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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Step 1: Hire Foreign Director w/ 0-1 Visa. Step 2: Fire HIm

Remember all that banter on Oscar night about how international the American film business has become? (Look Three Amigos! directors from Mexico making acclaimed and successful films like CHILDREN OF MEN and BABEL, and English-as-second-language stars like Penelope Cruz and Djimon Hounsou up for acting awards — it’s almost as though moviegoevers don’t care who makes a movie, as long as it’s good.
Hang on a minute. It’s still a rough landing for many international talents — especially acclaimed directors who get a first chance to make a US studio film.
As this Guardian piece by Patrick Goldstein points out, more than a few have been hired and then bounced from their own projects — or pretty much left out of the post production process.
Ang Lee’s Chinese language films (from PUSHING HANDS and THE WEDDING BANQUET) have nearly all won critical acclaim and international awards. His studio films have not: RIDE WITH THE DEVIL, a post-Civil War combat film was uneven but ambitious in scope — and THE HULK turned out to be an expensive letdown to fans and the studio that bankrolled.
But the Guardian doesn’t point out that Lee wasn’t unfamiliar with the US way of working — he’d long ago emigrated from Taiwan and was a resident of upstate New York. Others cited in the piece, though, were newcomers: Oliver Hirshbiegel of Germany won acclaim for DOWNFALL, a 2005 Academy Award nominee — he’d also made thrillers back home. But while in charge of THE INVASION, another remake of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, the studio brought in the Wachowskis (of MATRIX fame) and James McTeigue (V FOR VENDETTA) to handle reshoots.

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One Response to “Step 1: Hire Foreign Director w/ 0-1 Visa. Step 2: Fire HIm”

  1. Peter says:

    I interviewed Ang Lee just before the release of the film and he insisted that he had full control over the film and if “the film sucked,” he was to blame.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon