Crispin Hellion Glover is bringing his Big Slide Show and much much more to the Texas Theatre this Friday and Saturday! Crispin was awesome enough to take part in an interview with PSD, and here is the greatness!
Here is our chat with Crispin Hellion Glover.1. With the Texas Theatre playing River’s Edge the evening before your films, I was curious how you first got involved in the project? It was one of Tim Hunter’s first films to Direct and was Neil Jimenez’ first script, what attracted you to this bold and raw film? I was sent the screenplay through my agents. It was an excellent screenplay and I responded to the role. I auditioned for it and I got the role and had an excellent time working making that film and am proud of it. 2. Throughout the 90’s you got to work with some very talented individuals that I’d love to know what those experiences were like. 1. What’s the David Lynch experience like? 2. Working with Johnny Depp in Dead Man and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape – how have you two grown as actors from those roles? 3. What was the Jim Jarmusch experience like? and finally 4. Milos Foreman’s The People vs Larry Flynt was such a fun film to watch and your character Arlo was a scene stealer(!) what was it like working with Milos, Woody and that fun cast? 1 David Lynch was great to work with as a director. I had been very influenced when I was 16 years old and went to see “Eraserhead” projected at the Nuart Theater in Los Angeles many times. It was fascinating working with him when I played Cousin Dell in “Wild at Heart” That performance is probably the most specifically directed performance by a director I have performed, and because it was directed by such an excellent director it is one of my favorite performances of myself and I get a lot of compliments on it. David Lynch had influence on What is it? in one way that was very business oriented: I had co written a screenplay in which I put the concept of the majority of the characters to be played by actors with Down’s Syndrome. This screenplay is called IT IS MINE. David Lynch had agreed o executive produce this film for me to direct which was very helpful. I went to one of the major film funding corporation in Los Angeles that was interested in funding the film. After a number of meetings and conversations they let me know that they were concerned about funding a film wherein most of the characters were to be played by actors with Down’s Syndrome. So it was decided that I should write a screenplay to make what was originally going to be a short film to promote that it was a viable idea to have most of the characters in a film be played by actors with Down’s Syndrome. This screenplay was What is it? And it is what has eventually become the feature film I have now completed and am showing entitled What is it? 2-3 Yes I have worked with Johnny Depp three times now. I first met Johnny Depp I believe the day he got his first acting job, which I believe was Nightmare on Elm Street. So I knew him a number of years before we worked together. He has always been very easy to work with. I first worked with him on “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” directed by Lasse Halstrom, then on “Dean Man” directed by Jim Jarmusch and most recently on “Alice in Wonderland” directed by Tim Burton It is impossible for me to comment on how he has grown from those roles as I am not him, but for myself I will say all three of those directors were excellent to work with in different ways and I working with each of those excellent directors has helped for my growth in multiple positive ways. 4 Milos Forman is probably the most well known Czech Filmmaker and I loved working with him and my favorite film by him is is triumphant exit from the former Czechoslovakia with The Fireman’s Ball from 1967. I own a Czech chateau that is an historical monument built in the 1600’s in the Czech Republic. I have been refurbishing the chateau for the last six years. Next to it is a horse stables that I have made in to a small film stage to making my own films. It is currently ready to start building sets there and I plan to shoot my next feature there next year. It is another culture and another language and I need to build up to complex productions like “What is it?” and the existing sequel “It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE.” IT IS MINE. Is an even more complex project than those two films were so it will be a while yet for that production. I am in the process of writing a screenplay for myself and my father to act in together. He is also an actor and that ia the next film I am planning to make as a director/producer. This will be the first role I write for myself to act in that will be written as an acting role as opposed to a role that was written for the character I play to merely serve the structure. But even still on some level I am writing the screenplay to be something that I can afford to make. There are two other projects I am currently developing to shoot on sets at my property in the Czech Republic. The cost of the set building will determine which one I actually shoot next. They are will all be relatively affordable yet still cinematically pleasing. I wrote to Milos Forman to let him know about this and he wrote me back in a very warm fashion. He is one of my very favorite directors I have had the pleasure to work with. 3. I’m a big Karen Black fan and love you and Howard as Rubin and Ed in Trent Harris’ film. What was that film shoot like? How much growth as a director did you see in Trent from The Orkly Kid to Rubin and Ed? I am glad that people like Rubin and Ed and it continues to have a growing fan base. I am more partial to The Orkly Kid which I think is a truly excellent 35 minute film. I am very glad Trent and I got to work together again on Rubin and Ed and I wish Trent was making more feature films. working with Karen Black and Howard Hesseman was certainly a pleasure. 4. You’ve now written, directed and acted in films yourself – I’m curious what “job” do you enjoy the most and why? I probably like editing my own directorial work the best of all because that is where all the elements come together and the true art of the film comes in play. Everything before that are portions and the editing process is the finality of the art form of the filmmaking process. It is also where the concentration can become the finest and the Japanese word satori can describe the best aspects of the sort of concentration that can take place in when all is going well in the editing process. 5. I read in an interview that you are a big Werner Herzog fan, I’m curious if you’re a documentary fan as well? What film of Werner’s do you like the most? Not only am I a fan but he is one of the few living mentors I have had the pleasure of getting to know a bit and have a genuine friendly relationship with. Both Werner Herzog and David Lynch have been personally kind to me and supportive of my as a filmmaker which I am very grateful for and means a lot to me. The way the commentary I did with Norm Hill and Werner Herzog on the Anchor Bay releases for his films “Even Dwarves Started Small” and “Fata Morgana” came about was while I was editing “What is it?” I had toured with with my Big Slide Show one hour dramatic narration of eight different books and a rough cut of the film. Norm Hill had organized my show in Seattle. I spoke with him about my interest in Herzog’s work. I had also met Herzog in 1990 at the Venice film festival because the publicist for the film he was there with was the same publicist for a Jersey Skolimowski film I had acted in that was only released in Poland and France. I had told the publicist how much I admired Herzog’s films and he arranged a dinner that was just me and Herzog and the publicist and a woman the publicist knew. Herzog was very easy to talk to and it was a great dinner. Years later Norm Hill was producing the DVD of Herzog’s films for Anchor Bay and he invited me to do a number of commentaries for the DVDs with himself and Herzog and I chose to do “Fata Morgana” and “Even Dwarve’s started small” because those two had influence on What is it? in different ways. I had already locked What is it? when we recorded those commentaries. It is something I am very proud of in my career to have done. Years later in 2005 when I premiered What is it? at Sundance coincidentally Herzog was premiering Grizzly Man and I went and saw his premiere and he came and saw What is it? and was incredibly supportive and has been very kind. I am very grateful to him for that and in relation to that I am also very grateful to David Lynch who had years before I made What is it? had agreed to executive produce IT IS MINE. Which ended up leading to me making “What is it?” I have seen Herzog at various functions and at my house and even at the airport over the years and it always a great pleasure to speak with him and get tidbits of insight in to how he thinks about filmmaking. It is hard to say which of Herzog’s films is my very favorite but some of my favorites are: Fata Morgana (1968-1970) Even Dwarves Started Small (1968-1970) Land of Silence and Darkness (1970-1971) Aguirre Wrath of God (1972) OUTSTANDINGperformace by Klaus Kinski The Great Ecstasy of the Sculptor Steiner (1973-1974) The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974) La Soufriére (1976) Stroszek (1977) God’s Angry Man (1980) Fizcarraldo (1981) The Dark Glow of the Mountains (1995) Echoes From a Somber Empire (1990) Bells From the Deep- Faith and Superstition from a Somber Empire (1995) Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1998) Grizzly Man (2005) Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010) 6. Where did the initial idea/spark for the “It” series of films come from? Was it always envisioned as a trilogy or just became that massive of a project? 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 30 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 it’s 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. 7. What made you want to take the films on Tour and how has that enhanced the film’s experience? & 8. For those curious about what a Big Slide Show experience is like, how do you explain your show? The live aspect 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 in to 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 80’s and very early 90’s. Some of the books utilize text from the biding 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 book are so heavily illustrated and they 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 visually 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 used to call Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Side Show. People get confused as to what that 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 has 7 books and it 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 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 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 under-estimated as a very important part of the show for 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. For the live performance aspect of my shows I have been performing Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show Part 1 since 1993. I started performing Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show Part 2 three years ago. Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show Part 1 has stayed the exact same show since the first time I ever performed it. Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show Part 2 has taken a few years to develop and it is finally working extremely well. It is working well to the point that I think I am getting even better response Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show Part 2 than Part 1 and I always have had excellent response with Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show Part 1. Much of Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show Part 2 finally working very well was the addition of a book that was made specifically for the show. Both Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show Part 1 and 2 are now set shows that do not vary. That being said there is an element of my own energy that will play a part on how either show is performed from night to night. So there are relatively small energetic differentiations from myself and from the audience that to me make a bit of a difference, but to the audience I do not think make as much of a difference. They key is if the structure of the show itself works. Now both the shows work very well and I and the audience always enjoy them. Every once in a while there can be a technical problem that has to be dealt with and the audience actually always enjoys the aspect of “the show must go on!” 7.5 Having such a cast of mainly actors with Down Syndrome do you feel that you’ve become a spokesperson? Although I cast most of the characters in my first feature film “What is it?” with actors who had Down’s Syndrome I do not in any way shape or form feel like I am a spokesperson for people with Down’s Syndrome. In fact I would only feel comfortable being a spokesperson against spokespeople for any group of any kind, or conversely I would only feel comfortable being a spokesperson for pro individualism and that by definition is anti spokesperson statement. An individual should speak out from their own point of view for their own self. That being said I had a great time working with all the actors that have Down’s Syndrome and I look forward to making another film with any individuals as interesting and great to work with as they all are. Although Steven C. Stewart did not have Down’s Syndrome he was also an interesting and great individual who wrote and is the main actor in part two of the trilogy titled It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE. I put Steve in to 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 in to 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. As I have stated, I put Steven C. Stewart in to What is it? When I turned What is it? in to a feature film. Originally What is it? Was going to be a short film to promote the concept to corporate film funding entities that working with a cast wherein most characters are played by actors with Down’s Syndrome. Steve had written his screenplay in 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 in to 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 and also 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 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 e mail 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! A MUST SEE EVENT!!! 231 W Jefferson Blvd. Dallas Texas 75208 http://www.thetexastheatre.com (214) 948-1546
July 15, 2011Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show Part 2 then It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE. then Q and A then Book signing. July 16, 2011 Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show Part 1 then What is it? then Q and A then Book signing!