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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

“Neurofibrillary Tangles” by David Sahner

 

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Neurofibrillary Tangles

 

Like shimmering wings of flies
Worlds collapse into silence.
The words begin to stammer
As if they had tongues of their own.

Now he can’t remember his name.

He roams
Time’s frozen avenues
Looking for a lift
The serene order
Of wine-dark streets –

Time will soon wither
To a hand waving its empty signs
Perhaps something
Simpler even than this.

 

The poetry of David Sahner has previously appeared in Connecticut Review, The Bitter Oleander, The Sandy River Review, Catamaran, Foliate Oak, and a number of other venues.  He is also a physician/scientist.

“In the face of…” by Joanna Jeanine Schmidt

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by Howard David Johnson

 

In the face of…

In the face of
personal defeats

in this life,
do not continue

to wander the
earth, mewling,

but plan for the
future with the

fire left over from
your battle and

look out over the
horizon with the

confidence that
you have survived.

Joanna Jeanine Schmidt has been published in literary magazines such as Slipstream Magazine #33, 34thParallel Magazine #44, and several of her poems will be published in the forthcoming April issue of FreeXpresSion Magazine (Australia).

An Interview with Robert Hinkle

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From a pilot in the Air Force to the rodeo circuit and on to work both in front of and behind the camera Bob Hinkle has seen and done it all. He most notably taught James Dean, Rock Hudson, Mercedes McCambridge, Dennis Hopper, and others in the cast of Giant to speak like true Texans. He appeared in such films as Hud and the last film produced by Howard Hughes, The First Traveling Sales Lady, and on such iconic television series as Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, Annie Oakley, and Bonanza just to name a few. In later years he also worked in the music industry as the manager of Marty Robbins. His most impressive role being the husband of Sandra Larson, Queen of the Rodeo in Moses Lake 1950, for some sixty-six years and counting. He summed up some of his most cherished memories working alongside Mike Farris to produce the book Call Me Lucky: A Texan in Hollywood.

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Robert in “Gunsmoke.”

Tina Ayres: What was it like growing up in Texas when you did? What do you remember most about those days? How do you think those early days helped shape you into the man you would become?

Robert Hinkle: Well what I remember the most is how poor we was. I remember one Christmas we had to whitewash a tumbleweed for our Christmas tree. I am not kidding we was from a poor family and I couldn’t hardly wait to get out of school. I was in the tenth grade and a guy from the recruiting office from the Air Force came down and told, and I said well I’ll go ahead and get me a diploma because none of my other family had had diplomas. So he said, “I can get you a diploma in four months.” And I said, “How do you do that?” And he said, “Well we’ve got correspondence courses (which is now a G.E.D deal). I said, “Do you guarantee it?” He said, “Yeah.” And about three weeks later I enlisted in the Air Force. And I did get the G.E.D about four or five months later, but I just remember growing up, I was born on a ranch out there and I was on a horse by the time I was three months old riding with my dad and my uncles. It was just a lot of fun and everything. That’s one of the reasons I liked working in the movies because you are kind of re-enacting all that stuff from when you were young.

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Bob Hinkle and James Dean on the set of “Giant.”

Tina Ayres: Is that how you first came to be interested in the rodeo?

Robert Hinkle: Oh yeah, every kid there. I’d have rather been the world champion cowboy than I’d had The President of the United States. That was my mentality and what I wanted to do so while I was in the service I still did a little rodeoing on weekends you know when there was a little rodeo around where I was stationed. And then when I got out of Air Force I started rodeoing and then doing construction work so I could afford to rodeo. I got discharged when I was up in the state of Washington and I stayed up there and I got married up there. I was in a rodeo, it was in Oregon and they were shooting a movie down there called Bronco Busters (1952) and I was one of the guys they picked to do stunts and stuff like that in the movie. And then when I got married and we moved to California in 52, the Fall of 52, and that is when I got started in the movies down there.

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Tina Ayres: When you worked on Giant, which of the actors would you say was the most endearing to work with? Which offered you the greatest challenge?

Robert Hinkle: Jimmy Dean was the best you know. Mercedes McCambridge, Dennis Hopper, Carroll Baker, and Rock Hudson all of them, they were just a delight to work with and I really never had any problem with any of them. Well, Elizabeth Taylor didn’t learn a Texas accent. He wanted her to keep that Eastern accent. She ended up being a good friend.

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Tina Ayres: What was James Dean like as a person? Do you think who he was as a person often gets overlooked in favor of celebrity image that has been created over the years?

Robert Hinkle: Well he wasn’t really a celebrity as such when he died. Because he died so young and he only had two movies out at the time. Actually he only had one movie out. He had East of Eden and then Rebel was released after that, and that is the movie that really kicked him upstairs until when Giant came out and then it was all over he was a top star then. But he never thought of himself as a star.

He was kind of shy and laid back. You know a very nice guy and he was kind of lonesome for Fairmount, Indiana. We just became real good buddies. He spent a lot of time over at our house, eating. He liked that home cooking of my wife’s. We spent about 7 and a half months, nearly every day together. I can’t even think of a day that we missed, on weekends and everything.

Mark Kinnaman: After the work on Giant away from the set did you ever see him again?

Robert Hinkle: I did every day and night while we were on Giant but we were still shooting Giant when he got killed. He told me one time when he first met me, he said, “ I heard you’ve been hired here by Warner Brothers to work with Rock Hudson, to teach him a Texas accent.” He said, “I’d like for you make a Texan out of me where I can be a Texan twenty-four hours a day.” That is what we really tried to do. Two or three times while we were down in Texas doing Giant I had people ask me, said, “What part of Texas is he from?” and I thought that was a compliment, because he talked like a Texan down there, he wore Levi’s and boots and a hat, and rolled his own cigarettes just like them old timers did and things like that. Everybody liked him. Everybody down there in Marfa, they just thought the world of him. The other stars were kind of standoffish a little bit like Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson. Now Dennis Hopper this was really his first big picture and Carroll Baker hers, but Mercedes McCambridge she won an Oscar on it and she played Rock’s sister. She was isolated, kind of stayed by herself you know.

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With Patricia Neal on the set of “Hud” 1962.

Tina Ayres: As someone who has worked both behind the camera and in front of it did you prefer one more than the other? Why?

Robert Hinkle: Yeah, I really, I guess I had more fun when I was doing extra work and then when I was doing stunts. It was kind of fun when I started doing acting but I was a little scared you know because I’d never had any training, but I found out that I had a knack for doing stuff behind the camera. I was a little more creative there than I was becoming a Broadway actor so I really enjoyed that. And then when I made the transition in about 1960, 59 because I wrote and directed and produced a picture for Universal called Ole Rex, it was kind of a Disney type of picture, that is when I got the bug and from then on I directed and produced and wrote scripts. I did a little acting here and there the last thing I did was a Walker Texas Ranger in 1995, that is when I retired up in Dallas. That was the last thing I played a two parter in that called, The Reunion with Chuck Norris.

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Tina Ayres: Was it somewhat therapeutic to work with Mike Farris on your biography Call Me Lucky: A Texan in Hollywood?

Mark Kinnaman: Did it bring back a lot of memories?

Robert Hinkle:  Oh Man it really did and the thing about it was when I first met Mike, the way that came down we was living in Dallas I had retired from my Walker Texas Ranger and the Southern Methodist up there the library had a program every year where they’d bring in about eight or ten celebrities to set at a table. Each one of them had a table and then the people paid, I think fifty dollars a piece or something like this to come in and have dinner and sit with a celebrity and discuss different things. And my table was talking about the movies being made in Texas which I was connected with Hud (1963), with Paul Newman, with Brandon De Wilde, and Patricia Neal and Melvyn Douglas they both won Oscars on it and with Giant. So there was a lady she was a commentary on a t.v station there in Dallas and she was sitting at my table and we got to talking and she said her husband had a table over there himself and he was the guy that when Kennedy was shot he worked for the Dallas Morning News and he saw it right there. He was right on the sidewalk when it happened and he got into the car with the policemen that finally arrested the guy over in Oak Cliff. She said, “Oh my husband said he really wanted to sit at this table.” I said, “Man I’d love to sit at his table.” When it was over we all met and she said. “Why don’t you do a book?” And I said, “Well I don’t have the education and the whatever it takes you know to put a book together.” She said, “I’ve got a good friend let me call him and see if he’d work with you.” That is how she got a hold of Mike Farris and then Mike called me.

When I met with Mike I started to tell him some of these stories, he had a kind of funny look on his face. I know he thought now this is some bullshit. I didn’t have any credentials, no World Championship or this or that, All American this or that. So he got on the internet and he started looking up some of the stuff. Then he started coming up with pictures that I was in that I’d even forgotten about. He really got interested because he said, “Hell this guy is legit.” So I’d take and put a story down. I’d just tell a story, like, “July  25, 1946, I soloed and got my pilots license and then I went on in like that and I’d record it and then he’d take it and put it into book form and he knew the way to do it. How to go from one chapter to the next and write teasers for this and that and that is how we got started and the more I worked with Mike the better I liked it and I learned an awful lot working with him.

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Robert and Mike Farris at a “Call Me Lucky” book signing.

Mark Kinnaman: How long did you work with Marty Robbins?

Robert Hinkle: I met him in about 1957 and his manager died in 68 or whatever it is, it is in the book. I was friends with him all that time and then from 1968 til the time he died which was fourteen years I was his manager.

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With Marty Robbins & Sammy Jackson during a break while filming “Country Music.”

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

Robert Hinkle: Oh I guess just being honest and not getting tied up in dope and alcohol and stuff like that. And don’t get too carried away with yourself. Don’t believe all that publicity, because it will go to your head.

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With Larry Mahan at the Rodeo Cow Palace 1976.

Tina Ayres: What are your personal feelings on life, death and what comes after? 

Robert Hinkle: Well I don’t know. If I had it to live over I’d like to do it all even the bad in along with the good. It was so much fun for all those years. I just feel blessed. I’ve been married 66 years to the same woman and had three beautiful kids and family and friends. I’m a fifty-year mason, fifty-one year mason now. I’ve hundreds of friends. I don’t smoke. I never did smoke, or drink. I never took drugs. It’s clean living, being honest, and having your word as your bond. You don’t have to have a contract with me, a handshake will do it.

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

Bob Hinkle: I just hope to be remembered, as somebody says, “What do you think of old Bobby Hinkle? “, “ Well he was a pretty good old boy.”

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With Evel Knievel at the Los Angeles Coliseum for a big jump 1978.

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

I’ll probably live another ten years. I am in real good shape. Just tell that young lady I appreciate her doing the story. Tell Pam Crawford I said hi, she is a good friend of mine and my wife.

 

(This interview was written by Tina Ayres and conducted by Mark Kinnaman. ~ Thank you Mark.)

An Interview with & the Art of Frederick Cooper

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Frederick Cooper has worked as a conceptual artist/illustrator from 2008-2018. He currently works freelance creating portraits in both traditional and digital illustration. His works heavily feature horror icons of the silver screen. More examples of his work can be found at his ArtStation site.

What is it like living in Hickory, NC? How does it feel to see the community taking more of an interest in the arts?

I’ve seen a lot of small businesses take to local artists and give a space for people to enjoy their work. I’m happy for them, it gives life to this small town and gets us to enjoy the community around us more. I usually cloister myself away to work but over the years I have seen the town become more interconnected thanks to all the events coming about across town. It’s nice.

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Where are you from originally? What are your most fond early memories?

I’d think it would be my brothers taking me to the movies in our hometown of Danville, Virginia. I was four years old or so but we still watched a lot of sci-fi and horror flicks. I’d say some of my fondest memories come from us doing that together.

Your work features a lot of the icons from the heyday of horror films. What is it about those particular pieces of work that led you to recreate their most iconic actors in your portraits?

That goes hand and hand with the last question. I have fond memories attached to those films.

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What were some of your earliest influences in that genre?

Universal monsters mostly, Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolf Man etc. The older I got, the more diverse and eclectic my film-viewing became.

What quality do you think the earlier horror films had that seem to be lacking in the genre today?

Atmosphere. It doesn’t have to be gothic horror like Dracula or Crimson Peak but I see a strong focus today on cheap writing: Jump scares and strong violence. Now there is nothing wrong with those strategies in film but much of early horror was bereft of it and managed to have greater impact. This was because of the atmosphere they set.

I remember reading before about the difference between terror and horror. Terror is the dread of the terrible experience and horror is the revulsion that follows the experience. I think what would be best for the horror genre today, and what would give it more staying power with people, would be less of a focus on horror and more of a focus on terror. I’m sure I’m not the first to say that though.

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When did you first know that you wanted to become an artist yourself? Who are some of your influences in the art world?

Since I was very small – around the same time I began watching those movies. My brother, Curtis taught me a few things about composition and rendering and I haven’t stopped since. My biggest inspirations would likely be Frank Frazetta, Basil Gogos, and Bernie Wrightson. I had the pleasure to meet all three actually, which fulfilled a childhood dream of mine. Outside the genre, my influences included N.C. Wyeth, J.C. Leyendecker and of course Norman Rockwell. There’s just so many influences though. That’s just a few.

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Why do you think art has been a sort of comfort throughout the ages?

I’d say there is a human need for beautiful things in your life. That’s true for anyone. That might sound strange coming from someone doing primarily horror but what art does is take parts of life and make it captivating so I think it still holds firm.

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Why do you prefer to work in portraits? What is it about the human form that makes it so well suited for such things?

I’d like to get to drawing scenes as well, actually, but portraits are fine means of capturing the spirit of a scene or of a character efficiently. I’ve done only a handful of scenes in the past months and they’ve taken considerably longer. That’s hard on you when you want to draw more.

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What do you look for when deciding what subject you will use in a portrait?

It’s just a feeling. Mainly, I’m doing what I like to see in a portrait. It has to say something about the subject.

Do you have any particular pieces of work that you enjoyed creating more than others?

Not exactly. I enjoy the craft and so the subject matter doesn’t influence me much. The working conditions is what can be make or break on whether the quality of the work is good and whether I enjoy myself though.

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How do traditional illustration and digital illustration differ most? Do you enjoy one more than the other?

Both are very enjoyable once the creation begins. There’s nothing like the feeling of traditional art however. I like being hands on.

What are some the challenges an artist faces when working freelance?

Keeping your calendar filled with projects.

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What do you love most about the art of creation?

The process of creating something that didn’t exist. It’s just a joy in itself.

What do you hope the viewer takes away from your various works?

Well first I hope they like them. But moreover I want them to have a greater appreciation for the characters and movies I draw from and inspirations that influenced me and shine through in my style.

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What projects are you looking forward to working on next?

Well I recently got back to painting for the first time in over twenty years. I’m looking forward to exploring that a lot more.

What do you think it takes to be a success as an artist, money aside?

Dedication. I think it was Bob Ross that said that a talent is a pursued interest. You need to be able to not just produce works but dedicate yourself in improving your form.

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

Family and happiness.

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

I’d just like to thank everyone for reading this interview and a special thanks to you Tina for your support and patronage. It means so very much.

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