Clare Kerr producer of comedy Wide Open Spaces relays her thoughts from the producer’s chair
Wide Open Spaces was a co-production between the UK and Ireland. I raised the money from the UK end. (Do-productions are becoming much more important for any producer. really just in order to raise enough money to make films. Normally it's difficult to raise money for films in general but we were consistently surprised with how quick the process was. We met in February 2008 and by February 2009 we were finishing the film.
We had most of the cast onboard while we were getting the funding. but then an opportunity came up to cast a British actor. My co-producer Paul Donovan and I thought. why don't we look at good Scottish actors and actually independently both of us thought of Ewen Bremner. He was the first choice for everyone. It was quite remarkable; everything was falling into place when usually there are many hiccups.
Being producer you get sent stuff the day after it was filmed. In a way it was quite good to have a member of production not there. especially with comedy. There can be quite a lot of camaraderie on set. They‘ll be having a great laugh and a good time. but sometimes this doesn't transfer on screen. But I really enjoyed it and thought it was hilarious. and that was an objective view — although you really don‘t know anything about comedy until seeing the audience's reaction.
As far as how it compared with other films I've worked on. it felt like it was charmed. It's normally such a slow process and I was amazed how fast it went. As a producer it was brilliant to have a co-producer. it was like having another piece of your brain. Being a producer can also be Quite a solitary and lonely job and gave it a very human approach to filmmaking. (Interview by Susannah Nichol) I Wide Open Spaces, Cameo, sat 20 Jun, 7pm, Sun 27 Jun, 2. 75pm, £8.50 (£7.50).
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26 THE LIST 1 1—25 Jun 2009
He may be called the king of the B-movies but Roger Corman's influence on cinema is incomparable, just ask Robert De Niro or Martin Scorsese. Miles Fielder traces
the director's roots
he Hollywood legend Roger Corman is guest of honour at the 63rd ElFF. which is this year hosting a very welcome retrospective dedicated to the man they rightly call the king of the Bs. Given the 83-year-old auteur has written. directed and/or produced upwards of 400 films since making his debut with the I954 B-movie noir Highway Dragnet. the retrospective is a best of rather than exhaustive review. However. the II titles confirm that Corman gave us quality as well as quantity. They also remind us that his contribution to cinema is incalculable. Corman's hefty filmography is almost completely comprised of low-budget exploitation flicks. Getting them made required a combination of creative invention and business savvy. As the joke goes. Corman could negotiate the production of a film on the phone. shoot it in the phone booth and finance it with the coins from the change slot. The results of his efforts
can be judged from the self-explanatory title of
his memoir. How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime.
‘ALL OF MY FILMS ARE CONCERNED WITH MAN AS A SOCIAL ANIMAL'
In doing just that. Corman pioneered or reinvented just about every exploitation film genre — from Gothic horror to true crime. biker movie to delinquent drama. science fiction
thriller to psychedelic trip — and he gave some of
the big Hollywood names their first break. among them Jack Nicholson. Robert De Niro. Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda and directors Francis Ford Coppola. Martin Scorsese. James Cameron and Joe Dante (who is also coming to Edinburgh this year). Corman's films betray their sometimes virtually non-existent budgets. but that doesn't mean they're not well crafted. His most widely celebrated films remain the series of eight Edgar Allan Poe adaptations he directed in the early-1960s. Those showing in Edinburgh — The Masque of the Red Death. The Pit and the Pendulum. The House of Usher. The
Raven and The Tomb of Ligeia — exemplify the cinematic. literate and. yes. even political nature of his filmmaking.
As Corman himself has said. ‘l‘ve always wanted to make films that were well-crafted, intelligent and had something going on beneath the surface — all of my films have a political subtext. All of my films have been concerned simply with man as a social animal.‘
The centrepiece of the retrospective is the In Person event with Corman. In the flesh. Corman is thoughtful. gracious. candid and very funny. pleasant attributes one might not immediately associate with the man who made the gruesome true crime dramas Bloody Mama and The St Valentine 's Day Massacre. Less surprisingly. perhaps. is that he's great with the anecdotes.
By the late 1960s he had made the biker movie The Wild Angels (a Golden Lion nominee at the I966 Venice Film Festival) with Peter Fonda and Nancy Sinatra and the psychedelic flick The Trip with Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper. and as Corman himself has admitted. ‘I was turned on in the 60s: I tried a lot of things.’
Corman's got the stories. and he knows how to tell them. A year ago he was in London to pick up a lifetime achievement award presented to him by a small film festival dedicated to all things extreme in cinema. Asked then by a member of the admiring audience how the real Hell‘s Angels had reacted to appearing in The Wild Angels. Corman recounted an anecdote about a run-in with the Angels‘ infamous leader Sonny Barger. ‘The film having wrapped without incident.’ Corman said. ‘I was watching a television interview with Sonny Barger during which this known felon made a death threat to me. Later. he called me up and said he was unhappy with the negative way he and the Angels had been represented in the movie and he repeated his threat to kill me. So I said to Sonny. “You threatened to kill me live on television. Who do you think the cops are going to go to if I‘m found dead'.’ I think you should forget about murdering me and instead. if you‘re really unhappy about the film. take legal action against me." So.’ Corman recalled with a grin. ‘Sonny said. “Yeah. I think you‘re right about that. Roger.”