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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

My sales agents have been arrested for drug and gun smuggling, Brit producer laments

“The LA-based sales agents for my British feature film, Living in Hope, have just been arrested for drug and gun smuggling. And no, this isn’t a pitch for an all-American movie.” writes UK producer Guy de Beaujeu in the Guardian. “[I]t appears that… Limelight Films Inc, was a front for laundering drugs money. The DEA busted livinginhope235075.jpgmy sales agents and a number of associates after a two-year surveillance operation called—you guessed it—Director’s Cut. I’m gratified to see the Limelight guys were as bad at drug-dealing as they were at selling my film. Perhaps I can fool myself that they failed to make any sales of a low-budget indie Brit [pic] not because there was no market for such a thing, but because they were simply concentrating on the potentially more profitable side of their business. But, sadly, as much as I wish it wasn’t so, there was never any real chance of Living in Hope, or any other indie Brit [pic], making them any money. Anyone connected to the British film business, with the probable exception of the staff of Working Title, could tell you that.” Describing his production as “a British take on American college movies,” de Beaujeu proceeds to dissect what’s wrong with British film, making things sound as bad as they are in Anglophone Canada: “bad ideas, poor scripts, ill-directed tax and lottery funding, appalling distribution opportunities, and a total inability to grasp the importance of selling to a market… Too many of us don’t seem to live in the real world of commerce because our world has been skewed by subsidies, and then by tax breaks that work for the investors whether a film makes money or not. lazy_45890.jpgSubsidies and tax breaks allow lazy filmmakers to ignore the bottom line, because they can make their money at the production stage rather than through cinemagoers paying to see their films. Which means there is no incentive to make a good film that draws in the audiences.” He also takes the advertising industry to taste, as well as the attempt to mimic U.S. movies. “We cannot and will never compete with Hollywood. We lack the stars to open a movie (with the possible exception of Hugh Grant). We lack the budgets for the sheer grand scale, the special effects, the razzmatazz and the marketing spend.” Silver lining? “[T]hat could be an advantage. I believe there’s a growing disenchantment with formulaic Hollywood blancmange. There’s a desire to see more intelligent, better-crafted, better-acted films that surprise and delight, not just factory-produced mush.” As a contrary example, he cites Australian product like Lantana, Chopper, The Dish, Muriel’s Wedding and Shine. No big stars, just good stories well acted, well made and, crucially, recognisably Australian. We can learn, too, from the likes of New Zealand’s 2002 hit Whale Rider. Here’s a very small film, simply made, based on a local culture with its own traditions that mesmerised the world (and made a lot of money).” [More trenchant analysis at the link.]

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“Roger Ebert claimed that the re-editing of The Brown Bunny after Cannes allowed him a difference of opinion so vast that he first called it the worst film in history and eventually gave it a thumbs up. This is both far fetched and an outright lie. The truth is, unlike the many claims that the unfinished film that showed at Cannes was 24 minutes shorter than the finished film, it was only 8 minutes shorter. The running time I filled out on the Cannes submission form was arbitrary. The running time I chose was just a number I liked. I had no idea where in the process I would actually be when I needed to stop cutting to meet the screening deadline. So whatever running time was printed in the program, I promise you, was not the actual running time. And the cuts I made to finish the film after Cannes were not many. I shortened the opening race scene once I was able to do so digitally. After rewatching the last 4 minutes of the film over and over again, somewhere within those 4 minutes, I froze the picture and just ended the film there, cutting out everything after that point, which was about 3 minutes. Originally in the salt flats scene, the motorcycle returned from the white. I removed the return portion of that shot, which seemed too literal. And I cut a scene of me putting on a sweater. That’s pretty much it. Plus the usual frame here, frame there, final tweaks. If you didn’t like the unfinished film at Cannes, you didn’t like the finished film, and vice versa. Roger Ebert made up his story and his premise because after calling my film literally the worst film ever made, he eventually realized it was not in his best interest to be stuck with that mantra. Stuck with a brutal, dismissive review of a film that other, more serious critics eventually felt differently about. He also took attention away from what he actually did at the press screening. It is outrageous that a single critic disrupted a press screening for a film chosen in main competition at such a high profile festival and even more outrageous that Ebert was ever allowed into another screening at Cannes. His ranting, moaning and eventual loud singing happened within the first 20 minutes, completely disrupting and manipulating the press screening of my film. Afterwards, at the first public screening, booing, laughing and hissing started during the open credits, even before the first scene of the film. The public, who had heard and read rumors about the Ebert incident and about me personally, heckled from frame one and never stopped. To make things weirder, I got a record-setting standing ovation from the supporters of the film who were trying to show up the distractors who had been disrupting the film. It was not the cut nor the film itself that drew blood. It was something suspicious about me. Something offensive to certain ideologues.”
~ Vincent Gallo

“I think [technology has[ its made my life faster, it’s made the ability to succeed easier. But has that made my life better? Is it better now than it was in the eighties or seventies? I don’t think we are happier. Maybe because I’m 55, I really am asking these questions… I really want to do meaningful things! This is also the time that I really want to focus on directing. I think that I will act less and less. I’ve been doing it for 52 years. It’s a long time to do one thing and I feel like there are a lot of stories that I got out of my system that I don’t need to tell anymore. I don’t need to ever do The Accused again! That is never going to happen again! You hit these milestones as an actor, and then you say, ‘Now what? Now what do I have to say?'”
~ Jodie Foster