An Interview with Keith Lansdale on the Making of “The Pale Door”

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Keith Lansdale can currently be found working as a co-writer on the set of the Western Horror film The Pale Door, which also features Joe R. Lansdale as executive producer alongside writer/director Aaron B.Koontz (Camera Obscura). Featuring Devin Druid (13 Reasons Why), Zachary Knighton(The Hitcher), Melora Walters(Magnolia), Bill Sage(We Are What We Are), Pat Healy(The Innkeepers), Natasha Bassett(Hail, Caesar!), Noah Segan(Looper), Tina Parker(Better Call Saul), and Stan Shaw(Rocky) the film features an eclectic mix of cowboys, wolves, and a coven of witches.

How did this particular project come about?

I met Aaron and Cameron on a panel in Beaumont. I was actually there meeting about a different project and after chatting with A & C we mentioned working together.

How have you enjoyed working from the set out in Oklahoma?

If by work, you mean wander around set and try not to get in anyone’s way. My part was done, but I got invited to set for a chance to meet some of the actors and see how it was looking. I’m happy to say it looked like it was going very well.

As far as Oklahoma, the shoots I was going to were night shoots so I didn’t really explore Oklahoma so much as I slept in and hung out on set all day.

Do you get the chance to enjoy the view on the long drives to the set or do they get tiresome?

I stayed at a hotel in Oklahoma, and the drive from home to set was actually 7 hours total, which is the limits of what is and isn’t enjoyable.

What has it been to work with your father on this project? What have you learned from working with him across the various projects?

Dad, Joe R. Lansdale, is a walking masterclass. But on this project his role has been completely separate from my own. He had more to do with his name allowing them to get some real star talent.

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What was it like to write alongside Aaron Koontz and Cameron Burns on the script?

They actually wrote the outline of what they wanted and I filled in the meat of the script sandwich. Writing with other people isn’t always a fun process, so I wasn’t sure how this would go, but after they saw my rewrite, they seemed pleased with the outcome.

Do you have any interesting stories from the set that you might be at liberty to share with our readers?

I got to meet some really great people. And not just the actors, but a lot of the people behind the scenes that you don’t always get to meet.

What are some of the most challenging issues you face when bringing a Western Horror film into existence?

Making it fun, scary, and worth the watcher’s time without getting stuck in any tropes. Which I don’t think it too different than most films.

Do you think the motley mix of cowboys, wolves, and witches is something that will appeal to today’s masses?

I think it’s safe to say we’re going to find out soon. At the end of the day, the setting is never as important as the story and the characters. But having a fun story sure doesn’t hurt.

Coming from Texas as you do, did you ever want to be a cowboy yourself growing up?

I think I sort of missed all that. I grew up playing Nintendo. Also, horses sort of terrify me. Not in an unreasonable way. I don’t run for it when I see them, but I have a constant fear of somehow being behind one and getting kicked in the head.

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Why do you think there are generally less Western themes in film and television today?

Just like anything else, they swing in and out. I’ve seen a bit of an uptick here of late. I don’t try to guess it. Just write what we write.

Do you feel privileged to have the chance to work on this one?

I feel privileged any time I’m asked to be a part of a project. I’m sure I always will.

Why do you think the genres of Western and Horror merge so well?

Things are scary anyways, but this wasn’t the time of cell phones and being able to just call the police. Something’s outside your house, you better hope it ain’t that hungry.

What can audiences expect from this one?

Dark humor and dark creatures.

When do you think the film will be released and available?

Not sure. I know the next stage is looking to get noticed at some film festivals. So fingers crossed.

What projects will you be working on next?

I’ve actually got several things going, but it’s a mystery what will get done next. I’ve got a new comic Red Range: Pirates of Fireworld that’s about to go on sale, the script I did, The Projectionist, that keeps making some noise, and a couple other heres and theres.

Anything to say before you go?

Thanks so much for taking the time.

A Poem by Turner Mojica

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There was a burst of gold.
Made me squint.
Never seen nothing like it.
Over the ridge.
The edge.
It zigzagged.
The bolt cut, bright, I raised my hand to block it and it cut when it came.
Too bright.
Sparks.
Brighter.
Cut.
Zigzag.
It cracked the sky.
It came.
It rattled, the earth moved and vultures and bats and crows
scattered and cut again with black and a deep blue and howlers
and more chatter and scatter
and dogs and birds and the sky and iguanas and spiders split apart.
It opened.
Beach.
The earth moved.
All honey colored.
Got dark.
It melted.
Moths flew.

Woke up the cicadas.
She does that.
Shaking dreams from her hair.
Every morning.

Shadows four fingered and five and seven
blocking all bright all painted.
Dripping.
She just smiled all honey colored and sticky.
The thought of her.
Told me she loved me.
She lied.
Didn’t mean to.
Cut.
Deep.
She sang and left all long legs, porcelain and crickets and fireflies
and smiles soft as every orchid
and buzzing sipping nectar like all honeysuckle
and life and dancing
and I took in everything because she deserved it
and she was right
and I am the only one that saw her wings,
long, dark, with deep brown eyes
and I watched her.

As she climbed down the web.
And picked me apart.
Dark eyes.
And flew away with broken wings.
Dark eyes.

And it cut.
Deep.
And I sighed.

An interview with Bruce Glover

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Bruce Glover has had a varied career throughout the decades. He has appeared on Broadway in The Night of the Iguana with Bette Davis and Mother Courage and Her Children with Anne Bancroft. His television appearances include such shows as My Favorite Martian , Perry Mason, The Mod Squad, Gunsmoke, Barney Miller, The Dukes of Hazzard , and The A Team to name to a few. He is likely most well known for his work in the films Walking Tall and the sequels Part 2 and The Final Chapter, as well as the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, Chinatown, and It Is Fine! Everything Is Fine. which was directed by his son Crispin.

A man possessing many talents Bruce began teaching acting in the 1950’s and still continues to do so to this day in Los Angeles. He is also an avid painter.

 

Can you tell us a little about your earliest days? What are some of your most fond memories from your childhood?

Having a very loving mother. Fond, just being alive I suppose. I was always very curious about things. She used to take me to see movies which my father was against because he was very religious and you weren’t supposed to go to movie theaters, evil places. Which is pretty weird, anyway. I remember her taking me to movies and I saw a newsreel of F.D.R struggling to get to a microphone. And I remember showing my mother, I used to show my mother stuff because I would try to amuse her constantly, I remember showing her F.D.R and I was trying to understand why he would be walking like that by putting my body into his polio-afflicted body. So that in a way was my first discovery of the approach I’ve always taken to acting.

And what I teach as an actor is that you have to get into the body and by that into the mind of the character that you are playing.

I remember my mother watching me doing that and going, “Do you love your president?” And I didn’t know who the president was I was just rehearsing that person walking.

So I guess that is a fond memory and another one was my father’s church had pageants. It was a little tiny Methodist church. I was put in a pageant and the scene was Joseph and Mary trying to find a place to stay so she could give birth to Jesus. I was the third kid in a row. I had one line, and my line was, “No room at the inn.” When they got to me, I was three years old and had this booming little voice and I went, “NO ROOM AT THE INN!” (laughs) and the whole church burst into laughter. And I remember going, “Wow I can make people laugh.” So I said the line again and they laughed more, and I said it again and they laughed more. And then the minister came running up the aisle trying to catch me and I was running around behind the altar and through the section of the church and he’s trying to catch me and I’m yelling out “No Room at the Inn.” It was hilarious. Finally, he catches me and carries me downstairs.

So I knew I had a gift for laughter I used to amuse my mother and I always had a sense of that, but I never thought of it as acting. If you said you were going to be an actor back in those days… because I was in a tough working class neighborhood and I had to learn very quickly how to be a tough kid where you could take care of yourself and not be pushed around. I was kind of an inner nerd with the muscles of an athlete and I would protect other nerds who didn’t have the muscles.

So I was a tough working class kid in Chicago in those days you had to talk with a tough, deep dems and dos accent if you didn’t talk like that you were considered a sissy. I was a kid that liked nature and you could go down the railroad tracks and get to a forest and run around in trees and there was an abandoned factory before you get to the forest it was like a variety of environments. I was a natural athlete. I didn’t know how good I was but I was good I learned it very quickly. But I had to learn how to be pretty tough very quickly.

What was it like to have your first job delivering groceries at the age of 6? Are you thankful that you had the chance to develop a strong work ethic at such an early age?

Yeah actually. I guess this woman had a store. She thought it was cute and decided to offer me a job. Ten cents a day delivering groceries after school and Saturday mornings so I made sixty cents a week. Sometimes I’d get a tip from whoever I was delivering to, but that was the beginning of the seeking of work. I remember selling magazines door to door, Saturday Evening Post finally. There was always a job. I mowed grass, I worked with my Grandfather who was a carpenter, I worked construction, I dug graves, I got a job in Chicago working at a newsstand starting at the age of 8 it went on til 13, every day after school and all day Saturday, and my pay raise had gone up and I was making a dollar a day. $6.00 a week.

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If you don’t mind my asking, what was it like being drafted into the Army from 1953-1955 and in later days serving in Korea? What do you think is the most valuable thing you learned from that experience?

Well, Korea I was playing football and I was on a city championship team in Chicago and I was offered football scholarships and there was a weird thing that I had, and they discovered it when I was like 6 years old, it is an affliction, something that nobody knew much about, or anything about back in those days, but it caused me to not get my scholarship because I had to go to another college. So I went to a college in Chicago, a junior college, and played football there. The scholarship that was offered was to a Colorado college, they had a good art school. So the two ways I was finding out of the working class was football and art. I was selling paintings even as a little kid.

The odd thing was I was playing football at Wright Junior College in Chicago and I was all-conference both years. I had passed the test to stay out of the draft with high score, because I have a very high I.Q. All that was good and I passed all that stuff, but I flunked English three times, and the English flunking got me drafted into the Korean War.

I arrived there the last six months of that war. Now when the war finished and I was still in Korea, I was in an engineering company, the University of California sent over teachers. I picked up nine hours of college credits in Korea. The army was very good about that, they transported you to Seoul, Korea for your classes. I decided I’d better take English so I could pass it and get my full football scholarship again. This teacher, a very kind man, very smart, pulled me aside at the end of the sessions and he said, “ You know I don’t know what it is with you, but there is something odd going on. If I were to go by your scores on your grammar test I’d have to flunk you again. I know you’ve flunked before, but you write terrifically.”

He’d given out writing assignments and I’d written three good short stories. He said, “You have unique abilities as a writer and I am going to pass you. I don’t know what it is, but I am going to pass you just to get you past this so you can forget about it.” And I went, “Thank you very much.”

So, this affliction that I had I didn’t discover it until a lot of other people discovered it. There is a thing called Dyslexia. Dyslexics I think, there are probably dumb dyslexics and smart dyslexics. I am one of the smart dyslexics. I think Einstein was considered a Dyslexic he was also very bad in school, but he zoomed way ahead. I think what a Dyslexic does is they don’t want to learn the rules. They just want to do it and they see something and they just do it and that is what I believe with me as an actor, I had no idea of being an actor.

So one of the things I learned in Korea, well I loved the Koreans, they are great people and I came back with another gift. And the gift was I had caught Malaria. When I came back with Malaria I couldn’t pick up that football scholarship so I had to go back to that junior college where I’d played football and pick up some more college credits. I saw a play being advertised that I went and tried out for. The teacher/director of the play said, “Come back for the callbacks.” Well, I didn’t go back …

I am skipping something weird that had happened, back in the days when I was playing football and working out with weights, a buddy of mine who was also an artist, we used to do art projects and work out and he said to me, “Bruce you ought to go down there and pose at the art institute for the art classes.” So, I pose at the art institute and a beautiful naked woman was posing across the room.

She came up to me at the break and said, “Bruce how would you like to…” She paused and my mind was racing, you know I’m a guy and I’d seen her naked and then she said, “…be a gorilla.” I thought what the Hell was she talking about? Well it turned out she was a stripper and she needed a guy strong enough to wear a hundred-pound ape suit and toss her around for fifteen minutes. (laughs). So I thought, well that sounds like a very dignified thing to do and I did it. I went down to the zoo and studied Bushman, the famous gorilla, which the guy who owned the act told me to do. But, Bushman gave me my first acting lesson. And he said, “Think my thoughts and do my moves.” Which is simply in a way the thing I’d done at three years old trying to imitate F.D.R. Trying to understand what he was going through by putting my body into each experience.

Well I did the thing as the ape and we were down in Florida, doing the act in Tampa Bay, Florida and we had an eight week gig we were making really good money. Much better than I’d made at the job before that, I’d worked at a glass factory, ladling hot glass when I was fourteen and fifteen years old. Back in those days, you could work, and you had to work anyway because we were poor. At fifteen I remember my father calling a family meeting because his business was not doing well and he asked if me I would quit school for him to help support the family and I was just starting to like school and playing football, and I thought, “Oh my God. I’ll quit school for a while and hopefully, he’ll get on his feet and I’ll stay out of school for six months and then go back again.” And my mother jumped in and saved me. She said, “ No you won’t quit school. I’ll get a job.”

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I was faced with a lot of realities but there was always a sense of I don’t know…love, even though my father so brainy and he was weirdly Christian and had all of that religious stuff he still was a loving man and she was a loving woman.

I was given responsibility very early. I had two sisters and I had to protect them from everything. I remember my mother was pregnant with my second sister and she was irritated and told me to get out of the house with my sister because I was annoying her. I took her out into Chicago, sidewalks on a hot Summer day and she was about three years old. A car came down the street, nobody on the street but she and I. The car stopped and the guy got out wearing a three piece suit like salesmen back in those days would wear. He stood by his car with the engine still running, and he yelled out, “Little girl come over here.” And my little sister she stood up and started to walk towards him and I jumped up and said, “Lois no!” and he yelled again, “I said get over here.” I saw him coming around the car and I grabbed her and ran her up the steps of a neighbor. I put her behind me pounding on the door ringing the bell and he came to the bottom of the steps reaching out to me, and I was going to bite him. I was eight years old. I was already having to protect my little sister.

Suddenly around the side of the house, a little old man came around that I had seen him working in the yard and that was why I ran to that house.

And he said, “What is going on here?”

I said, “This guy is after my sister.”

And the guy says, “ Oh these kids are crazy. I was just asking them for directions.”

I said, “That is not true.”

And the old man went, “Shush.”

So I shushed, and the guy took the phony directions.

He drove away and I said to the old man, “You know he was really after my sister.”

And he said, “Get off my property. You kids are a pain. Don’t bother me. Don’t come over here again. ”

Then I went back to the house to tell my mother and she said, “ I told you kids to stay out of the house.”

So I took her out of the house again and I knew from then on I was on my own. Not because of any meanness or lack of love it was just I had to take responsibility very early on. I was eight years old, so there I was. It is a sense of what I’ve always felt, that I knew from then on that I was going to have to do it on my own. I was going to have to build everything, do everything, and make everything happen without depending on help from anyone.

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Then when I was doing the ape act down in Florida a magician came up to me and tapped me with his magic wand playfully and said, “Bruce you are an actor.”

I said, “What do you mean?”

He said, “You make that gorilla so believable you ought to try acting.”

I went, “What?”

There was a guy from New York singing, strip clubs were kind of classier, and this guy said, “Yeah you ought to go to acting classes in New York.” He was from New York.”

I said, “Acting classes? There are acting classes?”

To this day I don’t believe you can teach anything. I believe it is all instinct and teaching it usually gets in the way of the instincts. I do teach acting classes, but it’s very small and they are slowly disappearing because I don’t advertise. There are so many terrible teachers out there with terrible schools that never had any experience. I’ve done a hundred plays, Broadway, Off Broadway, I did summer stock, I did repertoire, I did classical. I finally went to Northwestern University when I came back.

I did not go back to the call back of that first play at the community college. I guess something about me I got a little afraid of this idea of trying this acting thing, so I was like whoa…and I did go back.

I was walking down a flight of stairs at that college, and I see the teacher/director coming up the stairs, and he says, “Where were you?”

I said, “What do you mean?”

He said, “You didn’t come back for the callbacks.”

I said, “Yeah I’m a little busy.”

I was actually trying to set my job back up. The ape Strip Club job with the GI Bill got me thru expensive Northwestern University. So, it was Shakespeare in the day and the ape suit at night at the Mafia run strip club, two kinds of education.

He said, “You should have came back.”

And I said, “Well, I am sorry.”

And he said, “I want you to the play the lead”

And I went, “Oh. Okay.”

It was a Tennessee Williams play Camino Real and I played Kilroy in it.

I picked up a Bachelor of Science Degree in Speech, so I haven’t been able to stop talking since and have a minor in Psychology. It is good for the study of people which is what acting is about. I am still learning. It never stops.

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Who were some of the people you looked up too when you were just starting out? What led you to teach acting? What do you think is the most important thing for an actor to learn?

I didn’t think it was teaching. I had scenes with people. I’d never seen a play before. I’d never even read a book on acting. I had never had any acting classes or instruction. I just knew. I knew there were real things and there were movies. There were real actors and the real ones were very simple. Like Humphrey Bogart. He was there constantly and all those other actors from those days.

I didn’t look up to anybody. Do you know what I am saying? I just looked at what I had to do. Like I said Bogart, people like that who were real that was it. I love movies. I went to movies constantly. So all of the movies that I saw affected me but I’d never seen a play. But here I was playing the lead in a Tennessee Williams play at this college with a nice big old auditorium that sat 500 people. I had scenes to do. I had a girlfriend who was a dancer and I had her teach me a dance section. I had scenes with a lot of people. Some of them were simple and real like me. I was real, and here is how it goes with real…the ape, the gorilla Bushman back in the zoo said, “Think my thoughts and do my moves.” Well, that is the beginning of real. Being like F.D.R and putting yourself into that body, that being real.

Now there was an actor who was overacting. He’d maybe taken some acting classes, so he was acting. I don’t believe in that. I believe you just have to live. So I said to him, I hadn’t read any books or anything, I pulled him aside, and I said, “Hey have you ever thought of like talking to me?”

He said, “What do you mean?”

I said, “You know when you talk to me I’ll look at you and listen and when I talk to you you’ll look at me and listen.”

And he said, “How do you do that?”

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The next thing you know I was coaching about seven people so I guess I was teaching people acting but what I was really teaching was to stop acting. I believe people that are good at anything, like you’re a painter, well if you are a painter it is because you are just good at it. You didn’t go to school to learn how to paint. You might have learned what materials to use and you might have looked at great painters and great drawings and appreciated the works, just as I appreciate good actors in movies and later in theatre. My philosophy is that. You have to live, let life in, and let life in when you are doing art. I mean if you are doing art, it is because something has caught your eye and there is something about it, you want to do…something.

I am the kind of person I can be walking down the street and see something lying on the sidewalk and go, “Oh that is interesting.” I’ll pick it up and figure out how I can include it in a piece of art.

So anyways, I did that play and got good reviews. Then I started looking around as to what else I could do. I was healing up from my Malaria, still thinking of going back to the Colorado College that had an art school. I started doing plays in Chicago with little theatre company groups who were more Hollywood than anybody. Nutty people trying to have more affairs with everybody else. And then somebody said there is a summer stock company up in Wisconsin. So I lived out of my car, slept on the porch at the theatre, and tried out for a play every week and got one of the leads. They only had three paid actors and I wasn’t one of them so I starved and did acting all Summer long. (laughs) I was getting great reviews and really enjoying it. And I went, “This is it. To Hell with football. I want to be an actor.” I went to Northwestern University and what they did for me was they cleared up my Dese, Dems, and Dose accent.

I did a lot of Shakespeare. I don’t think I ever learned anything in an acting class although I read Stanislavsky who was a great artist. The stuff he wrote was exploratory and continuing, where too many teachers or people who call themselves teachers are people who know all the truth. Well anyone who knows all the truth is full of it. Full of lies. There is no final truth. It is a constant exploration, as you know with your art there is no final thing, you have to keep on moving forward. And that to me is what life is about. That there is a constant moving forward that is important.

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A scene from the tentatively titled, “An Untitled Crispin Hellion Glover Project.”

How is your art book coming along? I also understand you work together onscreen with Crispin for the first time in an upcoming film that is not part of the “It” Trilogy. What was it like to be able to share the screen in such a manner with someone who is also family?

I do realistic paintings. I do abstracts. I do structural things and I’ve got a book that I kind of have to get together. My son wants me to, my son Crispin, who is, of course, a terrific actor and book writer. We just finished a film where he wrote a script. So the script is his script with some of my added writing and he directed it. He is still editing it right now.

He is back in the Czech Republic, which is where we shot the film. In the last five years, I must have made I don’t know maybe fourteen trips to Poland and the Czech Republic. I did a Polish film were I acted in Polish about four years ago but I also went to the Czech Republic where Crispin has an estate that is 20 acres. He has two stables that were turned into film studios, where he builds sets. There are a lot of Czech’s working on the estate I guess they are trying to get away from Russians.

He is back there right now in fact. He’s been in that series American Gods and he’s terrific in it. Of course, you know he is a terrific actor. He was in Back to the Future and River’s Edge.

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Crispin as Brutus in Grand Room 1888 from “An Untitled Crispin Hellion Glover Project.”

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Bruce as Brutus in Grand Room 1918 from “An Untitled Crispin Hellion Glover Project.”

Well you know, we are not family when we are acting. I am in the character and the scenes we were in together we are both in character so we are not Crispin and we are not Bruce. We are the characters. It is like good and talented actors become the characters and it has nothing to do with father and son. But when he was directing me in a scene with somebody else I might jump in and say something to the other actor about if there is stunt involved, or how to do a fall, or if I have knowledge of something I will just jump in and say something. Or he might also ask me questions of what do I think of this or that so there is an exchange. And it is not an exchange that has to do with competition of any sort. It has to do with different appreciations of each other. Enjoyment in doing the job. Not particularly thinking that this is my son…but you are, you know you are aware of it.

The art book, I’ve got so many projects going right now and I am still dealing with a lot of things that have to do with the loss of my wife you know and straightening out things. Crispin wants to work with me on the art book. And he wants me to take photographs of some of the paintings I have. He says I should do about twenty-five of them. I am a person that has so many projects going that I have to grab myself by the back of my head and say, “Okay, do this one now.” And, “Finish that one now and stop trying to do sixteen of them partially.” Right now I am still dealing with filing taxes which I am going to have to do late anyway. (laughs)

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What was it like to share the stage with the likes of Bette Davis and Anne Bancroft?

Anne Bancroft and Bette Davis. Well, I did Night of the Iguana on Broadway. That was my first Broadway show. A Tennessee Williams play. Tennessee was always around, very kind, he was kind of like a kindly old aunt. I did that play for a year.

Bette Davis when she came into the play you know, she was a great film actor and the worst stage actor I’ve ever seen. (laughs) She was acting, acting, acting, acting… She was very aware of her stardom. We were warned not to approach her and we were supposed to stand in awe of her constantly. She at times would reach out and try to be a human being.

I remember my character, I played a German and I ran around with a lovely girl in a bikini and I did cartwheels on stage. I had to do cartwheel between Bette Davis and the edge of the stage and I rehearsed it all on a flat floor and then when the first set we had was up in New York in Bette Davis’ old hometown the stage was jutting out over an orchestra pit. When I saw the stage the first time I was on it, for our first performance, I thought it is going be bad tonight. I had to do between the edge of that orchestra pit and Bette Davis a cartwheel. (laughs) And I am like, I rehearsed that on a flat floor and now I have to go out there and slowly go through it myself to get past the fear of falling. What were the two dangers? Kicking Bette Davis or falling into the orchestra pit. (laughs)

Bette Davis, I admired her. As a film actress, she was great. I ran into her briefly I went over to her table at Pinewood Restaurant when I was doing the Bond film I went over and talked and she was very haughty as always. But I wanted to come over and pay my respects. I hadn’t gone to her goodbye party, because it was on a Monday night when the whole cast went to it. I didn’t go because I couldn’t bring my wife and it was my only night alone with her so I didn’t go. I think she always took it as an insult. But again, she was overacting on Broadway but in film, she was a great actress, but she got huge applause when we had Actor’s Fun Night and all of that. Everyone was still in awe of her, but I saw her realistically.

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Now Annie Bancroft was a terrific actress and a terrific person. We were in Mother Courage. It was going to be directed by the choreographer Jerome Robbins. He was a great choreographer. My wife was a ballet dancer. I was always attracted to women who were dancers. He was a great genius, a ballet master who created wonderful work. I was a fan of his, but he had done an Off Broadway play which was brilliant and directing usually, now he was going to do Mother Courage. Somehow he got intimidated and he went over to Berlin and studied Brechtian Theory on how to do a Brechtian play. Well, Bertolt Brecht wrote great plays but he wrote all of those incredibly stupid rules about how acting should be done. There is a school of acting, that has hopefully disappeared by now, which went by all of his principles in which all actors were supposed to be duplicates of each other. There was no such thing as individuality. So you would learn these things where you would be robots. The weird thing is he wrote all of these rules but he didn’t live by the rules. The actors that he cast were Peter Lorre. Who else is like Peter Lorre? Peter was unique and special. Thanks to him I did a commercial for Bubble Yum Bubble Gum where I got the commercial because I did a Peter Lorre imitation. He demanded blowing big bubbles. (laughs) So, Bertolt Brecht, he didn’t live by his own rules. And the rules were we were supposed to be deciphers.

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Bruce in a Bubble Yum commercial.

So I didn’t meet Bancroft for two weeks of rehearsal and we were supposed to go down in the basement in groups. Whichever character we were playing would be discussed by the second and third players of the play. The rule was going to be that the roles would be changed so you had some characters you were given that were supposed to be your first character to play and then another, but you were supposed to sit in a group and discuss what it all was about.

Well, that is disgusting. I am sorry I am not going to do what anyone else does. And if I am anything as an actor it is that I will never the usual. I will be the unusual and I intend to continue that whatever I am doing, whether it be acting, or I’m writing, or I am going to be painting or whatever I am going to be doing. It is uniquely my own. Every character I play is an entirely different character.

So here we are in this discussion group and I had gotten the part, back in those days in New York you’d go to an audition wearing a suit and a tie. So I went for the audition with Jerome Robbins and the audience up there. I came in and the character I was going to be playing was the paymaster I think. I came in and kicked off my shoes and spit on my feet and took my socks and started cleaning my toes while I was doing the dialogue of this character. I turned him into this is all about the seven years of war out there in the field, living like animals with nothing but filth.

The when Jerome Robbins was letting us rehearse for each of our characters they threw a pile of stuff on the stage and let you pick out your own costume. So you’d get all of these amazing pieces of stuff and it’d turn out to be a German Expressionist kind of crazy outfit. So your individuality would take up in there but you were supposed to be discussing all of this stuff in the basement of this theatre…Bancroft was upstairs rehearsing pulling around a wagon, which Mother Courage was pulling around a wagon in the play.

I remember watching this great stage designer and I stood in the wings watching over from the side of the stages that were showing mockups of all the sets that he was going to build. And they were all built and we all had our costumes and then because Robbins was believing in the Brechtian way he took away all of our costumes. And he put us all in black tights. No one was to look like an individual. The sets that had been designed by this brilliant set designer were gone. They just had black walls, black curtains, black floors. And when I came out after two weeks to do my first scene with Anne Bancroft, I sat down on the floor, pulled off my shoes, spit on my feet, and Jerome says, “No, no, don’t sit down.”

I stood up and I took off my shoes standing and I spit on my foot and he says, “No, no, don’t take off the shoe.”

Then next thing I know he is giving me lines. Saying, “No, no, no.”

And he looks at me and comes up to me and says, “No, no, no.”

Then he walked away and I said, “Don’t walk away from me you little shit.” (laughs)

Because he had destroyed everything I was doing. That was my relationship with Annie Bancroft who was befuddled but the whole thing. There were talented actors and if they came up with something that was interesting Robbins would take it away from them because he was believing in those Brechtian Rules. So we were all going to be robots and the play, of course, failed on Broadway. Annie Bancroft was a brilliant actress and a brilliant person who never got to be…the play it just didn’t work.

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Are there any certain moments from over the course of your career that stand out most in your mind looking back today?

You know the fact is, certainly you can look artistically at different films. I’ve done over two hundred films and television shows over the years. I was in one hundred plays. Every one is unique and different. So if I say outstanding it is the fact that I did so many and everything was another opportunity to grow.

For an actor sometimes and rarely you are given an opportunity by the writers, by the director that was a wide open door and sometimes, the majority of the time you are given something that was not that good. And you’d try to improve it. And I would. I would go in and improvise and throw in lines that weren’t in the script. That is one of the reasons you make a lot of bad films better by just being unique and doing what you got to do.

So when you get a rare opportunity like working with my son, the film that we’ve done in the Czech Republic which is being edited now currently called An Untitled Crispin Hellion Glover Project. We will see what the title is eventually. Crispin, people like him and Guy Hamilton who did Diamonds Are Forever, the Bond film, and Roman Polanski are people who take somebody who has never acted before and put them in a major role in a movie. Because they see that they are alive and real.

Acting isn’t important, what is important is being a real entity. Brilliant directors see that and they don’t over direct. They look at what you are doing. And if you are a really good actor when you get into film and television you never get any comments because the poor director is rushing to the problem areas and you are not one of them. You start to wonder, “Why aren’t I getting any comments?” Well, you aren’t getting any comments because you are too good to waste the time on. Whatever you come up with if you have a good director you can discuss with him what you want to do. Like Guy Hamilton was wide open to every idea I had and a lot of the success of the humor of that film was me. Those were all my ideas. The final moment in the film where Sean Connery does that rude thing pushing the hooha up my yaha and giving that character his final great sexual moment is the biggest laugh in the movie. I remember getting a few compliments on that from the Saint, Sir Roger Moore saying it was the funniest Bond moment of all which I appreciate. I never met Roger Moore but I used to see him come into the big restaurant at Pinewood when I was shooting the Bond film. That was a six month job, three of the months were in England.

Roger Moore would come in like a Golden God. But for me, the Bond will always be Sean Connery. He is the real thing.

brucesean

How long were you in Tennessee during the time you were working on the Walking Tall films? What was your impression of the state?

I watched the state change over a period of time. The first film is a good film. I mean it is a terrific film. The second two were…you know there were different writers, different directors, different cast. The first film we had Joe Don Baker, Felton Perry, and me playing the cops. And we were great together we had good relationships and the script was well written. Buford Pusser was around constantly and we became friends.

The sense of Tennessee in that first place it had more to do with Buford being a man who protected people, his family and law rather than being a guy who liked pounding people with a club. The second and third films became more about the club and less about Buford.

The first film we were in Jackson, Tennessee in a hotel and we had a swimming pool and Felton Perry who was the black deputy and I am the white deputy, we are both two guys from Chicago. We like to play chess together. And we would play chess at the side of the pool and there’d be quite often a bunch of red-necked salesmen types running around playing high school grab ass games in the swimming pool and hating the fact that there was a white guy and black guy daring to sit at the side of their pool playing chess. Which of course they wouldn’t play anyway.

I didn’t know it until later, Felton and I had stayed in contact for years, we are still a little, but he doesn’t go to the Academy anymore so…anyway, Felton told me later that he didn’t do the second film because he had been getting abuse. People standing outside of his door and saying rude things and the n word. I didn’t know about it, and I said, “Why didn’t you come to me? Why didn’t you say anything about it?”

So let us say that my first impression of Tennessee was there was that racial kind of overhang there, but there is another strange thing about it, because being from Chicago, Chicago was divided up a lot so there was like a black neighborhood and a white neighborhood. I remember my high school there was one brother sister, young black people that she and he were both attractive and confident and they became very popular in this mostly white school. She was a cheerleader, he was on the football team. He wasn’t a typical great athlete he was like fifteenth string or something. But they were both very popular and I remember a couple of black people would like whiz through and disappear and they were like under inspection.

Now I understood it because as a kid making deliveries in Chicago when I was seven or eight years old going into the all black neighborhoods the hatred that would come at you from you being the only white person in a black neighborhood it made me understand how being a black person in a white environment was…so there was that separation strangely in Chicago days.

He told me in Chicago it wasn’t quite that bad for him. But, one of the things I noticed in spite of the sense of there being an overall racial thing in Tennessee there was also kind of more…mingling. In other words, there were more encounters in day to day and if that happens people start to get to know each other as people rather than just a color.

After Joe Don Baker and Felton either weren’t offered the second film or they decided not to, Buford was going to play himself in the second film. It was an excellent opportunity, there were good scenes in it, there was good writing, a good director, and a good producer and that makes a big difference. So the first film was different producer, different writer, different director, and a different time.

You said the impression of Tennessee, it changed. I watched it over a period of time. So the first film I don’t know we were there six weeks or something maybe eight weeks I am not sure. He (Buford) would be driven back and forth from the studio from the film set of the environment out in Tennessee to the hotel. Now the second film Buford was going to play himself and I ended up doing the screen test with him and they had built four sets in Paramount studios with the full crew to do this screen test with some dude who was like one of those old-time directors who would say “Roll them” and then, “Cut” and that was about it. There were lots of directors and they were just there and you knew not to worry about them and just do your own thing. Don’t listen to anything they say except this is where you stand, this is the line you know whatever…

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Buford and I had good times. I remember me taking his club and he grabbing the gun out of my holster playing games and stuff like that. You can see it on my Facebook. There is this whole thing where they turned it into all about the club not knowing what Buford was really like. He was a man who was protective of people, women especially. He had a great sense of family and women.

But he was also a playful dude. I remember getting into a car with him one time.

He said, “Hey can I drive you back to the hotel.”

I said, “Yeah Buford.”

And I got in the car with him and suddenly he is going 125 mph on a country road and he says, “I’m sorry I don’t seem to be able to get my speed out of this.”

And I am like, “Yeah Buford”

I know he was trying to scare the Hell out of me. (laughs) And he was, but I wouldn’t let on, but I never got into a car with him again that he was driving unless there was a woman present because he was very protective and respectful of women.

When the first film was going to be promoted they had done a stupid thing with the ads and they had this stupid ad that they were having a party after the screening of the thing and the screening was they had invited all the Sheriff’s department to see the screening. All of these producers thought they had a big hit in their hands, well they didn’t know what they had done was wrong.

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And they had this party after and the President of Bing Crosby Productions who had only been president of a perfume company before that, a nice man, called me over and said, “Come on out and greet the releaser of the film. He just saw the film tonight.”

And I said, “Oh really.”

And here is this little dude standing next to me. He said, “He did the artwork for the ad and he is going to see the film tomorrow.”

And I am looking at these other producers all drinking, they feel like they have a big success on their hands. “So you are going to release the film and you just saw it tonight? And dinky dong over here did the artwork for the ads? And he is going to see the film tomorrow?”

I said, “Gentleman, this is exactly why your film is going to go down the tubes.” These guys are looking at me like I am ruining their party. I said, “You’re running an ad that doesn’t sell the film that we’ve got.”

They had a picture of Joe Don Baker standing there with a big club sticking out of his fly like a you know what. I think the same guy must have done the Shaft in Africa ad that was done the year before. He is standing here with this big club sticking out from his groin, again club, club, club sticking out and where dumb guys start to misunderstand what a movie is about. And behind Buford over his left shoulder, where Joe Don Baker is Buford, there are two women with their see-through blouses showing their all. All of which was in the movie. These lovely women showing their all and then over the other shoulder there is a car flying through the air with machine guns shooting out of the window, well that is in the movie too. And at the bottom of the thing with the big club underneath it says, “The Story of a REAL Man.” Like ugh God.

And I said, “Gentlemen, the ad that you are running doesn’t sell our film that we did. It is going to be in the drive-in theater for about two weeks and then it is going to disappear and it is going to go down the tubes.”

And they are looking at me and I’m ruining their party, but one of the producers, a smarter guy, pulls me aside and he says, “Will you come and have lunch with me tomorrow at the Brown Derby?”

And I said, “Sure.”

He says, “Now tell me your ideas.”And I did.

And then he asked me to come over to Bing Crosby Productions the next day and give him more ideas. And I redid their ad, but it was too late for L.A, that was the ad and it did exactly what I said. It’d be in the drive-in for two weeks and then down the tubes, but they redid the ad for Chicago and the ad I did, which I had Joe Don Baker hugging his wife and two kids, and the club was just leaning against a wall behind him. And it said, “A Man Must Protect his Family and his Territory.” And then at the bottom it said: “Based on a true story.” And that is the ad that sold it in Chicago and it became the hit structure of the Walking Tall. Now, nobody is going to say that Bruce Glover saved Walking Tall, but I did. (laughs)

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You have said for anyone to be their best at their craft whatever it is they have to stop worrying what anyone else thinks of them. Do you think that is important in most aspects of life?

Yeah, absolutely. Of course, being a football player you are being an athlete. I am still an athlete even at my age. I can’t play soccer anymore. I played for thirty years. I created two teams…so anyway when you play sports you just have to look at the ball. Where is it? Who is that other player? What is going on? What do you do? You just keep moving with life. I mean you have to let life come in and affect you. And not have it so controlled. The same with art.

It was the same thing with Buford when he and I sat in front of this corny old director and did a read through. Buford read through with me. He was terrible. And then the director just stood on one foot and then the other and he wobbled out there and said, “Tell me when it is lighted.”

Buford said, “I was terrible.”

I said, “Yeah you were.”

He said, “What am I going to do?”

And I said, “This is what you’re going to do.”, and again this is how I teach acting, I said, “Buford when you should be sitting in your car and you see a car whizzing by and you decide to follow them, you’d look at their license plate and call it in and wait for any information on the license plate, then you watch how he was driving, and then you turn on your lights to make them stop, you watch how he is reacting, and then when he stops you park your car and be out a couple of feet so you wouldn’t get hit by car coming from behind, and when you approach the back of his car, you’d look to make sure there was nobody in the back seat. And in the driver’s seat, you’d look over his shoulder to make sure he didn’t have any weapons. And when he got out of the car you’d watch his hands and watch him and make sure, that he was not holding a weapon and you’d be looking at his eyes, and when he talked to you, you’d be watching how he is talking. You’d watch how he responded to what you were saying.”

He said, “Yeah I do all of those things.”

I said, “Well that is how you act.”

And he went, “Oh. Okay.”

And he was terrific. He got it. And that was my acting lesson to him, just do the real things. And he was going to be terrific.

When I had my boys, Crispin was up at a Boy Scout camp and Buford just had one little piece of dialogue and I was already out of costume. I was going to go up and meet Crispin at this Boy Scouts camp. And Buford was always all about family.

And I said, “Buford, you don’t need me for this.”

And he said, “No I’ll see you in Tennessee.”

I reached up and goosed him and he said, “I’ll get you in Tennessee.” and we both walked out laughing. And then he was murdered of course. What a loss it was. So anyway I watched Tennessee change, to continue that thing about Tennessee, over the next two films. The two films were all about the club but I watched Tennessee change and it became more integrated and restaurants changed and you could now bring your own bottle in. I made friends with a couple of local blacks who would take me to nightclubs and I’d be the only white person in it. I learned a lot about dancing by learning how their rhythm was working. My wife being a dancer we used to dance together a lot. So I learned a lot in Tennessee the one thing I did learn was different writers, different producers, different things I think the Walking Tall went way off base and they lost the real Buford.

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Is it true that when Crispin’s mother married you she thought, “Who am I marrying?” when she first saw that Hellion wasn’t your real middle name? What was she like as a person? What did you love most about her?

That she wanted me. She wanted me from the first she saw me. She made me know it and she made me want her. And I did. And she was smart and tough and brave. She was a terrific dancer. I did dancing too, I did an Off Broadway show for a year where I did East Indian Kathakali dancing. But she and I used to dance together. She was a terrific, strong woman, she had the physicality of a dancer with all the muscles. The brightness of her face and her eyes. She was a brilliant woman. And she grabbed me and made me marry her, Betty. And I miss her every day. We had fifty-six years of marriage and it’s three years almost now since she died. And she dies every day as far as I am concerned. I will never not miss her every minute. I mean I miss her every day.

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How did becoming a father change your outlook on the world?

Well, of course being a father is not too dissimilar to being an older brother protecting his little sisters and his little brother who eventually came along. You have to teach your child and I remember being born, literally.

So before Crispin was born I started talking to him. Putting my mouth on my wife’s tummy and talking to Crispin and playing classical music. Putting classical music on her stomach.

I think you have to have an influence and your responsibility to a child is to give to them and help them grow and to stimulate them with things. I did that and his mother did that.

The idea is not to make him conform to your way of doing things but to help them find their way of doing it which is what I believe any teaching has to be.

I used to pose for art classes and the best teachers were those that didn’t teach anything. They just went around approving of what everyone was doing. I remember there was one teacher up at the Art Institute of Chicago, I posed in his class and he just went around telling everyone how great their stuff was and he was right. (laughs) All these other people criticizing even at the Art Institute were destructive. And I don’t think you need to criticize you just need to show people life and let them live it and live their art.

So a child has to be shown…stuff and let them reach out for it. His mother did and I did. Crispin had the benefit of both of us and he had the benefit of our genes and lots of brain cells in there, from both of us. And that is being a good parent as far as I am concerned.

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What was Crispin like as a child growing up? How did it feel to have him direct you in It Is Fine! Everything is Fine. ? What are your personal feelings on that particular film?

As a little kid, he was very brave. I was in New York City. I remember him walking miles without even looking around to see if I was following him. He would climb up rocks with me, of course, I was right behind him to make sure he didn’t fall but he’d just climb. He was always very brave and curious, and he didn’t whine and cry a lot. He never crawled. The first time he got out of his crib he didn’t crawl he stood up and walked. So he had a sense, from the moment he was born he had a sense of looking around and seeing life and I guess I had already introduced him to lots of that before he was born where I used to talk to him.

Working with him as a director… is fine. He is smart enough to recognize if what you are doing is good and direction is collaboration. We still will collaborate on future things. He is a terrific director. He is smart. He is my son too. In the long run, you know the love is there and the caring and the appreciation of each of us and our talents. So again, Crispin was great to work with. I don’t know if I’ll get to have him direct me in something else again or maybe I’ll get to direct him in something. I’m writing scripts too.

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Bruce & Crispin at the premiere of “American Gods” season 2.

You have said that Cripsin, as a director has an eye for talent when it comes to casting people who have never acted before. Where do you think that ability comes from ?

I think that is just the seeing of real.

I mentioned it earlier. That Guy Hamilton had it for Diamonds Are Forever the Bond film where he took Putter Smith who had never acted before so I am playing bass fiddle with Thelonious Monk and he said, “That’s got to be one of the guys.”

So he just saw that there was a quality that Putter Smith had. It was a gift to me. He didn’t know how much of a help he was, but he gave me something to bounce off of in creating my own character in looking at his character. Since it was a rare kind of movie where for the first time in history two characters were being identified as gay. There were some strange guys.

There were more in Chicago and New York, well you know they are everywhere and great people mostly. Betty had a lot of gay friends around so that was one of the things I didn’t want to do when I did the character in the Bond film. I didn’t want to do that buddy of Betty’s going, “Oh if you two get divorced. I don’t know which one I am going to marry.” (laughs)

People are people. It doesn’t matter if you want to hump…an elephant or not. Keep it to yourself. (laughs)

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As an artist yourself, what do you love most about the act of creation in all of its various forms?

Just the experiencing of it, the doing of it. Sometimes the results fit in the changing of it. And the learning process. That it is a constant learning. And if you are not learning while you are doing an art then you are not doing it right.

Good actors never know quite what is going to be I think. There are actors that come across as good because they do the same thing over and over, and at the end of the night, they are so great looking that they get away with it.

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Are there any little known things about you that people might be surprised to know?

I suppose the Dyslexia, which I mentioned. What my theory is, is if you have a talent for something, you should do it. You don’t have to learn how. Do it. And that is one of the things I do as a teacher and I hardly have any classes anymore because all of these people who are bad teachers spend a lot of money advertising. So, if anybody is smart enough to come to me, I will help them.

One of the things they won’t know and might be surprised to learn is that I am very kind. And I want to help people. And that is what I would get out of teaching, is seeing somebody grow, but most people only listen so much and they don’t do the work that they have to do. I mean the working class dude that you asked me about earlier, that is true of…everything. If you don’t do the work you are not going to be very good at it. If you don’t take some chances you are not going to get there.

You have to take chances. I took a lot of chances as an actor where you would just barge into places and just do things and if you got a part you might change it and never discuss with anyone what you were going to do.

One of the things that I am, I suppose, is that I totally, outrageously…don’t live by the rules. The rules have to be found out now. Now I change the rules, now I have to do these rules. And you have to look at to some degree, a certain amount of balance about how you care for people and take care of them.

I suppose maybe, that might one of the things. Like Crispin…we are kind to people. We like people, but we are not going to be pushed around. (laughs)

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What would say is the key to a life well lived?

Living it. You know, every minute. Being in the moment. Not being afraid. Taking the pain when it comes and living that too. Live, live, live and that is what it really is all about.

How do you hope to be remembered when your time comes?

Ah, who cares? I’ll be dead. (laughs)

bruceglover

Is there anything else you’d like to say in closing?

Live your life. That is what I try to do and whatever part of it that you are in right now. Be in it. Get through it. If it is great, it is great. If it is not great, live through it. Do work. You have to be working on something. If you are not creating something you are not living. You have to create stuff that is not abuse of a lot of people. Create something that educates people. Be an educator, be a protector and by protecting others you protect yourself. Your own integrity is to constantly learn. Learn something new every day. If you are not learning you are dead.

I’ve been close to death many times and even the death process is kind of a learning process.

I remember I had a motorcycle accident where I knew I was going to die. I ran into a cow that had ran out on the side of the road. A big steer with horns coming right at my face. And I knew I was going to die, but I noticed that his mouth was slopping his tongue out. And I laughed. So even at that moment when I knew I was probably going to die, I found it funny (laughs).

I had another moment where I was going to be struck in the face by a rattlesnake while I was climbing a cliff in Utah. And as it was striking at me I still noticed how beautiful it was.

So live it til the end and laugh when you can.

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(Author’s note: My deepest thanks to Mark Kinnaman who took the time to call and record this interview,  as well as Bruce Glover, himself for giving of his time so graciously).

An Interview with Didier Konings

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Didier Konings (27) from the Netherlands is currently Lead Digital Matte Painter / Concept Artist at Aaron Sims Creative, concept design and visual effects studio based in Los Angeles. For the past four years and a half, Didier has been working full-time at Aaron Sims Creative. Working on several blockbusters and delivering iconic concept design work and memorable visual effects. Some of the highlights being – The look of scenes for the film Rampage, the majestical worlds of the film Wrinkle in Time, The design for the Island for the film Wonder Woman, the bizarre Upside Down world for the hit TV series – Stranger Things, and the fantastical worlds for the Chinese blockbuster Asura.

What was it like growing up in the Netherlands? What are some of your most fond memories of those days?

I grew up in a small town that is part of Rotterdam called Hoogvliet. Growing up in a nice neighborhood where I had a lot of friends that are still up until this day my best friends.  When I was young I was in South Africa where my grandpa lived at the time. I was still very young. There was one night they where screening Jurassic Park. When I saw that my mind was blown. Funny enough the day after we were on a safari trip in a similar kind of car. I felt like I was in that movie, and I thought there might be dinosaurs around. It was very intense for me as a kid.

So seeing that movie of me being a dinosaur fan was for me a milestone because since then I became very interested in film making.  The film became an obsession for me in a way that I really wanted to find out how they made those dinosaurs alive. I watched and researched the behind the scenes endlessly. For some people finding out how it was made makes the magical aspect of it go away, but to me, that was where the real magic is. Inspired by that film and many other films I saw I started to film my own films with my friends.

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When did you first discover your love of art?

I had a very rich fantasy life as a kid and through drawing, I was able to scribble that into a visual format. Dinosaurs have always been my biggest passion. I had a lot of books with amazing drawings that inspired me.

Do you happen to remember what the first you loved to draw as a child was?

Definitely Dinosaurs!

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What led you to leave for the United States? Did you experience any culture shock? How do the two places differ most?

There was no culture shock, the shock was more that it’s exactly how I imagined it to be. I remember my first impression was that it all feels very cinematic like a film scene. L.A. is really a car city, so the infrastructure is built on that. Like the roads streets, parking lots.  Funny enough I’m still riding my bicycle as a crazy Dutch. But it really is a car city.

Do you ever get back to the Netherlands much these days?

Every winter and Every summer. Winter to celebrate Christmas with my family.

And the summers are nicer in the Netherlands since the temperatures are perfect, L.A. during the summers can be very extreme hot.

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You also work as a filmmaker from time to time I understand? What do you love most about that?

Directing films and telling stories have since I was young always been my passion. The fact that I’m able to express my vision in the form of a film is great. I like to collaborate and guide all the aspects of film since I’m passionate about everything it takes to make a film. Sound, Music, Cinematography. Acting, so by directing I’m able to work with people on those things. Nothing makes me more satisfied to see multiple talents coming together behind the camera and in front. Smoke comes in the lights go on, the set becomes alive, the actors transform into characters. Those moments are truly magical to me.

How did you come to find yourself working as a concept artist?

As a big movie nerd, I had the idea to make my own feature film at the age of 17, directing the low budget feature Boys in War. I spent four years on it and the aspects I enjoyed the most were directing, design, and visual effects.

So I enrolled at the Netherlands Film Academy, specializing in Digital Matte Painting and Concept Art. Afterwards, I completed a design internship at  Aaron Sims Creative, concept design and visual effects studio in Los Angeles during the summer months of 2014. In 2015, I graduated with the film The Space Between Us a post-apocalyptic science fiction film where I was able to do the Production Design and Visual Effects.

My dream of moving to Hollywood became a reality, So I moved to Los Angeles to work for Aaron Sims Creative. I work there for 4,5 years already and was able to work on a lot of big film projects, gaining lots of experience.

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Are there any projects you have worked on that were more dear to you than others?

Yes for sure. I feel very lucky to say that I have worked on things I would have never thought I would work on. I remember so clearly the night I saw the first Pirates of the Caribbean. That was so awesome!  The visual effects were so great, and still hold up to today. I once did a vfx test with my friends to replicate the effect of the skeletons being revealed by moonlight. And crazy enough … years later while I was doing the internship at  ASC where I had the opportunity to work on the 5th installment, designing the dead crew from Salazar. I was blasting the soundtrack whole the time while painting. That was great!

What do you enjoy most about the act of creating?

As an artist being able to express my ideas and visions that first live in my mind then while creating they appear in a visual form, I think that transmission process, sharing ideas in such matter is very unique and make us humans so magical.  I’m a visual thinker and can see things up until detail level in my head, I always try to bring as much of what I envision on paper.

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What advice would you offer to others looking to pursue a similar career?

I would say the only thing that makes you stop is yourself. Work hard really pays off. And push yourself always to go further and keep learning, that’s to me the most fun part. The industry changes fast, new techniques, software, and expectations. so you have to keep up. I feel it makes it fresh and fun, rather than staying in your comfort zone. I also gained a lot of growth when I changed my mindset towards critique. I really wanted people to be very hard on my work and smash it into a thousand pieces if needed. Around that time I really saw a big improvement in my work. Community is also key. Surround yourself by artists, learn from each other. Find yourself a mentor person, who is preferably a couple steps ahead in where you would love to be in the future. Don’t lock yourself away and try to invent the wheel by yourself I would say.

What projects are you currently working on?

Recently I have worked on the new X men The Dark Phoenix and I’m currently working on a film called Mouse guard and another big thing that I’m able to say a word about.

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Do you have a dream project you’d most like to bring into existence?

I’ve been working on a film project for a while that I created and directed. The Cast and Crew that were involved are very close friends. Our chemistry is like a well-oiled machine. It’s such a pleasure. We are in discussion with investors to secure funding for a new feature film project (a long form version of a short film we shot last year in Iceland). Though that’s all I can speak on it at this stage, we are extremely confident in this project and cannot wait to see where it goes.

Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?

Thank you very much for this interview and great questions.

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An Interview with Charlie Matthau

2012 Tribeca Film Festival - Tribeca Talks: Freaky Deaky

Charlie Matthau has directed successful feature films in various genres and has also directed several network television projects. In addition to the critically acclaimed The Grass Harp, he has also directed Doin’ Time on Planet, Her Minor ThingBaby-O, Freaky Deaky, and is in post-production on The Book of Leah which stars Armand Assante. A graduate of USC Film School, he has also produced and written several films. He has won several awards for directing including Best Director of the Year from The Academy of Family Films, and the AFI Platinum Circle award. He is currently developing Bodyguard of Lies, a World War Two thriller, and several other film and television projects including the limited series 1920: The Year of the Six Presidents based on the book by top historian David Pietrusza.

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What are some of your earliest and most fond memories growing up with encouraging parents in such a creative atmosphere?

I was blessed to be raised by older and more mature parents. My father was 42 when I was born and he did not become really famous until I was about 4 years old. I think I benefited greatly from being raised by folks who were not overly consumed with their careers, or their success. My father enjoyed being a film star, but he also could see through the baloney of Hollywood.

What was it like to have Charlie Chaplin as your godfather? What was he like?

Charlie was very quiet and sensitive, and modest considering he was the greatest movie star in the world for many years, and practically invented motion pictures.

As a shy child what was the most difficult thing about being in front of the camera? How exactly did your father make acting more fun for you?

I never really enjoyed acting as I don’t enjoy being vulnerable and open emotionally. But when I acted with my father, he taught me that acting is listening. That helped me not be focused upon myself but instead be in the moment, and hopefully be more natural.

You have said he taught you that acting is about listening. Can you elaborate a little more on that? Do you think in today’s world people tend to listen less than they should in most circumstances?

What?…I absolutely do. When you are talking you are not learning.

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How has being shy changed for you now as an adult vs as a child? Do you still sometimes struggle with that shyness?

I am still naturally shy, but as one gets older and gets life experience, you realize that engaging with others is not so scary and very little of what we do or say will matter in 100 years or even 100 minutes.

How did it feel to have the chance to work with your father and Carol Burnett on The Marriage Fool?

It was a joy. I am in awe of their talent, their chemistry and of what beautiful human beings they are, or in the case of my father, were.

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How was it to work with Crispin Glover on Freaky Deaky? What is he like as an individual?

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Crispin since we both attended The Mirman School for Gifted Children in Bel Air California. We were both there for many years and even acted in the school play together. He is extremely smart, uncynical, collaborative and funny. I wish I could work with him on every project.

Who have been some of your favorite actors to have worked with so far? Have any been more challenging than the others?

There have been so many. Getting to work with my father and Jack Lemmon, Piper Laurie, Sissy Spacek, Mary Steenburgen, Joe Don Baker, Charlie Durning and all those wonderful actors on Grass Harp was a priceless experience I will always treasure. I’m glad the film turned out so well so that I did not embarrass them or waste their time. I recently worked with Armand Assante, and he is a world class talent and gentleman.

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What do you think it takes create a piece of work that everyone involved in can be proud of?

It takes a good script, creating a safe, collaborative and fun environment, and a lot of luck.

Are you still planning to bring about The 1920 Election television series? Can you tell us a little more about that?

The election of 1920, the first modern election, is surprisingly similar to 2020. The main issues were isolationism, anti-intellectualism, terrorism, immigration, a presidential sex scandal, women’s rights, and the manipulation of new media to sway voters. In 1920, it was radio and in 2020 it is social media like Facebook. It was also the year we had our first woman president, Mrs Woodrow Wilson who ran the country for a year and a half when her husband had a stroke.

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I understand The Book of Leah is almost finished as well. Why did you decide to work on that particular film at this time?

I was blessed to be hired to direct the film by its Producer and Writer Leslie Neilan. She wrote a beautiful story about a young woman’s coming of age that is extraordinarily sensitive and intelligent. Usually, the assignments that I get offered as a director are not of a high standard, but this was truly a gift and I am grateful to have had the opportunity. I got to work with amazing actors like Armand, Brianna Chomer, Kate Linder, Melanie Neilan, Morgan Lindholm, Gigi Freedman,  Ornella Thelmudottir, Ty Olowin, Jimmy Van Patten and Freddie Cole, who is a jazz legend. I could listen to that man sing all day.

I also got to work with many nice crew people including the producers Ken Achity, Alan Gibson, Ellison Miller, Mark and Arlene Fromer and, for the 5th time, with my favorite DP and mentor John Connor.

Do you still work with the Maria Gruber Foundation? Can you tell us more about what it is they do there?

The Maria Gruber Foundation was started by my friend Simona Fusco. I was Simona’s first boyfriend and I’ve been bragging about it ever since. She named it after her beautiful mother who passed away from cancer but whose beautiful spirit lives on in Simona and her daughter Amber. Our government really needs to spend more on cancer research, because it kills a lot of its citizens.

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Do you think it is important that those in a position to help others who are in need do so whatever way they can?

I sure do. Otherwise, really, what is the point of it all? I know certain people have really helped me through the years, and I’d be a disaster without them.

What projects do you hope to bring into existence in the years ahead?

My favorite project is Bodyguard of Lies which is the most amazing true story you have never heard of. It is about Juan Pujol, a failed chicken farmer who saved at least 14 million lives in the Second World War. You know, a good chicken farmer will do that for you.

Is there anything you’d like to say before you go?

Just that it is a pleasure to re-connect with you after several years. Thank you for remembering me and for your kindness and graciousness.

An Interview with Crispin Hellion Glover

American Gods Season 2 2019

Crispin Hellion Glover has appeared in a wide variety of projects with Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Back to the Future, Wild at Heart, The Doors, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Charlie’s Angels, Willard(the remake), Beowulf, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, Hot Tub Time Machine to name a new. He can currently be seen on both season’s of American Gods as the ever imposing Mr. World.

Not one to be idle long Crispin is also getting ready to kick off the next leg of his tour Monday, April 1, 2019. The tour features showings of his films It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE. And the first part of the “It” trilogy, What is it? Which are offered up in different combinations that vary by venue along with Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show which features an hour-long dramatic reading of eight lavishly illustrated books he has made over the course of his days.

Upcoming dates can be found at: http://www.crispinglover.com/

 

You have said that as a child you learned from your schooling that it is good to question things. How has that served you well in your life so far? Why do you think it is important for one to always question things?

It suppose it depends on where one wants to rank in life. If someone wishes to follow group values then it is not necessarily as important to question. But if someone wishes to seek out truth and to innovate then it is important to question things.

What was it like to appear on such shows as Happy Days and Family Ties at such a young age?

I had been studying acting professional starting at age 15 and had been working professionally since age 13 so I thought of it as work, and a challenge to do good work as an actor.

What was it about acting that inspired you to pursue it professionally at such an early age? What do you love about it most?

I was raised in a middle-class income household as opposed to an upper-class household, so I knew I had to make money to support myself and that I would not be supported by my parents after age 18. Because my father was making a living at it and my mother had retired at both a dancer and actress seemed like a plausible vocation.

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Who were some of your influences in the world of acting?

I started viewing films in repertory cinemas when I was 16 that were showing classic films from the ’20s through the ’70s.

Do you think you inherited some of your talent and drive to succeed from your parents? What were they like as individuals? What would you say is the most important thing you learned from each of them?

I’m not certain if inherited is the correct word, but I’m sure the environment I grew up in instilled an appreciation for professionalism in the film world.

My mother was passionate about dance. She was in the San Francisco ballet company and then moved to NYC and danced and acted in Broadway and toured with musicals. She remained going to ballet class til just before she died almost three years ago.

My father was working in theater in NYC. My parents met at a theater audition. I was born in NYC and we moved to LA when my father started getting more work as an actor in LA than in NYC.

The most important thing I learned from them is probably the reality of work in the theater/film as a professional venture.

How have you changed most since your early days?

My energy is different. In certain ways I’m very much the same as a child and in other ways I’m different. I feel like my artistic interests, although more mature, are pretty similar to when I was a child.

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How did it feel to play Andy Warhol in The Doors? Are you a fan of his work yourself?

To my knowledge I was the first person to portray Andy Warhol in a feature film. I met and spoke with Andy Warhol at the wedding of Madonna and Sean Penn. It was right after Back to the Future had come out which he had apparently seen. I did not speak with him for so long but definitely enough to get an idea about him. He was quite nice to me. I stood back and looked at him and watched how he held himself and thought he would be an interesting person to play. I pursued the role when I heard there was an Andy Warhol role in the Doors movie. I had met Oliver Stone previously for Platoon which I was not in, but we had a good meeting.  I auditioned and I got the role. I asked for some of the lines to be removed and Oliver Stone obliged. He was excellent to work with. Oliver Stone also produced Milos Foreman’s People vs. Larry Flynt which I had a great time working on.

Are you enjoying getting to play Mr. World on American Gods? What do you like most about that particular character? What do you find is the most interesting aspect of that series? Do you find the modern Gods pale in comparison to the elder ones when it comes to personality and character?

 I’m glad to play Mr. World. My first film What is it? is my psychological reaction to the corporate constraints that have happened in the last 20 to 35 years in film making. These constraints have led to a certain kind of corporate propaganda and I was fascinated when I found out I was being offered a character that was an embodiment of something along the lines of what my first film was about. Part of what is interesting about Neil Gaiman’s beautiful book is that the masks of the various gods fall off so to speak and the thoughts that create the gods sort of merge into new different versions of similar ideas. It touches on the concept of ideas forming gods.

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What led you to form your own publishing company with Volcanic Eruptions? What do enjoy most about creating your own books for the world’s enjoyment?

The live aspects of the shows are not to be underestimated. This is a large part of how I bring audiences in to the theater and a majority of how I recoup is by what is charged for the live show and what I make from selling the books after the shows.

For “Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show” I perform a one-hour dramatic narration of eight different books I have made over the years. The books are taken from old books from the 1800’s that have been changed into different books from what they originally were. They are heavily illustrated with original drawings and reworked images and photographs.

I started making my books in 1983 for my own enjoyment without the concept of publishing them. I had always written and drawn and the books came as an accidental outgrowth of that. I was in an acting class in 1982 and down the block was an art gallery that had a book store upstairs. In the book store there was a book for sale that was an old binding taken from the 1800’s and someone had put their art work inside the binding. I thought this was a good idea and set out to do the same thing. I worked a lot with India ink at the time and was using the India ink on the original pages to make various art. I had always liked words in art and left some of the words on one of the pages. I did this again a few pages later and then when I turned the pages I noticed that a story started to naturally form and so I continued with this. When I was finished with the book I was pleased with the results and kept making more of them. I made most of the books in the ’80s and very early ’90’s. Some of the books utilize text from the binding it was taken from and some of them are basically completely original text. Sometimes I would find images that I was inspired to create stories for or sometimes it was the binding or sometimes it was portions of the texts that were interesting. Altogether, I made about twenty of them. When I was editing my first feature film What is it? There was a reminiscent quality to the way I worked with the books because as I was expanding the film in to a feature from what was originally going to be a short, I was taking film material that I had shot for a different purpose originally and re-purposed it for a different idea and I was writing and shooting and ultimately editing at the same time. Somehow I was comfortable with this because of similar experiences with making my books.

When I first started publishing the books in 1988 people said I should have book readings. But the books are so heavily illustrated and the way the illustrations are used within the books they help to tell the story so the only way for the books to make sense was to have visual representations of the images. This is why I knew a slide show was necessary. It took a while but in 1992 I started performing what I now call Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Side Show Part 1. The content of that show has not changed since I first started performing it. But the performance of the show has become more dramatic as opposed to more of a reading. The books do not change but the performance of the show, of course, varies slightly from show to show based the audience’s energy and my energy.

People sometimes get confused as to what “Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show (Parts 1&2)” is so now I always let it be known that it is a one-hour dramatic narration of eight different profusely illustrated books that I have made over the years. The illustrations from the books are projected behind me as I perform the show. There is a second slide show now that also has 8 books. Part 2 is performed if I have a show with Part 1 of the “IT” trilogy and then on the subsequent night I will perform the second slide show and Part 2 of the “IT” trilogy. The second slide show has been developed over the last several years and the content has changed as it has been developed, but I am very happy with the content of the second slide show now.

The books and films are all narrative. Sometimes people see thematic correlations between the content of my books and the content of the films.

The fact that I tour with the film helps the distribution element. I consider what I am doing to be following in the steps of vaudeville performers. Vaudeville was the main form of entertainment for most of the history of the US. It has only relatively recently stopped being the main source of entertainment, but that does not mean this live element mixed with other media is no longer viable. In fact it is apparent that it is sorely missed.

I definitely have been aware of the element of utilizing the fact that I am known from work in the corporate media I have done in the last 25 years or so. This is something I rely on for when I go on tour with my films. It lets me go to various places and have the local media cover the fact that I will be performing a one hour live dramatic narration of eight different books which are profusely illustrated and projected as I go through them, then show the film either  What is it? Being 72 minutes or It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE being 74 minutes. Then having a Q and A and then a book signing. As I funded the films I knew that this is how I would recoup my investment even if it is a slow process.

Volcanic Eruptions was a business I started in Los Angeles in 1988 as Crispin Hellion Glover doing business as Volcanic Eruptions. It was a name to use for my book publishing company.  About a year later I had a record/CD come out with a corporation called Restless Records. About when I had sold the same amount of books as CD/records had sold it was very clear to me that because I had published my own books that I had a far greater profit margin. It made me very suspicious of working with corporations as a business model. Financing/Producing my own films is based on the basic business model of my own publishing company. There are benefits and drawbacks about self distributing my own films.  In this economy it seems like a touring with the live show and showing the films with a book signing is a very good basic safety net for recouping the monies I have invested in the films

There are other beneficial aspects of touring with the shows other than monetary elements.

There are benefits that I am in control of the distribution and personally supervise the monetary intake of the films that I am touring with. I also control piracy in this way because digital copy of this film is stolen material and highly prosecutable. It is enjoyable to travel and visit places, meet people, perform the shows and have interaction with the audiences and discussions about the films afterwards. The forum after the show is also not to be under-estimated as a very important part of the show for the audience.

This also makes me much more personally grateful to the individuals who come to my shows as there is no corporate intermediary. The drawbacks are that a significant amount of time and energy to promote and travel and perform the shows. Also the amount of people seeing the films is much smaller than if I were to distribute the films in a more traditional sense. The way I distribute my films is certainly not traditional in the contemporary sense of film distribution but perhaps is very traditional when looking further back at vaudeville era film distribution. If there are any filmmakers that are able to utilize aspects of what I am doing then that is good. It has taken many years to organically develop what I am doing now as far as my distribution goes.

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What do you love most about the art of creation in whatever form it may come?

 It is hard to distinguish at this point in time because the creative arts are also part of my day to day business, so at a certain point business merges with creation and then sometimes one is doing creation to satisfy business needs as opposed to simply create for the sake of creation itself. But that is OK. It is good to have business that merges with creative aspects.

Can you tell us a little about your tour for those that might not be familiar with what you do there?

 I am very careful to make it quite clear that What is it? is not a film about Down’s Syndrome but my psychological reaction to the corporate restraints that have happened in the last 20 to 35 years in film making. Specifically anything that can possibly make an audience uncomfortable is necessarily excised or the film will not be corporately funded or distributed. This is damaging to the culture because it is the very moment when an audience member sits back in their chair looks up at the screen and thinks to their self “Is this right what I am watching? Is this wrong what I am watching? Should I be here? Should the filmmaker have made this? What is it?” -and that is the title of the film. What is it that is taboo in the culture? What does it mean that taboo has been ubiquitously excised in this culture’s media? What does it mean to the culture when it does not properly process taboo in its media? It is a bad thing because when questions are not being asked because these kinds of questions are when people are having a truly educational experience. For the culture to not be able to ask questions leads towards a non-educational experience and that is what is happening in this culture. This stupefies this culture and that is of course a bad thing. So What is it? is a direct reaction to the contents this culture’s media. I would like people to think for themselves.

The film started production as a short film in 1996. It took 9.5 years from the first day of shooting on the short film to having a 35 mm print of the feature film.  I wrote it as a short film originally to promote the viability of having a majority of the characters that do not necessarily have Down’s Syndrome to be played by actors with Down’s Syndrome.

The way this came about was this. In 1996. I was approached by two young writers and aspiring filmmakers who were from Phoenix to act in a film they wanted to produce and direct. They made a monetary offer to my agents which they really should not have done as they did not actually have financing. Nonetheless, it did get me to read the screenplay which I found to be interesting. This screenplay was not What is it? I found interesting things about the screenplay and was interested in the project, but I thought there were things about the screenplay that did not work. I came up with solutions that needed re working of the screenplay and I told them I would be interested in acting in the film if I directed it. They came to LA and met with me and wanted to know my thoughts. There were quite a few things but the main things were that most of the character were to be played by actors with Down’s Syndrome. They were fine with this concept and I set about to rewrite the screenplay. David Lynch then agreed to executive produce the film for me to direct. This was very helpful and I went to one of the larger corporate entities in Los Angeles that finances films and met with them. They were interested in the project but after a number of meetings and conversations, they let me know that they were concerned about financing a project wherein most of the characters were played by actors with Down’s Syndrome. The title of this screenplay at this point had become IT IS MINE. And will become part three of the “IT” trilogy. It wasn’t known yet at this time that there would be a trilogy but it was decided that I should write a short screenplay to promote that the concept of having a majority of the characters played by actors with Down’s Syndrome was a viable things to do for corporate entities to invest in.

This is when I wrote a short screenplay entitled What is it? We shot this short screenplay in four days. I edited that over a period of six months and the first edit came in at 84 minutes. The final feature length film of What is it? is 72 minutes. So the first version of the short film is longer than the final version of the feature film, and it was too long for the material I had at the time, but I could see with more work and more material I could turn it into a feature film. Over approximately the next two years I shot 8 more days and edited this into what is now the final version of the film. I locked the edit of the film about three years after the first day of shooting what was supposed to be a short film. Then there were a number of years of very frustrating technical problems that mainly had to do with SMPTE time code. Originally I was going to make the film the now old fashioned way of a complete photochemical process and not digital intermediate. An optical house in New York that did not give me enough information to let me know that the SMPTE time code had not been properly put on when the film was telecined. During this time I worked patiently on the final sound edit of the film with a number of interns. Finally that sound edit was finished and it became apparent that the film optical house was not telling me the truth and prices had fallen during this time so I was able to make the film using a digital intermediate to ultimately go out to a 35 mm print of the film. So from the first day of shooting what was to be a short film to having a 35 mm print for the film took 9.5 years.

Sometimes people ask me if the length of time it took for me to make the film had to do with working with actors with Down’s Syndrome. This was not the case. Even though the film took many years to make much of the delay were technical issues. What is it was actually shot in a total of twelve days which was spread over several years. Twelve days is actually a very short amount of shooting days for a feature film. The most important thing about working with an actor whether they have Down’s Syndrome or not is if they have enthusiasm. Everyone in I worked with had incredible enthusiasm so they were all great to work with.

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Steven C. Stewart wrote and is the main actor in part two of the trilogy titled It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE. I put Steve into the cast of What is it? because he had written this screenplay which I read in 1987. When I turned What is it? from a short film into a feature I realized there were certain thematic elements in the film that related to what Steven C. Stewart’s screenplay dealt with.  Steve had been locked in a nursing home for about ten years when his mother died. He had been born with a severe case of cerebral palsy and he was very difficult to understand. People that were caring for him in the nursing home would derisively call him an “M.R.” short for “Mental Retard.” This is not a nice thing to say to anyone, but Steve was of normal intelligence. When he did get out he wrote his screenplay. Although it is written in the genre of a murder detective thriller truths of his own existence come through much more clearly than if he had written it as a standard autobiography. Steve had written his screenplay in the late 1970’s. I read it in 1987 and as soon as I had read it I knew I had to produce the film. Steven C. Stewart died within a month after we finished shooting the film. Cerebral palsy is not generative but Steve was 62 when we shot the film. One of Steve’s lungs had collapsed because he had started choking on his own saliva and he got pneumonia. I specifically started funding my own films with the money I make from the films I act in when Steven C. Stewart’s lung collapsed in the year 2000 this was around the same time that the first Charlie’s Angels film was coming to me. I realized with the money I made from that film I could put straight into the Steven C. Stewart film. That is exactly what happened. I finished acting in Charlie’s Angels and then went to Salt Lake City where Steven C. Stewart lived. I met with Steve and David Brothers with whom I co-directed the film. I went back to LA and acted in an lower budget film for about five weeks and David Brothers started building the sets. Then I went straight back to Salt Lake and we completed shooting the film within about six months in three separate smaller productions. Then Steve died within a month after we finished shooting. I am relieved to have gotten this film finally completed because ever since I read the screenplay in 1987 I knew I had to produce the film. Steven C. Stewart’s own true story was fascinating and then the beautiful story and the naïve including his fascination of women with long hair and the graphic violence and sexuality and the revealing truth of his psyche from the screenplay were all combined. There was a specific marriage proposal scene that was the scene I remember reading that made me say “I have to produce this film.”

I also knew I had to produce it correctly. I would not have felt right about myself if I had not gotten Steve’s film made, I would have felt that I had done something wrong and that I had actually done a bad thing if I had not gotten it made. So I am greatly relieved to have completed it especially since I am very pleased with how well the film has turned out. We shot It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE.  while I was still completing What is it? And this is partly why What is it? took a long time to complete. I am very proud of the film as I am of What is it? I feel It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE. will probably be the best film I will have anything to do with in my entire career.  People who are interested in when I will be back should join up on the email list at CrispinGlover.com as they will be emailed with information as to where I will be where with whatever film I tour with. It is by far the best way to know how to see the films.

After Charlie’s Angels came out it did very well financially and was good for my acting career. I started getting better roles that also paid better and I could continue using that money to finance my films that I am so truly passionate about. I have been able to divorce myself from the content of the films that I act in and look at acting as a craft that I am helping other filmmakers to accomplish what it is that they want to do. Usually filmmakers have hired me because there is something they have felt would be interesting to accomplish with using me in their film and usually I can try to do something interesting as an actor. If for some reason the director is not truly interested in doing something that I personally find interesting with the character then I can console myself that with the money I am making to be in their production I can help to fund my own films that I am so truly passionate about. Usually though I feel as though I am able to get something across as an actor that I feel good about. It has worked out well.

Steve was a genuinely great guy! It is hard to define what my relationship with Steve is/was. During the approximate 15 years I knew Steve from 1986 to his death in 2001 I would communicate with him in spurts. He started writing me short emails urging to make his film after we shot his portions of What is it? in 1996. He would write simple things like “When are we going to make the film before I kick the bucket?”

Steve was definitely gracious and had a genuinely rebellious sense of humor. If he had only had one of those qualities I probably would not have related to him as much, but the fact that he had both a sense of humor and a sense of rebellion made it so I could very much relate to him.

I personally financed the film and had taken out no insurance if Steve were to die. Steve was a strong person and I knew that he has an inner need to get this story out. He had already stayed alive by getting an operation to get this film made and I knew he would stay alive no matter what to get the film completed. About a month after we finished shooting I got a telephone call one morning and it became apparent that Steve was in the hospital with a collapsed lung again and that he was basically asking permission to take himself off life support and he wanted to know if we had enough footage to finish the film. I know that if I had said “No Steve. We do not have enough footage. You need to get better and we have to finish the film” He would have gotten whatever operation needed to get better and been happy to come back to the set and shoot. As it was we did have enough footage and it was a sad day and heavy responsibility to let him know that we would be able to complete the film.

In retrospect Steven C. Stewart was a great communicator. Steve has had great positive influence on my life and as much as I did like and enjoy Steve when he was alive, I realize even more how much he was important to me. It may sound sappy, but if Steve were here today I would be very happy to tell him how much he ultimately positively has affected my life.

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What is the most challenging issue you face in bring this tour to the masses?

The largest challenge is just getting the shows booked in proper cinemas. It is not as easy to book the shows as one might think since there is a performance aspect along with 35 mm prints. Most cinemas are no longer venues that also accommodate live performances.

Can you tell us more about the film you completed shooting where you and your father Bruce appear onscreen together? What was that like?

There is a light at the end of the tunnel on my next feature film project that I have been shooting different productions segments for the last five years and am currently editing. This film is not part three of the trilogy but a film developed for my father and I to act in together for the first time.

Do you have any dream projects that you’d most like to bring into being?

I already know what film production I want to make next, but I have to complete the current production first.

What do you think is key to a life well lived?

To do things one is interested in doing.

How do you hope to be remembered when it is all said and done?

It is more important for me to just do the things I am interested in doing.

An Interview with filmmaker Shane Stanley

Shane Cropped in Studio

To say Shane Stanley has had a unique childhood is an understatement. At nine months old he was appearing in national television commercials and before his fifth birthday had worked in over 100 projects sharing the screen with such Hollywood legends as June Lockhart, Lloyd Haynes, and David Arkin. The son of a working actor-turned-filmmaker, Shane had a lot the tools of the trade at his disposal and by the age ten was comfortably running a 16mm camera, flatbed-editor, and Moviola. Shane jumped from in front of the camera to behind the scenes where along with his father he co-produced The Desperate Passage Series, which was nominated for 33 Emmy Awards and won 13 statues making him the youngest to ever win a production Emmy at only 16. Shane would be nominated a total of four times and win again before graduating high school. In the TV series, five of the seven specials went #1 in the Neilson Ratings, which included A Time for Life and Gridiron Gang. A Time for Life, (created by Shane), was acquired by Disney and won the coveted Christopher Award, which is presented to the filmmakers that affirm the highest values of the human spirit. After an intense bidding war Gridiron Gang would be acquired by SONY but wouldn’t get made for another fifteen years.

Soon after, Shane wanted to venture out from underneath the family business and into the real world. He re-started at the bottom, working as a production assistant for various networks on hit shows like Seinfeld, Roseanne, Sea Quest, and Coach. He was fired twice and drove a craft service truck while working as an extra to stay ‘relevant’ before landing at Paramount as an executive assistant where he worked on everything from Entertainment Tonight to Clear and Present Danger starring Harrison Ford. In 1996, Shane met Charlie Sheen through some mutual friends and within three months became the Vice President of the movie star’s production company where life suddenly went into fast-forward.

Within the first year, Shane had a hand in co-writing and producing several motion pictures starring Marlon Brando, Mira Sorvino, Thomas Hayden Church, Donald Sutherland, Marisa Tomei and of course, Charlie and Martin Sheen. He worked closely with many top executives and developed key relationships including one with the late, great Zalman King, who brought us cult classics like 9½ Weeks, Red Shoe Diaries and Wild Orchid. Shane collaborated with Zalman until his death in 2012 and would go on to produce a handful of films including the #1 Box Office hit Gridiron Gang starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and several television specials that have taken him around the world working with stars such as Jackie Chan and Jane Seymour. He Directed his first film, A Sight for Sore Eyes starring Academy Award nominee, Gary Busey and hasn’t looked back since. In the past few years Shane has Directed or Produced hundreds of television commercials and music videos, four feature films, two television pilots and now just completed his first book entitled What You Don’t Learn in Film School: A Complete Guide to Independent Filmmaking which has landed on the required reading list at many top institutions. Fresh off of his book tour, I caught up with Shane at Anarchy Post just outside of Los Angeles, where he was overseeing final mixes to his upcoming film, The Untold Story which is due out nationwide in early in 2019.

Me and Dad

Lee & Shane Stanley

Your father Lee Stanley also works in the entertainment industry. How did his work influence you to pursue your own?

My father always did things his way. He never succumbed to what others felt he should do or tell his stories the way decision makers thought he should. He was a maverick in the documentary world and owned it from 1987-1993. It was a hell of a run. That being said, I always wanted to be in a position to tell the stories I wanted to tell and the way I wanted to tell them.

What would you say is the most important thing you learned from him in regards to working in the industry? What is the best advice he ever gave you in regards to life in general?

Work hard and do your best at whatever you set your hand to whether it’s directing a film or sweeping the floors.

Do you consider yourself lucky to have been taught so much in regards to film at such a young age?

Yes and no. I was doing things when I was eight or nine that most third-year film school students are just learning. In the eyes of many, I ‘peaked’ before I was old enough to vote, so the expectation level was high as I grew older and the pressure was pretty severe. I’m no genius. I’m just a guy who works hard and loves what he does and is comfortable doing it the way I do. I get a lot of flack from some people who question why I haven’t amounted to certain heights but I’m pleased with where I am proud that it has said “filmmaker” on my tax returns for over 30 yrs.

Do you remember what it was like to be in front of the camera at such an early age? What did you learn from all of that? At the time did you enjoy working behind the camera or in front of it more?

I just remember being incredibly bored waiting and feeling a great deal of pressure to get it right during every take. I always felt terrible if I was having an ‘off’ day and was responsible for the crew having to work longer because of my mistakes. I learned that I hated being in front of the camera (laughs) I preferred whatever got me out of school and being in front of the camera did that a lot but felt more comfortable being a worker-bee than an actor.

Coca-Cola Village Blacksmith

“Village Blacksmith” by Frederic Stanley for Coca-Cola.

Your grandfather was the iconic artist Frederic Stanley who shared a studio with Norman Rockwell and created some of the most memorable images in Americana. Do you think having such creative minds in your ancestry has helped you see the value of creation in all forms?

I’d like to think I have some artistic talent and sensitivity that has been passed from my grandfather and my father. In fact, my great-grandfather on my dad’s side of the family was also a well-known stage actor in New England. I’m a fourth generation artist from what I understand.

Do you think in times such as these the power of escapism and solace found in both art and entertainment are as important as ever?

I absolutely do. Regardless of who or what you support, we’re always under attack and getting information overload. I always believed our job as filmmakers was to create an escape for our viewers and now, it seems people are seeking an escape more often than ever. But I also feel that we have a responsibility to leave audiences with something more than an empty box of popcorn when it’s all said and done.

Who were some of your earliest influences both in front of the camera and behind it?

Carroll Ballard, Hugh Hudson, and Mark Rydell were my favorite storytellers growing up. As far as actors, who didn’t love Harrison Ford? He was the only actor I’d make sure to see every film he was in – except Mosquito Coast. I hate mosquitoes.

What do you love most about the art of filmmaking?

Every aspect. There’s not a part of the process I do not enjoy. But it’s a love-hate kind of thing. Every time I’m in pre-production I swear it will be my last film. The pressure becomes almost unbearable. You lock in one actor but another cannot shoot a specific day. The location you landed demands otherwise, there’s never enough money and your crew always has other projects they’re working on while you’re in prep so pulling on them is often difficult. Then somehow, some way everything magically comes together and we bag our beast. When its all over and were in post-production, I realize as painful a process as it was, we all survived and I start to miss my cast and crew and start thinking about what we can work on next to bring us all together again.

Shane Directing

How does it feel to see a project come to completion on screen?

I don’t have children, so I can guess it’s the closest to creating life as I’ll ever get. An idea is conceived, its nurtured to become real, then you shape it into something that will eventually go out into the world and be its own being. It’s quite rewarding.

What would you say is the most important element needed to produce a truly moving motion picture?

What’s moving is subjective. I mean, I can’t watch Cool Runnings without crying my eyes out. 99% of the people on this planet probably don’t cry during that film but I do. The point is, you have to have a thread of emotion that will touch hearts. If you can do that then someone somewhere will relate to your art.

Why is it that so many film school graduates never end up actually making movies?

You mean never actually complete their final projects or go on to make movies in the real world? (laughs) To keep my temper in check, I’ll assume you mean the latter. I think there are great fundamentals taught in the classroom but the business of the business isn’t taught and if it is, it’s glossed over. So many of the key elements to get movies made are never touched upon in film school. It’s just not part of the curriculum. Everyone wants to learn to write, direct and frame a shot but the essentials of concept-to-delivery and all the integral parts in between in order to get it done and done right are rarely taught.

Do you think it is fair to say one must possess a certain amount of grit and determination to make it work in the entertainment industry in general?

I do. I think Paul Williams said it best in the foreword he wrote in my book, “If you’re easily discouraged, the entertainment industry is probably not a good fit for you. This is a tough and ruthless business. There are too many people lined up to take your slot in the industry so you have to be resilient and tough as nails…and never let the bastards get you down. You will never please all the people all of the time. People will go out of their way to write and say horrible things about you, usually because they’re not the ones making movies.

At CPU

Do you think one has to learn to accept failure and keep moving towards their goals in order to learn how to work more successfully?

Absolutely. I mean if we cannot learn from our mistakes, how do we grow? There is no formula for a successful film. If there were then 80% of big-budgeted and star-studded films wouldn’t fail.

Have you ever felt like just felt giving up?

At least seven times a day…

What advice would you offer people who might be dealing with such feelings in whatever area of their lives?

I was told at a very young age by Wells Root, who co-founded the Writer’s Guild of America, “If you don’t like the industry, get the hell out!” I realized instantly that if anyone died tomorrow in our business, Hollywood would march right on without them and wouldn’t miss a beat. The only advice I could give is if you truly love instability and constant judgment, this is the job for you!

Do you think it is fair to say that to be a gifted filmmaker one must continue to learn for the rest of their lives?

After being in this business my entire life, I don’t claim to know it all and I learn something new every day! We’re ever evolving as long as we open our eyes and ears as well as our hearts and our minds.

What was your very first day as a production assistant like? Were you nervous it being your first day and all or were you excited to have the chance to be learning the trade?

It was too long ago. (laughs) And I was a total nervous wreck. I knew I was at the bottom of the totem pole and needed to please my superiors to stand out so yeah, I over thought every little detail. And these nerves were coming from a PA who had already won 2 Emmy’s and been nominated 4 times beforehand as I went to work for the studios after my success as a child.

WYDLFS 300 dpi

How have you changed most since your earliest days?

I’ve learned to slow down and it’s not because of age. It’s like that cow and bull story Robert Duvall tells Sean Penn in Colors…this bull and his son were walking along the ridge and saw a whole pasture of cows. The son said, “Hey dad, lets run down and f*ck one of those cows!” The bull said, “Slow down son…let’s walk down there and f*ck them all.” What’s the rush? Take a breath and enjoy the ride – all of ‘em.

Are there any specific people you have enjoyed working with more than others over the course of your career?

There are a handful of people I enjoyed working with and quite honestly, in all my years can only think of one or two I didn’t. I take something with me with every collaboration and cherish the opportunity to work with people from all different walks of life who are all makes and models.

What led you to write What You Don’t Learn in Film School?

Honestly, I was tired of answering the same questions over and over when I mentored students or consulted with other filmmakers. I realized I was giving away hundreds of hours every year and giving the same advice like a broken record so I took three weeks and wrote the book.

How does it feel to have some of the most respected names in Hollywood today give praise for your work on this book?

It means the world. I admit a lot of what is in it is a reflection of them or are working together so it pleases me to know they feel I have taken what I learned from our experiences or life lessons and paid it forward for others to use as a roadmap.

What do participants learn in your workshops and seminars?

I try to offer them encouragement and all the ammunition I can in the hope they’ll be motivated and better prepared for a life in the industry. I explain that it’s a marathon – not a sprint – and remind them that even though we all have big dreams to write, produce and direct, there are 100’s of other jobs in our industry that pay very well (and more often) and if they could put their pride aside could make a wonderful living in our business instead of working in or around a less desired field. So many of the students believe they’re going to go from graduation to becoming the next Damien Chazelle but the fact of the matter is, that happens to one in a million and they have to lay the groundwork for a career that can last a lifetime in our industry instead of realizing six months after they graduate, when the student loans are due their only option is to get a job in an industry they never intended to work in.

Do you enjoy encouraging others to follow their dreams and pursue careers in film?

It’s by far the most rewarding thing I have ever done.

What is like to have the chance to teach others from your own experiences?

It’s good when they listen, (laughs). I don’t want them to have to go through some of the hell I went through. My book is 200 pages of painful trials and errors. The reason I teach is because I want their journey to be successful and if I can at all contribute to that, then I have done my part.

Are you still working on the book Why Good Actors Don’t Work?

No. I shelved it a few months ago. I didn’t think the first book would have me out teaching so much and with my production schedule, I only have so much time in the day. Eventually, I would like to pick it back up but it is going to have to wait a while.

Mistrust Sheet 1

What projects are you looking forward to bringing into existence next?

After The Untold Story releases, I would like to just breathe for a bit. It’s been a non-stop grind for several years and I’d like to stop and just smell the roses for a bit. Director/Producer Adam Kane and I have been looking to collaborate on something. I think we’re getting close to figuring out what that might be and if it goes, it could take me away for a while so I am cramming in as many seminars and teaching engagements that I can.

You and your wife Val work with various charities. What do you enjoy most about giving back?

I think it’s important to find a cause or two and help any way you can. I believe to whom much is given, much is required. I’ve been blessed to do what I love and it is important to us to help out with causes that are in our hearts.

Do you feel particularly blessed to have a wife that shares your passion when it comes to such causes?

I couldn’t do it without her. I’m very fortunate to have a spouse who gets me – and understands the inner workings of our industry along with the inconsistency and whirlwinds that can pick up without a moments notice.

What do you think is key to a life well lived?

Leave the world a better place than you found it. Always give and when you receive, be gracious.

Is there anything you’d like to say before you go?

As always, Tina – it’s a pleasure to speak with you. Thank you for the time and interest in my career to share with your readers.

Shane and Val Premier of Gridiron

Shane & Val at the Premiere of “Gridiron Gang.”