fitzgerald, Bex Taylor-Klaus and the rest of the group, there is a significant silver lining to that iteration of the show coming to a close when it did – it contributed to Young’s decision to focus on her work behind the lens:

“That was one of the triggers for sure. I had already written the short and shot the short kind of simultaneously as that had all gone down, so I sort of took it as a sign of, ‘Ok, you unearthed this other seed that you want to do and I think the universe is telling you to go water that seed.’”

This right here is only a small portion of Young’s story so do check out her full episode of The Witching Hour at the top of this article to hear more about her experience making the transition from working in front of to behind the lens, what it took to get the Blazing World feature off the ground, what she’s got cooking for her next film, and so much more!

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