What you care about [movie] is whether it's moving you, or whether you're caught up in it.— Curtis Hanson
The most colossal Curtis Hanson quotes that are glad to read
You can dress it up, but it comes down to the fact that a movie is only as good as its script.
Whereas to write, all you need is paper and an idea, so I felt that writing might be my stepping stone.
When I first went to Pittsburgh, I had never been there before, and we hadn't even decided to shoot there yet. I just went to see the location of Michael Chabon's novel. Once there, I became aware that Pittsburgh is a "wonder boy," in the narrow sense of the term, just as the human characters are.
I grew up as a reader as well as a movie-lover, so many of the novelists I admired - and so many of the great filmmakers I loved - were self-taught.
Consequently, their school [film-school ] was the school of life, and it was very much reflected in their work.
You can imagine what it was like for me to actually be sitting in a room with matching typewriters, working under the tutelage of this guy I so admired, both as a filmmaker and as a man.
I look for characters that interest me, and a story that keeps me involved and makes me want to know what happens next.
I make that distinction only because I came to it strictly as someone who was just a lover of storytellers and cinematic storytellers.
A day doesn't go by when I don't get a compliment on L.A. Confidential, for example.
I had written the script a few years earlier for Paramount, then later got hired with Sam [Fuller] to write an entirely new script that he was going to direct. And that was one of the great thrills of my professional life.
That love of movies is very much alive in me.
From my point of view, when I was thinking about the prospect of [Michael Douglas] in this part, I wondered if he would go all the way with it. The reason I was concerned is that, oftentimes, actors - especially movie stars - when they're playing a character who might be perceived as unattractive or eccentric, will wink at the audience while they're doing it.
Consequently, pictures are aimed at certain audiences, whether it be a teen comedy or an action movie or whatever. It's unfortunate, because while it may lead to big opening grosses, a lot of pictures that are a little different and don't fit so neatly into either a niche market or a high-concept marketing approach can get lost in the shuffle. That's one unfortunate thing.
On a personal note, a legacy he left me, aside from being a friend who was important to me on many levels, was that the decades I knew Sam [Fuller] happened to be the decades that were his least happy professionally.
I had always wanted to tell a story that was set in Los Angeles in the '50s, because that's where I grew up, and it was the city of my childhood memories.
Samuel Fuller pictures were both written and shot in such an unusual way that his voice came through loud and clear, and it made a big impression on me.
Now, grosses are listed in the newspapers and on television like it's a sporting event. It's ridiculous, because when you're watching a movie, unless you're an investor in the movie or a stockholder in the studio, what do you care how much it's grossing or how much it cost or any of that stuff?
Even though L.A Confidential box-office was a fraction of, say, Titanic or the Grinch movie, it finds its audience and will continue doing so for who knows how long, because of the basic thing we love about movies, which is storytelling and performances.
That's what I love about Michael Douglas' performance in Wonder Boys, because I feel like he surprises audiences that know him from very different roles in his other work.
I thought, "If I could bring these characters [Wonder Boys] to life and lead the audience to react the same way I did, this could be a really special picture." Then I read Michael's [Chabon] novel and got even more enthusiastic about it.
I was a journalist and wrote about filmmakers, but I didn't review movies per se.
I'm still a great movie fan, and I guess that's the answer to your question.
So the city [Pittsburgh] was faced with that question of "What to do now?" because it can't turn back the clock and be what it once was. So thematically, it seemed like the perfect location for the movie. And then, it's a matter of how we get that feeling into the picture and make it a part of [Michael] Chabon's story.
When I'm casting a picture, I think who I'd like to see in it if I was sitting in a theater. Who would surprise me?
Consequently, it's so gratifying to then make a picture that's successful and gives you leverage to have better circumstances than you've ever had, before the next time out.
It was a unique experience in several ways, because I don't think Sam [Fuller] had ever collaborated with another writer over his whole career.
His [Sam Fuller] self-discipline was amazing.
No matter what happened, he'd always go out to his Royal Upright typewriter and just keep working on his stories, his "yarns" as he called them.
It was also a new role for me as a writer, because I wanted to just be there to serve Sam. I recognized that this picture would be "a Sam Fuller movie," and I was just trying, in whatever way I could, to help him get what he wanted.
I also got to know Roger Corman a bit while we were on location in Mendocino.
And then, subsequently, a woman who also worked on The Dunwich Horror named Tamara Asseyev and I teamed up and co-produced a picture that I wrote and directed, called Sweet Kill, that Roger Corman's then-new company distributed.
I very much had wanted to do a picture with more humor than what I had been allowed to do earlier, which is what attracted me to Wonder Boys so much. I found it funny in a very serious way, which is the best kind of comedy.
I was never a critic. I was a journalist and wrote about filmmakers, but I didn't review movies per se. I make that distinction only because I came to it strictly as someone who was just a lover of storytellers and cinematic storytellers. And I still am. I'm still a great movie fan, and I ,that love of movies is very much alive in me. I approach the movies I make as a movie-lover as much as a movie-maker.
Roger [Corman] didn't actually hire me, though.
I was hired by AIP [American International Pictures], the studio that made the picture, which was Sam Arkoff and Jim Nicholson. It was a great learning experience for me, because not only did I work on the script, but they hired me back to go on location when they were making the movie, to write new scenes and so forth.
As ridiculous as it is for anybody who knows how movies are made, there were people who actually wrote in reviews that this picture [Bad Influence] had been put out to capitalize on the scandal. Which, of course, would have been impossible.
First of all, Sam Fuller left a group of extraordinary movies that are unique, that are "Fuller-esque," as one might say, which makes them stand apart from any other director's films.
I wrote a couple of scripts on spec that didn't get made but got some attention, and I then got offers to write professionally.
Movie stars exaggerate certain things to let the audience know they're just playing a character, as if they're saying, "Look at me, I'm not really an old man, I'm just playing one." Or "I'm not really a homosexual, I'm just playing a gay character. Or an alcoholic. Or somebody who's mentally impaired." They often do it very successfully and win awards for it.
Initially, it connected with me when I was a kid, seeing a lot of movies while growing up in Los Angeles. And Sam's [Fuller] pictures are an expression of such a distinct voice that he was one of those filmmakers who made me aware that there was, in fact, a real presence behind the camera that was telling the story, as opposed to actors just presenting it.
My very first professional writing credit was on a movie called The Dunwich Horror, and Roger Corman was the executive producer.
Self-awareness and self-esteem. Those aren't female issues, those are human issues.
Hollywood, of course, is the city of illusion.
Most scripts are so linear and simplistic in their plotline.
We're not used to seeing movies, especially with physical action, when it isn't the man who comes in to save the day.
Bad Influence, which is an early movie of mine that I'm very fond of.
It was an unhappy experience when that picture got released, because it coincided with that ridiculous Rob Lowe videotape scandal.
I had the great fortune to actually become friends with Sam [Fuller] and ultimately collaborate with him on White Dog, which we wrote together.
I was never a critic.
There was a long period of time when Sam Fuller had a lot of projects fall through and had a lot of difficulties getting a project off the ground. And I was able to observe him during that period, and see his incredible resiliency and courage as he faced this difficulty and just kept working.
I can't speak to how Michael [Douglas] approached it in terms of his process.
I stopped doing that [photojournalism] and wrote some screenplays on speculation, because even though I wanted to direct, to direct you need a lot of money. Even for a cheap movie, you need film stock and equipment and actors.
The challenge was the opportunity. When I read the first draft of Steve Kloves' fabulous adaptation - I hadn't read [Michael] Chabon's book at that time - what I was immediately captivated by was this group of characters that were at once so engaging and so messed up.