Wednesday 13 May 2020

[Interview] David Weiner - In Search of Cinema Legends

Any film nerd worth their salt should know the name David Weiner a writer with a sterling reputation as a film journalist - a living almanac of film and entertainment knowledge, as well as an insightful film maker. His work has won him accolades and garnered respect from some of the biggest names in the industry.

Born in New York City David had always wanted to work in film inspired by his love of genre television and blockbuster cinema releases during the golden age of entertainment. Raised on a cinematic diet of spectacular blockbusters, including 'Star Wars' and independent films during the VHS era, David's dream never wavered and so after high school he enrolled at one the country's top film schools, Ithacha College of Film. David chose this school as it allowed him to start learning the practical side of film making early into the course, and was already producing short films in his freshman year. Like any aspiring auteur David's search took him to Hollywood where he worked on a strong of projects as a production assistant, 2nd unit director, and assistant director for both independent films and major studio productions. 
David's career took a different path into film journalism at the dawn of the internet publishing. There he made a name for himself as a story breaking and award winning journalist for a variety of top publications including 'Entertainment Tonight', 'The Hollywood Reporter', 'LA Weekly', and the iconic 'Famous Monsters of Filmland.'  Nowadays David is back as film maker with a a trilogy of documentaries that explore the icons and giants of 80s cinema with producer Robin Block and their company CreatorVCTheir portfolio includes successfully crowdfunded titles 'In Search of the Last Action Heroes - written and directed by reviewer Oliver Harper - which looked at the golden age of 80s action cinema. Oliver's film proved a big critical and commercial success along with the follow up 'In Search of Darkness', David's own exploration of the legends of horror. 

Now David is in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign for 'In Search of Tomorrow', a 4 hour epic examination of the legends of sci-fi cinema and it truly promises to go where no documentary has gone before. Within hours of launching the campaign reached it's target of £32,000 and has at the time of writing this feature, exceeded its target by 900% thanks to 3,765 supporters. The funds go towards the cost of production and act as pre-order sales for copies of the finished film and merchandise. Cine-Bijou spoke to David about his life, career and his latest foray as a 'nostalgia curator' and as we learned during the course of the interview when two film nerds meet and start talking that conservation will be epic.

What was it about LA that led you to upstick and relocate there?  Is it really the mecca of film making? 

For me, there really was no other place. I wanted to be in the entertainment industry, and it is the Mecca of film making. There is a film industry in Chicago where my parents were, there are films in New York, there are films in all sorts of places. I had a I considered working in London, because I had my junior year abroad, living in London in South Kensington, loved the city. I had an internship there and I visited various studios, but  Los Angeles was the very obvious choice. That was the summer of 1988, a big year for me as I became an intern at Walt Disney Studios in the department for production resources which was essentially product placement. 

I learned all about working on a studio getting my first production experience because I'd work on weekends, for free, on these PSAs [public service announcements] for a guy named DJ Caruso before he went on to become a director - ‘Eagle Eye’, ‘Sea and Salt’ -  he was just working at production resources and he said, ‘Hey Dave, I'm working on production you want to be a PA?’ and I said  ‘you hand me a walkie talkie and I get to, you know, yell 'ROLLING!' and 'CUT!', are you kidding me? You got it.’ That gave me absolute confirmation  I wanted to live in Los Angeles and pursue my dreams there and I also had the accompaniment of a bunch of my film school pals, who also came out at the same time so we all helped each other out, my roommate, got a job at Charlie Band’s Full Moon entertainment. My first job out of college was running around as a production assistant and I ended up working in a variety of capacities on some of those films, everything from a production assistant to an assistant to location production, system locations, and an assistant director.  I also got to work as production manager on titles ranging from ‘Netherworld’ to ‘Demonic Toys’ to ‘Puppet Master III’, all the fun ones. 

When you're working the freelance life you take what you can get as I was trying to carve out a path as a non union assistant director to get enough days to be part of the DGA [Directors' Guild Association]. Sometimes though you’ve got to work, you’ve got to feed yourself and you’ve got to keep moving. So I would bounce around and do a variety of things just as they would come along. But I ultimately sort of came to realise as I got pretty enough days to qualify to apply to join the DGA, I realised I didn't. I was tired of freelance life, and I was tired of standing on sets for 15 to 18, hours a day sometimes more. I did one 24 hour day on a music video and I'm just like, you know what, I know that's not DGA  rules but this is the kind of stuff I'm doing and I can't do this forever. I'm young, sure and at the time, I could do it but it's not where I want to go and I was more interested in writing and crafting stories. I realised no one's going to hand me a directing job on a silver platter; I've got to earn it. So either I have to make my own films or I have to write my own films and attach myself to them. I started in development doing script coverage and script analysis. I wanted to know  ‘how the sausage was made’ in development so I could be on the other side. If I was going to be writing stories I needed to see the process of how things get made and how it works through the chain of command. That was a very illuminating and at the same time disheartening process. 

Wow! So what was the film you worked on?

The first movie I ever worked on was a feature film that went straight to video but it was a movie called ‘Round Numbers’ and it starred Kate Mulgrew who would go on to Star Trek Voyager. She was the best and treated me like I was her teacher's pet, she knew it was my first movie and she took me under her wing and was so nice to me. I found it in the trades and I interviewed for them. They said ‘we can't pay you’ and I said, ‘I'm happy to work for free’ and they said, ‘All right, what are you doing tomorrow?’ [Laughs]  Within a week they started paying me and then once production started I went from being a PA to second second AD [Assistant Director], which I thought was strange enough but guess what? Now I got to learn how to do this and that set me on the path of wanting to be an assistant director. I learned very quickly that it's all about relationships, and people were also very nice, friendly and helpful. You know set life is like a travelling circus; you have people who’ve been doing it for years, there are people who make friends, and there are other people who are in then out -  it's a paycheck and they're done but you do spend so much quality time. There's so much ‘hurry up and wait’ on a film set that you get to know people really well and if they like you as a person, and they find that you're a reliable person and intelligent you start getting work. That really got me on my way. 

I see you had the opportunity to work on ‘Castaway’ with Robert Zemeckis. Can you just briefly tell me a little bit about that experience?

That was fun because at that point I decided I was no longer doing production. Before I found a full time job in development I was doing freelance script reading for various companies including Ridley Scott's company, MGM, and Kevin Spacey’s company 'Trigger Street', and it was fun just to do that. I had gotten to the point where I was a consultant and not a reader; they would give me scripts, and projects where they said, ‘we're considering this now, I want you to break it down and tell us why we should or shouldn't do it.’ That was quite rewarding for me. Along that timeline somewhere one of my really good friends, was a production coordinator on Robert Zemeckis movies. When they were shooting 'Castaway' they were doing it in two parts. They shot the first part where Tom Hanks was plump - intentionally - all the scenes before he would end up on the island, which is in Bali. The plan was they shoot all the stuff where he is in the plane, the plane crashes into the ocean then he washes up on shore. Then they were going to take a whole stretch of time off to shoot ‘What Lies Beneath’. The whole crew went and worked on ‘What Lies Beneath’. They then came back to the rest of ‘Castaway’ after Tom Hanks had been on a killer diet and became really lean and to shoot the rest of the valley sequences. My friend, she realised, when they were shooting all this work, they had a water tank on the Sony Pictures lot that everything was just wet. They were using towels to mop everything up  and they were just discarded and it was everywhere. 

My friend said ‘we need to hire someone just to wrangle the towels, we need a towel wrangler.’ I got a call one day and she said, ‘Hey Dave. How would you like to work with Tom Hanks and Robert Zemeckis for a week?’ I'm just like, ‘Okay, twist my arm.’ At that point  I was done with production but it was a good rate and I got to hang out with these guys and it turned out to be a three week job. My job was to hang out on the set, hand out towels and cleaning towels, take them to the cleaners and bring them back. Other than that, eat the best craft service I could, hang out with really cool people and play trivia games, and if we didn't know the answer when Tom Hanks would walk by I'd ask him for trivia help. I remember one time, we would play this association game, which was really easy and if you know film it's fun. It can be as hard or difficult as you want but if you come up with a movie, and you have to come up with either the actor or the director then you have to connect with whoever that is with another movie of theirs. So we got to the movie ‘Splash’, then Ron Howard and we were trying to figure out what Ron Howard's debut film was as a director, and I knew it was a [Roger] Corman film but I couldn't remember what it was. I knew it was some racing film … 

Grand Theft Auto?

Yes yes, good kudos to you [laughs]. I thought it was called ‘Eat dust’ or something like that. Tom was walking by and I thought who better to know about Ron Howard movies than Tom Hanks. I said to Tom I had trivia questions for him and he said ‘Okay go for it.’ I asked if he knew the name of Ron Howard's first movie. Straight away he said ‘Grand Theft Auto’. It really was a lot of fun.

Sounds like it was a lot of fun. You then went into film journalism which was quite a career change, writing for various well known publications. How did you make that move from working on films to writing about them?

After having worked in development, I got into everything that was internet related. I worked for a company that was a small startup that ran entertainment websites back when it was all brand new - 1995 /96 - and for that particular job I started writing articles and interviews, designing sites, all entertainment related work. It was a path I found was a pretty good alternative that I could do where I can still work in entertainment, because I always thought to myself, ‘Yes I want to write and direct movies one day but I no longer want to work on movie sets.’ So if I can work on my screenwriting and still work in entertainment in a certain capacity I will be happy with my life, because that's what I'm out here for. I also worked for but then I sort of became Dot Com poster boy with any job that I got. It was great for six months, and then you realise they have no money, don't know how to build a business and we would all lose our jobs. 

Then 'Entertainment Tonight' came along and with ET online, and I got a job working for them. I also didn't want to do that because I figured, I'm going to lose my job and another six months to a year on this one too, because it was, it was the online department but I also figured that it's a marketing arm for the show. Maybe there's a life to it. As I have another job until I figure out real stuff. Over the next 13 years I was writing on a daily basis and writing entertainment stories and honing my skills as an interviewer, and whether it was on the phone or at junkets or on the set, or you know I interviewed nearly all my heroes. It was real fun for me. And I ultimately left Entertainment Tonight after 13 years to go on to ‘Famous Monsters of Filmland’

I wanted to ask you about that since you mentioned you grew up watching monster movies and horror films and let's face it, there's no bigger title that covers horror and genre movies than ‘Famous Monsters of Filmland’

You’re correct, there are the people who know it and the people who don't, and to the ones who don't you have to explain it.

True. How did that come about? It must have been a big thrill when you were offered the opportunity to write for them. 

Well, you are correct there too. This represented sort of a pinnacle crossroads in my career where I was very happy at Entertainment Tonight, even though I was unhappy being on call for celebrity DUIs, deaths, divorces and things like that. You know that's par for the course but I also got to be on movie sets and go to screenings all the time and rub elbows with my heroes and I just have countless tales. One particular day I went to the preview junket for ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’.  It was a three day experience where I spent a whole day at 'Bad Robot' - JJ Abrams’ company - and I was among a handful of journalists who got to spend the day, meeting the cast, the costume designer, the effects folks, Michael Giacchino playing some music for us talking to JJ, and JJ showing us a sequence from the movie, and rooftop parties hanging out with the cast and Benedict Cumberbatch, and so on.

I'm at the ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ junket on the last day and I'm racing over to a screening of ‘The Hobbit’, and in line there's a guy with a ‘Famous Monster’s' sweatshirt on, and I said, ‘Oh hey, love that sweatshirt that's really cool.’ He thanked me and after talking a little bit it turned out he was the editor of the magazine. He asked who I was and what I did, I said, ‘ I work for Entertainment Tonight I just came from a Star Trek junket.’ Turned out he needed someone to write a Star Trek article that connects the original series with the JJ Abrams  movies and if I would like to do it. I'm like, twist my arm right? Write for the magazine that I’ve loved since I was  a kid? I'll do it immediately, and that sent me on a path of writing for ‘Famous Monsters’ for fun, while I was working at 'Entertainment Tonight'. It also posed a challenge because I said to the guy ‘ I can't make any promises, but I was literally talking to JJ Abrams five minutes ago, maybe I can get him, to be interviewed for this.’ Then I realised I was in a pickle because I can't say to JJ, ‘I talked to you for Entertainment Tonight now I want to talk to you for ‘Famous Monsters’. I didn't feel like it was ethical to do that. 

So I had to start from scratch and explain to lots of publicists what 'Famous Monsters' was, and they said that when a monster movie comes out, they'd be happy to talk to me. They didn’t understand, it's also a sci-fi and fantasy as well as horror magazine that's huge. 
After 13 years at 'Entertainment Tonight', they had to let me go as they kind of had a slow bloodletting in the post recession. And because I had actively written for Famous Monsters while I was with Entertainment Tonight, I would sometimes take a personal day, sit in a cafe and write an article on Ray Harryhausen for them, that made me real happy, and they loved this stuff that I was doing so they said I could write as much as I wanted to write  and they made me a senior writer for them while I was still working in Entertainment Tonight. After I left 'Entertainment Tonight' I approached 'Famous Monsters' and told them, 'I'm free to write a lot more articles for you now.' And they invited me to come into the fold as their managing editor. 

So let's talk about the documentaries that you worked on;  In Search of the Last Action Heroes you were signed on as a producer. How did that come about?

A friend of mine Jessica Dwyer who was working on ‘In Search of Darkness’ as one of the producers in the fall of 2018 contacted me and said ‘I'm working on this amazing 80s Horror documentary.’ She told me to get in touch with Robin Block, the executive producer for the film. So I contacted Robin - he was in London at the time. I got along really nicely with him and he said, ‘this sounds great you know I have a sort of an advisor group And I'd love for you to be part of it.’ It sounded great so I started advising, and we developed a nice rapport. I feel like I helped sort of focus things a bit for him. He invited me to direct and write ‘In Search of Darkness', which was a fantastic opportunity. And so as he was doing this, he was already in production on ‘In Search of the Last Action Heroes. So, I was working fully on ‘In Search of Darkness’, and as our working relationship progressed, and I was knee deep work on 'In Search of Darkness' and had done the majority of the interviews, he brought me on to ‘In Search of the Last Action Heroes’ to bring in a couple more names and do a couple of the sit downs out here in Los Angeles. He brought me on with the idea to help shepherd, the film over the line, and get it completed. I found I didn't have to do anything much other than act in some advisory capacity. Really Oliver Harper [writer and director] and Robin that's their movie and they did a wonderful job and I was fortunate to have some participation in it


So, were you also involved in bringing in the contacts, the stars and the filmmakers on board? I know how aloof sometimes people can be, they don't want to talk about their past either because they have nothing nice to say, or they just don't want to revisit the past. 

We have a small team that was part of the process and when I was advising I said we needed to focus on how this should be done. I learned, essentially, when I was at 'Entertainment Tonight' all I had to do was have people contact me. I barely had to reach out to anyone because everyone wants to be promoting their project and all I had to do was say yes which was great. It was the exact opposite for 'Famous Monsters' and that's where I really cut my teeth learning how to reach out to secure talents and work with studios and studio PR representatives. Once I moved on from that I continued doing that in various capacities for 'LA Weekly' and for 'Hollywood Reporter'. So by the time I got to 'In Search of Darkness' we had a team who had lined up a number of people already. I brought on a couple more but then I was also the person who coordinated all of the talent because I was doing the majority of the interviews, to make it happen. 

And now for ‘In Search of Tomorrow' myself and Jessica and one or two other people are doing all of it as well. It is a challenge, there's a variety of ways to go about it and, you know, I find that if you speak to their managers versus their agents, or even their public relations department ironically, the manager seems to be more receptive. Even their attorneys, sometimes, connect with you. But the best way to get a lot of these folks' interest is if you can find that backdoor of a friend of a friend or someone who worked with them, or even if you worked with them in the past. That's the best way of getting these folks and more often than not, they're happy to sit and talk about their project, if they have something else to plug. If they don't have something else to plug if you paint the picture as this is an opportunity to talk not only about your projects but about your favourite favourite movies, within the genre, your influences and your favourite filmmakers. If you broaden the subject and the context, sometimes people are a little more game to talk about their project within the larger context of the things that we talk about in these movies.

Also when you're working on a small project that people don't know about they can be sceptical and so you have to sort of build a foundation, where they have to look at who else is already on board and say to themselves, ‘all right well I know that person if they said yes then okay I'll do it.’ That's really kind of a snowball effect in getting talent on board, but sometimes they're happy just to have something to do. 

Fascinating. There's been a lot of documentaries made about films, filmmakers and studios over the last 5-10 years; ‘Electric Boogaloo; The Wild Untold Stories of Cannon Film, ‘Lost Soul The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr Moreau and so on. Why do you think there is now over the last few years there has been a real taste certainly on the indie market and the direct entertainment market for these kinds of documentaries?

I remember watching on television the making of ‘Star Wars’, the making of ‘Return of the Jedi’ a lot of these a lot of these movies feature ‘making of…’  specials which were a big event on television. It was meant as a marketing tool to get all eyes on the upcoming release or to capitalise on you know the re-release of these films. As I said before, I wanted to know more about the movie magic, and my whole generation, before you had the internet, we went to ‘Starlog’ magazine, we went to the ‘Cinema Fantastique’, and you didn't even have to read it you just look at the pictures of effects masters, visual effects masters playing with the models and doing blue screen work, camera passes. You learned all about how it was made and so there's a whole generation, arguably Generation X, primarily, but a variety of folks who love to know how these things are made. And so the direct distribution of streaming media I think has really bolstered the market in terms of documentaries, because documentaries, while not super cheap are much more inexpensive to produce. If you have the drive to finish a passion project about one thing, you know, so you can go to conventions, you can go to someone's house, you can do it however you want to. People will forgive a low production value story if it's told well. And then there's an absolute astonishing nostalgia driving these things and I think because there's so many more ‘Making of…’ documentaries now people are consuming those and wanting more especially with Netflix and every other streaming platform. If they can binge watch a whole series on something, their hunger and appetite for this sort of thing is huge. 

Wow. So with these documentaries ‘In Search of Darkness, ‘In Search of the Last Action Heroes’ and upcoming ‘In Search of Tomorrow.’ How does that make you feel, to see all those films that you pretty much lived through suddenly evolve and now nostalgically reflected on?

We live in a golden age right now because the nerds inherited the media. When we were kids, you couldn't walk around with a copy of ‘Starlog’ magazine, you know in your hand, otherwise you probably got a punch from a jock you know? It's stuff that I had no shame about when I was a kid growing up but it wasn't the most popular thing like ‘Star Wars’ which was probably the most popular genre of film, when I was growing up, that anyone could talk about and didn't appear like you were a geek. Everything else so if you wanted to rave about ‘Star Trek The Wrath of Khan’, you could only talk to select friends about. Now we live in a comic con age where cosplay, you know,  Marvel movies franchises, superheroes and sci-fi in the 80s that's when it really exploded. And from there on into the present day, all of a sudden it's extremely acceptable, people proudly show off  their geek flag on their t-shirt - it's commonplace. 

With  ‘In Search of Darkness’ what challenges faced you as a storyteller turning a collection of stories about all these films into one chronological sort of unfolding of a genre from its early days into what we now know?

Tackling an entire decade in one film, and how you process that by recruiting upwards of 50 people to tell the story, most from that era, many who are experts or influenced by that age - how do you structure that, how do you tell that story that is the biggest challenge because there is so much that won't make the film. So you have to decide what's important, what are the elements of this decade that really speaks to the people who would be watching this in the first place. Robin Bloch said he wanted to go year by year, film by film, and I said ‘that's an amazing idea. It's also an impossible idea if you want to keep this into a two hour movie.’ Ultimately we decided to structure it year by year by putting in between each year a larger context -  chapter, where you're talking about the heroes, the villains, the monsters, the effects, the fandom, the music, the socio-political influences on the genre itself. It all started to fall into place for me. I decided I need to prioritise and organise how we were going to do this and I quickly ran into a problem where I was delivering a five hour cut, and there was still so much more to do. One of the reasons why we ended up making a four and a half hour documentary with ‘In Search of Darkness’ was the fact that Robin said, ‘by all means, let's make this as long as we can.’ And the only reason we cut it off at four and a half hours was we wanted to, from a financial standpoint we could only fit it on one disk in terms of shipping and manufacturing. 

Of course at a certain point you want to keep on inviting more and more people but you have to stop at a certain point and draw the line and so I was satisfied by getting a nice cross section of actors, directors, writers, composers, and experts, publishers, and effects folks. I figured it told a broad enough tale so the answer to your question is the challenge was putting in as much as you could but not feeling like it was an overstuffed thing. It's just a greatest hits package and arguably some of the people who might have expected something more in depth might complain, and have complained that's what they got. But there's no way that you can tackle a comprehensive decade of hundreds and hundreds of films, without investigating a bunch, and then talking about larger ideas, and how they all fit together. I think what the film ultimately accomplished was we got enough of the people who were there to talk about why it was important to them, and why they love it, warts and all that people can also really connect to and relate to. 

One thing that is evident when watching ‘In search of the Last Action Heroes’ is that it is more than just a random collection of clips and interviews but it’s telling a story, the history and evolution of action films. 

Well that's sort of why I'm writing and directing as opposed to just directing. There's a way of framing the entire documentary. I do a very comprehensive narrative outline of everything that I want to cover, everything I want to talk about. There's a tremendous amount of flexibility but I find myself steering the conversation, very specifically in order to meet the requirements of the story that I want to tell. I'm, we're very fortunate because these are all exclusive, they come to us or we come to them, but they'll sit down exclusively just for the movie, you know we don't catch them at a convention or a junket. And so I ease into it just talking about their influences, favourite movies of the genre and what got them interested in this. Sometimes it's about the craft and not the projects, then you start talking and usually they start talking about the relevant projects. Then you go into the deep dive there but it's funny as as an interviewer sometimes I don't want them to even get to their projects yet, because I want them to talk about the broader strokes. It's important for me and for the audience to hear their take on the genre and why it's important, why people respond to it and the gut emotional feelings. Why do people watch them, why do people escape to the movies,  why do people respond to the visceral pushes in action, all that stuff is important in connecting the context of why they chose to do these movies, other than it was a job. 

Well look forward to seeing that in action for ‘In Search of Tomorrow’ and it looks like you've already surpassed the target by a huge mile. Aside from the crowdfunding what stage are you at and pre-production for the documentary?

In terms of pre-production we’re doing cast outreach. Obviously the marketing and the crowdfunding makes us able to do this, and that's why we’re doing Kickstarter right now. We've done a couple interviews and lined up a lion's share of the talent with more to come. I'm in research mode right now I guess I get the most amazing homework in the world. I get to 80s sci-fi movies of all types. I've seen a million, and also not seen many of them in a very long time. There's also a healthy handful that I always walked by the VHS box and said the art is great, but the movies, probably not I'm not gonna watch it. And now, there's a way, an excuse to revisit it from a whole different perspective and I'll say real quick what I've learned in putting this project together and what I also learned was cemented for me ‘In Search of Darkness’, is that it doesn't matter whether it's ‘Aliens’, ‘Wrath of Khan’, ‘Robocop’, ‘Blade Runner’, or ‘ET’ for every one of those there's a ‘Superman III’ or there's even a ‘Galaxina’, or even ‘Saturn 3’ where people have love movies for a variety of reasons that are important to them and it's easy to discount ‘Mac and me’. You have to respect and understand there are some people who saw that before they ever saw ‘ET’, and then say ‘let's go into McDonald's’ so how can you lose, you know? When they revisit these movies, it brings back a time in their life when they were just happy or they brought them happiness in an unhappy environment, brought them escape and so these movies are people's comfort food and comfort blanket and and and while it's the sci fi partner community.  It’s very welcoming and everything is very much an even playing field and isn't this awesome just throughout sci-fi? It's sort of a different approach to things and I was one of those people where I learned very early on that they're the towering giants of the genre, and then there's the pretenders that want to either draft on them, want to be like them or rip them off directly, and you know you quickly become wise to what is quality and what's not. There's a whole other approach to this in terms of, alright I can't have ‘Star Wars’ or watch all these ‘Star Wars’ knockoffs in the hopes that there will be a glimmer of ‘Star Wars’ goodness in there; and that 'll be satisfying to me. That's how these movies become your favourites, and so it's important to me when you look at these movies not from a cynical point of view but an even playing field while it's obvious what is quality and what is schlock It's also not entirely obvious as to why the schlock resonates to so many people. And that's what we’re exploring.

Would you say that three documentaries ‘In Search of the Last Action Heroes’ ‘In Search of Darkness’ and ‘In Search of Tomorrow’ form like a saga and a journey of the impact of those films on today’s movies? 

Absolutely. People were already calling it a trilogy before we decided that was something you could apply to it, it’s more of a series obviously but yes there’s genre film and film making they are huge and expensive; sci-fi fantasy, action superheroes, there’s so much imagination and the 80s was an explosion, a prime time explosion of practical and visual effects with not only amazing,  inventive and creative storytelling but access where you can get more made because the gatekeepers of the studios were no longer preventing indie film makers from making their films. Now they can go straight to video and there was a whole boom of material based on access, of getting them directly to the consumer. While Roger Corman and folk of his ilk were already doing that now even more people can get access, they don’t have to go to a drive in to see them or midnight shows.

Of course now those films tend to be seen mainly on streaming sites like Netflix or Amazon Prime. I think it would be nice to go back to a time when you could enjoy such films on the big screen. Do you sometimes feel that and do you think these technologies have impacted on how we enjoy films today?

I think audiences today this is all they  have so they don’t know any better. I think we have a big problem in that the convenience of technology has changed the face of going to see a movie and having that experience. I posted on social media recently a picture of a theatre in New York city of people waiting in line to see ‘Star Wars’ it’s a massive crowd. It reminded me of a time when blockbusters really were called that because you literally waited around the block to see these films. There was an anticipation, there’s a whole element of instant gratification vs patience and the reward of earning it and waiting for it  which makes it that much more sweet. I very much remember the summer of 82 waiting in line to see Clint Eastwood’s ‘Firefox’ not once but twice the person in front of me got in before that sign saying sold out came right down on the box office. I had to go three times before I got in to see that movie. I went to the theatre the day ‘Empire Strikes Back’ came out and I remember staying in the theatre watching two showings in a row, I would stay in the front row and could still get a seat for that second showing and these are some of my happiest memories. What’s happening now is you have access to so much you don’t know where to start and what makes these movies [In Search of Trilogy] is it acts as an authority curation, to see why these movies were influential, why people went to see them and made stars out of these actors and created these franchises it helps provide some - context of understanding why these movies are important and why so many of us go back to relieve these golden moments. And so I think in the day when people just, arguably the video store and scrolling along Netflix are the same in making judgement calls on box art, but there was a certain investment of your time in going to a video store, and going along those isles and stacking up on titles and once you made your decision that was what you were going to watch. You didn’t get paralysed by the amount of choice. So curation is one and but you also have these icons take you by the hand and talk to you about why it’s important and why it’s fun, and why movies now make a nod to the originals that went before. 

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