Director David Cronenberg enjoyed doing science fiction in his early days. One such film was the 1981 American science-fiction horror film “Scanners” that dealt with a rather strange form of financing structure, stranger than the story’s subject matter about telepathic agents, that caused Cronenberg to improvise and work around the clock. In fact, Cronenberg himself once called “Scanners” the most frustrating film he’d ever made.
See, “Scanners” was rushed through production. To qualify as a tax write-off in the shooting location of Canada, filming had to begin without a finished script and end within roughly two months so the financing would qualify as a tax write-off, forcing Cronenberg to write and shoot at the same time. Because of these oddities of Canada’s film financing structures at the time, it was necessary to begin shooting with only two weeks’ pre-production work, before the screenplay had been completed. In fact, Cronenberg was writing the script between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. each day throughout shooting. Also, in some instances, since the production design team had no time to build sets, the crew had to drive around looking for things to shoot.
Cronenberg also cited difficulty with and antagonism between the leads, particularly actor Patrick McGoohan and actress Jennifer O’Neill who played the characters Dr. Paul Ruth and Kim Obrist, respectively. So “Scanners” wasn’t just a horror in the story, but since it’s very inception.