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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

Sayles force: John's a Honeydripper

It’s Alabama authenticity for the new John Sayles-Maggie Renzi production, writes Birmingham News’ Bob Carlton: “They film their pictures where they take place, and to give them more authenticity, they hire as many local actors as they can. Sayles and Renzi are in Alabama scouting locations… SAYLES1.JPGand doing other pre-production work for their next movie, Honeydripper, which they will start filming in and around Greenville in October.” Before accepting an indie lifetime achievement award on Friday at Birmingham’s Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival, Sayles told Carlton, “It is very hard for people to continue to be an independent filmmaker… It’s very hard to raise money and very hard to get your movie seen… So more and more, that world is for people who are making their first or second movie – usually on video, sometimes with their mother’s credit card. But to survive and continue to make movies without getting accepted in Hollywood and getting that kind of money is pretty rare.” Of his 27 years with Renzi, Sayles said, “If you want to be a filmmaker… find a good producer and treat her right.” The Honeydripper takes place in a small, cotton-producing community in the 1950s, just before the outbreak of the Korean War,” Carlton writes, with the title refeering “to a struggling roadhouse owned by an aging piano player played by Danny Glover.” Glover’s character hires a young musician with an electric guitar he made himself. “It’s set right in 1950, when Ike Turner and Chuck Berry and those guys were starting to discover the electric guitar,” Sayles says. “That instrument, which had been in the background, is about to take over.” [More at the link.]

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“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?'”
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“Netflix has spent the past couple years attempting to brute-force jailbreak this law. Its counter-theory has seemed to be, sure, a billion dollars doesn’t guarantee quality but how about three billion dollars? How about five billion dollars? Seven?

“This week’s latest cinematic opus to run across no-man’s-land into the machine-gun emplacements has been the Jared Leto yakuza movie ‘The Outsider.’ Once again, debuting on Netflix, another thing called a movie that at one glance doesn’t look like any kind of movie anyone has ever seen before, outside of off-prime time screenings at the AFM.

“If you’re working at a normal studio, you have one or two of these total misfires in a year and people start calling for your head. How many is Netflix going on? Fifteen? Twenty? This quarter? Any normal company would be getting murdered over results like that.”
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