Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Son Jeff Buchanan on Father Larry Buchanan's Marilyn Monroe late period films


 Son of cult filmmaker Larry Buchanan, Jeff Buchanan, talks with TV STORE ONLINE about Larry Buchanan's late period films about Marilyn Monroe...

TV STORE ONLINE:  Where did the idea come from for Larry to do a remake of his own GOODBYE NORMA JEAN (1976) as GOODNIGHT, SWEET MARILYN (1989)?

JEFF BUCHANAN:  Well, he had a bunch of outtakes in his possession from NORMA JEAN.  My dad was a big conspiracy theorist.  He was always reading about conspiracy theories associated with Marilyn Monroe to Jimi Hendrix to John F. Kennedy.   That's how DOWN ON US (1989) came about more or less as well...  Someone actually wrote an article about the possibility of Marilyn Monroe being killed via a suppository and how it couldn't be picked up via an autopsy.  This was after GOODNIGHT, SWEET MARILYN.  I thought that it was just one of my Dad's wild ideas at the time that we were making the film....  My dad had a loose connection with a guy named Mark Felt at one time.  Mark Felt was very high up in the F.B.I...  My dad came to me once and said, "I have a funny feeling that Mark Felt was Deep Throat...."   Yet again, I thought that it was just another one of my dad's funny ideas, but then my dad passed away and not long after that--Mark Felt went public and told everyone that he was in fact "Deep Throat" during the Watergate scandal.  

When my dad made DOWN ON US aka BEYOND THE DOORS (1989), he theorized that it was Richard Nixon who had Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin silenced.   Nixon called them "The Pied-Pipers Of Rock-N-Roll"...  My dad theorized that Nixon had them silenced out of fear that Morrison, Hendrix and Joplin could have influenced the vote because they had just lowered the voting age to eighteen-years-old.   

Again, I thought that this was just one of my dad's wild ideas.  Then they released the Nixon files to the public and inside his papers were something like eighteen-thousand pages dedicated to Hendrix alone.    

My dad had always been fascinated with Marilyn Monroe; her stardom, her celebrity,  and her death-- years prior when he was in Texas he had met a guy who he referred to as "Mesquite".  I don't know what the gentleman's real name was, but it's my understanding--and it's the way that it happens in dad's film--the death of Marilyn was a mercy killing.  Marilyn was afraid of going nuts as her mother had.  My dad--in typical Larry Buchanan fashion--thought, "Okay, I have these outtakes..Let's do a wrap-around."  Basically he scripted out the contemporary scenes and we shot for a few weeks with Paula Lane, and then he went to work and edited in his outtakes from GOODBYE NORMA JEAN.   

TV STORE ONLINE:   Do you think that Larry considered the "Mesquite" character in GOODBYE NORMA JEAN as a metaphor for death itself?   It's interesting...During  the final season of the NBC television series Quantum Leap--they did a very similar story line with their take on the Marilyn Monroe/Mesquite relationship....Suggesting a relationship that Marilyn had with her supposed bodyguard/close confident in the final days of her life....

BUCHANAN:   Well dad had actually met this "Mesquite" guy in person.  My dad was always really great about not revealing his sources.  He didn't even tell me who the guy was.   But he had gotten enough information from this guy--where he went and started doing a lot of his own research on Monroe's death.  He looked at the autopsy results.  He read everything that he could get his hands on.   My dad was never up front with me regarding whether he actually believed the possibilities of the story for the film.  The same thing goes with my dad about his research and ideas into the Kennedy assassination.   I'm not sure that he saw the "Mesquite" character as a metaphor--as a sort of grim reaper, but again, he's not here-- but if he was--maybe he'd confer with you.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Going back to the Misty Rowe footage from GOODBYE NORMA JEAN (1976)...There's that line where Misty Rowe as Marilyn says, "Is it possible for a girl to want something so much that she'll die for it?"  Do you think that Larry supported that notion?  That Marilyn had this sort of unconscious desire for immortality?

BUCHANAN:  That's a tough question.   I think that my dad felt for Marilyn Monroe.  I think he understood her.   The ironic thing about Marilyn Monroe is that she struggled for so long with the notion that she wanted to be taken seriously as an actress in Hollywood.  Then, THE MISFITS (1960) comes along for her and after that---she was considered a serious actress.   It doesn't seem like she knew what to do with that once she had obtained it.     My dad was always fascinated with the last few photo shoots that Marilyn Monroe did as well.  He used to say that he thought that by looking at those photos of yourself -- she understood that she was getting older.  My dad was so obsessed with making films, but at the same time he did it with such a light air.   He took a very Don Quixote approach to filmmaking.  He took the film medium very seriously, but when things didn't work out he'd just sort of laugh it off.    I think that he had an empathy for Marilyn.

TV STORE ONLINE:  How did you find Paula Lane for the film?

BUCHANAN:  Well, we were in Monterey at the time prepping the film, and someone told him about her.  He had been looking for look-a-likes.  He flew out to Las Vegas to see a show with her at a casino, because she did have a background as a Marilyn Monroe impersonator.  He came back and said, "We've found her!  We've found our Marilyn."   We brought her here and we shot with her for two weeks.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I've seen the photos that have been published over the years...The macabre photos of her bedroom where her body was found...The bedroom is impressively re-created in the film....

BUCHANAN:  The Art Director definitely studied those photos.   Her name was C. Cracko.   She took it all very seriously.  She found all the right curtains and that lamp.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I love the opening sequence in the film...Of Paula Lane singing into the camera wearing that white SEVEN YEAR ITCH (1952) Marilyn Monroe dress...The film has a dream like quality...Did Larry ever talk with you about visual approach to cinema?

BUCHANAN:   Not really.  On the films that I worked with him on I would try to push him to get more from his Director Of Photography or Art Director.   My dad knew about every aspect of film production.   It never ceased to amaze me.  Because my dad worked so fast.  He would take a Director Of Photography aside and said,"Look, I'm not trying to step on any toes..But we don't need this, or this, or this.  We just need to shoot at this f/stop from this angle."   And it always turned out exactly the way he had planned it.   

TV STORE ONLINE:   One of the more artistic choices in GOODNIGHT, SWEET MARILYN is how the film is set across the 1950's and '60s, yet there is a use of '70s and '80s rock music throughout...

BUCHANAN:   He had funny instincts about his work.  I remember once there was a funeral scene that he was shooting in one of his earlier films and he put a rock-n-roll song in the background of the scene and a French critic saw it and said it was brilliant.   He never waxed philosophical about his films.  He went by instinct.  He did have very clear ideas on the nature of film editing.  He went into the editing of his films with very clear ideas.  He'd say, "Look, this isn't a film that we have to worry about box office receipts on..We can do whatever we want here..."  The music he used often times came out of his budget on his films.   The music that he used might not have been what he had really wanted to use per say, but he used certain music (s) because it was all he could afford on the budget.
My dad always had a list of ideas or films that he wanted to make--films that he could never get off the ground.   At the end of his life--his promise to me was that he was going to open up his shooting schedule and take some time to really work with the actors like he hadn't been able to prior.  I was asking him to take his time and set up a dolly shot that he had wanted to do but never really attempted before out of time restraints and budget.   I mean, almost all of his films were shot in two-three week periods.  Most of his films...They would shoot six pages a day on them!

TV STORE ONLINE:  The end sequence in GOODNIGHT, SWEET MARILYN....There's that candid conversation and sex scene with Paula Lane as Marilyn and the masseuse....Lane as Marilyn says, "I'm the greatest sex symbol of all time...but no one has seen me on the screen in any of my films this intimately..."   Do you think that Larry approached his films with the understanding that there needed to be a mix of melodrama and exploitation?

BUCHANAN:  One thing that my dad was a fan of was the old movies from the '40s and the power of the screen kiss...He used to talk at times about some of the sex symbols of the '40s and '50s and how they had such an incredible sex appeal that it wasn't necessary for them to do any nude scenes. I think that he understood that the times that had changed but he approached it all with a certain class.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Do you think that Larry's first Marilyn film--GOODBYE NORMA JEAN--just came to fruition out of his fascination with her?

BUCHANAN:   Yes, I think so.  He talked about how he had met her a couple times during his early days in Hollywood.  He had met her when she wasn't yet the star that she became.   I got mad at my dad while he was shooting that film because I was in high school at the time and I was begging him to allow me to come and visit.  I  wanted to be a part of it and he wouldn't let me.  I don't have any stories about the production because I wasn't there for the shooting, but I remember that when it was finished my dad took the film to the Cannes Film Festival and screened it. It did very well there and Misty Rowe, who played Marilyn in the film, went with him and she walked up and down the Croisette dressed as Marilyn Monroe.   My mom went too that year, and she's told me since that the paparazzi was so enamored with Misty as Marilyn that they weren't paying attention to the big Hollywood stars that were there.

When GOODBYE NORMA JEAN came out...Playboy Magazine listed it as one of the worst films of 1976 and someone sent a copy of the issue to my dad.  He flipped to the mention and then threw it onto a coffee table.  I picked it up, read it and said, "Dad?  Doesn't this make you upset?"  He said, "Why would it make me upset?" I responded with, "Because they're saying that GOODBYE NORMA JEAN is one of the Ten Worst Films of the Year..."   He said, "Jeff, take a look at the other nine films in that list.  Each of those films were big Hollywood productions with major stars.  If they knew what we spent on our film--they would be embarrassed that they even looked at it..."    He always said that he made films for the budgets of the catering on any of those major Hollywood movies.   He thought that it was great that they were just talking about his film.
  
When Elton John released his song 'Goodbye Norma Jean'--it really helped the film.   But, interestingly, my dad had never picked the title for the film because of that song.   It was an interesting coincidence.


TV STORE ONLINE:  I love that "Wammo Ammo" musical montage that we see in variations in both GOODBYE NORMA JEAN and GOODNIGHT, SWEET MARILYN...

BUCHANAN:  I know.  I believe that was shot by Nick von Sternberg, who was the son of Joseph von Sternberg...He shot a few films for my dad.

TV STORE ONLINE:    One of the things that I admire about both of Larry's Marilyn films...And maybe it's my sole observation...But when you watch either of the films--it seems like all of the actors with the exception of Misty Rowe as Marilyn look like one another.  It's as if Larry did that so the audience would get a unconscious message that Marilyn was so much of a beauty that she eclipsed all others around her...

BUCHANAN:  It's a interesting observation..If my dad was here--he'd tell you if he intended that or not.   He was so sly about those types of things...  You never knew if he was pulling your leg or not.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What was Larry's approach to casting?   He seemed to have a stable of actors that he liked to work with...

BUCHANAN:  Certainly.  He liked to work with Stuart Lancaster and Garth Pillsbury of Russ Meyer infamy...He would go out to see actors in plays hoping to find new talent.   With GOODBYE NORMA JEAN--the hunt for Marilyn was long.  My dad agonized over it.  I think they even held a beauty pageant in a attempt to find someone to play Marilyn.  I can't remember exactly how Misty Rowe came to my dad's attention---but I do remember that he was at the same time--talking to another actress as well.    My dad used to joke that if you walked through the front door you were pretty much cast in one of his movies... He just had that sensibility about him.

I remember, I helped my dad edit STRAWBERRIES NEED RAIN (1970) together.   He came back from shooting the film in Texas and we blacked out all of the windows in the house and we put a Movieola in the living room and we started cutting the film together.   We always worked that way.  

Growing up, I thought that this was how you made movies.  I didn't know as a kid that there were editing facilities. I didn't know that there were places you could go to record Foley effects.  My dad and I would just go out into the garage with a list of sounds that we needed to re-produce and record.   They didn't always sound the best but they worked. Sometimes they worked better than any of the Foley effects you'd hear in big budget films.  Someone once said of my dad's films, "Larry Buchanan's films are so bad that a kind of grandeur seeps into them..."  It's kind of true.  People would be alarmed if they knew some of the budgets that my dad had to work with.   

Interview Conducted By: Justin Bozung

Thursday, September 25, 2014

INTERVIEW: Hargus 'Pig' Robbins on Bob Dylan and Blonde On Blonde



Country Western Hall Of Fame musician Hargus 'Pig' Robbins talks with TV STORE ONLINE about recording with Patsy Cline, Charlie Rich and playing piano on Bob Dylan's 1966 masterpiece Blonde On Blonde.

You've heard 'Pig' Robbins play the piano.  There is no question about it.   As a Hall of Fame musician, Robbins has played with the likes of George Jones, Ween, Merle Haggard, Alan Jackson, Neil Young, The Everly Brothers, Ray Charles and Kenny Rogers.   In addition, Robbins had his own music career too, recording music in the late '50s under the name 'Mel Robbins' before releasing a handful of studio albums in the '60s and '70s.  Having had a highly prolific career since starting out on the piano at age seven-learning to play by ear-one must forgive Robbin's memory of the day-by-day events during the recording of Dylan's Blonde On Blonde.

Columbia Music Row Studios in Nashville, TN (2013) where Dylan
and a assembly of studio musicians recorded 
Blonde On Blonde in Feb. of 1966
TV STORE ONLINE:  Before we start talking about Bob Dylan I was hoping that I could get you to talk about your 1959 single 'Save it' that you recorded under the name "Mel Robbins" for Argo Records?

ROBBINS:   Well, that quite a long time ago and I was very hungry.  It was a rockabilly record I did that ended up at Argo which was owned in some way by Leonard Chess of Chess Records fame.   I wrote the song with Mary Biggs, and Mary and I and her husband had been writing songs together.   I don't think that the record ever did anything in the States but it was a fairly big hit over in England at the time it was released.

TV STORE ONLINE:   No doubt you've heard the cover of Save It was done in the early '80s by the band The Cramps?

ROBBINS: 
No, I haven't actually.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Why did you decide to record the song under the name Mel Robbins and not under your given name?

ROBBINS:  I wish I could tell you...(Laughing)    Probably because no-one would remember the name Hargus...(Laughing)


TV STORE ONLINE:  I'm such a huge admirer of another record you played on-one that was recorded in the mid '70s- Charlie Rich's Behind Closed Doors...

ROBBINS:  Right, well, Charlie was a hell of a piano player himself.   Getting the opportunity for me to play with Charlie really gave me a pucker.  If you catch my drift.    I was nervous as hell.   He was standing right behind me at the microphone while I was there playing the piano on that title song.  It was something else.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Did you only play on Behind Closed Doors or did you play on some of the other cuts on that LP?  Did you play on 'The Most Beautiful Girl" or "Peace On You"?

ROBBINS:
  I played on The Most Beautiful Girl and 'Very Special Love Song' on another one of his albums.   I played on 'On My Knees', and 'Rollin' With The Flow' as well...I did a whole bunch of sessions with Charlie.

TV STORE ONLINE:  You worked with Patsy Cline as well as a session player...What did you record with her?

ROBBINS: I played piano on 'I Fall To Pieces' with Patsy.   I was also on 'If You Got Leavin' On Your Mind.'  

TV STORE ONLINE:   So what can you tell me about working with Bob Dylan on Blonde On Blonde (Columbia; 1965)?   I'm dying to hear your stories....

ROBBINS:
  Well, it was so long ago that I don't remember everything that happened there.  What sticks out in my mind...I'm primarily a country player.  Back in the mid '60s, country songs were 2 minutes and 30 seconds long, if you had a song that was over 3 minutes-that was a long song.  When Dylan came into the studio with a 7 or 12 minute song-it completely blew my mind.

TV STORE ONLINE:  You were a seasoned studio musician in Nashville by the mid '60s...
[Producer] Jerry Kennedy at a point exclaimed you as the "backbone of Nashville'....

ROBBINS:  I'd been around a while...I had been working for about 8 years by then.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Where you familiar with Dylan's music by that time?  Had you met him prior to working with him on Blonde on Blonde?

ROBBINS:  A little.  There had been some Country & Western artists that had covered a few of his songs.  Flatt & Scruggs had covered him.   I had heard his name around but I hadn't met him prior to him coming into the studio.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What was your first impressions of Dylan when you met him?

ROBBINS:  I thought he was an oddity.   The studio would book sessions for him for 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. at night.  Back then, there were four studio sessions that you would work on any day.  Usually you'd go in at 10 a.m. and work till 1 p.m., then take a break, then go from 2 p.m.-5 p.m., 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and then 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.   We were all used to being there on time and you'd show up and you'd get started.    Any of the country boys that would come in would be ready to start recording, but with Dylan...he would come in at 10 p.m., and say, "Alright boys...I need to finish this song, or I need to start writing this song tonight..."   So, instead of playing we'd end up walking around the hallway of the studio or we'd play a game of cards until Dylan was ready to record.  

TV STORE ONLINE:  You were the only piano player on the Nashville sessions for Blonde On Blonde correct?

ROBBINS:  That's right, but Al Kooper was there in Nashville to play the organ with us.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I've read that [Blonde On Blonde Producer] Bob Johnson made a decision to remove the studio baffles during the sessions for Blonde On Blonde so that specific instruments would leak into the recording of others, which, in turn, produced the sound that the record has today?

ROBBINS:
You know I have a vague memory of that know.   I don't recall specifically at what point that would have been done, and I can only tell you that I played on "Rainy Day Women" and a few others on Blonde On Blonde...

TV STORE ONLINE:  What can you tell me about the recording of Rainy Day Women 12 & 35?

ROBBINS:  That's the only song I can remember recording in detail with Dylan! (Laughing)   I remember it because it was a commercial hit on the radio.  Dylan had wanted the sound to be similar to that of a Salvation Army Band on that.   I can't even remember all of the musicians that played on that with us now.   Dylan had instructed us to start to hooting and hollering during the recording as well..

TV STORE ONLINE:  There is a genuine feeling of that on the record...Especially when Dylan starts to laugh in the middle of his vocal...It doesn't sound produced or rehearsed...

ROBBINS:  It wasn't.  Everyone was cutting up on that.   None of us on that were used to doing that sort of thing in the studio.   It was really fun.

TV STORE ONLINE:  And certain substances were traveling around the studio that night during the recording of Rainy Day Women 12 & 35?

ROBBINS:  (Laughing)  Well....I would say so, yes.

TV STORE ONLINE:   So everybody was getting stoned!

ROBBINS:  Well, let's just say that everybody was feelin' good! (Laughing)

TV STORE ONLINE:  Do you think that by recording Blonde On Blonde in Nashville, Dylan helped to change how the music business looked at Nashville as a hub?

ROBBINS:  I sure do.  It changed everything because after Dylan came there others followed.  Simon & Garfunkel came to record. Leonard Cohen.  Peter, Paul & Mary came.  There were so many others that followed.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Do you think that Nashville had an influence on Dylan and Blonde and Blonde?

ROBBINS:  I think so.  I'd say that our mark is certainly on that album.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Is it surprising to you that after 50 years people are still asking you about your work on Blonde On Blonde with Bob Dylan?

ROBBINS:  I am.  I don't know why it's so captivating to people like yourself, I don't know if its because of how people grew up in that era and listened to the music, but I'm certainly pleased to have been a part of it.

Interview Conducted By: Justin Bozung

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Interview with Chris Welles Feder



 Daughter of the legendary filmmaker Orson Welles, Christopher Welles Feder talks with TV STORE ONLINE about her portrait of her father in her 2009 book In My Father's Shadow: A Daughter Remembers Orson Welles...

 TV STORE ONLINE:   You worked on your book In My Father's Shadow: A Daughter Remembers Orson Welles [Algonquin Books] for quite a few years before it was published...I was wondering if you ever experienced any disconnect as the writer of the book even though Orson was your father?

WELLES FEDER:   Well, I think I had to step back in a sense.  I couldn't have written this book when I was younger because I needed that time to gain some perspective on our relationship as well as his death.   It took me six years to write the book.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What is your first memory of Orson from when you were a kid?

WELLES FEDER:   I talk a bit about it in the very beginning of the book, and it's when my father put on a magic show in Hollywood for the troops.  At his own expense he put on a magic show to entertain some troops who were on their way over to the Pacific during World War II.  I was mesmerized by all of his magic tricks as a kid.

TV STORE ONLINE:  In your book you talk about the strong connection you felt between yourself and your father, yet there are a couple insinuations that are made by your mother and I think one of your childhood schoolteachers that your relationship with him was similar to that shared between two lovers...

WELLES FEDER:  (Laughing)  Before I talk about that, I was want to remind people that my book is about how I came out from my father's shadow and about the journey I took to come to terms with having such a famous parent and how I made a life and name for myself in my own right.  When I was a teenager, I just had this tremendous crush on my dad.  It wasn't like I actually grew up with him.  I only got to see him on  school vacations.   At that point, he was a very glamorous figure to me and I saw him for that through very romantic glasses.  He was just a romantic figure that dropped in and out of my life as I was growing up.  He wasn't around to take me to the dentist or to help me with my homework.  That was what people were picking up on about that.

TV STORE ONLINE:  One of the things that I like about the book is the inner dialogue you present the reader with...It's heartbreaking to read about the situation where you wanted desperately to be invited to live with your father full-time, yet you never spoke up to ask him if you could live with him...I was wondering if you never spoke up because of the possibility of being disappointed in his answer?

WELLES FEDER:   Yes, you're absolutely right.  Of course I wanted to ask him if I could, but it would have been impossible because he was living hand-to-mouth by then and he was living in hotels traveling around Europe trying to get his films made.  It would have been impossible for him to support me or anyone else at that time in his life.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Can you imagine living that way?

WELLES FEDER:  Well, his whole life was making movies.   That was his passion, that was what he lived for. I think he liked living in hotels.  He didn't have attachments to one place or to any people.   That's the way may creative people are.  They are focused only on their art.

TV STORE ONLINE:  The most heartbreaking and moving moment in the book is in the chapter where you reconnect with Orson for the first time after many years of not seeing him in Hong Kong...

WELLES FEDER:  I think that he had become even in private-Orson Welles by then.  There was Orson Welles-the man you saw on television-and then there was my father, the man in private.  We stopped talking to each other because there was a point where that Orson Welles, who you would see talking to a journalist on television, became the man who you saw in private.   I  think that period in his life was a very difficult time for him to maintain personal relationships.   It was difficult for me at the time to understand, but I've since come to terms with it all.

Actress Rita Hayworth (L) Chris Welles (C) Orson Welles (R)
TV STORE ONLINE:   The way your Mother acts...You try to explain it throughout the book,  but I was curious to see what aspects of your personality today do you think stem from her or from your father?

WELLES FEDER:  Well, I think I've modeled myself on my father much more. I've been told that I share some of his personality traits.  He was always upbeat.  He was always optimistic.  I've chosen to be a writer and to live a creative life.  He was my model and my inspiration.

TV STORE ONLINE:  If your parents were alive today....How do you think that they would've responded to your book?

WELLES FEDER:  I don't think either of them would be very pleased.  I was honest about who my mother was in the book.  She wasn't very kind to me.  I think she would have been offended by my honesty.  My father loved to re-invent himself, and how Dorothy pulled back the curtain on the Wizard in THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939), I think he would have been disconcerted because I show him the way he really was, when he liked to present himself as if he was his own invention.

TV STORE ONLINE:  In the book you mention how you discovered certain aspects of father through his work...I was wondering if you could talk a bit about that?

WELLES FEDER:  I think that when I began to discover his films, and discover the artistry in them...It helped me to make my peace with it all.    A kid, when they're growing up doesn't want a genius.  They want a father, and by discovering his films it really gave me peace, in that, while he couldn't be the father that I wanted him to be-he left these amazing treasures for the world.  It's very consoling.   I am very proud to be his daughter for that reason.

Interview Conducted By: Justin Bozung
In My Father's Shadow can be purchased via Amazon HERE.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Director Kurt Voss on Criterion's BORDER RADIO (1987)


Co-Director Kurt Voss talks a bit about the film BORDER RADIO (1987) and working in a collective of three directors.

TV STORE ONLINE:    Where does the story for BORDER RADIO start for you?

VOSS:   Allison Anders, myself, and Dean Lent were all at USC film school together.  I had actually met Allison a few years prior though as I was a high-school drop out and when I did catch up and enroll in Junior College, Allison was enrolled there was well. 

From there, Allison and I met Dean Lent and we three became chummy and we crewed together on the short films that we made at USC.  We loved black and white, and so we teamed up because we had that commonality between us.   People that saw those said, "Hey, you guys should make a feature..."

TV STORE ONLINE:  What films inspired you early on to eventually pursue a life as a filmmaker?

VOSS:  Well, I have a pretty broad range of interests.  I can remember as a kid going to the drive-in to see John Wayne in TRUE GRIT (1969).   MEAN STREETS (1973) was another film that I saw that really had an impact on me.    In terms of some of the indie stuff, we were really inspired by films like BLOOD SIMPLE (1984) and STRANGER THAN PARADISE (1984), because when we saw those, we understood that there were people out there that were doing what we were trying to do with BORDER RADIO.

TV STORE ONLINE:  So did you go along with Allison and Dean when they went to work on PARIS, TEXAS with Wim Wenders the year before BORDER RADIO work started?

VOSS:  I didn't!  In retrospect I really wish that I had though.   At the time I thought that it was more important to stay at USC and get my degree.   I did visit the set of PARIS, TEXAS a couple times.  In fact, the scene where Harry Dean Stanton is watching the home movies of his kid and getting all teary-eyed....He was really watching some film footage of my friends dog.   That was the first time where the three of us realized that films are often made by the seat of one's pants.   We were a little dismayed by that at the time I think, but we all realized just how fun it is to work that way too.    We did a little of that on our new film, STRUTTER (2014).  There were days were we didn't know quite exactly what we were going to shoot an hour before we were to start for the day.  It's fun to wing it.  It's easier to do it when you have some experience under your belt as well.

We tried some of that early on with BORDER RADIO and we ended up basically shooting two different drafts of the movie.   We started out and we shot this sort of existential drama, and then we changed directions in the middle of it, just because we knew it would be a hard sell.  So we changed it, and brought in the rock element and made it more of a shaggy dog story.      Some of those earlier scenes that we shot are on the Criterion DVD for the film.  

TV STORE ONLINE:   Is there any truth in the rumor that actor Vic Tayback helped to finance BORDER RADIO?

VOSS:  Yes, that's true.  He and my dad were drinking buddies.    He had done really well on a television series that he was on.  He was our first stop when we were raising money to make BORDER RADIO.  He gave us a couple grand to start working, and while it wasn't a lot of money, it was a king's ransom for us because it got us started.   We were shooting on 16mm, and even back then at that time it was super expensive.   Our average lab bill was between $3,000-$4,000 dollars.  We would often have to wait 6-7 months to get our dailies out of the lab. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  When you finished the film, did you take it to Vic Tayback and what did he think of it?

VOSS:  I think we took him a work-in-progress to try to get some more money from him.  He was pretty funny because he didn't really know what to make of it.  He said, "John Doe?  Who the fuck is John Doe?  What kind of name is that?"  "This Chris D.  This is the good guy?  This brooding-looking bastard."    He didn't quite get the concept.  I did work with him again though. He was in another film I made a few years later called HORSEPLAYER (1990).  I think that was his last film that he worked on before he passed away.

TV STORE ONLINE:   If you look at BORDER RADIO via the context of when it was made, with its mood and tone....Do you think it's fair to say that PARIS, TEXAS had a direct influence on BORDER RADIO?  There is a very similar tone to both films....

VOSS:  I haven't ever thought of it as a direct influence on us, but I'd say that Wim Wenders' body of work up till that point was influential on us.   Films like ALICE IN THE CITIES (1974) and KINGS OF THE ROAD (1976), were both black and white films, and they feature an alienated hero that wanders around in an existential landscape.  Then the long, sustained takes as well, that was something that everyone was doing around that time in film.   You see that in Michelangelo Antonioni's  THE PASSENGER (1975) for example.  The entire climax of that film is a long dolly shot where all of the action takes place off camera.   No doubt though, that we were all influenced by the new German cinema.

TV STORE ONLINE:  How did you guys come across Chris D. for the film?  He's not your typical "rock star" type of guy?

VOSS:   Well, I was always a big fan of his band that he had at that time in Los Angeles called 'The Flesh Eaters'.    He was very accessible and I can't remember if it was Allison that suggested him or not, but it was a matter of walking into one of the clubs that he was playing at and handing him the script.  He was cast against type for sure, and he brought John Doe along with him to the film.   David Alvin was also a friend of Chris D. as well.  He was really pivotal in helping us cast the film.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Speaking of John Doe...What's your favorite X album of all time?

VOSS:  I'd say the first four albums.   My personal favorite would probably be the second album, 'The Wild Gift'.  

TV STORE ONLINE:   While you're shooting the film...How does the three director dynamic work? 
 
VOSS:  Well, we were really operating as the entire crew of the film.   We did have a couple extra sets of hands on a few of the scenes, but mostly it was just the three of us.  Dean was a cinematography student first and foremost, and we would all negotiate for what was in the frame.   We would talk a lot about where was the best place to set the camera up for the first shot of the scene.   We were all so busy that we really didn't even have time to argue about who should call action.  

TV STORE ONLINE:   My favorite scene in the movie is where Chris D. burns his guitar...

VOSS:  Chris D. went into town and he came back with a bottle of Tequila.   He had that guitar and he said, "I'd like to burn this on the beach."   We said, "Okay!"   He contributed so much to BORDER RADIO.

Interview Conducted By: Justin Bozung