SCOTS IN HOLLYWOOD
Written by Kevin Williamson. whose Scream gave the genre a much needed shot in the arm (and a decidedly postmodern ironic one at that). I Know What You Did. . . has disproved the rule that says everybody-stay-put- while-l-check—out-the-cellar movies burn bright on opening before fading from sight. lts three-week stint at the top has only been matched this year by Liar: Liar. Mm Iii If/(lt'k and the revamped Star Wars.
.11”! In lilac/s. Star Wars. You need only look at the company he keeps score by to realise how far Gillespie has come in La La land since he decided to leave a TV career and crack America. The fact that this is his first feature film makes it all the more remarkable. though fear of failure he says was never really an issue.
‘lf l'd went out there and hadn‘t had any success then sure it would have been tough for me to take that rejection.‘ says the 37—year-old Drumehapel-born director. ‘lsut if that had happened I would just have come home and tried to get another calling card togethcr.‘
l’rustrated with the limitations of TV (Gillespie also directed BBC series The Ghost/)1islers ()flfas! Finch/er) and dejected by last minute letdowns for his lilm projects. he decided to come tip with his own calling card and convince Hollywood he was worth taking a chance on.
The result was Joyride. a ten-minute short he describes as ‘Die Hard in the boot of a car‘. given short shrift by the 'l'artan Shorts project which preferred to back l’cter (‘apaldi‘s Fran: Kajka's It’s A Wonderful Life. A screening at America‘s influential 'l'eluride Film Festival provided the ‘let‘s do lunch‘ invites that set him on his way.
lf Hollywood epitomises glitz and glamour. both were in short supply when Gillespie first went there. He survived on his savings for the first three months and economising meant taking an apartment on the periphery of Hollywood‘s seedier side. ‘lt wasn’t exactly crack
’Yor: can he the best director in the world, but if you can't string two or three sentences together you're in trouble.’ Jim Gillespie
hell.‘ he says. ‘but the park across the way played host to regular gang fights. And I must admit there were times when I thought. “What the hell atn I doing here?" ‘
Gillespie describes Hollywood as ‘a tough town to make friends in’ - one of the best nights he had was going on a bender with Rob Roy and Speed 2 star Brian Macardie.
‘In our naive Scots abroad way we managed to stumble across this low rent speakeasy.‘ says Gillespie. ‘We were the only two white guys in the whole place. And there was a sign above the bar that said. “We don't call ()l I“. It turned out we had a great time. People kept buying us drinks because of our accents and we never left the place till six o‘clock that morning.‘
He is level-headed about his success: ‘There are thousands of people in Hollywood looking for work. so I realise I‘ve been very lucky.‘. He also believes'his ability to pitch to studio chiefs not normally noted for throwing millions at first time directors is part of the key to his success.
‘You can be the best director in the world.‘ he says. ‘but if you can‘t string two or three sentences together you‘re in trouble. The money men don't know how to make movies. That's why they bring you in. And once you’re in. the trick is to convince them you know what you‘re doing.‘
And for now. it seems he has them in the palm of his hand.
IKnow What You Did Last Summer is on general release from Fri 12 Dec.
18 THE “ST S~l8 [)e( 1997
Michael Catch-Jones: Jackal of all trades
WHEN MICHAEL CATON-JONES decided to make The Jackal, he had pencilled in Liam Neeson and Matthew McConaughey for the lead roles. When that didn’t pan out, he had to settle for Richard Gere and Bruce Willis.
Then, when he wanted to give the movie an international travelogue feel, he was forced to shoot in the likes of Chicago, London, Montreal and Helsinki. All that and he had to hang out Wlih Goldie and Massive Attack to get the soundtrack right. Shame what a Broxburn boy has to make do with when he’s got nothing but Hollywood millions to spend.
'I didn’t want to do the Department 5 thing where you have a still photo of a town and then Peter Wyngard walks in the door and that’s it,’ he says of his decision to go crew-handed to ten cities in twenty weeks. 'And having movie stars the size of these two on board gives you that option.’
Caton-Jones is let-lagged and out of fags, his chances of catching a flight from London to Glasgow in time for the Old Firm game are fading by the second. His strike rate of making a Hollywood movie every two years doesn't seem to have mellowed his opinion of British filmmaking. 'They call them films,' he says. 'But basically they're just glorified telly plays.’
The director is an old hand at living the life of the Scots exile in LA: ’Spanish TV show a Scottish Premier League game every Saturday morning, so I usually watch that in bed with a hangover.’
He set sail for Hollywood long before any of the current crop of Caledonian dreamers made their mark. Mowes like Memphis Bel/e, This Boy’s Life and Rob Roy enjoyed varying degrees of success, but y0u get the feeling The Jackal is the sort of big budget number he’s been dying to be let loose on.
Based on the script of 70s assassination thriller The Day Of The Jackal, starring Edward Fox, the revamped, rejigged remake gave him the chance to place all his directorial eggs in one basket.
'There's some romance. And some humour,’ he says. ’Chases and suspense and action. And I iust thought it would be a challenge to take something that big and try my hand at a bit of everything . . . Because I’d never seen the original I considered that l was making a new film.’
Willis is the eponymous jackal while Gere plays an IRA terrorist helping the FBI to catch him. ’Bruce and Richard stand for quite different types of films,' says Caton-Jones. ’And what I wanted to do was put together a combination that nobody's seen before.’
Unfortunately for Caton-Jones, a - - the film's myriad of textures add up to Span|5h Show a SCOﬁISh a long and Winding smorgasbord Oi ideas that never seems to knit .
together. A thriller without thrills. Saturday morning, so I usually Justifiably he's proud of the o enin - -
credits, a historical montag: thagt watCh that 'n bed w'th a
WPU'PP" IOOk 0L” Of place on MTV" "I h8l‘lgOVEl‘.’ Michael Caton-Jones
was a plan I had right from the
beginning. Which was to take Russia from the revolution to today in two and a half minutes and set the tone for the whole film.’
The soundtrack is not bad either. Black Grape, Primal Scream, Goldie and Massive Attack feature. 'I.was seriously into drum 'n' bass when I was setting this up.,And I always planned to take British dance Culture and put it in a film somehow. So when I was in London cutting the film, I jUSi phoned up Massive Attack and Goldie and showed them it. And they started writing stuff specifically for me.’
Great opening credits and a great soundtrack do not a hit make, though, and Caton-Jones Will have to rely on his cast's pulling power to get bums on seats.
The Jackal goes on general release on Fri 9 Jan 1998.