'Nightmare on Elm Street' inspiration did not start in Potsdam, film director says
Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - 4:48 pm

POTSDAM – The controversy over whether the Town of Potsdam should demolish what some believed was the original “Nightmare on Elm Street” house may be much ado about nothing.

Wes Craven, director of the famed movie, says in a blog on his website, WesCraven.com, that the inspiration for the movie did not come from his time in Potsdam.

A “Save the Nightmare on Elm Street” Facebook Page, at www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=102831276434943&ref=ts, is urging people to fight plans by the Town of Potsdam to demolish the former Theta Chi fraternity at 18 Elm St. to make way for a new town hall.

The page claims “much of Craven's inspiration for ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’” came from his time in Potsdam. The page has gained more than 6,600 members.

However, in a question-and-answer format in his blog at wescraven.com/faq/faq_content.php, Craven says it’s not true. But it does appear Craven developed a taste for making movies while living in Potsdam.

The blog follows:

“Question: : I heard a rumor that the idea for "Nightmare on Elm Street" might have come from a student movie involving Elm Street in my hometown of Potsdam, New York. True?

“Wes Craven: No, I'm afraid not. You know, when I was teaching, I bought a camera and we shot a film up there called "The Searchers," I think we called it. It was a bunch of students, noticed I had a camera and I didn't know what I was doing, thought I was just fooling around. They asked me to help them start a film club which we did, and then we made a 45-minute-long little action picture. Very crude, we didn't know what we were doing, really. We showed it at the school and all the surrounding schools. We made our budget back about four or five times over. And that was when I got the bug for making movies. At the end of that year I quit my job and went down to New York and started trying to get into the film business.”

Other portions of the blog also address Craven’s stint teaching at what was then called Clarkson College:

“Question: : Where did you teach college?

“Wes Craven: I taught one year in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania at a college called Westminster. Then I taught three or four years at a college called Clarkson College in Potsdam, New York which is way upstate above the Adirondack State Park. I taught Humanities there at a big, technical college.

“Question: How did you get involved in the film industry? Is it true you started in the film industry basically as a runner and a gofer?

“Wes Craven: Yeah, the first summer I went down I didn't get a job. I had to come back to Potsdam and I had already quit my college teaching job so I took a job as a high school teacher in a local, very rural high school which was like, you know, my family concluded that I had gone insane and blown the family fortune. And at the end of that year I went down again to New York and towards the end of the summer when I still didn't have a job I heard someone was looking for a messenger so I took that job. That was my first job in film, was as a messenger.”

Responding to calls from preservationists to restore the 18 Elm St. house, Town Supervisor Marie Regan last week said it would cost “two trailers full of money.” For the full story, visit http://new.northcountrynow.com/news/potsdam-supervisor-regan-says-preser....