Projekte in Arbeit

DIE KUH VOM EIS  –  deutsch-deutsche Komödie  –  Junifilm / SkalarFilm – Drehbuchförderung nordmedia
WAPO BERLIN  –  Krimiserienfolge    Saxonia / ARD
JOHNNY SINCLAIR: GEISTERJÄGER  –  Animationsserie  –  youngfilms – Drehbuchförderung MOIN
HERZDAMEN  –  romantische Komödienserie  –  Tivoli Film
JENSEITS DES SCHEINS  –  TV-Komödiendrama    Polyphon Pictures
STUCK ON URANUS – AM A**** DER GALAXIS  –  Sci-Fi-Comedy-Serie 
SO UND NICHT ANDERS!  –  Sitcom 
LAOTISCHE WEIHNACHTEN    Familienkomödie
KRIMIDINNER FÜR PAARE –  Theaterkomödie
KLÖPPELN GEHÖRT ZUM HANDWERK  –  historische Emanzipations-Komödie
ENTWICKLUNGSHILFE  –  romatische Rassismus-Komödie

Zum Tod von Bob Rafelson

Das New Hollywood der 1970er Jahre hatte viele Stars in der 1. Reihe: Coppola, Bogdanovich, Scorsese, Ashby, Allen, Friedkin, Spielberg, Cimino, de Palma usw.. Aus der 2. Reihe lugte Bob Rafelson heraus, der mit Jack Nicholson eine fruchtbare Reihe an Filmen machte. Davor erfand er die Mockumentary-Serie mit den „Monkees“, gab Schwarzenegger dann seine erste dramatische Filmrolle und entdeckte unter anderen auch Sally Field. Rafelson suchte dabei immer seinen eigenen Weg und setzte sich ambitionierte Ziele, weswegen er bis zum Ende seiner Karriere nie zum Mainstream zählte. Er starb am 23. Juli 2022 mit 89 Jahren.
Vor über einem Vierteljahrhundert – noch als junger Filmjournalist – durfte ich ihn anlässlich des schwarzhumorigen Thrillers „Blood and Wine“ im Hyde Park Hotel in London treffen: eines meiner besten Interviews, das damals von meinem Arbeitgeber (selbsternanntes „Europas größtes Filmmagazin“) nicht gedruckt wurde, weil „keiner den kennt“. Wahre Cineasten …
Rafelson war lebendig, komisch, steckte mit seiner Leidenschaft für Film und Geschichten an.
Er hatte so viel Freude an unserem Gespräch und verlangte nach mehr Fragen. Er verriet mir auch sein Geheimnis, wie man mit mäßigem Fleiß und Können als guter Pianist auf einer Party in Erinnerung bleiben kann; ein Lifehack, den ich bis heute nutze. Danke, Bob!

PS: Dies war derselbe Tag, an dem mich Jennifer Lopez versetzte, die lieber shoppen ging, als mit dahergeflogenen Filmkritikern zu plauschen. Pech gehabt! Also ich …

NvU: Why did you make a trilogy about a dysfunctional Family?

Bob Rafelson: Why not? Do you want me to make a picture about a family that functions very nicely with one another, a Disney Trilogy? Why am I attracted to this? There are different degrees. “Five easy Pieces“ isn’t about a dysfunctional but basically irrational family. “King of Marvin Gardens“, the story of the two brothers… I think I’m attracted to the family because it allows me to explore all the intense emotions. It has the obligatory relationship, the obliged relationship. You and I have none, unless we become athletes on a team. But the family has obligations and a kind of formal structure to it, and even an inherited mythic quality. Because people has been talking about family in theatre since the Greeks, since Shakespeare, since Eugene O’Neill, Strindberg, Tennessee Williams. Who am I to say “No?“

NvU: In “Blood & Wine“ it’s a special dysfunctional family. Everybody is beating up anybody.
Who was the best fighter of all?

Rafelson: Jack Nicholson has an extraordinary grace and power and knows how to do this thing very very well. He has also had more experience. Stephen Dorff actually, when he rehearses you have to warn him, especially the person he is fighting with, even a stuntman: “Be careful, because he’s gonna act and gonna lose control, and he’ll punch you!“ He would come running into rooms, doors would go flying. Once he knocked the door off the hinges – the scene where he search for his father with a knife in his hand. And I was rehearsing with him and ,Gabriella‘ and he knocked the door down. So I would say there are two different types there. But both very good screen fighters.

NvU: You don’t use handguns. You use pole arms, like golf bats…

Rafelson: I use what I feel should be used by the characters, instead of movies that have enormous violent action scenes in them, where it’s quite logical that anything can be used as a weapon. Schwarzenegger has normally six weapons, all these powerful guns on him, or Stallone destroys hundreds of people a time. And eyeballs get shot out and roll on the floor and become jewels and then morph into human beings. That’s all fantasy, the violence isn’t very real. Whereas here by using something which is specifically appropriate to the fighter… A woman comes home, gets into a physical fight with her husband. She’s afraid of him, she wants to strike back and uses her cane. It has a bit of irony to it also. Jason only knows about fishing. He would use the means of killing a shark or the boat. He doesn’t know about guns. Nobody carries a gun in this movie. It was easy to put one on them. In fact they contemplated it. Should Nicholson have a gun in the movie? But I don’t think he’s the kind of character who would carry a gun. So I prefer Nicholson to use a pillow. A sublication someone who’s suffering from anthemia seems right to make.

NvU: Michael Caine plays a character who might have a gun. More vicious than the others…

Rafelson: In fact, jewel thieves do not carry guns, period. And I’ll tell you why: If they have a gun on them, and they enter a house it’s armed robbery. It’s different from grand theft. You don’t get only ten to fifteen but fifty years. Secondly there is no purpose. What is he gonna do with it?
All he wants to do is to steal a necklace.

NvU: It’s the seventh time you did a film with Jack Nicholson since the sixties. How did you two meet?

Rafelson: I was attending screenings at a film society in Los Angeles. And when I like a movie I have the tendency to stand up and cheer: (loud) Yeah, great, great! Be noisy and physical about it. (stomps) And there was somebody in the theatre who did this consistently when I did it. And finally, I wondered: Who was the other guy who seems to yell. And I went over and introduced myself. And that’s how we met. I’m always interested in people who react. The other night it happened again. I was at the screening of my own film at the British film institute. Before that there was an honor run on Ken Loach, an extraordinary English director. There was a guy behind me, who was cheering the way I was cheering: (shouts) Yeah, yeah, yeah! Not this blight English cheer. Later on, the night I was introduced to the guy. He was laughing very hard. And it turned out to be Terry Gilliam. He’s a guy I probably can relate to. Anyway.

Go on! Ask Questions!

NvU: You make independent movies for thirty years. How did it change?

Rafelson: It hasn’t gotten easier. First of all, the expensive moviemaking has going up considerably. What used in Hollywood a low budget movie when I was making independent films would be in the area of a million to three million dollars. Now it’s ten to twenty million dollars, that’s a low budget movie! A medium budget movie is twenty to fifty million dollars, and an expensive movie is fifty to A HUNDRED MILLION dollars. These are numbers I can’t even comprehend. I cannot understand it. So when you try to make an independent film today, people assume it’s going to cost a few million dollars. A cheap independent movie. That’s a big investment. And so people now want to insure that investment. On the independent market as well, by putting either in movie stars or soundtracks, they can sell pop song. So, if you’re seeking to make an independent film that is like independent films of the seventies… I put the pop songs in where they belong. Don‘t tell me to put pop songs in!  

NvU: You usually pick talented but quite unknown actors in your films. You discovered Schwarzenegger, Jessica Lange, Sally Field for the movies. How do you find them?

Rafelson: (pauses) – I think I have an instinct. It’s been seasoned. In the beginning I felt I was lucky, but then it happened too many times. First of all, I have patience. I’ve seen over 150 actors for the part of Stephen Dorff.

NvU: Do we know some of them?

Rafelson: You probably know all of them, but I didn’t know them. For the women the same amount. For Jessica Lange’s part in “The Postman Always Rings Twice“: 175, for “Stay Hungry“: 150 women, and the picture went to Sally Field. She had never been in a movie before.
You have to have patience. But a lot of people don’t want to spend their lives sitting in a room, meeting boring actors.

NvU: Is this the same patience you use on difficult actors, Ellen Barkin said that she’d been stoned half of the way through “Man Trouble“. Or Debra Winger…

Rafelson: (flabberghasted) She was stoned?!

NvU: She said on Jay Leno that she smoked pot. And Nicholson helped her through the scenes. Debra Winger as well is supposed to be difficult in handling.

Rafelson: They were not difficult when I worked with them.

NvU: What is it you do with them?

Rafelson: Because I have a reputation for being difficult. I don’t think it’s earned. It’s more because of this incident that took place that became mythologized, that I punched out a studio head. But I am the director of the film. And I don’t want people running amok on the Set. So I usually say to the actor who comes in and is supposed to be difficult: “No matter how difficult you are, I’m more difficult. And this could become a very difficult set. So why don’t we make an agreement? Let’s be difficult, but let’s not be difficult on the set. Let’s be difficult a quarter of a mile off the set. So if you have a problem now or a tension, if you’re gonna freak out, signal me. And I’ll walk with you, and we can fight it out away from here.“ Because when you begin to have this kinds of thing on the set or “I won’t come out of my dressing room“, you begin to have all kind of crew members taking sides. It becomes silly, absurd.

NvU: With whom did you walk off the set?

Rafelson: Debra.

NvU: After how many minutes?

Rafelson: No, Debra and I agreed that we would not fight on the set. And if, we’re going to fight off the set. We made a handshake on it. Before the picture began, She’s very smart. And also: fights. Who gives a shit about fights? It’s very hard working with people. Sometimes the people who make movies are not very bright. They’re very emotional. Directors, actors, we’re not all intellectuals. And because of that, we are childish, because our emotions are pretty much on the surface. And further to that we are asked to have our emotions at the surface. That’s what acting is all about: revealing emotions. So we are PAID to be children. Think about this: Judy Davis is one of the most professional actresses I’ve ever met in my life. When I worked with her she was totally concentrated. But if you asked Judy Davis that she liked being in this movie, she says:
“I hate every movie I’ve ever been in! I never liked any movie or anybody on the movie.“ And I said: “Surely you must have liked David Lean!“ – “I hate David Lean!“ – “How about Gillian Armstrong?“ – “I hate Gillian Armstrong! And I hate that movie!“ And I’d say: “Maybe I’ll be the one that will be different“. She said: “You’re wonderful, you’re fine, but I HATE working on this movie!“ You have to understand that this is an actor who has to be this, in order to be able to act. If you’re fucking stupid and you take it seriously, you get egotistical and you say: “What do you mean you hate working on this movie??? You’re lucky to be in this movie!“, what are you gonna get from that? These fights are really because people don’t feel what’s behind them.

NvU: What was it like to work with Michael Caine?

Rafelson: In all years I’ve been making movies I’ve never had a more delightful experience.
He’s an absolutely gracious human being. He is actually one of the few actors I actually liked to dine with, such as last night. He’s a wonderfully generous human being. A great storyteller, very, very bright man. I really like him. Comes to work in the morning: “Yes, sir“ – he calls me Sir – Shit, I love anybody calling me Sir – and worked with him in a very professional way. “Am I done now? Do you need me for anything for tomorrow?“, and off he goes. No temperament at all. At one point Michael had to do what I think is the best and most difficult scene in the whole movie. It’s near the end where Michael is sitting in a hotel room, and he says to Jack: “This is not a suite in Marbella, did you notice? There are no Swiss chocolates on my pillow. My masseuse is not knocking at the door.“ And then he says: “I’m fucking dying, Alex“. And meanwhile he is smoking and before that coughing blood in the sink, and inhaling. During the shot Michael passed out. And I said: “OK, let’s do another take.“ And he passed out again.

(Stephen Dorff enters the hotel room):

Rafelson: Where are you going now?

Stephen Dorff: MTV, I think. It’s gonna be on live, so if you wanna watch it…

Rafelson: Live?

Dorff: Yeah. I’m gonna sing a song.

Rafelson: Let’s watch it. Are you going now down to the studio. What time is it on?

Dorff: I dunno. Quarter to five or so. It’s like hanging out with a bunch of cute girls. See you later.

Rafelson: (turns back to me) Where were we?

NvU: Michael Caine.

Rafelson: Yeah. He passed out and then he would say: “Oh, I lost it, I’m sorry. I oxygenated.“
I felt so sorry and I said: “Well, let’s take it easy.“ – “No, I do it again“, and he would lose it again. And he kept oxygenating. We were in this funky motel. And he kept walking from room to room to room. There were few people living in this motel, occupying the rooms. And he would knock on the doors and he said “I’m sorry I oxygenated.“ He was completely gone. And so sweet, so utterly and so apologetic about it. Embarrassed that he had held me up. It gives me the chills to talk about him. He is such a kind and good man.

NvU: Would you want to work with him again.

Rafelson: Absolutely. No question about that.

NvU: There were three writers involved in the script. Tell us about it.

Rafelson: Basically there were two writers. Let me answer by saying to you, that neither of them had ever written a screenplay. I didn’t have the money to pay fully-fledged screen writers. And when you work with people who are new to the form, it requires a lot more time. And sometimes they cannot write more than a whole year without some income. So, I would encourage them to take a job and go off and write for somebody else. And sometimes they’re burned out also, and say: “I can’t write anymore“.

NvU: How many scenes were directly written for Nicholson?

Rafelson: None.

NvU: There are great lines he says, like “Do me a favor, don’t love me!“

Rafelson: I wrote this, and I didn’t know Jack Nicholson was gonna be in the movie at that time.
I distinctly remember writing this scene. Why, does that sound very Nicholsonian?

NvU: Yeah, it does. Or “I don’t fly economy.“ is another line.

Rafelson: No, those are just good lines. And you like the way Jack says them. It’s no Nicholson line at all.

NvU: You use to visit remote places, do adventure trips. Where did you go last?

Rafelson: It was an easy trip, compared to others. I was in Turkey, walking.

NvU: 15 Years ago you went to the Amazonas Indians and you were going to do a movie about them, before John Boorman or Kevin Costner even thought about doing movies about Native Americans. Is this project still back in your head?

Rafelson: It was absorbed somewhat when I finally made “Mountains of the Moon“. I did everything I wanted to do with this particular subject. I would like to do that kind of subject again, mind you. But not particularly Indians or Africans. Just an anthropological nature to it.

NvU: Are we going to see another adventure movie of yours?

Rafelson: I don’t know if you would call that an adventure movie, mind you. But certainly,
I wouldn’t mind to do that. I happened to love making “Mountains of the Moon“. It was a picture that took nine years. So, given an opportunity, I would gladly do that kind of film again.

NvU: You are a jazz musician. Do you find time to play?

Rafelson: I play the piano very, very badly. I can only play two or three songs. But only to impress my female guests, I sit down and I play that one song that I played at least ten thousand times. And I play it fairly well. And then I suddenly get a headache or feel fatigue. I sit there with a whole body of songs that I could play. But somehow, I’m too exhausted… (smirks)

NvU: Do you have a next project?

Rafelson: No, I don’t have even a clue. I don’t expect get busy working on a movie for another six months or more.

NvU: You invented The Monkees back in 1966. And now all those Boy Groups are out. Are we going to have another TV experience like that of yours?

Rafelson: Somebody last week asked me if I would be interested in adapting Kieslowsky’s “Dekalog“ for American TV. I can’t imagine anybody wanting to adapt it in the serious sense. But if somebody asked me to do my “Dekalog“, inspired by Kieslowsky, I would say yes. But I don’t think it’s gonna happen.

NvU: Why?

Rafelson: I must say it’s very satisfying for me sometimes to sit with European correspondents, because you have this incredibly inflated notion of who I am. You think that all Bob has to do is say he wants to do it. In fact, it is quite the contrary. It took years to get this picture made. And numerous times it looked that it would not gonna be made. Each and every movie since “The King of Marvin Gardens“ was an enormous struggle. And I can’t tell you how much pain and anguish goes into that struggle! Because you have to beg for money. You think you got it, then it goes away. Then it comes back, with other conditions. Then you have to compromise, or say you won’t compromise, and then the money goes away again. And it takes years of waiting. When it finally does come in, it comes in in such a fashion that you now must start shooting the picture immediately. “But wait a minute, I’ve been waiting for three years. And now I have to pick the locations“ –  “You have 19 days.“ – “But I need three months!“ –  “We don’t give a shit, if you wanna make the movie, you’ll make it.“ And now have everybody racing like idiots you can’t think. You got to make the movie. You can imagine the conditions under which I made this one. Just for an example: Which means that if you’re shooting six days a week, you’re looking for the locations on the seventh day. You’re shooting nighttimes very often. So you don’t sleep, often for days and days and days at a time. And you’re physically exhausted, and emotionally exhausted.
And people carry you to the set.

NvU: How do you recover?

Rafelson: You recover by not making a movie again for a very long time. And I stopped smoking the day I finished the picture. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t desire one right now.

NvU: Why did you quit?

Rafelson: I feel better when I don’t. I climb mountains.

NvU: Are you going to do something with Jack again?

Rafelson: I don’t want to make another picture with Jack Nicholson and Jack Nicholson doesn’t want it. He doesn’t sit back there at nighttimes and say: “God I can’t wait to work with Bob again.“ And I don’t sit there and think about him.

NvU: With which of the actors you discovered would you like to work again?

Rafelson: Just about anyone from the past.

NvU: If Schwarzenegger called you…

Rafelson: I would find that interesting. I would like to see what would happen if Arnold Schwarzenegger was required to act like he did in “Stay Hungry“. Now there are no weapons and not that cute acting, he played a pretty serious part in my movie. Somebody once said to me: “You discovered Arnold Schwarzenegger. You know what your fate is? You’re gonna have to do a second picture with him.“ while thinking “He hated him!“ I don’t hate Arnold, I like him. Very occasionally we pass each other in the street or bump into each other. We don’t call each other.

Interview: Nikolaus von Uthmann, 27.11. 1996

Übersetzer für Ufa und Amazon

Bereits zum zweiten Mal heuerte mich Ufa Fiction an, um für eine Romantic-Dramedy-Serie im Auftrag von Amazon Studios die Drehbücher von Englisch nach Deutsch zu übersetzen.
Um welche
Serie es sich handelt, darf erst später verraten werden. Nur so viel:
Das Einschalten wird sich 2023 lohnen für alle, die gern schwelgen und mitfiebern…

Zum Tod von Ivan Reitman

Ivan Reitman war einer meiner Kinohelden. Sein anarchischer Humor gepaart mit Menschlichkeit prägten mich und meine Schreibe: „Ghostbusters“, „Twins“, „Dave“, „Staatsanwälte küsst man nicht“ und andere seiner Filme amüsierten mich schon in der Jugend – ebenso wie heute.
Leider verstarb Ivan Reitman am 12. Februar 2022 mit nur 75 Jahren.
Vor fast genau einem Vierteljahrhundert bekam ich die wunderbare Gelegenheit, ihn noch in meinem vorherigen Leben als Journalist und Filmkritiker zu interviewen. Darin fragte ich hellsichtig, wie er denn nach seinem Tode erinnert werden wollte. Seine Antwort:

„Er machte feine Filme und brachte uns zum Lachen.“

Hier ist das gesamte Interview auf Englisch, das ich für das im Atlantic Hotel Hamburg
am 5. Februar 1997 für „Europas größtes Kinomagazin“ Cinema hielt und darin nie in Gänze veröffentlicht wurde:

Nikolaus von Uthmann: When you made “Dave“ in 1993 you said that filming this movie is about you becoming a grown-up. Now you made “Space Jam“, starring Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. Are you back in your childhood again?

Ivan Reitman: I guess so (laughs).

NvU: Did you grow up with the Looney Tunes?

Reitman: I grew up with them. I guess I discovered them in America, when I came to Canada when I was only five years old. I didn’t even see a television before I was seven or eight. Somewhere then is when I first saw them. I may even have seen them in a movie theatre.
I cannot really quite remember when exactly it was. I always thought they were the best cartoons because they seemed to be much more energetic and their humor was much hipper.

NvU: You played with puppets when you were just three years old. What were your shows or plays about?

Reitman: I can’t remember what the show was, I just remember doing it – just stories I made up. I would try to entertain the kids on the streets. I did that in Czechoslovakia, and apparently I even did that in France, where we lived for six months when I was about four and a half, before we came to Canada. We lived on a small farm outside of Paris. I would get all the local farm kids –
I didn’t speak any French. I don’t know what the hell I was doing, but I was very entertaining apparently.

NvU: Your parents and you left from Czechoslovakia right before that. How did you escape?

Reitman: My parents and I hid in a boat in a small town and we ended up in Vienna. We were nailed down underneath the floor boards. We spent one night on that boat, a two-day trip. I was drugged so I wouldn’t make any noise when the boat was inspected by the Russian police as we left Czechoslovakia.

NvU: Have you ever returned to your place of birth?

Reitman: (hastily) Not yet, not yet.

NvU: Are you afraid?

Reitman: Perhaps I have been. I don’t think I am particularly afraid right now. The correct moment has not arrived yet.

NvU: Do you plan to ever go back over there?

Reitman: Yes, sometime I will.

NvU: Your parents are astonishing people. They worked in the underground resistance in WW2, later fought and fled the communism regime. What kind of values did they teach you in your childhood?

Reitman: My father used the word menschkeit as a phrase for what he wanted for me. I think I learned optimism from them. Having overcome what they did, both during the war and then with the communists after the war, and then in Canada they started from nothing, and overcome that poverty and starting their lives again for the third time. They were in the thirties when we arrived in Canada, it was a tough time to begin again from nothing. And they put a very nice life together. I think that kind of positiveness is something that was obviously handed down to me.

NvU: After ten years in movie business in Canada you moved to Hollywood. How do you survive there?

Reitman: It can be a terrible place for some people. But I think if your values are well-grounded and if you surround yourself with good people it’s as nicest place to live in the world as there is. Hollywood has too often been described by writers of cheap novels and sensational magazine stories. It is those things sometimes, but it’s not only those things. It’s actually very little of that. The people I know are mostly interested in their families, and sort of try to lead sensible lives in an area of great wealth and great privilege. It is somehow what I try to pass down to my three children. Fortunately I have a very fine partner and wife, who has her head very well on her shoulders and keeps me on a straight line, if I seem to get a little too crazy.

The key is to try to make good work, and try to keep your head on straight.

NvU: It’s unusual if you have friendships in Hollywood which last over twenty years. Back then you met the National Lampoon, you’re still friends with Bill Murray. How do you keep friends with difficult people like comedians?

Reitman: I try to be respectful of what they do. Comedian in particular is the most dangerous work, because to make someone laugh you’re saying: you’re putting yourself out there like this and you’re expressing yourself in a particular way that the only appropriate response is laughter. And when the laughter doesn’t come it means that you’ve failed. You’re always risking something. People don’t think about it like that. They think: “Oh, he’s such a funny guy and he says funny things“. But every time what you’re really doing is auditioning every moment of your life when you’re a comedian because you’re trying out – whether it’s on stage or on a soundstage, in a film or you’re just sitting here and trying to entertain the journalists – if he’s not particularly funny he’s gonna feel bad. It’s something tough to live with.

NvU: Bill Murray says that you’re an easy laugh.

Reitman: He can make me laugh quite easily, practically any time he wants. He has something, which he triggers at me. Generally I don’t think I am an easy laugh, I’m a pretty strict laugh. But I do perseve things which are humorous. My son always says I’m a tough laugh (laughs). He’s nineteen and a very talented and funny young man himself. I’ve always been respectful of Bill’s works and of pretty well everyone I’ve worked with has been so talented. On one hand I laugh with them, on the other hand I’m quite strict in terms of not accepting the easiest things that they do. Even when that makes them angry sometimes I think they respect it and appreciate the results in the end.

NvU: You turned Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sigourney Weaver, and Debra Winger into comedians. How did you do that?

Reitman: I put them in appropriate situations. I’m not asking Arnold to deliver a line like Bill Murray. If I tried to do that it’d only look bad. There is no point in that, that’s not what his skill is. Understanding what an actor’s skills are and what their personality is, what their persona is, and you see all these things and put them in the right kind of story and situation where humor can result from. I did the same thing with Michael Jordan in “Space Jam“.

NvU: In Germany the American sports heroes are not that well-known. Do you think this could limit the international success of “Space Jam“?

Reitman: All my films have certain Americanized references that all audiences will not get all things. But that’s not necessary for ultimate success. Over all you get a good sense about the movie and enjoy it. A movie like “Ghostbusters“, which is successful as you can be, is just full of things that make no sense to other peoples. Some things make a lot sense in America and maybe Germany, but don’t make any sense in Japan. There are local references that don’t have to work, as long as the whole movie has an impact. That’s what I hope for “Space Jam“.

NvU: You once said that you were not that comfortable of being “just“ a producer. You prefer directing over producing. Still you produced “Space Jam“. Why didn’t you direct yourself?

Reitman: In “Space Jam“ my producing is about the same amount as directing. We had a lot of directors on “Space Jam“: Joe Pytka did most of the green screen work, three different animation directors, a special effects director. Really I directed the directors. You know, credits are a complex thing with the guilds in America. But in terms of what I did on the film is, I developed the script, I casted, I hired all those directors, I supervised the animation, hired the voices, directed the voices, and edited the movie. It took four years to make the movie. And I was the captain, to put it that way, because I’m not allowed to use the directing word. But the studio looked at me and everybody else did in terms of having the ultimate creative say about this movie. It was my baby.

NvU: Just like “National Lampoon’s Animal House“. You got the people together. But you didn’t even get a credit of a creative consultant. How much did that hurt?

Reitman: It was clear for me then that I should go back being a director, what is really what I wanted and what made me the happiest. Even before “Animal House“ was in the field I had started a small Canadian movie called “Meatballs“, that did very well particularly in America, which got me back into directing.

NvU: Were you angry with John Landis?

Reitman: No, he did a very good job. I got into a fight with John Landis after, which had nothing to do with “Animal House“ but with a project we’re gonna do together.

NvU: Your film debut in the ’60s was “Columbus of Sex“, for which you were actually tried in court. Why exactly was that?

Reitman: When I was in my last year of university a friend of mine who still works with me, Dan Holberg and I produced this movie, another guy at the university, who already had directing experience directed it. We raised a few of thousand dollars. The film was based on “My Secret Life”, which was an anonymously written Victorian sex novel about a thousand different sexual adventures of this Victorian Gentleman. We used two projectors at once, two screens. It was a real 60s movie, very experimental. The first screening was at the university, and one of the kids who attended the film called the local police. It was a pretty sexy thing, though much less sexy than you see on television right now. The police comes, sees the movie, and we were put on trial for obscenity in Canada – which we lost. We probably would have won on appeal. It was a small and strict community, where we would lose almost no matter what. We were fined 300 Dollars. We could have gone forward, which would have cost a ton of money. So we forgot about that. Unlike Larry Flynt I was not interested in making law at this point of my life.

NvU: Since then you haven’t use that many sex scenes in your movies. Why?

Reitman: It hasn’t interested me that much. “Animal House“ has a bunch of sex scenes in it, so has “Stripes“. I always felt in a strange way that it distracted from the rest of the film. If I tried to tell a story about sexuality I would make it very sexy! I just produced “Private Parts“, with Howard Stern. It has a few sex scenes in it. It will be a very controversial film. Howard Stern is America’s most famous radio personality. He’s the original shock jock. He’s heard all over America, and he’s even loved or hated. He wrote his biography “Private Parts“, and it was a tremendous success as a book. He wanted to turn it into a movie for a long time, so he called me for help.
I hope it’ll be a huge success in America. It is as unusual as “Animal House“ when it came out. We’ll see how it translates to people who don’t know who Howard Stern is.

NvU: One of your old colleagues has trouble in America right now, meaning David Cronenberg. You produced a few of his films in your earlier career. Have you talked with him about the problems he’s got because of “Crash“?

Reitman: I haven’t seen him in about six years or more. He still lives in Toronto. The last time he talked to me when he was going to direct for me “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy“.
He actually ended up doing “The Fly“. I lost the options of the book later. I may have spoken to him once after that.

NvU: “Hitchhiker’s Guide“ would be, like “Space Jam“, now and here, very modern. But you said once you would have been more comfortable being a comedy director in the ’30s and ’40s.
How did your attitude change?

Reitman: I don’t know if I said that I was more comfortable, but I definitely would’ve been comfortable doing comedies in the 40s. I could’ve fitted in the system just fine. There was this tremendous group of performers that I would’ve loved to have worked with, I guess. I just finished “Father’s Day“ with Robin Williams and Billy Crystal – I directed it in kind of a ’40s style.

NvU: Isn’t it a remake of a French film?

Reitman: It’s not really a remake. It takes the premise of the film. It’s a great idea, but I think the plot went into the wrong direction. So after the first two or three scenes, which are very similar, we’re going our own way.

NvU: “Father’s Day“ won’t be a pretentious film, I guess. You have once said:

“I hate pretentious films, I hate pretentious filmmaking.“

What exactly did you mean with that? Can you name some examples?

Reitman: Oh, you know what I mean! (laughs) I won’t name examples. It’s filmmaking where the filmmaker is screaming: “Look at me, look at me!“, pretty well throughout the movie and you keep feeling it with every shot, and where things are done for that particular effect.

NvU: Did you turn down “The Prince of Tides“ because of that?

Reitman: “The Prince of Tides“? I never had the opportunity to make that film.

NvU: I read that you got offered “The Fisher King“ and Prince of Tides“ after “Legal Eagles“.

Reitman: (thinks) I may have been offered “The Prince of Tides“ actually. I got the script.
“The Fisher King“ I don’t remember it being offered.

NvU: “Legal Eagles“ and “Junior“ didn’t do that well. You’ve made only two or three not-so successful films. The critics didn’t like them that much.

Reitman: (interrupting) Oh, “Legal Eagles“ the critics liked a lot actually. The money part became a big story in Hollywood though.

NvU: How much did it cost?

Reitman: It cost 34 million Dollars. It was expensive then, but even then there were movies that crossed fifty million. But it was just one of those things which became a story. I can’t explain it. The East Coast papers, like in New York, gave “Legal Eagles“ great reviews, probably the best reviews of my life. And “Junior“ got good reviews in most places…

NvU: You turned fifty last October. That’s kind of a landmark. Since you roam around in Hollywood a lot: What do you want to be remembered for in, say, thirty or forty years max?
Or what is the epitaph you would like to see on your memorial?

Reitman: I think “He made fine movies and made us laugh“. That is a very complex thing to ask. I think the idea that I’ve made many fine films that were humorous and moving in some way.

“Relatively intelligent“ would be a nice epitaph.

NvU: Last question: What happened to “Ghostbusters 3“ and what are your future plans?

Reitman: After “Father’s Day“ will be probably this romantic comedy with Harrison Ford called “Six Days, Seven Nights“, which we will film this summer. I don’t see “Ghostbusters 3“ in my future. I think Danny [Ackroyd] really would love doing it and might try it.

Interview: Nikolaus von Uthmann, 5.2.1997