John Boorman (born 18 January 1933) is a British filmmaker who is a long time resident of Ireland and is best known for his feature films such as Point Blank, Deliverance, Zardoz, Excalibur, The Emerald Forest, Hope and Glory, The General and The Tailor of Panama.
Boorman first began by working as a dry cleaner and journalist in the late 1950s. He ran the newsrooms at Southern Television in Southampton and Dover before moving into TV documentary filmmaking, eventually becoming the head of the BBC’s Bristol-based Documentary Unit in 1962.
His feature debut was Catch Us If You Can (1965), about competing pop group Dave Clark Five, a rip-off of Richard Lester’s ‘A Hard Days Night’. Boorman was drawn to Hollywood for the opportunity to make larger-scale cinema and in Point Blank (1967), a gritty, powerful and brutal film, he brought a stranger’s vision to the decaying fortress of Alcatraz and the proto-hippy world of San Francisco. Lee Marvin gave the then-unknown director his full support, telling MGM he deferred all his approvals on the project to Boorman.
After Point Blank, Boorman re-teamed with Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune for Hell in the Pacific (1968), which tells a fable story of two representative soldiers stranded together on an island. Returning to the UK, he made Leo the Last (US/UK, 1970). The film won him a Best Director award at Cannes.
Boorman achieved much greater resonance with Deliverance (1972), the odyssey of city people played by Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty as they trespass into the Appalachian backwoods and discover their inner savagery. This film became Boorman’s first true box office success, earning him several award nominations. He followed with the cult film Zardoz (1973), starring Sean Connery, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi piece, set in the 24th century.
Boorman was selected as director for Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), but the resultant film was widely ridiculed and regarded by many as a failure. The film is set four years after The Exorcist, and centers on a now 16-year-old Regan McNeil who is still recovering from her previous demonic possession.
Exorcist writer/producer William Peter Blatty and director William Friedkin both had no desire to involve themselves in an Exorcist sequel. According to the film’s co-producer Richard Lederer, Exorcist II was conceived as a relatively low-budget affair: “What we essentially wanted to do with the sequel was to redo the first movie… Have the central figure, an investigative priest, interview everyone involved with the exorcism, then fade out to unused footage, unused angles from the first movie. A low-budget rehash – about $3 million – of The Exorcist, a rather cynical approach to movie-making, I’ll admit. But that was the start.”
Playwright William Goodhart was commissioned to write the screenplay, titled The Heretic, and based it around the theories of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (the Jesuit paleontologist/archaeologist who inspired the character of Father Merrin when Blatty wrote The Exorcist). Boorman was unhappy with Goodhart’s script, and asked Goodhart to do a rewrite, incorporating ideas from Rospo Pallenberg. Goodhart refused, and so the script was rewritten by Pallenberg and Boorman. Goodhart’s script was being constantly rewritten as the film was shooting, with the filmmakers uncertain as to how the story should end. Actress Linda Blair recalls “It was a really good script at first. Then after everybody signed on they rewrote it five times and it ended up nothing like the same movie.”
British filmmaker Boorman signed on to direct, stating that “the idea of making a metaphysical thriller greatly appealed to my psyche.” Years before, Boorman had been considered by Warner Bros. as a possible director for the first Exorcist movie, but he turned the opportunity down as he found the story “rather repulsive.” Boorman, however, was intrigued with the idea of directing a sequel, explaining that “every film has to struggle to find a connection with its audience. Here I saw the chance to make an extremely ambitious film without having to spend the time developing this connection. I could make assumptions and then take the audience on a very adventurous cinematic journey.” He should have left it alone…
Boorman returned with Excalibur (1981), a retelling of the Arthurian legend. For the film he employed all of his children as actors and crew and several of Boorman’s later films have been ‘family business’ productions.
The Emerald Forest (1985) saw Boorman cast his actor son Charley Boorman as an eco-warrior, in a rainforest eco-adventure. Hope and Glory (1987, UK) is his most autobiographical movie to date, a retelling of his childhood in London during The Blitz. The film proved a Box Office hit in the US, receiving numerous Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations. However his 1990 US produced comedy about a dysfunctional family, Where the Heart Is, was a major flop.
Boorman won the Best Director Award at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival for The General, his black-and-white biopic of Martin Cahill. The film is about the somewhat glamorous, yet mysterious, criminal in Dublin who was killed, apparently by the IRA. Released in 2006, The Tiger’s Tail was a thriller set against the tableau of early 21st century capitalism in Ireland.
In 2004, Boorman was made a Fellow of BAFTA.
Darren Lynn Bousman (born January 11, 1979) is an American film director and screenwriter. Bousman was born in Overland Park, Kansas, the son of Nancy and Lynn Bousman. He attended high school at Shawnee Mission North High School in Overland Park, and studied film at in Winter Park, Florida.
During 2004, he was pitching an idea for a movie called The Desperate to various American studios, who complained that the screenplay was too violent, and the plot was too close to Saw. David A. Armstrong who worked on Saw asked Bousman if he could show the script to Saw producer Gregg Hoffman, who read the script and called Bousman interested in producing “The Desperate”, but after showing the script to his partners Mark Burg and Oren Koules, the two decided it would be the perfect opportunity to turn “The Desperate” into Saw II. Two months later, Bousman was flown to Toronto to direct Saw II.
During the production of Saw II, Bousman directed the music video for Mudvayne’s single “Forget to Remember”, which appeared as the lead song on the Saw II soundtrack album. Saw II was a huge hit and Bousman was signed on to direct Saw III, which was released on October 27, 2006.
After Saw III, Bousman announced that he would never direct another Saw film so that he would be free to prepare for his project Repo! the Genetic Opera, the stage version of which he had directed in 2002. Despite this, on February 19, 2007, Leigh Whannell announced that Bousman had signed on to direct Saw IV, as before shooting could begin on Repo!, there was a gap of time during which the songs were being pre-recorded, and he would be able to direct Saw IV during that period. He also directed an episode of the horror anthology show Fear Itself, entitled “New Year’s Day”, in 2008.
Bousman taught Film director newcomers in the Horror Film Boot Camp, May 7, to May 9, 2010 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Bousman directed Mother’s Day (2010) starring Rebecca De Mornay, Shawn Ashmore and Jaime King; a remake of the old 1980 Troma slasher.
In 2011, Bousman directed the awful film 11-11-11, about an author who, after the death of his wife and child, travels to Barcelona to see his estranged brother and dying father, where he learns that his life is plagued by events that occur on 11/11/11.
In 2012, Bousman reunited with Repo! writer Terrance Zdunich along with several cast members to direct The Devil’s Carnival, an interesting short film that is planned to be the first installment of a longer series. In 2012, he also directed The Barrens, a horror film about a man who takes his family on a camping trip and becomes convinced they are being stalked by the legendary monster of the New Jersey Pine Barrens: the Jersey Devil. Notable only for starring Stephen Moyer of True Blood fame.
He is currently directing the psychological thriller Ninety which follows the wrongfully accused Vernie James, who having escaped prison is thirsty for revenge. The only thing that can balance the scales for this psychopath: a rampant, cross country killing spree, all while ebbing chased by Detective Bill Denton, the cop that put Vernie James away. Bousman is better than his last few movies, he needs something fresh to show what he’s capable of; various websites have him attached to direct remakes of David Cronenberg’s The Brood and Scanners.
Meadows grew up in the Westlands Road area of Uttoxeter, Staffordshire. His father was a long distance lorry driver and his mother worked in a fish and chip shop. He attended Picknalls First School, Oldfields Hall Middle School and Thomas Alleyne’s High School. At weekends, he sold fruit and veg on a market stall in Uttoxeter market. His love of cinema was fostered by regular trips to the Elite Cinema.
Meadows left school shortly before reaching his GCSEs, and soon turned to petty crime. He moved to Nottingham when he was 20; while living there, he made roughly 30 short films with the friends he met there. He could not show these films to anyone because there were no film festivals in his area. His friends started one in the local cinema which became popular within the city.
Meadows enrolled on a Performing Arts course at Burton College, where he first met friend and future collaborator Paddy Considine. Amongst other things, they formed the band She Talks To Angels (inspired by a Black Crowes song of the same name), with Meadows as vocalist and Considine as drummer.
The vast majority of Meadows’ films have been set in the Midlands area. They recall the kitchen sink realism of filmmakers such as Ken Loach and Mike Leigh. Much of the content of his films is semi-autobiographical and based on his experiences in Uttoxeter: Twenty Four Seven was inspired by his youth, both at a boxing club, and also playing in a local football club. A Room for Romeo Brass was also inspired by his youth after his best friend, neighbour and future writing partner — had a bad accident and was bound to his bed for two years, Meadows instead hung around with some of the town’s more undesirable characters. Dead Man’s Shoes is based on the more unpleasant side of his youth in Uttoxeter. It was inspired by a close friend who had been bullied, developed a drug problem and then committed suicide. He said “I couldn’t believe that, going back ten years later, he had been totally forgotten in the town — it was as if he had never existed. I was filled with anger against the people who had bullied and pushed the drugs on him, and with despair at what drugs had done to that small community”.
His second feature-length film, Twenty Four Seven, won several awards at film festivals, including the Douglas Hickox award at the British Independent Film Awards and Best Screenplay at the Thessaloniki Film Festival. Dead Man’s Shoes, his sixth film, and third starring Paddy Considine, was nominated for a BAFTA for Best British Film. His seventh film This is England, won the British Independent Film Awards 2006 for best British independent film, and also won a BAFTA for Best British Film. Five of Meadows’ films were shown at the 2007 Flourish Festival, held annually in Uttoxeter, to mark the release of This is England (a film set in 1983).
The film has since had a series of sequels adapted into television serials, the first being This is England 86 (set in 1986 aired on Channel 4 in September 2010). A second series, This is England 88 (set in 1988) was aired in December 2011. A third and final series, This Is England ’90 (set in 1990), was originally due to be broadcast in December 2012, but in July 2012, Shane Meadows announced that the production had been put on hold in order for him to complete his documentary about Stone Roses, and the actors were still waiting for confirmation as to when filming would start.
His shortest film, The Stairwell, was shot on a mobile phone and is just 40 seconds long. It consists solely of a man and woman, played by Meadows regulars Andrew Shim and Vicky McClure, violently bumping into each other on a stairwell.
He is widely regarded as a big fan of Notts County F.C., with several references included in his films by way of imagery and background shots… always interesting, he’s the face, and future of British Independent Film.
Julius “Jules” Dassin (December 18, 1911 – March 31, 2008) was an American film director, with Jewish-Russian origins. He was a subject of the Hollywood Blacklist in the McCarthy era, and subsequently moved to France, where he revived his career.
One of eight children of Berthe Vogel and Samuel Dassin, a barber in Middletown, Connecticut, Dassin grew up in Harlem and went to Morris High School in the Bronx. He joined the Communist Party USA in the 1930’s and left it after the Hitler-Stalin Pact in 1939. He started as a Yiddish actor with the ARTEF (Yiddish Proletarian Theater) company in New York.
Dassin quickly became better known for his noir films Brute Force, The Naked City, and Thieve’s Highway in the 1940’s, which helped him to become “one of the leading American filmmakers of the postwar era.”
In 1937 he married Beatrice Launer, with whom he had three children. In May 1955 he met Melina Mercouri at the Cannes Film Festival; at bout the same time, he discovered the literary works of Nikos Kazantzakis; these two elements created a bond with Greece. He divorced Launer in 1962 and married Mercouri in 1966. The couple had to leave Greece after the colonels’ coup in 1967. In 1970, they were accused of having financed an attempt to overthrow the dictatorship, but the charges were quickly dropped. Dassin and Mercouri lived in New York City during the 1970’s; then, when the general’s dictatorship in Greece fell in 1974, they returned to Greece and lived out their lives there. While Mercouri became involved with politics and won a parliamentary seat, Dassin stayed with movie-making in Europe but found time in the U.S. to make another movie, the racial drama Up Tight!, which would be his last American film.
After he was blacklisted from Hollywood, Dassin found work in France where he was asked to direct Rififi. Despite his distaste for parts of the original novel, Dassin agreed to direct the film. He shot Rififi while working with a low budget, without a star cast, and with the production staff working for low wages. It was to become his most influential film; Rififi (Du rififi chez les hommes) is a 1955 French film adaptation of Auguste le Breton’s novel of the same name. The film stars Jean Servais as the aging gangster Tony le Stéphanois, Carl Möhner as Jo le Suédois, Robert Manuel as Mario Farrati, and Jules Dassin as César le Milanais. The plot revolves around a burglary at a jewelry shop in the Rue de Rivoli, Tony, Jo, Mario, and César band together to commit the almost impossible theft. The centerpiece of the film is an intricate half hour heist scene depicting the crime in detail, shot in near silence, without dialogue or music. The fictional burglary has been mimicked by criminals in actual crimes around the world.
Upon the initial release of the film, it received positive reactions from audiences and critics in France, the United States, and the United Kingdom. The film earned Dassin the award for Best Director at the 1955 Cannes Film Festival; it was nominated by the National Board of Review for Best Foreign Film. Rififi was re-released theatrically in 2000 and is still highly acclaimed by modern film critics as one of the greatest works in French film noir. It inspired later heist films, such as Ocean’s Eleven and Mission: Impossible; another piece it inspired was Dassin’s own heist film Topkapi, filmed in France and Istanbul, Turkey with Melina Mercouri and Oscar winner Peter Ustinov.
Dassin died aged 96, in 2008 from complications from a case of flu; he is survived by his two daughters and his grandchildren.
Richard O. Fleischer (December 8, 1916 – March 25, 2006) was an American film director. Fleischer was born in Brooklyn, the son of Essie (née Goldstein) and animator/producer Max Fleischer. He started in motion pictures as director of animated shorts produced by his father including entries in the Betty Boop, Popeye and Superman series.
His live-action film career began in 1942 at the RKO studio, directing shorts, documentaries, and compilations of forgotten silent features, which he called Flicker Flashbacks. He won an Academy Award as producer of the 1947 documentary Design for Death, co-written by Theodor Geisel (later known as Dr. Seuss), which examined the cultural forces that led to Japan’s imperial expansion through World War II.
Fleischer directed his first feature in 1946. His other early films were taut film noir thrillers such as Bodyguard (1948), The Clay Pigeon (1949), Armored Car Robbery (1950), and The Narrow Margin (1952). In 1948, Fleischer also directed So This Is New York, a cynically sophisticated comedy. In 1954, he was chosen by Walt Disney (his father’s former rival as a cartoon producer) to direct 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea starring Kirk Douglas, James Mason and Peter Lorre. It was a great success with both the critics and the public. As a result, Fleischer became known for big features, often employing special effects, such as Barabbas (1961), Fantastic Voyage (1966), Doctor Dolittle (1967), and Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970). He also directed many action adventures such as Violent Saturday (1955), Bandido (1956), The Vikings (1958), and Mr. Majestyk (1974).
However, Fleischer also directed a superb trilogy of films centering on famous serial killers and focusing on the theme of capital punishment:
Compulsion (1959), in which Artie Strauss (Bradford Dillman) and Judd Steiner (Dean Stockwell) kill a boy on his way home from school in order to commit the “perfect crime”. Strauss tries to cover it up, but they are caught when police find a key piece of evidence – Steiner’s glasses, which he left at the scene of the crime.
The Boston Strangler (1968), which starred Tony Curtis as Albert DeSalvo, the strangler, and Henry Fonda as John S. Bottomly, the chief detective now famed for obtaining DeSalvo’s confession. The first part of the film shows the police investigation, with some examples of the seedier side of Boston life, including promiscuity in the adult quarters of the city. The second part shows the apprehension of DeSalvo. Bottomly’s intent is to answer the question presented in the film’s famous print ad: Why did 13 women open their doors to the Boston Strangler?
10 Rillington Place (1971), which dramatises the case of British serial killer John Christie (Richard Attenborough), who committed most or all of his crimes in the titular apartment, and the miscarriage of justice involving Timothy Evans. The film relies on the same argument advanced by Ludovic Kennedy in his book Ten Rillington Place, that Evans was innocent of the murders and was framed by Christie. That argument has now been accepted by the Crown, when Evans was officially pardoned by Roy Jenkins in 1966. The case is one of the first major miscarriages of justice known to have occurred in the immediate post-war period.
He also helmed Soylent Green (1973), a cautionary tale starring Charlton Heston and, in his final film, Edward G. Robinson. The film depicts the investigation into the murder of a wealthy businessman in a dystopian future suffering from pollution, overpopulation, depleted resources, poverty, dying oceans, and a hot climate due to the greenhouse effect. Much of the population survives on processed food rations, including the mysterious “soylent green”.
Fleischer was chairman of Fleischer Studios, which today handles the licensing of Betty Boop and Koko the Clown. In June 2005, he released his memoirs of his father’s career in Out of the Inkwell: Max Fleischer and the Animation Revolution. Fleischer’s 1993 autobiography, Just Tell Me When to Cry, described his many difficulties with actors, writers and producers.
He died in his sleep in 2006, aged 89, after having been in failing health for the better part of a year.
Terrence Frederick Malick (born November 30, 1943) is an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. In a career spanning over four decades, Malick has received consistent regard for his work, having to date directed only six feature films: Badlands (1973), Days of Heaven (1978), The Thin Red Line (1998), The New World (2005), The Tree of Life (2011), and the forthcoming To the Wonder (2012).
Malick was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Director for The Thin Red Line and The Tree of Life and Best Adapted Screenplay for The Thin Red Line, as well as winning the Golden Bear at the 49th Berlin International Film Festival for The Thin Red Lineand the Palme d’Or at the 64th Cannes Film Festival for The Tree of Life.
Notoriously private, details about Malick are difficult to come by, his birthplace could be either Ottawa, Illinois or Waco, Texas, depending on which information you choose to believe. He is the son of Irene and Emil A. Malick, a geologist. Malick had two younger brothers: Chris and Larry. Larry Malick was a guitarist who went to study in Spain with the legendary Segovia in the late 1960’s. In 1968, it is alleged that Larry intentionally broke his own hands due to pressure over his musical studies. Emil went to Spain to help Larry, but Larry died shortly after, apparently committing suicide. Themes revisited by Malick in 2011.
Malick studied philosophy at Harvard University, graduating in 1965. He went on to Magdalen College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar but left without earning a doctorate. Upon returning to the United States, Malick taught philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology while freelancing as a journalist for Life, Newsweek and The New Yorker.
Malick’s start in film began after earning an Master of Fine Arts from the AFI Conservatory in 1969, writing and directing the short film Lanton Mills. At the AFI, he established contacts with longtime collaborator Jack Fisk, and agent Mike Medavoy, who procured for Malick freelance work revising scripts.
After one of his screenplays, Deadhead Miles, was made into what Paramount Pictures felt to be an unreleasable film, Malick decided to direct his own scripts. His first directorial work was the superlative Badlands (1973), an independent film starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek as a young couple on a crime spree in the 1950’s. After a troubled production, Badlands drew raves at its premiere at the New York Film Festival, leading to Warner Bros. Pictures buying distribution rights for three times its budget.
Paramount Pictures produced Malick’s second film, Days of Heaven (1978), about a love triangle that develops in the farm country of the Texas Panhandle in the early 20th century. The film spent two years in post-production, during which Malick and his crew experimented with unconventional editing and voice-over techniques. Days of Heaven went on to win the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, as well as the prize for Best Director at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival.
Following the release of Days of Heaven, Malick began developing a project for Paramount, titled Q, that explored the origins of life on earth. During pre-production, he suddenly moved to Paris and disappeared from public view. During this time, he wrote a number of screenplays, including The English Speaker; adaptations of Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer and Larry McMurtry’s The Desert Rose; a script about Jerry Lee Lewis; and continued work on the Q script. Malick’s work on Q eventually became the basis for his 2011 film The Tree of Life.
Twenty years after Days of Heaven, Malick returned to film directing in 1998 with The Thin Red Line (1998), a loose adaptation of the James Jones World War II novel of the same name, for which he gathered a large ensemble of famous stars. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and received critical acclaim.
After learning of Malick’s work on an article about Che Guevara during the 1960’s, Steven Soderbergh offered Malick the chance to write and direct a film about Guevara that he had been developing with Benicio del Toro. Malick accepted and produced a screenplay focused on Guevara’s failed revolution in Bolivia. After a year and a half, the financing had not come together entirely, and Malick was given the opportunity to direct The New World, another script he had begun developing in the 1970’s. Consequently, he left the Guevara project and Soderbergh went on to direct Che Parts 1 and 2.
The New World, which featured a romantic interpretation of the story of John Smith and Pocahontas, was released in 2005. Over one million feet of film was shot for the film, and three different cuts of varying length were released. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, but received generally mixed reviews during its theatrical run, though it has since been hailed as one of the best films of the decade.
Malick’s fifth feature, The Tree of Life, was filmed in Smithville, Texas, and elsewhere during 2008. Starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, it is a family drama spanning multiple time periods and focuses on an individual’s reconciling love, mercy and beauty with the existence of sickness, suffering and death. It premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival where it won the coveted Palme d’Or.
Malick’s sixth feature, titled To the Wonder, premiered at the 2012 Venice Film Festival where it garnered mixed reviews.
Malick’s next two projects are Lawless and Knight of Cups. Lawless stars Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. Knight of Cups will star Bale, and will also feature Blanchett. The films are being shot back-to-back. In early 2012, the title “Lawless” was given to The Weinstein Company’s The Wettest County, leaving Malick’s Lawless untitled.
Stanley A. Long (26 November 1933 – 10 September 2012) was a British Exploitation cinema and sexploitation filmmaker. He was a writer, cinematographer, editor, and eventually, producer/director of low-budget exploitation movies.
Long began his career as a photographer, before producing striptease shorts or “glamour home movies”, as they were sometimes known, for the 8 mm market. Beginning in the late fifties, Long’s feature film career would span the entire history of the British sex film, and as such exemplifies its differing trends and attitudes. From coy nudist films (Nudist Memories, 1959), to moralizing documentary (The Wife Swappers, 1969) to a more relaxed attitude to permissive material (Naughty, 1971), to out and out comedies at the end of the 1970’s.
He made several sex comedy movies in the 1970s, the most successful being Adventures of a Taxi Driver (1975), Adventures of a Private Eye (1977) and Adventures of a Plumber’s Mate (1978), starring a host of comedy performers including, Diana Dors, Irene Handl and Harry H. Corbett.
Long also made horror films. He made the anthology movie Screamtime in 1983 and was due to film a Jo Gannon script entitled Plasmid, about albino mutants living in London’s Underground. While the film was never made, confusingly a tie-in novel of Plasmid was released.
Long was also the cameraman on several British horror movies of the 1960s including The Blood Beast Terror, a 1967 horror film released by Tigon in February 1968. In the United States it was released by Pacemaker Pictures on a double-bill with Slaughter of the Vampires as The Vampire-Beast Craves Blood. Long also worked, uncredited, on the classic Repulsion (1965), a British psychological horror film directed by Roman Polanski, based on a scenario by Gérard Brach and Polanski. It was Polanski’s first English language film, and was filmed in London. The cast includes Catherine Deneuve, Ian Hendry, John Fraser and Yvonne Furneaux. Polanski himself makes a cameo as a spoon player among a trio of street buskers.
Long also helped make The Sorcerers (1967), a science fiction/horror film directed by Michael Reeves, starring Boris Karloff, Ian Ogilvy and Susan George, from an original story and screenplay by John Burke. Reeves and his childhood friend Tom Baker (not the Doctor Who star) re-wrote sections of the screenplay, including the ending. Long was strapped to the top of a car to film one sequence.
Long retired from film directing in the early 1980’s, however in 2006 he briefly returned to direct The Other Side of the Screen a one-off documentary about various aspects of film making, hosted by Paul Martin, star of Flog It!.
The “Adventures of” comedies were released to DVD on 2 June 2008. The following year several of his other sex films, On the Game, Sex and the Other Woman and This That and the Other were also released on DVD for the very first time.
Long was interviewed for the BBC’s Balderdash and Piffle programme (broadcast 25 May 2007), and the British horror and comedy episodes of the British Films Forever series (“Magic, Murder and Monsters” broadcast 25 August 2007, “Sauce, Satire and Sillyness” broadcast 9 September 2007). Simon Sheridan’s long-awaited biography of Long – X-Rated – Adventures of an Exploitation Filmmaker – was published in July 2008.
Henri-Georges Clouzot (November 20, 1907 – January 12, 1977) was a French film director, screenwriter and producer. He is best remembered for his work in the thriller film genre, having directed The Wages of Fear (1953) and Les Diaboliques (1954), which are critically recognized to be among the greatest films from the 1950’s. Clouzot also directed documentary films, including The Mystery of Picasso (1956), which was declared a national treasure by the government of France.
Clouzot was an early fan of the cinema and, desiring a career as a writer, moved to Paris. He was later hired by producer Adolphe Osso to work in Berlin, writing French-language versions of German films. After being fired from German studios due to his friendship with Jewish producers, Clouzot returned to France, where he spent years bedridden after contracting tuberculosis. Upon recovering, Clouzot found work in Nazi occupied France as a screenwriter for the German-owned company Continental Films, where he wrote and directed films that were very popular in France. His second film Le Corbeau (1943) drew controversy over its harsh look at provincial France and Clouzot was fired from Continental before its release. As a result of his association with Continental, Clouzot was barred by the French government from filmmaking until 1947.
After the ban was lifted, Clouzot re-established his reputation and popularity in France during the late 1940’s with successful films including Quai des Orfèvres (1947), Manon (1949), Retour à la Vie (1949), and the comedy film Miquette et Sa Mère (1950).
In the early and mid-1950’s, Clouzot drew acclaim from international critics and audiences for his two best films, The Wages of Fear (1953) and Les Diaboliques (1954). In order to gain as much independence as possible, Clouzot created his own production company called Véra Films, which he named after his wife. The Wages of Fear starring Yves Montand, is based on a 1950 novel by Georges Arnaud. When a South American oil well owned by an American company catches fire, the company hires four European men, down on their luck, to drive two trucks over mountain dirt roads, carrying the nitroglycerine needed to extinguish the fire.
Clouzot’s next big hit wasthe thriller Diabolique, to which he managed to sign the rights too only moments before director Alfred Hitchcock. Diabolique stars Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzet and Paul Meurisse, and is based on the novel Celle qui n’était plus (She Who Was No More). The story blends elements of thriller and horror, which involves the story of a cruel headmaster who brutalizes his wife and his mistress. The two women murder him and dump his body in a swimming pool, but when the pool is drained, no corpse is found.
Both films would serve as source material for remakes decades later, most famously Wages of Fear was remade by William Friedkin as Sorcerer (1977).
Clouzet followed up with the documentary The Mystery of Picasso (1956), Les Espions (1957) and the Bridgitte Bardot starring La Vérité (1960), after which Clouzot’s wife Véra died of a heart attack and Clouzot’s career suffered due to depression, illness and new critical views of films from the French New Wave. Clouzot’s career became less active in later years, limited to a few television documentaries and two feature films in the 1960’s, one of which, L’Enfer (1964) remained unfinished until a release in 2009. Clouzot wrote several unused scripts in the 1970’s and died in Paris in 1977.
The Frighteners was regarded as a commercial failure. In February 1997, Jackson launched legal proceedings against the New Zealand Listener magazine for defamation, over a review of The Frighteners which claimed that the film was “built from the rubble of other people’s movies”. In the end, the case was not pursued further. Around this time Jackson’s remake of King Kong was shelved by Universal Studios, allegedly because Mighty Joe Young and Godzilla, both giant monster movies, that had already gone into production. Universal feared it would be thrown aside by the two higher budget movies.
Peter Jackson won the rights to film J. R. R. Tolkien’s epic in 1997 after meeting with producer Saul Zaentz. Originally working with Miramax towards a two-film production, Jackson was later pressured to render the story as a single film, and finally overcame a tight deadline by making a last minute deal with New Line, who were keen on a trilogy.
With the benefit of extended post-production and extra periods of shooting before each film’s release, the series met huge success and sent Jackson’s popularity soaring. The final installment, The Return of the King itself met with huge critical acclaim, winning eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. The film was the first of the fantasy film genre to win the award for Best Picture and was the second sequel to win Best Picture (the first being The Godfather Part II).
Universal Studios signed Peter Jackson for a second time to remake the 1933 classic King Kong, the film that inspired him to become a film director as a child. He was reportedly paid a fee of US$20 million upfront, the highest salary ever paid to date to a film director in advance of production, against a 20 percent take of the box-office rentals (the portion of the price of the ticket that goes to the film distributor, in this case Universal). The film was released on 14 December 2005, and grossed around US$550 million worldwide.
Jackson completed an adaptation of Alice Sebold’s bestseller, The Lovely Bones, which was released in the United States on 11 December 2009. Jackson has said the film was a welcome relief from his larger-scale epics. The storyline’s combination of fantasy aspects and themes of murder bears some similarities to Heavenly Creatures. The film was an anticipated Best Picture Oscar contender, but ended up receiving poor reviews and middling box office returns. It currently holds a 32% rotten on Rotten Tomatoes.
Jackson is the main producer on The Adventures of Tintin, directed by Steven Spielberg. He is officially labeled as producer but helped Spielberg, before he began working on the script for The Hobbit. He also supervised Weta Digital on the post production of the film. In December 2011, Spielberg confirmed a sequel to his 3D movie will be made and are said to be based on The Seven Crystal Balls and Prisoners of the Sun. He explained the Thompson detectives will “have a much bigger role”. The sequel will be produced by Spielberg and directed by Jackson.
Jackson’s involvement in the making of a film version of The Hobbit has a long and chequered history. In November 2006, a letter from Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh stated that due to an ongoing legal dispute between Wingnut Films (Jackson’s production company) and New Line Cinema, Jackson would not be directing the film. New Line Cinema’s head Robert Shaye commented that Jackson “…will never make any movie with New Line Cinema again while I’m still working at the company…” This prompted an online call for a boycott of New Line Cinema, and by August 2007 Shaye was trying to repair his working relationship. On 18 December 2007, it was announced that Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema had reached agreement to make two prequels, both based on The Hobbit, and to be released in 2012 and 2013 with Jackson as a writer and executive producer and Guillermo del Toro directing.
However, in early 2010, del Toro dropped out of directing the film because of production delays and a month later Jackson was back in negotiations to direct The Hobbit; and on October 15 he was finalised as the director, with New Zealand confirmed as the location a couple of weeks later. The film started production on March 20, 2011. On July 30, 2012, Peter Jackson announced via his Facebook page that the two planned ‘Hobbit’ movies would be expanded into a trilogy. The third film will not act as a bridge between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings films, but would continue to expand The Hobbit story by using material found in the Lord of the Rings Appendices. The films are The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013), and The Hobbit: There and Back Again (2014).
Jackson was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2002. He was later knighted (as a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit) at a ceremony in Wellington in April, 2010.
Sir Peter Robert Jackson, ONZ, KNZM (born 31 October 1961) is a New Zealand film director, producer, actor, and screenwriter, who is mainly known for his The Lord of the Rings film trilogy (2001 to 2003), adapted from the novel by J. R. R. Tolkien.
He won international attention early in his career with his horror comedies beginning with Bad Taste (1987), Meet the Feebles (1989), and Braindead (1992) before coming to mainstream prominence with Heavenly Creatures (1994), for which he shared an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay nomination with his wife, Fran Walsh. Jackson has been awarded three Academy Awards in his career, including the award for Best Director in 2003; he also won the BAFTA, Golden Globe and Saturn Award for Best Direction the same year.
Jackson was born on 31 October 1961. He grew up in Pukerua Bay, a coastal town near Wellington. As a child, Jackson was a keen film fan, growing up on Ray Harryhausen films as well as finding inspiration in the television series Thunderbirds and Monty Python’s Flying Circus. After a family friend gave the Jacksons a Super 8 cine-camera with Peter in mind, he began making short films with his friends. Jackson has long cited King Kong as his favourite film and around the age of nine he attempted to remake it using his own stop-motion models.
When he was 16 years old, Jackson left school and began working full-time as a photo-engraver for the local newspaper. For the 7 years he worked there, Jackson lived at home with his parents so he could save as much money as possible to spend on filming equipment. After two years of work Jackson bought a 16 mm camera, and began shooting a short film that later became Bad Taste.
Over four years (from 1983 to 1987) Jackson’s first feature, Bad Taste, grew in haphazard fashion from a short film into a 90-minute splatter-comedy, with many of Jackson’s friends acting and working on it for free. Shooting was normally done in the weekends since Jackson was now working full-time. Bad Taste is about aliens that come to earth with the intention of turning humans into food. Jackson had two acting roles including a famous scene in which he fights himself on top of a cliff.
The film was finally completed thanks to a late injection of finance from the New Zealand Film Commission, after Jim Booth, the body’s executive director, became convinced of Jackson’s talent (Booth later left the Commission to become Jackson’s producer). In May 1987, Bad Taste was unveiled at the Cannes Film Festival, where rights to the film quickly sold to twelve countries.
Around this time Peter Jackson began working on writing a number of film scripts, in varied collaborative groupings with playwright Stephen Sinclair, writer Fran Walsh and writer/actor Danny Mulheron. Walsh would later become his wife.
Jackson’s next film to see release was Meet the Feebles (1989), co-written by the four writers mentioned above. An ensemble musical comedy starring Muppet-style puppets, Meet the Feebles originally began as a short film intended for television, but was rapidly expanded into a full-length film after unexpected enthusiasm from Japanese investors, and the collapse of Braindead, six weeks before filming. Begun on a very low budget, Meet the Feebles went weeks over schedule. Jackson stated of his second feature length film, “It’s got a quality of humour that alienates a lot of people. It’s very black, very satirical, very savage.”
Jackson’s next release was the horror comedy Braindead (1992) (released in North America as Dead Alive), now seen as a landmark in splatter movies. Originally planned as a Spanish co-production, the film reversed the usual zombie plot. Rather than keeping the zombies out of his place of refuge, the hero attempts to keep them inside, while maintaining a façade of normality. The film features extensive special effects including miniature trams, stop motion and a plethora of gory make-up effects.
Released in 1994 after Jackson won a race to bring the story to the screen, Heavenly Creatures marked a major change for Jackson in terms of both style and tone. The film is based on real-life events: namely the Parker-Hulme murder in which two teenage girls in 1950s Christchurch murdered the mother of one of the girls. Jackson’s partner Fran Walsh helped persuade him that the events had the makings of a movie; Jackson has been quoted saying that the film “only got made” because of her enthusiasm for the subject matter. The success of Heavenly Creatures won Jackson attention from Miramax, who promoted the film vigorously in America and signed the director to a first-look deal.
The following year, in collaboration with Wellington film-maker Costa Botes, Jackson co-directed the mockumentary Forgotten Silver (1995). This ambitious made-for-television piece told the story of New Zealand film pioneer who had supposedly invented colour film and ‘talkies’, before being forgotten by the world. Though the programme played in a slot normally reserved for drama, no other warning was given that it was fictionalised and many viewers were outraged at discovering Colin McKenzie had never existed.
The success of Heavenly Creatures helped pave the way for Jackson’s first big budget Hollywood film, The Frighteners starring Michael J. Fox, in 1996. This period was a key one of change for both Jackson and Weta Workshop, the special effects company, born from the one man contributions of George Port to Heavenly Creatures, with which Jackson is often associated. Weta, initiated by Jackson and key collaborators, grew rapidly during this period to incorporate both digital and physical effects, make-up and costumes, the first two areas normally commanded by Jackson collaborator Richard Taylor.
Donald Siegel (October 26, 1912 – April 20, 1991) was an American film director and producer. His name variously appeared in the credits of his films as both Don Siegel and Donald Siegel. He was best known for the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and five films with Clint Eastwood, including Dirty Harry (1971) and Escape from Alcatraz (1979).
Born in Chicago, with Jewish origins, he attended schools in New York and later graduated from Jesus College, Cambridge in England. For a short time he studied at Beaux Arts in Paris, France, but left at age 20 and later made his way to Los Angeles.
Siegel found work in the Warner Bros. film library after meeting producer Hal Wallis, and later rose to head of the Montage Department, where he directed thousands of montages, including the opening montage for Casablanca. In 1945 two shorts he directed, Hitler Lives? and Star in the Night, won Academy Awards, which launched his career as a feature director.
He directed whatever material came his way, often transcending the limitations of budget and script to produce interesting and adept works. He made the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers in 1956. He directed two episodes of The Twilight Zone, “The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross” and “Uncle Simon”. He worked with Elvis Presley on Flaming Star (1960), with Steve McQueen in Hell Is for Heroes and Lee Marvin in the influential The Killers (1964) before directing a series of five films with Clint Eastwood that were commercially successful in addition to being well received by critics.
These included the police thrillers Coogan’s Bluff and Dirty Harry, the Western Two Mules for Sister Sara, the cynical American Civil War melodrama The Beguiled and the prison-break picture Escape from Alcatraz. He was a considerable influence on Eastwood’s own career as a director, and Eastwood’s film Unforgiven is dedicated “for Don (Siegel) and Sergio (Leone)”.
He had a long collaboration with composer Lalo Schiffrin, who scored five of his films: Coogan’s Bluff, The beguiled, Dirty Harry, Charley Varrick and Telefon. Schifrin composed and recorded what would have been his sixth score for Siegel on Jinxed! (1982), but it was rejected by the studio despite Siegel’s objections. This was one of several fights Siegel had on this, his last film.
Siegel was also important in the career of director Sam Peckinpah. In 1954, Peckinpah was hired as a dialogue coach for Riot in Cell Block 11, his job entailed acting as an assistant for the director, Siegel. The film was shot on location at Folsom Prison; Siegel’s location work and his use of actual prisoners as extras in the film made a lasting impression on Peckinpah. He worked as a dialogue coach on four additional Siegel films: Private Hell 36 (1954), An Annapolis Story (1955), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and Crime in the Streets (1956).
25 years later, Peckinpah was all but banished from the industry due to his troubled film productions. Siegel gave the director a chance to return to filmmaking. He asked Peckinpah if he would be interested in directing 12 days of second unit work on Jinxed!. Peckinpah immediately accepted, and his earnest collaboration with his longtime friend was noted within the industry. While Peckinpah’s work was uncredited, it would lead to his hiring as the director of his final film The Osterman Weekend (1983).
Siegel has a cameo role as a bartender in Eastwood’s Play Misty For Me, and in Philip Kaufman’s 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a remake of Siegel’s own 1956 film, he appears as a “pod” taxi driver. He died at the age of 78 from cancer in Nipomo, California.
Daniel “Danny” Boyle (born 20 October 1956) is an English film director and producer, best known for his work on films such as Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours. Boyle won numerous awards for his 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire, including the Academy Award for Best Director. Boyle was presented with the Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking Award at the 2008 Austin Film festival, where he also introduced that year’s AFF Audience Award Winner Slumdog Millionaire. In 2012, Boyle was the Artistic Director for Isles of Wonder, the exceptional opening ceremony of the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games.
Daniel Boyle was born on 20 October 1956 in Radcliffe, Lancashire. Although he now describes himself as a “spiritual atheist”, he was raised in a working-class Catholic environment by his English father and Irish mother. Boyle was an altar boy for eight years and his mother had the priesthood in mind for her son, but aged 14 he was persuaded by a local priest not to transfer from his local school to a seminary near Wigan. He has said of the decision:
“Whether he was saving me from the priesthood or the priesthood from me, I don’t know. But quite soon after, I started doing drama. And there’s a real connection, I think. All these directors — Martin Scorsese, John Woo, M. Night Shyamalan — they were all meant to be priests. There’s something very theatrical about it. It’s basically the same job — poncing around, telling people what to think.”
He later studied at Thornleigh Salesian College in Bolton, and at Bangor University. Upon leaving school he began his career at the Joint Stock Theatre Company, before moving onto the Royal Court Theatre in 1982 where he directed The Genius by Howard Brenton and Saved by Edward Bond. He also directed five productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company. In 2011 he returned to the Theatre to direct Frankenstein for the National Theatre. This production was broadcast to cinemas as a part of National Theatre Live on 17 March 2011.
In 1982 Boyle started working in television as a producer for BBC Northern Ireland where he produced, amongst other TV films, Alan Clarke’s controversial Elephant before becoming a director on shows such as Arise And Go Now, Not Even God Is Wise Enough, For The Greater Good, Scout and two episodes of Inspector Morse. He was also responsible for the BBC2 series Mr. Wroe’s Virgins.
“It had eviscerated my brain, completely. I was an impressionable twenty-one-year-old guy from the sticks. My brain had not been fed and watered with great culture, you know, as art is meant to do. It had been sandblasted by the power of cinema. And that’s why cinema, despite everything we try to do, it remains a young man’s medium, really, in terms of audience.”
The first movie Boyle directed was Shallow Grave, the film was the most commercially successful British film of 1995. Working with writer John Hodge and producer Andrew Macdonald, Shallow Grave earned Boyle the Best Newcomer Award from the 1996 London Film Critics Circle, and it’s success led to the production of Trainspotting, based on the novel by Irvine Welsh. Shallow Grave and Trainspotting caused critics to claim that Boyle had revitalised British cinema in the early 90s.
He then moved to Hollywood and sought a production deal with a major US studio. He declined an offer to direct the fourth film of the Alien franchise, instead making A Life Less Ordinary using British finance. the film was his third with Scottish actor Ewan MacGregor, who was scheduled to appear in Boyle’s next movie before being axed in favour of Leonardo DiCaprio. Boyle’s next project was an adaptation of the cult novel The Beach. Filmed in Thailand, the casting of the film led to a feud with Ewan McGregor, star of his first three films.
He then collaborated with The Beach author Alex Garland on the post-apocalyptic horror film 28 Days Later. In between the films The Beach and 28 Days Later, Boyle directed two TV movies for the BBC in 2001, Vacuuming Completely Nude In Paradise and Strumpet. He also appeared on Top Gear and drove the fastest wet lap at that time.
He also directed a short film Alien Love Triangle (starring Kenneth Branagh), and was intended to be one of three shorts within a feature film. However the project was cancelled after the two other shorts were made into feature films: Mimic starring Mira Sorvino and Imposter starring Gary Sinise.
In 2004 Boyle directed Millions, a wonderful, but sadly overlooked family film. His next collaboration with Alex Garland was the science-fiction film Sunshine (2007), featuring 28 Days Later star Cillian Murphy. Then in 2008 he directed his biggest commercial and critical hit Slumdog Millionaire, the story of an impoverished child (Dev Patel) on the streets of Mumbai, India who competes on India’s version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, for which Boyle won an Academy Award, the film won eight Academy Awards in total. “To be a film-maker…you have to lead. You have to be psychotic in your desire to do something. People always like the easy route. You have to push very hard to get something unusual, something different.” Andrew Macdonald, producer of Trainspotting, said “Boyle takes a subject that you’ve often seen portrayed realistically, in a politically correct way, whether it’s junkies or slum orphans, and he has managed to make it realistic but also incredibly uplifting and joyful.”
In 2010, Boyle directed the film 127 Hours, starring James franco in his finest performance. It was based on Aron Ralston’s autobiography Between a Rock and a Hard Place, which detailed his struggle of being trapped under a boulder while canyoning alone in Blue John Canyon, south eastern Utah, and resorting to desperate measures in order to survive. The film was released on 5 November 2010 to critical acclaim, and received six nominations at the 83rd Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay for Boyle and Best Actor for Franco.
Boyle’s next film is called Trance, is about a fine art auctioneer mixed up with a gang joins forces with a hypnotherapist to recover a lost painting.
Boyle was Artistic Director for the 2012 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony in London. Over the years, Olympic Opening Ceremonies have become multi-million pound theatrical shows, which have become known for their extravagance and pageantry to celebrate the start of the largest multi-sport event in the world. The ceremony, entitled Isles of Wonder, charted aspects of British culture, including the Industrial Revolution and British contributions to literature, music, film and technology. Reception to the ceremony was generally positive, both nationally in the United Kingdom and internationally.
Boyle is a trustee of the UK-based, African arts charity Dramatic Need. He has flirted with another installment of the 28 Days Later franchise. Boyle has stated previously that in theory it will be a sequel titled 28 Months Later, but alluded to a film taking place somewhere else in the world he created in 28 Days Later & 28 Weeks Later.
Jonathan Kolia “Jon” Favreau (born October 19, 1966) is an American actor, director, screenwriter, voice artist, and comedian. As an actor, he is best known for his roles in Rudy, Swingers (which he also wrote), Very Bad Things. His directorial efforts include Elf, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and Cowboys & Aliens.
Favreau was born Jonathan Kolia Favreau in Flushing, Queens, New York, the son of Madeleine, an elementary school teacher, and Charles Favreau, a special education teacher. Favreau graduated from the Bronx high School of Science in 1984 and attended Queens College from 1984 to 1987, before dropping out. He dropped out of college for good (a few credits shy of completing his degree), and in the summer of 1988, moved to Chicago where he performed at several Chicago improvisational theatres.
While in Chicago, Favreau landed his first film role in the sleeper hit Rudy (1993). Favreau met Vince Vaughn, who played a small role in this film – during shooting. The next year, he appeared with Jeremy Piven in the college film PCU, and also stepped into the world of television in the 1994 episode of Seinfeld. He then moved to Los Angeles, where he made his breakthrough in 1996 as an actor-screenwriter with the film Swingers, which was also Vaughn’s breakthrough role as the glib and extremely confident Trent Walker, a perfect foil to Favreau’s heartbroken Mike Peters.
He rejoined Piven in 1998 as part of Very Bad Things (1998). In 1999, he starred in the TV movie Rocky Marciano, based on the life of the only undefeated world heavyweight champion. He later appeared in Love & Sex (2000), co-starring Famke Janssen. He also got some screen time as lawyer Foggy Nelson in the movie Daredevil (2003).
In 2001, he made his (film) directorial debut with another self-penned screenplay, Made, which once again teamed him up with his Swingers co-star Vince Vaughn. In the fall of 2003, he scored his first financial success as a director of the hit comedy Elf starring Will ferrell (my son loves it). In 2005, Favreau directed the Zathura. He reunited with friend Vince Vaughn in the much-hyped hit romantic comedy The Break-Up and appeared in My Name Is Earl as a reprehensible fast food manager.
Also in 2005, Favreau appeared as a guest judge and executive representative of Sony corporation in week five of NBC primetime reality TV business show, The Apprentice. He was called upon to judge the efforts of the show’s two teams of contestants, who were assigned the task of designing and building a float to publicise his 2005 Sony Pictures movie, Zathura. Favreau also has a TV series called Dinner for Five on the cable TV channel IFC.
On April 28, 2006, it was announced that Favreau was signed to direct the long awaited Iron Man movie. Released on May 2, 2008, the film was a huge critical and commercial success, solidifying Favreau’s reputation as a director. Iron Man was the firstMarvel produced movie under their alliance with Paramount, and Favreau served as the director and an executive producer. During early scenes in Iron Man Favreau appears as Tony Stark’s loyal friend, and driver, Happy Morgan. He also wrote a mini-series for Marvel Knights titled Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas, that started in September 2008, before returning to direct the sequel Iron Man 2.
Favreau co-starred in 2009’s Couple’s Retreat, a comedy chronicling four couples who partake in therapy sessions at a tropical island resort, which he also wrote. The film saw him reunited him once more with co-star Viince Vaughn. He voices the character Pre Vizsla, the leader of the Mandalorian Death Watch, in the episodes of the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Favreau said in December 2010 that he would not direct Iron Man 3, instead opting to direct Magic Kingdom, though he will co-produce the film. At the time he told MTV that he would like to be at the helm of an Avengers film, however he backed out but retained an executive producer role of director Joss Whedon’s mega-hit The Avengers. Favreau was at one time attached to John Carter of Mars, the film adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ swashbuckling space hero, he dodged that bullet. The Marshal in Revelation has been in development since Swingers was released. It’s a western about a Hasidic gunslinger.
In July 2011, Favreau was featured in a YouTube video by visual effects artist Freddie Wong (known on YouTube as the popular channel, “freddiew”), in a spoof of his then-upcoming summer film, Cowboys & Aliens. He lent the movie’s iconic gauntlet prop to Wong for use in the short.
Bertino was born in Crowley, Texas. He studied cinematography at the University of Texas in Austin. He then moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a gaffer, and wrote screenplays in his spare time. Bertino submitted The Strangers for a Nicholl Fellowship with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which reached the quarter-finals. However, he was able to get a meeting with Vertigo Entertainment. Bertino quit his job days before the script was sold to Universal Studios.
Mark Romanek wanted to direct The Strangers but apparently demanded a $40 million budget. After speaking with Andrew Rona at Rogue Pictures, Bertino was asked to direct The Strangers despite a lack of directorial experience.
The Strangers was made on a budget of $9 million and after two postponements, was released theatrically on May 30, 2008 in North America, and grossed $82.3 million at the box office worldwide. Although it was ambiguously marketed as being “inspired by true events”, writer and director Bryan Bertino stated that the film was inspired by a series of break-ins that occurred in his neighborhood as a child, as well as some incidents that occurred during the Manson killings. Critical reaction to the film was mixed.
Bertino then commended working on the thriller film This Man, to be produced by Sam Raimi and his company Ghost House Pictures, however there is currently no information available from the studio, busy as they are promoting The Possession and their Evil Dead remake. The This Man film concept is built upon the internet meme that appeared in October of 2009, with the launching of the website ThisMan.org. The site claimed that the first recorded sighting of the individual was in 2006 to an anonymous mental patient and that others throughout the world have seen This Man in their dreams. Shortly after the website launch, it was revealed that the website and meme were created by sociologist Andrea Natella, an advertising agency employee who specialized in hoax and viral marketing, and that the face used on the website appeared to have been produced through the software program Flash Face. The site was briefly acquired by Ghost House Pictures. You can check out the original ThisMan website HERE
John Thomas Sayles (born September 28, 1950) is an American independent film director, screenwriter and author. Sayles was born in Schenectady, New York, the son of Mary, a teacher, and Donald John Sayles, a school administrator.
Like Martin Scorsese and James Cameron, among others, Sayles began his film career working with Roger Corman, scripting Piranha. In 1979, Sayles funded his first film, Return of the Secaucus 7, with money he had in the bank from writing scripts for Roger Corman. He set the film in a large house so that he did not have to travel to or get permits for different locations, set it over a three-day weekend to limit costume changes, and wrote about people his age so that he could have his friends act in it. The film received near-unanimous critical acclaim, and in November 1997, the National Film Preservation Board announced that Return of the Secaucus 7 would be one of the 25 films selected that year for preservation in the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress.
Sayles wrote, Alligator and Battle Beyond the Stars (both 1980), before writing The Howling (1981) for Joe Dante. In 1983, after writing/directing the films Lianna and Baby It’s You, Sayles received a MacArthur Fellowship. He used the money to partially fund the fantasy The Brother from Another Planet, a film about a black, three-toed slave who escapes from another planet and finds himself at home among the people of Harlem.
Sayles wrote the scripts for The Clan of the Cave Bear (1986) and Wild Thing (1987), before directing the excellent Matewan (1987) and Eight Men Out (1988). In 1989, he created and wrote the pilot episode for the short-lived television show Shannon’s Deal. Sayles received a 1990 Edgar Award for his teleplay for the pilot. The show ran for only 16 episodes before being cancelled in 1991.
Sayles has funded most of his films by writing genre scripts such as Piranha, Alligator, The Howling and The Challenge, having collaborated with Joe Dante on Piranha and The Howling, Sayles acted in Dante’s underrated 1993 movie Matinee. In deciding whether to take a job, Sayles reports that he mostly is interested in whether there is the germ of an idea for a movie which he would want to watch. Sayles gets the rest of his funding by working as a script doctor; he apparently did rewrites for Apollo 13, and Mimic.
One such genre script, called Night Skies, inspired what would eventually become the highly successful film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. That film’s director, Steven Spielberg, commissioned Sayles to write a script for Jurassic Park IV.
He has directed the dramas, City of Hope (1991), Passion Fish (1992), The Secret of the Roan Inish (1994), Lone Star (1996), Men with Guns (1997), Limbo (1999), Sunshine State (2002), Casa de los Babys (2003), political comedy Silver City (2004) and musical Honeydripper (2007). Sayles 17th and latest feature film, was the historical war drama Amigo.
In February 2009, Sayles was reported to be writing an upcoming HBO series based on the early life of Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The drama, tentatively titled Scar Tissue, centers on Kiedis’s early years living in West Hollywood with his father. At that time, Kiedis’s father, known as Spider, sold drugs (according to legend, his clients included The Who and Led Zeppelin) and mingled with rock stars on the Sunset Strip, all while aspiring to get into showbiz.
His novel A Moment in the Sun, set during the same period as Amigo, in the Philippines, Cuba, and the US, was released in 2011 by McSweeney’s. He should belt out a few more cheesy-pulp-scripts, we could do with them about now.
Bert Ira Gordon (born September 24, 1922) is an American film director most famous for such science fiction and horror B-movies as The Amazing Colossal Man and Village of the Giants. Most of Gordon’s work is in the idiom of giant monster films, for which he used rear-projection to create the special effects. His nickname “Mister B.I.G.” is a reference both to his initials and to his preferred technique for making super-sized creatures.
Gordon was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He began making home movies in 16mm after his aunt gave him a camera for his thirteen birthday. He dropped out of college to join the Air Crops in World War II; and after the war, he married and he and his wife began making television commercials. He later edited British feature films to fit half hour time slows and became a production assistant on Racket Squad and camera man on Serpent Island (1954).
In 1954 Gordon made his first feature, King Dinosaur, then The Cyclops (1957), before he began his prolific association with American International Pictures where he made The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), Earth vs. the Spider (1958), Attack of the Puppet People (1958), and The Food of the Gods (1976).
In 1960, he wrote, produced and directed The Boy and the Pirates, starring active and popular child star of the time Charles Herbert and Gordon’s own daughter, Susan Gordon. The three of them appeared together in the celebrity lineup at the 2006 Monster Bash, held June 23–25 at the Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Airport Four Points. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, released a Midnite Movies double DVD set with the rarely seen The Boy and the Pirates, and the more recent Crystalstone (1988), on June 27, 2006.
His 1977 Empire of the Ants featured a pre-Dynasty Joan Collins, who later said of the film that it was her worst acting experience, but by then the loosely-based modernized H.G. Wells tale had been elevated to cult film status.
None of his films has received significant critical attention, but his work has attained popularity in some circles. The cult TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) has featured several of his movies.
Of these titles, King Dinosaur, The Amazing Colossal Man, Earth Vs. The Spider, War of the Colossal Beast, The Magic Sword, Tormented, Beginning of the End and Village of the Giants were featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
His last directed films were the poorly received Burned at the Stake (1981), Let’s Do It! (1982), The Big Bet (1985), and Satan’s Princess (1990).
The duo wrote The Movie From the Future (2000) which Miller directed with Casey starring and went on to co-write and direct/act in I Was a Teenage Frankenstein’s Roommate (2002), Hey, Stop Stabbing Me (2003), and Magma Head (2003). They also co-wrote National Lampoon Presents Dorm Daze (2003), and its sequel National Lampoon Presents Dorm Daze 2 (2006), Gamebox 1.0 (2004) and Transylmania (2009), the story of a group of not-too-bright American college kids on a semester abroad at the only college that would accept them: The Razvan University. The movie is a Spoof horror in which a group of college kids do a semester abroad in Romania and realise that if the partying doesn’t kill them, the vampires just might. All these movies are awful, but at least miller is out there doing something…
His self-penned bio on Amazon.com states: Miller was born, raised, coddled, and educated in the frosty wastes of suburban Minnesota before moving to Los Angeles. He writes film criticism for CHUD.com, as well as comedy pieces for SomethingAwful.com and MadAtoms.com. He is a script writer for Fox Digital Studios and the co-writer of several movies he doesn’t want you to see.
On December 1, 2010 his first book, A Zombie’s History of the United States: From the Massacre at Plymouth Rock to the CIA’s Secret War on the Undead was released. His second book, this time written with Patrick Casey, The World Reduced to Infographics: From Hollywood’s Life Lessons and Doomed Cities of the U.S. to Sociopathic Cats and What Your Drink Order Says About You, was released December 13, 2011.
Gene Curtis Harrington (September 17, 1926 – May 6, 2007) was an American film and television director whose work included experimental films, horror films, and episodic television. He is considered one of the forerunners of New Queer Cinema.
Harrington was born in Los Angeles on September 17, 1926, and grew up in Beaumont, California. His first cinematic endeavors were amateur films he made while still a teenager. He attended Occidental College, the University of Southern California and graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a film studies degree.
He began his career as a film critic, writing a book on Josef von Sternberg in 1948. He directed several avant-garde short films in the 1940s and ’50s, including Fragment of Seeking, Picnic, and The Wormwood Star. Cameron also co-starred in his subsequent film Night Tide (1961) with Dennis Hopper. Harrington worked with Kenneth Anger, serving as a cinematographer on Anger’s Puce Moment and acting in Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954) ( he played Cesare, the Somnambulist).
Harrington had links to Thelema (religion developed by Aleister Crowley) shared with his close associate Kenneth Anger, and Marjorie Cameron who frequently acted in his films. One of Harrington’s mentors was avant-garde film pioneer Maya Deren, an initiated voodoo priestess.
Roger Corman assigned Harrington to turn some Russian science fiction footage into a whole new American movie; the result was Queen of Blood, which led to further films such as Games.
He also directed Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (1971) with Shelley Winters, What’s the Matter with Helen? (1972) again with Winters, and Killer Bees (1974) with Gloria Swanson in one of her last film roles.
Harrington made two made for television movies based on screenplays by Robert Bloch: The Cat Creature (1973) and The Dead Don’t Die (1975) .
Harrington had a cameo role in Orson Welles’s unfinished The Other Side of the Wind. In the 1970s and 1980s, Harrington directed episodes of Wonder Woman, The Twilight Zone, and Charlie’s Angels for television.
Harrington was the driving force in locating the original James Whale production of The Old Dark House (1932). Even though the rights had been sold to Columbia Pictures for a remake, he got George Eastman House to restore the negative. On the Kino International DVD, there is a filmed interview of Harrington explaining why and how this came about (the contract stipulated that they were allowed to save the film only, not release it, essentially to prove no profit motive). Harrington was an advisor on Bill Condon’s excellent Gods and Monsters, about the last days of director James Whale, since Harrington had known Whale at the end of his life. Harrington also has a cameo in this film.
Harrington’s final film, the short Usher, is a remake of an unreleased film he did while in high school, Fall of the House of Usher. His casting of Nikolas and Zeena Schreck in his updated version of Edgar Allan Poe’s ”Fall of the House of Usher” is in keeping with the magical thread that runs through the film-maker’s career. Financing of the film was partly accomplished through the Shreck’s brokering of the sale of Harrington’s signed copy of Crowley’s The Book of Thoth.
House of Harrington a short documentary about the director’s life, was released in 2008. It was directed by Jeffrey Schwarz and Tyler Hubby and filmed several years before Harrington’s death. It includes footage of his high school film Fall of the House of Usher. Check it out HERE. Curtis Harrington’s memoir Nice Guys Don’t Work in Hollywood will be published in fall 2012 by Drag City.
Brian Russell De Palma (born September 11, 1940) is an American film director and writer. In a career spanning over 40 years, he is probably best known for his suspense and thrillers, the horror film Carrie, Dressed to Kill, Scarface, The Untouchables and Mission: Impossible.
De Palma, was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Vivienne and Anthony Federico De Palma, an orthopaedic surgeon. He was raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, eventually graduating from Friends’ Central School.
Enrolled at Columbia as a physics student, De Palma became enraptured with the filmmaking process after viewing Citizen Kane and Vertigo. De Palma subsequently enrolled at the newly co-ed Sarah Lawrence College as a graduate student in their theatre department in the early 1960s, becoming one of the first male students among a female population. An early association with a young Robert De Niro resulted in The Wedding Party, the film had been shot in 1963 but remained unreleased until 1969, when De Palma’s star had risen sufficiently. De Palma followed this with various small films for the NAACP and The Treasury Department.
During the 1960s, De Palma began making a living producing documentary films, notably The Responsive Eye, (1966) and Dionysus in 69 (1969) De Palma’s most significant features from this decade are Greetings (1968) and Hi Mom! (1970). Greetings was entered into the 19th Berlin International Film Festival, where it won a Silver Bear award. His other major film from this period is the slasher comedy Murder a la Mod.
In 1970, De Palma left New York for Hollywood at age thirty to make Get To Know Your Rabbit, starring Orson Welles. After several small, studio and independent released films that included stand-outs Sisters, Phantom Of The Paradise, and Obsession; then he directed a small film based on a novel by Stephen King.
The psychic thriller Carrie is seen by some as De Palma’s bid for a blockbuster. In fact, the project was small, underfunded by United Artists and well under the cultural radar during the early months of production, as Stephen King’s source novel had yet to climb the bestseller list. De Palma gravitated toward the project and changed crucial plot elements based upon his own predilections, not the saleability of the novel. The movie featured a young and relatively new cast, Sissy Spacek, John Travolta and Nancy Allen who became his wife from 1979 to 1983. Carrie became a hit, the first genuine box-office success for De Palma. It garnered Spacek and Piper Laurie Oscar nominations for their performances. The “shock ending” finale is effective even while it upholds horror-film convention, its suspense sequences are buttressed by teen comedy tropes, and its use of split-screen, split-diopter and slow motion shots tell the story visually rather than through dialogue.
De Palma followed Carrie with The Fury, a science fiction psychic thriller that starred Kirk Douglas and Carrie star Amy Irving. The film boasted a larger budget than Carrie, though the consensus view at the time was that De Palma was repeating himself, with diminishing returns; however it retains De Palma’s considerable visual flair.
De Palma courted controversy with the release of Dressed to Kill (1980). It centres on the murder of a housewife, and the investigation headed by the witness to the murder, a young prostitute, and the housewife’s teenaged son. Several critics said that De Palma was pushing the envelope with the film’s graphic sex scenes, including Dickinson masturbating in the shower and later being raped in a daydream passage; a common criticism was that De Palma was exploiting sex for the purpose of keeping it on screen.
He followed Dressed to Kill with the excellent, and underrated Blow Out (1981), a thriller starring John Travolta as Jack Terry, a movie sound effects technician who, while recording sounds for a low-budget slasher film, serendipitously captures audio evidence of an assassination involving a presidential hopeful. Nancy Allen co-stars as Sally Bedina, the young woman Jack rescues during the crime.
De Palma’s gangster films, most notably Scarface, The Untouchables and Carlito’s Way, pushed the envelope of violence and depravity, and yet greatly vary from one another in both style and content and also illustrate De Palma’s evolution as a film-maker. In essence, the excesses of Scarface contrast with the more emotional tragedy of Carlito’s Way. Both films feature Al Pacino in what has become a fruitful working relationship. Later into the 1990s and 2000s, De Palma attempted to do dramas and a few thrillers plus science fiction. Some of these movies (Mission: Impossible) worked and some others (Mission to Mars, Raising Cain, Snake Eyes, The Bonfire of the Vanities) failed at the box office. Of these films, The Bonfire of the Vanities would be De Palma’s biggest box office disaster, losing millions. Another later movie from De Palma, Redacted, unleashed a torrent of controversy over its subject of American involvement in Iraq, and supposed atrocities committed there. It received limited release in the United States.
Film critics have often noted De Palma’s penchant for unusual camera angles and compositions throughout his career. He often frames characters against the background using a canted angle shot, split-screen, 360 –degree pans, slow sweeping, panning and tracking shots are often used throughout his films. Split focus shots, often referred to as “di-opt”, are used by De Palma to emphasize the foreground person/object while simultaneously keeping a background person/object in focus. Slow-motion is frequently used in his films to increase suspense.
The legendary Pauline Kael wrote in her review of Blow Out, “At forty, Brian De Palma has more than twenty years of moviemaking behind him, and he has been growing better and better. Each time a new film of his opens, everything he has done before seems to have been preparation for it.” In his review of Femme Fatale, Roger Ebert wrote about the director: “De Palma deserves more honor as a director. Consider also these titles: Sisters, Blow Out, The Fury, Dressed to Kill, Carrie, Scarface, Wise Guys, Casualties of War, Carlito’s Way, Mission: Impossible. Yes, there are a few failures along the way (Snake Eyes, Mission to Mars, The Bonfire of the Vanities), but look at the range here, and reflect that these movies contain treasure for those who admire the craft as well as the story, who sense the glee with which De Palma manipulates images and characters for the simple joy of being good at it. It’s not just that he sometimes works in the style of Hitchcock, but that he has the nerve to.”
Robert Earl Wise (September 10, 1914 – September 14, 2005) was an American film director, producer and editor. He twice won Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture, West Side Story (1961) and The Sound of Music (1965). He was also nominated for Best Film Editing for Citizen Kane (1941) and Best Picture for The Sand Pebbles (1966). Among his other films are The Body Snatcher, Born to Kill, The Set-Up, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Run Silent Run Deep, I Want to Live!, The Haunting, The Andromeda Strain, The Hindenberg, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
Wise was born in Winchester, Indiana, the son of Olive R. and Earl W. Wise, a meat packer. He attended Connersville High School in Indiana, and its auditorium, the Robert E. Wise Center for Performing Arts, is named in his honor. Wise began his movie career at RKO as a sound and music editor, but he soon grew to being nominated for the Academy Award for Film Editing for Citizen Kane in 1941: Wise was that film’s last living crew member.
While working as a film editor, Wise was called on to shoot additional scenes for Orson Welles’s The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). He got his first credited directing job in 1944 by replacing the original director on the stylish Val Lewton produced horror film The Curse of the Cat People, featuring Simone Simon. Lewton promoted Wise to his superiors at RKO, beginning a collaboration which would produce the notable horror film The Body Snatcher starring Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, a film which in its stylization and atmosphere deliberately evoked the groundbreaking horror films of the 1930s, while presenting a psychological horror film more in tune with the uncertainty of the 1940s.
In 1947, Wise directed the noir classic Born to Kill and two years later directed the boxing movie The Set-Up, where his direction of the real-time setting got him noticed. Wise’s use and mention of time in this film would find echos in later noir films such as Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing and Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.
In the 1950s, Wise proved adept in several genres, from the science fiction of The Day the Earth Stood Still to the melodramatic So Big, to the 1954 boardroom drama Executive Suite, to the epic Helen of Troy based on Homer, to Susan Hayward’s Oscar winner in I Want to Live!, for which he was nominated for Best Director..
The Sound of Music was an interim film for Wise, produced to mollify the studio while he developed the difficult film The Sand Pebbles, starring Steve McQueen and Richard Attenborough.
In the 1970s, he directed such films as The Andromeda Strain, The Hindenberg the horror film Audrey Rose, and the first Star Trek film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. In 1989, he directed Rooftops, his last theatrical feature film.
Wise served as the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1984 through 1987. He also sat on the Board of Trustees of the American Film Institute and chaired its Center for Advanced Film Studies.
He was named chairman of the Directors Guild of America’s special projects committee in 1980, organizing its fiftieth anniversary celebration in New York in 1986. He was a leading member of the National Council of the Arts and Sciences, the Department of Film at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Motion Picture Country House and Hospital.
In his later years, Wise continued to be active in productions of DVD versions of his films, including making public appearances promoting those films. In March 1987, Wise accepted the Academy Award for Best Actor, on behalf of his absent friend, Paul Newman, who won for his performance in The Color of Money. In 1992, Wise was awarded the National Medal of Arts.
After suffering a heart attack at home, Wise was rushed to UCLA Medical Center. He died on September 14, 2005, four days after his 91st birthday.
He is often considered one of the greatest figures of the New German Cinema, along with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Volker Schlöndorff, and Wim Wenders. His films often feature heroes with impossible dreams, people with unique talents in obscure fields, or individuals who find themselves in conflict with nature. French filmmaker François Truffaut once called Herzog “the most important film director alive” and American film critic Roger Ebert stated that Herzog “has never created a single film that is compromised, shameful, made for pragmatic reasons or uninteresting. Even his failures are spectacular.”
Herzog was born Werner Herzog Stipetić to a German father, Dietrich Herzog, and a Croatian mother, Elizabeth Stipetić, in Munich. His family moved to the remote Bavarian village of Sachrang after the house next to theirs was destroyed during a bombing raid at the close of World War II. When he was 12, he and his family moved back to Munich. Werner would later adopt his father’s surname Herzog (German for “duke”), which he thought sounded more impressive for a filmmaker.
At 14, Herzog was inspired by an encyclopedia entry about filmmaking which he says provided him with “everything I needed to get myself started” as a filmmaker—that, and the 35 mm camera he stole from the Munich Film School. In the commentary for Aguirre, the Wrath of God, he states, “I don’t consider it theft—it was just a necessity—I had some sort of natural right for a camera, a tool to work with.” He studied at the University of Munich despite earning a scholarship to Duquesne University on Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
In the early 1960s, Herzog worked nightshifts as a welder in a steel factory to help fund his first films. He has spoken of how, even before leaving school, he bought a house in the UK, in the Moss Side area of Manchester, relating how it was there that he learned to speak English. In 1966 he worked shortly in television under the auspices of NASA.
In 1971 while he was location scouting for Aguirre, the Wrath of God in Peru he narrowly avoided taking LANSA Flight 508 which later disintegrated after being struck by lightning with one miraculous free-fall survivor. His reservation was canceled due to a last minute change in itinerary. This led to the making in 2000 of a documentary film Wings of Hope which explored the story of the sole survivor, Juliane Koepcke.
Besides using professional actors, German, American and otherwise, Herzog is known for using people from the locality in which he is shooting. Especially in his documentaries, he uses locals to benefit his, as he calls it, “ecstatic truth”, using footage of them both playing parts and being themselves. Herzog and his films have won and been nominated for many awards. Herzog’s first major award was the Silver Bear Extraordinary Prize of the Jury for his first feature film Signs of Life (1968), (Nosferatu the Vampyre was also nominated for Golden Bear in 1979). Most notably, Herzog won the best director award for Fitzcarraldo at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival. On the same Festival, but a few years earlier (in 1975) his movie The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser won The Special Jury Prize (also known as the ‘Silver Palm’).
Herzog once promised to eat his shoe if Errol Morris completed the movie project on pet cemeteries that he had been working on, in order to challenge and motivate Morris, whom Herzog perceived as incapable of following up on the projects he conceived. In 1978 when the film Gates of Heaven premiered, Werner Herzog cooked and publicly ate his shoe, an event later incorporated into a short documentary Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe by Les Blank. At the event, Herzog suggested that he hoped the act would serve to encourage anyone having difficulty bringing a project to fruition.
In 2009, Herzog became the only filmmaker in recent history to enter two films in competition in the same year at the prestigious Venice Film Festival. Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans was entered into the festival’s official competition schedule, and his My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? entered the competition as a “surprise film”.
Herzog completed a documentary called Cave of Forgotten Dreams in 2010, which shows Herzog’s journey into the Chauvet Cave in France. Although generally skeptical of 3-D film as a format, Herzog premiered the film at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival in 3-D and had its European premiere at the 2011 Berlinale. Also in 2010, Herzog’s documentary Happy people: A Year in the Taiga, which portrays the life of an indigenous tribe from the Siberian part of the Taiga, had its premiere at the 2010 Telluride Film Festival.
Hal Ashby (September 2, 1929 – December 27, 1988) was an American film director and film editor. Born William Hal Ashby in Ogden, Utah, the son of a dairy owner father, Ashby grew up in a Mormon household and had a tumultuous childhood which included the divorce of his parents, his father’s suicide and his dropping out of high school. Ashby was married and divorced by the time he was 19.
As Ashby was entering adult life, he moved from Utah to California where he quickly became an assistant film editor. His big break occurred in 1967 when he won the Academy Award for Film Editing for In the Heat of the Night. Ashby has often stated that film editing provided him with the best film school background outside of traditional university study and he carried the techniques learned as an editor with him when he began directing.
At the urging of its producer, Norman Jewison, Ashby directed his first film, The Landlord, in 1970. While he was of the pre-war generation, the filmmaker quickly embraced the hippie lifestyle, adopting vegetarianism and growing his hair long before it became de rigueur amongst the principals of the Hollywood Renaissance.
Over the next 16 years, Ashby directed several acclaimed and popular films, including the off-beat romance Harold and Maude; the incredible The Last Detail starring Jack Nicholson, followed by Ashby’s greatest commercial success, the Warren Beatty vehicle Shampoo, although the director effectively ceded control of the production over to his star. Bound for Glory, a muted biography of Woody Guthrie starring David Carradine, was the first film to utilize the Steadicam.
Aside from Shampoo, Ashby’s most commercially successful film was the Vietnam War drama Coming Home. Starring Jane Fonda and Jon Voight, both in Academy Award-winning performances, it was for this film that Ashby earned his only Best Director nomination from the Academy for his work. As Voight had reportedly been difficult and uncooperative during production, many feel that it was Ashby’s skillful editing of a particularly melodramatic scene which earned him the nomination. Arriving in the post-Jaws and Star Wars era, from a production standpoint Coming Home was one of the last films to encapsulate the ethos of the New Hollywood era, earning nearly $15 million dollars in returns and rentals on a $3 million budget.
Because of his critical and (relative) commercial success, shortly after the success of Coming Home, Ashby was able to form a production company under the auspices of Lorimar. After Being There (his last film to achieve widespread attention), Ashby became notoriously reclusive and eccentric, retreating to his spartan beachfront abode in Malibu.
The productions of Second-hand Hearts and Lookin’ to Get Out were plagued by Ashby’s increasingly erratic behavior, such as pacifying former girlfriends by hiring them to edit Lookin’ to Get Out. Studio executives grew less tolerant of his increasingly perfectionist editing techniques. Initially set to helm Tootsie after two years of laborious negotiations, reports of these bizarre tendencies resulted in his dismissal shortly before production commenced.
Shortly thereafter, Ashby, a longtime Rolling Stones fan, accompanied the group on their 1981 American tour, in the process filming the documentary Let’s Spend the Night Together. The occupational hazards of the road were too much for Ashby, who overdosed before a show in Phoenix, Arizona. Although the film was eventually completed, it had limited theatrical release.
The Slugger’s Wife, with a screenplay penned by Neil Simon, continued the losing streak. Ostensibly a commercially-minded romantic comedy, Simon was reportedly horrified when he viewed Ashby’s rough cut of the first reel, sequenced as an impressionistic mood piece with the first half hour featuring minimal dialogue. Remaining defiant in his squabbles with producers and Simon, Ashby was eventually fired in the final stages of production; the completed film was a critical and commercial failure. 8 Million Ways to Die, written by Oliver Stone, fared similarly at the box office; by this juncture Ashby’s post-production antics were considered to be such a liability that he was fired by the production company on the final day of principal photography.
Attempting to turn a corner in his declining career, Ashby stopped using drugs, trimmed his hair and beard, and began to frequent Hollywood parties wearing a navy blue blazer so as to suggest that he was once again “respectable”. Despite these efforts, however, word of his unreliable reputation had spread throughout the entertainment industry and he could only find work as a television director, helming the pilots for Beverly Hills Buntz and Jake’s Journey. The latter never came to fruition because of the creators’ ailing health.
Longtime friend Warren Beatty advised Ashby to seek medical care after he complained of various medical problems, including undiagnosed phlebitis; he was soon diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that rapidly spread to his lungs, colon and liver. A few of Ashby’s friends grew incensed when his girlfriend Grif Griffis, who had been by his side day in and day out, insisted upon homeopathic treatments after all medical treatments had failed, and refused to let them see him. Ashby died on December 27, 1988 at his home in Malibu, California.