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Friday, March 7, 2014
Writer/Director Richard Elfman answers some weird questions about his ultra weird cult movie musical FORBIDDEN ZONE...
TV STORE ONLINE: Richard, I was curious to see if any of the Olsen & Johnson films like HELLZAPOPPIN' (1941) or CRAZY HOUSE (1943) were an influence on you as the director of FORBIDDEN ZONE (1982)?
ELFMAN: Well, my immediate influence was the work of R. Crumb. In the FORBIDDEN ZONE when you see all of that stuff with characters going down through intestines that's really my homage to R. Crumb. Then, also I was really influenced by some of the German Expressionist filmmakers like G.W. Pabst, and then films like THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI (1920). Also, Max Fleischer, and his stuff from the '20s and '30s had a big influence on FORBIDDEN ZONE...
TV STORE ONLINE: What about Busby Berkeley?
ELFMAN: Yeah, there is a little bit of that stuff in there for sure, although I didn't do anything on his scale.
TV STORE ONLINE: Was that '20s or '30s era specifically the style you were after for the film?
ELFMAN: Well, I wasn't really after a particular time period. I think it plays into exactly what I was doing with my brother Danny [Elfman] in our music group Mystic Knights Of Oingo Boingo back in the late '70s in that what we were doing was reprising things from the past. The idea behind that was to showcase things from the past that were deemed classic but as a fan of it you couldn't buy it at that time. At that time you couldn't go out and buy a movie that featured Cab Calloway or Josephine Baker or a revue of Yiddish vaudeville. In FORBIDDEN ZONE we span 1915 to 1949, so we were never really going after a particular era.
TV STORE ONLINE: Where does the title for the film FORBIDDEN ZONE come from? It can't be an homage to PLANET OF THE APES (1968) can it?
ELFMAN: No. Originally I was planning on calling the film THE HERCULES FAMILY but that didn't seem to fit any longer after we had created the King and Queen characters in the film. I really just pulled the title FORBIDDEN ZONE out of my head and it made sense because there was just so much going on underneath.
TV STORE ONLINE: I'm a huge fan of actor Joe Spinell, so I have to ask how he came to be cast in the film?
ELFMAN: Well, it was Matthew Bright [FORBIDDEN ZONE co-screenwriter] who found him through his acting teacher. I saw him and I thought he was great because he played a great grease ball. I'm sure you remember him from THE GODFATHER (1972)? He was great. I'll never forget that Joe asked me if he could keep the sailors suit after we were done. I just told him to really amp it up for that character.
TV STORE ONLINE: I love how he has "Love" and "Hate" tattooed on the knuckles of each of his hands...
ELFMAN: Right, that was something I wanted him to have. Joe was really great to work with. He immediately understood the part. He got that he was simply a abusive sailor that was there to screw the mom and beat up on her kid. In an earlier draft of the screenplay, for that scene, Matthew Bright had Spinell's character just beating the hell out of the kid. He was supposed to just wipe the floor with the kid for like three minutes straight until he was a bloody pulp. We shot it that way, but we had to cut it down in the editing of the film because it really killed the pacing.
TV STORE ONLINE: In a few of the things that have been written about FORBIDDEN ZONE to date....There's talk of tension on the set between Susan Tyrell and Herve Villechaize...
ELFMAN: Right, well they had been a couple. They really loved each other, but they had some terrific fights. They were mostly tragic and comic. Susan had a big bellowing voice and Herve, although he was a charismatic man, had this little voice. So you'd hear Susan yelling at who you thought was no one but when you'd get closer to her you could hear Herve responding to her.
TV STORE ONLINE: What about Viva? How did she come to get involved in the role as the "Ex-Queen"?
ELFMAN: I can't remember how we got her. I think someone that worked with us just knew her and said, "Hey, do you wanna come and play this character? You can write your own scene?" She was great. Viva has a really wonderful acid tongue and a great wit about her and she and Susan [Tyrell] didn't get along to well. In fact, in the scene where they have to fight each other...Things got pretty heated and we had to break them apart...laughing We did get some good action out of it though...laughing I waited a while when it was happening before I yelled cut!
Check out Richard Elfman's website Buzzine HERE:
Interview Conducted By: Justin Bozung
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Tuesday, March 4, 2014
A FULLER LIFE: Sam Fuller's wife and daughter Christa and Samantha Fuller talk about Fuller's autobiographical war film THE BIG RED ONE (1980)
TV STORE ONLINE talks with the great filmmaker Sam Fuller's wife and daughter Christa and Samantha Fuller about his 1980 autobiographical World War II masterwork THE BIG RED ONE.
Fuller's film was heavily cut for its initial release in 1980. In 2004, the film was reconstructed by Richard Schickel and released onto DVD.
TV STORE ONLINE: THE BIG RED ONE reconstruction has been out on DVD and Blu-Ray for some time now, but I was wondering if you could talk a bit about how the reconstruction of the film got off the ground?
CHRISTA FULLER: It took me twenty-four years to get it done! When THE BIG RED ONE played at the Cannes Film Festival in 1980 the jury there had wanted to split the Palm d'Or between Akira Kurosawa and Sam. But Sam was very unhappy because when he made THE BIG RED ONE -- It was the film of his life, and he had only been given four million dollars to shoot it. He was really lucky on THE BIG RED ONE to have [Director Of Photography] Adam Greenberg because they took that four million and made a film that looked like it was shot for twelve million dollars.
TV STORE ONLINE: It seems like Adam Greenberg had some background in working as a cameraman on films made in Israel...
CHRISTA FULLER: Right. He did, and they shot THE BIG RED ONE in Israel. Adam would go on to shoot THE TERMINATOR (1984) and have a very big career in Hollywood. He once said, "I've worked with one hundred and fifty directors and not one of them worked like Sam Fuller." He loved Sam. Sam had a lot of pressure on him while he was shooting THE BIG RED ONE. He had to disappoint a few of his friends to make that film. Stanley Cortez, Sam's Director Of Photography on SHOCK CORRIDOR (1963) and THE NAKED KISS (1964) had hoped to shoot THE BIG RED ONE with Sam, but because the budget was so tight, he couldn't do it. THE BIG RED ONE was produced by Gene Corman, and while he's a great producer, he really should have gotten more money for Sam to make the film. Corman had hired a sound cutter to edit the film and he didn't have the proper experience, so when it came time to edit the film all of the cans of film were messed up because the sound cutter hadn't numbered the cans of film for editing and Sam had shot over four hours of film on THE BIG RED ONE.
TV STORE ONLINE: Is there any truth to the rumor/mention that Peter Bogdanovich had tried to get Sam more money via his relationship at Paramount Studios?
CHRISTA FULLER: Yes, that is true. And Martin Scorsese was supposed to play "Private Vinci". Paramount offered Sam one million dollars to make the film and Sam told them to forget about it. Sam turned down opportunities to direct big war movies. Sam had been offered THE DESERT RATS (1953) and PATTON (1970). He actually turned down the opportunity to direct something on Patton twice! In 1968, a producer for 20th Century Fox Frank McCarthy, offered PATTON (1970) to Sam but he turned it down. In the late '50s Patton's son came to see Sam at his office at Fox and said, "I hear you hated my Father." Sam said to him, "That's right." Yet, Patton's son offered Sam the rights to his story for nothing because he was sure that Sam would make a truthful and realistic film of Patton's life, but Sam turned that down because he felt that he was just too close to the story having fought in the war and he didn't think that he had a sense of irony regarding Patton, so he turned it down.
Darryl Zanuck at Fox also offered Sam the job to direct THE LONGEST DAY (1962) but he turned that down. He had so much love for his war outfit, The Big Red One. I can't tell you how close all of those men were to each other in that division. Sam's beloved General Terry De La Mesa Allen was the polar opposite of Patton. He slept on the ground with his soldiers and all of his soldiers loved him. He didn't ask anything of his soldiers that he wouldn't do himself. After the war he was on the cover of Time Magazine. Whereas Patton, not many soldiers admired him. In fact, Patton once pissed on soldiers down in the trenches during the war. Allen wasn't always clean shaven. His uniform was always wrinkled and he prayed before every battle. Sam loved him.
TV STORE ONLINE: In Sam's autobiography, A Third Face, and more specifically in the chapter on THE BIG RED ONE, it's written that the film was originally four hours and twenty minutes long....So is there even more footage out there that didn't make it into the reconstruction of the film?
SAMANTHA FULLER: Well, on the Special Features for the DVD there are about thirty minutes of scenes that they were unable to put back into the film.
TV STORE ONLINE: And that includes the scene with you when you were just a little girl...
SAMANTHA FULLER: That's right. I was cut out. But my mother's scene was put back in...
TV STORE ONLINE: Yeah, that scene with the German Countess is incredible...
CHRISTA FULLER: The German Countess badmouths Hitler. I was happy to see that scene restored in the reconstruction. The film was shot in Israel as I mentioned but that particular scene was shot in Ireland. We shot a bunch of scenes in a castle there that the Director John Boorman lived in. He had a horse that he called "The Big Red One" while we were there.
TV STORE ONLINE: Sam was your husband....But what was the experience like in that scene working with Sam Fuller the director?
CHRISTA FULLER: You better know your lines, because he shoots fast...laughing There was another part of that scene that wasn't in the film too. The German Countess was wearing a pearl necklace and when she is shot the pearl necklace comes apart and the pearls start to fall off one by one to the floor.
TV STORE ONLINE: How did Sam cast "The Four Horsemen" roles in the film? Did he have an idea about certain actors that he thought he might want for those roles or did all of those actors just come through an audition process?
CHRISTA FULLER: Well, Sam had a clear idea that Lee Marvin would be playing the role that he plays in the film. When Sam tried to get THE BIG RED ONE off the ground in the late '50s the studio had wanted John Wayne to play the role of the Sargent. John Wayne loved Sam. They had a friend in common by the name of Ray Kellogg. In fact, it was Ray who gave Sam the footage that he used in VERBOTEN! (1959) of the Nuremberg trials.
I gave him the idea to cast Mark Hamill because STAR WARS (1977) had been so big and he had seen Robert Carradine in Hal Ashby's COMING HOME (1978). Sam had worked with Lee Marvin before on a episode of The Virginian (1962-71). They got along very well and they never really had to talk much to each other, because they had both been in the war. Lee had been a marine just like Director John Ford. Lee called up Sam after he finished reading the script to THE BIG RED ONE and said, "This is your Sargent talking..."
John Ford and Sam were great friends too, and Sam thought John Ford was the greatest director. Every year on the anniversary of D-Day, John Ford would call Sam and say, "Fuck The Big Red One" and he'd hang up...laughing It went on for years between them. John Ford adored Sam and he always wanted Sam to write a script for him but it never happened.
TV STORE ONLINE: You mentioned moments ago that Sam turned down the opportunity to direct many war films....Do you think he did that because he wanted to work in other genres of film? I would have loved to see what Sam could've done within the confines of a comedy...
CHRISTA FULLER: Sam wrote a comedy! It was optioned even. It's my favorite script that he ever wrote. It was called "The Lusty Days".
TV STORE ONLINE: Did Sam ever mention where some of the characters in THE BIG RED ONE came from? Where do you think "Zab" came from for example?
SAMANTHA FULLER: I see a lot of Sam in Zab actually. I see a three letter name. I think Sam is a bit of every character in THE BIG RED ONE. Plus Zab is a writer in the film, and he's a cigar chomping writer at that. I think Zab is the closest Sam came to physically portraying himself in any of his films.
TV STORE ONLINE: In the documentary on THE BIG RED ONE DVD you suggest that there is a bit of Sam Fuller in the Lee Marvin character in the film as well...I was wondering if you could talk about that a bit more?
SAMANTHA FULLER: I do think that Sam shared elements of himself between all those characters. You see Sam's history as a cartoonist in "Griff" and you see the sensitive side of Sam in that character too. You see the rascal in Sam in the "Vinci" character. In the film you see Lee Marvin, a man who had fought in World War I and then World War II. In fact, he even kills a man in combat not aware that the war has been stopped. I think that the Lee Marvin character really struggles to come to terms with the fact that he has killed all of these men, and I think that was a struggle that my father dealt with inside of himself as well.
TV STORE ONLINE: One of my favorite aspects in relation to THE BIG RED ONE and this is something that's mentioned in Sam's autobiography A Third Face...Is how Sam was offered several chances to walk away from serving in the infantry on the ground in WW II to become a war journalist but never took it.
CHRISTA FULLER: Exactly. It's because he believed that he was fighting for a cause. And this was the war that was supposed to end all wars.
TV STORE ONLINE: Sam started working on THE BIG RED ONE back in the mid/late '50s...Why didn't he just move forward on his own on it instead of making other films?
CHRISTA FULLER: He wanted to. He even went to scout for shooting locations. He went out with his wife at the time and a friend of his, Ray Harvey, who was a four star Colonel and had served as an adviser on FIXED BAYONETS (1951). He finished the script for THE BIG RED ONE in 1958 and in 1959 his mother died and it was a complete shock to him. Also, that was the year that he divorced his wife too, because his mother and his wife had not gotten along.
SAMANTHA FULLER: Also, I think the fact that the studio had wanted John Wayne to star in the film...That didn't suit Sam. While they were friends, Sam didn't see John Wayne in that role that Lee Marvin would eventually play. I think that turned him off of the project for a while possibly.
TV STORE ONLINE: So when THE BIG RED ONE comes out in 1980.. It's an edited version of Sam's original vision for the film, it's not the film that we have on DVD and Blu-Ray today...It got decent reviews by film critics, it had been nominated at the Cannes Film Festival. but it didn't do great at the box office....
CHRISTA FULLER: Right, but the investors made their money back and then some right away...ABC Pictures had put in two million dollars for the budget for the film and Lorimar had put in the other two million. It made eight million dollars with its foreign distribution alone and at the time of its release World War II wasn't a popular war at the box office. I think we owe Steven Spielberg something for creating a renewed interest in World War II. Had he not made SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (1998) or his mini-series Band Of Brothers (2001) the reconstruction of THE BIG RED ONE might not ever have gotten underway.
TV STORE ONLINE: Because there was a team working on the reconstruction of THE BIG RED ONE....As his family, how comfortable are you with the claim that Warner Brothers has made in support of the reconstruction's release to DVD and Blu-Ray that what we now have is Sam Fuller's definitive vision of the story that is THE BIG RED ONE?
CHRISTA FULLER: I'd say it's pretty close. I think Warner Brothers did a wonderful job on it.
TV STORE ONLINE: To speculate and fantasize a bit....You have to wonder if this version of THE BIG RED ONE, this reconstructed film, had it been released in 1980...You have to wonder if it wouldn't have been nominated by the Academy for Best Picture that year.
CHRISTA FULLER: Well, Sam didn't really think that way...I once introduced Sam to the writer Henry Miller who was friend of mine. What Henry Miller said to me really shocked me afterward. He said, "Your husband is an innocent. " I didn't understand what he meant until years later. I think Sam just liked to play everything as this rough and tough kind of guy. I think that he put on this face because he needed it in order to endure through the horrors that he had seen while he was fighting in World War II himself. He needed it to keep his innocence. We all do that, and we all have an innocence that we don't want to lose inside of ourselves. I think writers and artists have to maintain that innocence or idealism in order to create. Sam listened to Beethoven every day. He would play Beethoven as he sat with a cigar in his mouth at his typewriter.
SAMANTHA FULLER: I don't think it matters. Regardless of whether the Academy saw the edited version of the film or the reconstruction, it doesn't matter because at the end of the day he made the film. He made his story his way.
Samantha's documentary A FULLER LIFE features actors James Franco, Robert Carradine, Mark Hamill and Tim Roth. It also features directors Wim Wenders and Joe Dante. To find out more about the documentary please visit the film's official website HERE and follow its progress on Facebook HEREInterview Conducted By: Justin Bozung
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Friday, February 28, 2014
Director Richard Schenkman talks with TV STORE ONLINE about MAN FROM EARTH and the film's upcoming sequel...
TV STORE ONLINE: How did you get involved in the MAN FROM EARTH project?
It turned out that Emerson's manager turned producer thought they could attract a much bigger director to the script because of the enthusiasm that I expressed for the project. So this producer encouraged Emerson not to stay in touch with me. A couple years passed. But they couldn't get the film made how Emerson wanted it to be made. Other producers wanted to take the script and rewrite it. Then another producer wanted to put in all of these flashbacks. But Emerson didn't want any of that. He wanted to honor his father and his work and keep the script exactly the way that Jerome Bixby had written it. A friend of mine had just shot a film on digital video for almost no money and it turned out great. It really looked like a film. So a producer friend and I started talking about how we should do something like that. Nothing I had written though up to that point would've worked for the money we had to shoot with. So my partner said, "Have you ever come across a script that would work?" I told him about Emerson and Jerome Bixby's last script. So I called up Emerson and said, "I'm not sure if you remember me, but I was circling around your dad's last script a few years ago..." He said, "Remember you? You were the only the director that wanted the film the way it was written."
TV STORE ONLINE: Reading that script for the first time...What was it in the story that hooked you?
TV STORE ONLINE: Did you have certain cast members in mind when you started the project? Your choice of actors to play the roles in the film is really wonderful. I really appreciate seeing William Katt and Tony Todd in the film....
Schenkman: I didn't really have anyone in mind when I started. It all happened like it does with many films. You figure out your budget and you figure out who you can get based on how much money you have . Then you cast the actors that appreciate the script too. I also wanted actors that were very well established in the science fiction fan community. Almost all of the actors had appeared in Star Trek. Tony Todd is well known in the horror and science fiction community as well.
TV STORE ONLINE: Can you talk about what's been written in regards to how the MAN FROM EARTH filmmakers wrote and thanked bootleggers for pirating the film online?
TV STORE ONLINE: Why hasn't the film gained more exposure in the US? It seems like something that would be perfect for the SyFy Channel...
Schenkman: We wanted it to air on SyFy. In fact, they were the first place we went to when the film was complete. I, myself, had a very nice conversation with the acquisitions guy at SyFy who said that he enjoyed the film very much himself but then went on to say that they had no place to put it. He said that their schedule did not allow for a movie like this. He said basically that the only original movies that they are interested in are action movies. He went on to say that because MAN FROM EARTH has no action, there is no spot for it on SyFy. I said to him, "Can't you put it on at Midnight on a Wednesday or something like that?" He told me that they couldn't. I couldn't believe it. We even took it to places like The Sundance Channel and the IFC channel and they said that it wouldn't fit their channel. I mean, MAN FROM EARTH got great reviews, it has a great score on IMDb.com. It won awards at film festivals.
Schenkman: Yes, we're working on it. There is a spec script and the story line is all fleshed out. We approached the company that put out MAN FROM EARTH on DVD about financing the sequel and they never got back to us. So we're about to start a Kickstarter campaign online to fund the sequel. You can follow it on Facebook HERE:
TV STORE ONLINE: What do you want people to take away from MAN FROM EARTH? It's such a great film with great ideas and it asks its audience to consider many things...
Schenkman: That's not really my place to say. If MAN FROM EARTH was my first film I might have something to say about that. I learned on my first film THE POMPATUS OF LOVE (1996) that once a film is done and it is released it no longer belongs to you. Each person is going to take something from your film that is completely different from the next. People will either love your film or hate it. I've gotten reviews that raved about my first film and then others that just disliked it. I think the only thing a filmmaker can do is to fill their film up with as much heart, intelligence, honesty and ideas that they can and hope someone takes something away from it.
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Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Executive Producer and Screenwriter Emerson Bixby talks with TV STORE ONLINE about his father Jerome Bixby's brilliant MAN FROM EARTH (2007)
TV STORE ONLINE: What do you think your dad's inspiration was for writing MAN FROM EARTH (2007)?
BIXBY: My Dad was inspired to write the film when he was in New York City in 1946. He came up with this idea of a civilized man that was actually a Cro-Magnon man that was thousands and thousands of years old. He originally came up with the idea when he was 23-years-old. When the '50s came, my Dad saw Charles Bronson in a film and he really wanted Bronson to play the caveman if he should ever write the film.
TV STORE ONLINE: That makes sense....Look at Bronson in HOUSE OF WAX (1953) for example.
BIXBY: Right, I think Dad saw Bronson in the Corman film MACHINE GUN KELLY (1958) though. He's very stocky and strong and Bronson had a very intense face. The idea for MAN FROM EARTH was kicking around in my Dad's head for years and when he was writing for Star Trek, he put the idea in one of the episodes of the show. The idea for the story was always digging at him though. He decided to go back to it. He started writing the actual screenplay for MAN FROM EARTH about a month and a half before he passed away. He had it almost finished it, but then he had to go into the hospital for a quadruple bypass.
He ended up finishing the screenplay literally on his death bed. Right up until two days before he passed he was dictating scenes to me and I was writing them on napkins and I even started writing on one of those hospital pajama gowns that they give you that has no backside.
TV STORE ONLINE: What do you think it was about this idea that kept him always thinking about it?
BIXBY: Well, my Dad always loved the film 12 ANGRY MEN (1957). It was directed by Sidney Lumet and what he liked about it so much was how good dialogue and a good idea can completely carry a story.
He really wanted to do a thinking-man's Sci-Fi film. But, he was always trying to do that. Back in the '70s, he had an idea to make a film called ELSEWHERE. He had wanted to do this right around the same time that Steven Spielberg was starting on CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977). But, when he heard that Spielberg was working on something with aliens he decided to wait it out to see how Spielberg's film would turn out. He was hoping that the film would fail so he could make his, but in one of the very rare instances that he went out to the movie theater, he saw CLOSE ENCOUNTERS and it just blew him away. It really made him forget about doing his own alien film. But my Dad's idea was a really interesting one because his story was from the alien's point-of-view. We would see what it was like for them to come to Earth through their eyes.
He really liked the idea for MAN FROM EARTH because it wasn't a Sci-Fi film with explosions and special effects, it was just dialogue and that was the reason why he was always interested in bringing the project to the screen.
TV STORE ONLINE: The screenplay for MAN FROM EARTH has many historical ideas swirling around in it. How much research did you or your dad put into it to get all of those things correct?
BIXBY: My Dad just knew all about those things in the script. He was such an avid reader that he really knew everything on everything. When he passed away, he probably had about three semi-truck trailers full of books. I'm sure he researched a few things, but for the most part he really knew all of stuff from his years of reading.
TV STORE ONLINE: Were there any ideas in the script that weren't directly translated onto the screen in the film we see today?
BIXBY: Well, originally my Dad didn't want "John" to drive off and come back at the end of the film. He wanted him to just leave alone, but I really bugged him about that. I said, "C'mon, C'mon...He has to come back." My Dad just said, "OK, write it both ways and we'll look at it later." The next day, I brought him a couple pages to look over for the ending and he said, "Yeah, OK...You got it." There were two characters that we cut out of the movie from the script. They were sort of similar, so we edited them and gave most of one of these character's dialogue to actor John Billingsley. But other than that, the first draft of the screenplay that my Dad did is pretty much what you see in the film today.
After my Dad passed away I had producers offer me big money for the script but I just couldn't give it up. The producers that wanted this script wanted to take it and shoot it and add in all of these explosions, and I had one guy who wanted to insert a series of flashbacks that featured "John" riding a Velociraptor and leading an army of cavemen. I told him where he could go, because none of those ideas were true to my Dad's vision for this story.
TV STORE ONLINE: Working so close with this concept and this script for MAN FROM EARTH why didn't you just direct the film yourself? Did you ever consider doing that?
BIXBY: Yes, I did. I got really frustrated with producers telling me that they wanted to throw in explosions and naked chicks. I got really annoyed by that, but luckily Richard Schenkman came along and he had a very clear understanding of the script and he agreed with how I thought it should be made.
TV STORE ONLINE: What do you want people to take from MAN FROM EARTH when they see it, and what do you think that your dad would have wanted people to take from it?
BIXBY: I think that he would've wanted people just to think. If my Dad were around today, he'd be very happy with how the film turned out.
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Friday, February 21, 2014
Actor Wings Hauser talks with TV STORE ONLINE about the making of his cult B movie film noir THE ART OF DYING...
TV STORE ONLINE: This was the third film that you directed...The first two films being COLDFIRE (1990) and LIVING TO DIE (1990)....With this third film THE ART OF DYING (1991), what was your process for casting?
HAUSER: It was pretty simple...We put out a casting call, then we got a bunch of head shots and then we called in some people that we liked and we took it from there. It wasn't like a studio film where we had someone breathing down our necks telling us that we needed to cast someone in particular... A interesting story behind the casting of the film....Actress Kathleen Kinmont...You remember her from the film?
TV STORE ONLINE: Of course. How can one forget some of those scenes that you share with her in the film...
HAUSER: Right, well, Kathleen is such a wonderful woman. The role that I cast in her required some partial nudity and when she came in to audition with me she mentioned that she had a bad scar on her breast and she was concerned of how it would look on film. So she showed me her breast right there in the audition and she did it very technically. I mean, what a professional actress.
TV STORE ONLINE: Of course, the film has a very notorious sex scene that involves a gallon of milk! Was that something that you had written into the script?
HAUSER: God No. In the script it said something like, "They have sex". Somehow the sink in the kitchen came into play and then we both thought it would be fun to play around with food and the only thing we had available was that gallon jug of milk and so we started to pour it over each other. That was a tough day...laughing
TV STORE ONLINE: There are some great actors in THE ART OF DYING....Michael J. Pollard and Sarah Douglas...
HAUSER: Right. Michael J. Pollard was a human being all to himself. He's just an amazing guy. He insisted on being picked up every day before shooting by me because I was the director. He had a lot of thoughts that went into that character. When Michael Pollard stops talking on film and he starts thinking it really is the most amazing thing you'll ever see. As for Sarah Douglas, I had first met her on BEASTMASTER 2: THROUGH THE PORTAL OF TIME (1991). She did THE ART OF DYING for me for almost nothing.
TV STORE ONLINE: Your character "Jack" in the film.....Who was that guy? He's very hard-boiled, but there is also a another side to him that isn't spoken about....
HAUSER: Well, I think that other side has a bit to do with me. Growing up in Hollywood myself, I've seen actors come out here and get chewed up and spit out. I think that's why he was so comfortable in helping out that little girl throughout the film. This is a tough town, and you really have to love your work otherwise you're done for. There is a least ten broken hearts out here for every star down on Hollywood Blvd. I think Jack really cared about those kinds of things in Los Angeles. I think he had seen so much of that, and that is what drove him to drink.
Then there's the girl who is told that she'll become a star if she goes and gets her photos taken. Shooting that scene...That was as real as it could get. I knew a guy once who was a drug dealer and a photographer. He would tell girls that they would be star if they'd go with him and shoot some photos with him. He's take them up to his loft, and the cocaine would come out and then he's get them naked and he'd shoot photos of them and then sell them off to a magazine. He was a master at that. I thought that was a total degradation of women, and that was what that scene was about. But that stuff actually happens out here in Hollywood.
TV STORE ONLINE: The film has such a strong visual style about it.. What kinds of prep do you do as a director by the time you begin on THE ART OF DYING? Are you a believer in story boarding?
HAUSER: No, I don't storyboard. I just try to put it together all in my head. I read the scene and then go to bed and try to dream on it. I do the same thing as an actor, and I think a lot of it also has quite a bit to do with confidence. We really wanted to go with that jazz side of Los Angeles and I wanted to use a lot of reds and greens in the shading in the film.
TV STORE ONLINE: There's a great tension in the film between the characters, and not just because one is good and one is evil, there's something unique in that the villain plays with the hero by visiting him at his own home for a chat for an example...
HAUSER: Right, that was fun. Gary Werntz is a great guy and a great actor. He played that scene beautifully. That character probably wanted to be a filmmaker, but it didn't work out for him and he got frustrated. That happens out there in Hollywood. I thought that Gary's character offered a great examination of bitterness and frustration.
TV STORE ONLINE: And he's got a great sidekick in "Latin Jerry".
HAUSER: Oh Yeah, He's a great actor that Mitch Hara. I came up with the name "Latin Jerry" because there was a L.A. Rams football player that went by the name "Latin Barry". He's a great character, and Mitch was great to work with.
TV STORE ONLINE: Of course, the killer mimics some great Hollywood films with his killings... Who came up with those films that he uses like THE DEER HUNTER (1978) and PSYCHO (1960)...
HAUSER: I did. I loved that aspect of the story. Gary Werntz and I actually came up with the PSYCHO sequence together. I do remember that because his daughter would come to the set with him often and I remember that the day that we were going to shoot that, he had told me that his daughter wouldn't be coming.
TV STORE ONLINE: I love the juxtaposition there between the sex scene and the murder. There's something there to that whole orgasm sex and death thing...
HAUSER: Right, that was a fun sequence to cut in editing. I thought those murder sequences really helped as anchor points to go back and fourth to in the editing.
Interview Segment By: Justin Bozung
Watch the Trailer for THE ART OF DYING (1991) HERE:
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Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Veteran actor Scott Wilson talks about bringing "Hershel Greene" to life on the hit AMC series The Walking Dead...
TV STORE ONLINE: Now that The Walking Dead has returned from mid-season hiatus....It was quite the shock to see Hershel's severed zombie head a couple episodes ago...Was that a strange thing to see for you?
WILSON: I didn't know what to think about that...laughing Hershel's gone now but I'm so glad that the fans of the show really embraced him for the time that he was on the show.
TV STORE ONLINE: It seems like the fans have really become interested in some of your past work too, like in the films IN COLD BLOOD (1967) and THE NINTH CONFIGURATION (1980)...
WILSON: Right, Yeah, it's been really great in that way.
TV STORE ONLINE: What was your favorite moment from this current season?
WILSON: I have a lot of moments that I'm fond of from this season. I really liked the speech I got to do as Hershel in Episode 3 from this season and I really liked getting the opportunity to watch the actors evolve over the last three years that I've gotten to work with them too. That would probably be my favorite aspect of working on the show....It would probably be just getting the opportunity to work with such amazing actors, and working with all of the amazing directors and directors of photography and make-up artists on the show. Everyone that works on The Walking Dead is just wonderful.
TV STORE ONLINE: Speaking of Walking Dead alumni....Did you see Martin Scorsese's THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (2013) yet?
WILSON: I did.
TV STORE ONLINE: Wasn't Jon Bernthal great in WOLF?
WILSON: He was. He was really terrific.
TV STORE ONLINE: Do you have that one favorite episode from Season 2 or 3 or from this latest season? Which would be your favorite and why?
WILSON: Well...How can I overlook Episode 5 from this season? It's mainly dedicated to Hershel. It was so much fun and it was a challenge. Hershel was very proactive and reactive in that one.
TV STORE ONLINE: How do you think that Hershel had progressed from Season 2? How had he grown as a character and how did you find him as the actor that brought him to life?
WILSON: I found him through the scripts. Before I had came on board in Season 2 I had read eight scripts in advance. Also, wardrobe plays a huge part in a character for me as well. I spent a lot of time thinking about Hershel's attire, and I worked with the costume designer using that approach.
Also, [Executive Producers] Frank Darabont and Gale Ann Hurd had some very specific ideas about who Hershel was too. I think a look is very important to any character. I've always taken that approach for any of the characters that I've played even going back to my first film IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT (1967).
TV STORE ONLINE: Fans of the show have been very vocal about their love of the Norman Reedus character "Daryl Dixon", but Hershel has to be right up near the top after Daryl as the fan favorite character...What do you think it is about Hershel that has resonated with the audience of The Walking Dead?
WILSON: I think that Hershel is like everyone's grandfather, or father, or older brother, or uncle and I think he reminds everyone of someone or he represents someone that people would like to have in their lives. It's interesting for me, because, all you can do is play the character from your gut and hopefully people will respond to it.
Being on The Walking Dead was an interesting experience for me as an actor...While it's a very cinematic show, the character doesn't have a arc like he would in a film or in play. With something like The Walking Dead you don't experience the full character in one evening. The arc comes across several scripts or across three seasons.
You'll see a line in the script that you hope will pay dividends down the road in a later episode of the series, so you'll use it as a way to plant a seed in the hopes that it will bare fruit later on down the road in another episode that you'll shoot, and sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. It was really fun in that way. Between the second and third seasons, I decided that I'd let my hair and beard grow out until we started shooting again. I thought that I could just cut my hair if there was no time lapse between those seasons, but it turned out that there was in fact a lapse in time, and I thought that in doing that, it really gave Hershel something interesting.
TV STORE ONLINE: Have you heard from the fans of the show in regards to your character's departure?
WILSON: Sure. I've had fans come up to me and say, "I cried when they killed you" or "I'm so sorry that they killed you." It's been really nice, and it's very interesting too, because it is a little like going to your own funeral in a way.
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Friday, February 14, 2014
The Paul Dooley Project: Part 4 - Paul Dooley talks with TV STORE ONLINE about Robert Altman's A WEDDING (1978).
In the last of The Paul Dooley Project for TV STORE ONLINE actor Paul Dooley talks about working with Robert Altman on A WEDDING (1978)...
TV STORE ONLINE: When someone brings up A WEDDING (1978) to you...What are your first thoughts on the making of that film?
DOOLEY: It had ten stars in it, and it had fifty actors in it. I don't really remember the acting I did in the film as much as the great company of actors that I worked with on A WEDDING. Lillian Gish, one of the first ever movie stars is in the film. There were so many wonderful actors that worked on A WEDDING. My favorite memory is just being part of that family that made the movie. Normally, a director will bring an actor in for a week to shoot his scenes and then he'll leave and he won't get a very good opportunity to get to know the other actors. But with Altman, he brings you in at the beginning and even if you only have a couple scenes he'll keep you there the entire time he's shooting because he may decide later on that he wants to put you in the background of a scene that he's shooting. We shot A WEDDING in eight weeks. It was my first job with Altman. Geraldine Chaplin was in the film. Carol Burnett was in the film. Desi Arnaz Jr. is in the film...
TV STORE ONLINE: Pat McCormick too...
DOOLEY: That's right. Pat was a good friend of mine. I once was a roommate with Pat for an entire summer years ago. We were working up in the mountains at a resort, so I got to know him very well.
TV STORE ONLINE: Could you talk about Altman's innovative technique of recording the sound with actors on the set, and in particular, on the set of A WEDDING?
DOOLEY: Yeah, he had that technique of putting microphones all over the place on every film he shot. He would do that when he had to shoot crowd scenes. Most directors would never do that. Usually they'll just body mic an actor and use a couple boom mics, but Altman wouldn't do it that way. Altman had a cart with sound decks on it. That recording system could handle eight tapes at a time. Basically, that meant that he could record up to sixteen mics at a time. Normally, we would do two or three takes and then we'd switch the mics over to another sixteen actors and then do another two or three takes. All of the sound in Altman's films overlaps. He told me once that he used to get fired all of the time when he was trying to work in television because of how his soundtracks were always so "muddy". But he liked them that way because he felt that that was the way soundtracks sounded in real life. He liked it that way because he could do wide master shots and that way you could see all of these people talking at the same time in the frame. Some considered Altman an amateur in his early days for doing it that way, but it eventually became his signature style and you can really hear how great it works in M.A.S.H. (1970).
TV STORE ONLINE: You shot A WEDDING in Chicago didn't you?
DOOLEY: It was just outside of Chicago on one of the lakes. It was close to Waukegan, Illinois. The house we shot in was owned by the Armour Meats family. But the house was on the market at the time so that gave us all of the time we needed to shoot the film. We did two days of shooting in a church and then the rest of the time in that house shooting.
That house had something like twenty bedrooms in it and all of the actors paired up and we went in groups and we all used the bedrooms for our dressing rooms. I shared mine with Pat McCormick who played "Mackenzie Goddard ".
TV STORE ONLINE: So that underground man-cave that we see in A WEDDING was actually part of that house?
DOOLEY: Oh Yeah. That was the basement to the house. But it was more like the size of a night club.
TV STORE ONLINE: Your character "Snooks Brenner" is one of those dads that flies off the handle very easily...That type of character seems to suit you. You played a similar character in BREAKING AWAY (1977) as well...Why do you think that hot-head father suits you so well?
DOOLEY: Well, that character is really just my own father. When I played "Snooks" or when I played the Father in BREAKING AWAY that was really just me playing my own dad. My dad never said much, he never smiled much either, but when he said something it was always against whatever was going on around him. I'm always cast as a Father who is a little bit withdrawn and isn't comfortable showing his emotions. You can see that at the beginning of SIXTEEN CANDLES (1984) even. I play it well because it's like mother's milk to me. Part of it too, it that even though he is like that, he always ends up being known as a grouchy guy with a heart of gold. By the way the name of the character "Snooks Brenner" came to Altman when he was working on the script for A WEDDING. He had been down south shooting THIEVES LIKE US (1974) and he was staying in an apartment at the time and his next door neighbor was named Snooks Brenner.
TV STORE ONLINE: Snooks is such a fun character in that film....I love that exchange between Snooks and Desi Arnaz Jr.'s character where he says to Snooks, "Can I call you Pops?" And, Snooks responds, "You can call me Snooks."
DOOLEY: Yeah, and I had a lot of confidence that Altman would like improvisation. The first words that I ever spoke in A WEDDING are in that wedding scene. In the scene they said, "Who gives this woman to this man?" Normally a father would step forward and say, "I Do." But I stepped forward and said, "Snooks. Brenner. I Do. Me." I made a moment out of it. I took a chance, but I knew what Altman liked so I knew he would use it.
TV STORE ONLINE: What about working with Carol Burnett?
DOOLEY: Well, I had known Carol before because I had worked with her up in the mountains too. Altman wanted us to play husband and wife, and he was delighted when he found out that we had worked together before. I had a lot of fun coming up with those dialogue exchanges with Carol. There's that scene where Carol comes back in from out in the garden where she has been with Pat McCormick. Carol comes in and I say, "You're late. Where has you been?" She says, "I'm sorry." Then I say, "You're about the sorriest little liar I've ever seen...." I made up all of those lines...
TV STORE ONLINE: I can't imagine that the script for A WEDDING was really fleshed out....
DOOLEY: They had an outline that was about twelve pages long. When I first got to Chicago, they gave me a notebook that was about fifty pages long. Every page had the name of a character on it with a back story starting with Lillian Gish. As you got through the notebook the back stories got shorter and shorter. Near the back you saw "Security Guard" and it said, "She has only been at it for a month." Then the very last entry in the notebook said, "Gypsy Violinist" and it said, "She's a Gypsy that plays Violin music." I never saw a script. Usually they'd give us a page a day or two before we were to shoot a scene. You'd have to memorize your dialogue that morning as you were in make-up. It wasn't really hard and the best part about Altman is that he never cared whether you paraphrased his dialogue or not.
TV STORE ONLINE: Could you talk about that great confrontation scene with everyone on the Brenner side of the family?
DOOLEY: Right, Snooks finds out that his daughter is knocked up! She's not even the bride, she's the sister. My daughter was played by Mia Farrow. I call them all together and Snooks says, "Is it true? Are you going to have a baby?" She says, "Yes." Snooks says, "OK, are their any others?" Mia starts counting on her hands and then she borrows her Aunts' hands to finish the counting...
TV STORE ONLINE: Was that scene scripted out?
DOOLEY: Yeah, it was. I threw in that line when Snooks walks out of the room and says, "Hell of a wedding.."
TV STORE ONLINE: There's a great underbelly in A WEDDING that something isn't quite right between the two families in the film....
DOOLEY: Right, the rich people didn't like Snooks' family because they were too poor and the nouveau riche didn't like the old money because they were too snobbish...
TV STORE ONLINE: That is a theme in Altman's work...He does that in PERFECT COUPLE (1979) as well as in GOSFORD PARK (2001)....
DOOLEY: Right, I think he was concerned with that. I think he really wanted to stick it to the rich.
TV STORE ONLINE: Could you talk about that great scene in A WEDDING where everyone is gathered for the unveiling of the painting and it turns out to be a portrait of a topless Mia Farrow?
DOOLEY: Yeah, none of us had actually seen that painting until we started rolling the cameras. All we knew was what Altman had said which was, "They're gonna unveil the painting and everyone is supposed to be shocked." So when they actually unveiled it, that was our actual response. Then Altman went around from our perspective and shot the painting... I had a feeling though before we saw it that it was going to be something surprising, I didn't guess it would be a nude though...laughing
TV STORE ONLINE: I just LOVE Snooks line there, "Did you pose for that!?!?"
DOOLEY: Yeah, we improvised that.
TV STORE ONLINE: Snooks has the instinct to run over and take care of the painting...
DOOLEY: Right, Altman said, "Go over and try to take it and the security guard is gonna stop you."
TV STORE ONLINE: My favorite shot in the film is that visually stunning wide-shot that comes at the end when the Brenner's pull up on the highway in their car and see what they think is their daughter's car which has just crashed into that tanker truck and exploded...
DOOLEY: That was a good scene. I thought we all were able to make that very tragic. Then our characters go back to the house and realize that the people that were killed in that scene weren't actually Snooks daughter and her new husband, but some of the bridesmaids..
TV STORE ONLINE: And the greatness of that sequence is that its a punchline...
DOOLEY: Right, that was Altman's idea. He thought it would be funny if these people came back in a state of tears only to find out that their loved ones weren't actually killed and their response was to throw a party...laughing
TV STORE ONLINE: With that bickering between in-laws...There seems to be so much truth in that even all these years later after the film's release. In-laws aren't getting together usually...
DOOLEY: I imagine that a lot of fathers resent paying for the wedding when the other family has the money to help too. I'm sure if you scratch that surface you'll find that problem.
TV STORE ONLINE: Of the handful of films that you worked on with Robert Altman...Which one do you think is his best and why?
DOOLEY: I think POPEYE is the best (1980). I like it best because of the actors and the environment in which we shot it. None of us actors thought that we were shooting in Malta. We all felt like we were actually living in Sweethaven. It was a great experience. We shot that for six months and that had been the longest I had ever worked on a film. POPEYE didn't work because at the end there was a chase and it was a chase with boats, and boats only go about five miles an hour. Altman was really good at creating characters and place and dialogue. I didn't think much of O.C. & STIGGS (1985) and I don't think H.E.A.L.T.H.(1980) is that great of an film overall, but I really think PERFECT COUPLE and A WEDDING are great films.
Really though, it doesn't matter when you think about. The most important thing about working with Altman wasn't the work that we were creating, but the experience of making it with him.
Interview Conducted By Justin Bozung
For more with Paul Dooley please visit his website HERE:
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