Acrobats photographed by John Dominis for the 57th Shriners Convention in Chicago, 1955

Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane singing White Rabbit at Woodstock, 1969

Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane singing White Rabbit at Woodstock, 1969

Georges Franju’s Les Yeux sans Visage (Eyes without a Face), 1960

Oh man this was good.

Filming Kids in 1994.

Filming Kids in 1994.

John Cassavetes shooting A Woman Under the Influence in 1974.

On the production of The Blues Brothers (John Landis, 1980): Principal photography

Filming began in July 1979, with the film’s budget still not settled. For the first month, things ran smoothly on and off the set. When Weiss saw the supposedly final $17.5 million budget, he reportedly joked “I think we’ve spent that much already.”

In the next month, the production began falling behind schedule. Much of the delay was due to Belushi’s partying and carousing. When not on the set he went out to familiar Chicago haunts of his such as Wrigley Field. People often recognized him and slipped him cocaine, a drug he was already using heavily on his own, hoping to use it with him. “Every blue-collar Joe wants his John Belushi story,” said Smokey Wendell, who was eventually hired to keep it away from the star. As a result of his late nights and drug and alcohol use, Belushi would often miss unit calls (the beginning of a production day) or go to his trailer after them and sleep, wasting hours of production time. One night, Aykroyd found him crashing on the sofa of a nearby house, where Belushi had already helped himself to food in the refrigerator.

Cocaine was already so prevalent on the set (like many other film productions of that era) that Aykroyd, who used far less than his partner, claims there was actually a section of the budget set aside for purchases of the drug during night shooting. The stars had a private bar, the Blues Club, built on the set, for themselves, crew and friends. Carrie Fisher, Aykroyd’s girlfriend at the time, says most of the bar’s staff doubled as dealers, procuring any drug patrons desired.

The original budget was quickly surpassed, and back in Los Angeles Wasserman grew increasingly frustrated. He was regularly confronting Ned Tanen, the executive in charge of production for Universal, in person over the costs. Sean Daniel, another studio executive, was not reassured when he came to Chicago and saw that the production had set up a special facility for the 70 cars used in the chase sequences. Filming there, which was supposed to have concluded in the middle of September, continued into late October.

On the set, Belushi’s drug use worsened. Fisher, who herself later struggled with cocaine addiction, says Landis told her to keep Belushi away from the drug. Wendell was hired to clear any from the places Belushi visited off-camera. Nevertheless, at one point Landis found him with what he described as a “mountain” of cocaine on a table in his trailer, which led to a tearful confrontation between them where Belushi admitted his addiction and feared it could eventually kill him.

After Aykroyd and Belushi’s wife Judy had a talk with him about his antics, the production returned to Los Angeles. Filming there again ran smoothly, until it came time to shoot the final sequence at the Hollywood Palladium. Just beforehand, Belushi fell off a borrowed skateboard and seriously injured his knee, making it unlikely he could go through with the scene, which required him to sing, dance and do cartwheels. Wasserman persuaded the city’s top orthopedic surgeon to postpone his weekend plans long enough to stop by and sufficiently anesthetize Belushi’s knee, and the scene was filmed as intended.

Reiner Riedler’s shots of original filmrolls from The Deutsche Kinemathek

Only God Forgives - Red Band Trailer - 1080p

"We just took all the best scenes we had ever written, and we packed them up, and we went to Amsterdam. Quentin rented this apartment, and we laid them out on the floor and basically just started moving them around… Our one requirement was that every scene should be able to stand on its own and be able to be performed in an acting class. A couple of actors should be able to do it together and it should be contained that way. No establishing shots… No wasted space, no traveling here and there, just no fat. It had to be the best material we had written to that point.

We laid it out and we started changing names and piecing it together… It underwent a number of passes and pretty soon it was what you see. When we finished that script it was taken to… TriStar and a producer named Mike Medavoy. We turned it in and they said ‘this is the worst screenplay that this film company has ever been handed. This is awful. It’s not funny. It makes no sense. This guy’s dead, he’s alive. What’s going on?’ They put it into immediate turnaround…

You have to remember, Reservoir Dogs, in the United States, made less money than Leprechaun. I didn’t have huge expectations for this. I wasn’t thinking we were going to change film history with this movie. I just thought we put our hearts and souls into this thing, and it is what it is…

Thank god for Harvey and Bob Weinstein who immediately picked it up out of turnaround and gave Quentin the power to make the script as it was. Not a single thing was really changed. Some things were removed, there were a couple of scenes that were taken out in editing, but truth be told, Quentin was given complete and total command to make that movie exactly as he sees it in his head. That’s a gift to be given that. I’m really grateful to Harvey and Bob for that.

Since then, I’ve bumped into those executives who were in that room (at TriStar) and each one tells me ‘I was the one fighting for you. I was the one guy in the room fighting for you, fighting for that brilliant script.’ The only guy who was really honest about it was Mike Medavoy who was running TriStar at the time. I met with him later on and he actually said, ‘I made a mistake. I got to tell you, it was a weird time in my life, I didn’t really understand it. It just read very violent… And I was wrong.’ And that’s rare. I so deeply respect Mike Medavoy… It’s a real testament to him that someone in Hollywood would say ‘I was wrong’ because that never happens.”

Roger Avary

Favourite scene from Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bleeder (1999)

"Here’s a perfect example of trying to mix styles. We had Tyrone using a term like ‘dynamite’, which is such a Jimmy Walker, 1970s term, yet he’s wearing very very 90s clothes. Just really mixing the aesthetics, because we felt that slang, like clothing styles, comes in and out of style, so we can mix them all together with modern technology, with modern day cars, and just sort of hopefully try and create a timeless feel.
Because ultimately, this film is about addiction. It’s about the human struggle with addiction, which we felt was an age old story that went all the way back in time, all through human history, and had no time period. And probably was a struggle that when we were amoeba in the primordial soup, we were searching for carbon molecules to get high off of. And this film was about how you can use anything to get high off of, how anything can be used to fill that hole.
Ultimately, Requiem for a Dream is about the lengths people go to to escape their reality, and that when you escape your reality, you create a hole in your present, because you’re not there, you’re chasing off a pipe dream in the future. And then you’ll use anything to fill that vacuum. So it doesn’t matter if it’s coffee, if it’s tobacco, if it’s TV, if it’s heroin, if it’s ultimately hope, you’ll use anything to fill that hole. And when you feed the hole, just like the hole on Jared’s arm, it’ll grow and grow and grow, until eventually, it will devour you.”
- Darren Aronofsky, from his commentary for his film Requiem for a Dream

"Here’s a perfect example of trying to mix styles. We had Tyrone using a term like ‘dynamite’, which is such a Jimmy Walker, 1970s term, yet he’s wearing very very 90s clothes. Just really mixing the aesthetics, because we felt that slang, like clothing styles, comes in and out of style, so we can mix them all together with modern technology, with modern day cars, and just sort of hopefully try and create a timeless feel.

Because ultimately, this film is about addiction. It’s about the human struggle with addiction, which we felt was an age old story that went all the way back in time, all through human history, and had no time period. And probably was a struggle that when we were amoeba in the primordial soup, we were searching for carbon molecules to get high off of. And this film was about how you can use anything to get high off of, how anything can be used to fill that hole.

Ultimately, Requiem for a Dream is about the lengths people go to to escape their reality, and that when you escape your reality, you create a hole in your present, because you’re not there, you’re chasing off a pipe dream in the future. And then you’ll use anything to fill that vacuum. So it doesn’t matter if it’s coffee, if it’s tobacco, if it’s TV, if it’s heroin, if it’s ultimately hope, you’ll use anything to fill that hole. And when you feed the hole, just like the hole on Jared’s arm, it’ll grow and grow and grow, until eventually, it will devour you.”

- Darren Aronofsky, from his commentary for his film Requiem for a Dream

- “What’s it like?”

- “Whatchu mean, prison?”

- “No. Armed robbery.”

Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde, 1967. My favourite scene.

"Nothing is so terrible as a pretentious movie. I mean, a movie that aspires for something really terrific and doesn’t pull it off is shit, it’s scum. And everyone will walk on it as such. And that’s what poor filmmakers, in a way, that’s their greatest horror, to be pretentious.

So here you are, on one hand, trying to aspire to really do something. And on the other hand, you’re not allowed to be pretentious. And finally you say, fuck it. I don’t care if i’m pretentious or if I’m not pretentious or if I’ve done it or I haven’t done it. All I know is that I am going to see this movie. And that for me it has to have some answers. And by ‘answers’ I don’t mean just a punchline. Answers on about forty seven different levels.

And it’s very hard to talk about these things without being very corny. You use a word like self-purgation or epiphany, they think you’re either a religious weirdo or an asshole college professor. But those are the words for the process. This transmutation, this renaissance, this rebirth, which is the basis of all life.

The one rule that all man, from the time they were first walking around looking up at the sun, scratching around for food and an animal to kill, the first concept that, I feel, got into their head was the idea of life and death. That the sun went down and the sun went up. That the crop, when they learned how to make a crop, it died. In the winter, everything died. The first man, he must have thought, ‘Oh my God, it’s the end of the world!’ And then all of a sudden, there was spring, and everything came alive, and it was better.

I mean after all, look at Vietnam. Look at my movie. You’ll see what I’m talking.”

Francis Coppola talking about life and death on the set of his film, Apocalypse Now, in 1977. My favourite scene from the documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse

“My film is not a movie. My film is not about Vietnam. It is Vietnam. It’s what it was really like. It was crazy. And the way we made it was very much like the Americans were in Vietnam. We were in the jungle. There were too many of us. We had access to too much money, too much equipment, and, little by little, we went insane.”

Francis Coppola at the Cannes Film Festival, 1979. From the documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse

Holy…! They’re still going! Amazing sexual exploration! They look like cornballs from Jersey on ecstasy, feeling the effectstasy. Oh shit, I got something, I got something for you Jenny! It’s a present. It’s a pres.

What is it?

It’s a pres, Jenny-Jen. It’s like bang-up stuff. It’s called a euphoric blockbuster, and it’s supposed to make Special K look weak. Just take it! You look sad, come here, just take it, just swallow it, I promise, swallow it. See, now you be floatin’ up in heaven with the angels, you’ll be singing with Sammy Davis Jr, you’ll be kissing Leo Gorcey on the chops! Don’t you know, don’t you know trix are for kids, silly?

Harmony Korine and Chloë Sevigny in Kids, 1995