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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

Live@Sundance Opening Presser… from a café in Chicago

The first Sundance I’ve attended where I couldn’t make it to opening day, and I’m missing the tradition of the opening presser, where Robert Redford offers his opening invocation of the ideals of Sundance. (All’s missing is thin air and the murmuring of cynical scribes seated nearby.) The work of the Sundance Institute gets described in general terms before the specific results light up the screens for ten days to come. But for 2011, the opening remarks by Robert Redford and new Executive Director of the Institute, Keri Putnam [profile], as well as John Cooper. “It’s great to be in a second year, and not a first year, let me tell you,” Cooper says. “I’m almost relaxed!” “We are live-streaming this, so hello out there!”

Cooper repeats his prediction that it may be one of the most packed festivals in years, but warns that’s anecdotal. “We’re already sold out, but the word on the street, I think, it’s going to be a very big year and maybe very crowded on the streets. I fear that this kind of constant, ongoing situtation of ambush marketers may be back—I like to call them riff-raff. At an event of this size, that is to be expected. I wish they could find a way to contribute to independent film in generral, but I have to keep looking at the sponsors who support this festival and the year-round stuff that we do.” The magic happens in the theaters, he added, “because that’s what we do.” Cooper also adds that for 2011, the festival received over 10,000 submissions.

“Mr Redford, you’re in your 70s, any plans of retiring?” a woman asks and Cooper bolts from the stage. “Who are you?” he laughs. Redford says, “I think you’ve just given me a great idea! I have not thought about retiring. I’m going to die,” he says, laughing, “but I haven’t thought about retiring.”

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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