Dreams News Bulletin: June 2000
In this Issue...
Terry Gilliam was to be found celebrating the deal to make his Quixote project at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The project, whose full title is The Man Who Killed Don Quixote will shoot this autumn (2000), and has been funded by a group of European backers. On a yacht in Cannes, Gilliam said, “I finally got the money for my next project! We’ve been here celebrating… all the people who finally coughed up enough money for me to start working again – they’ve been feeding me. So that’s why I’ve come – for a free lunch!” For more background, see the Dreams Quixote page and the Dreams news archive.
2. Gilliam defends UK lottery funding for Quixote
A political storm was raised recently when it was revealed that the UK National Lottery fund contributed $3million, to allow the Quixote deal to be pulled together. In the London Evening Standard, film critic Alexander Walker was reported as saying that he views the lottery award as an invitation for American filmmakers to exploit the various European investment bodies when they fail to raise production monies from American studios.
Walker, who has been one of the harshest critics of Lottery funding for films, added: "Gilliam clearly hasn't been able to raise the money from the Hollywood studios and this is an indication of the way Americans are coming to Europe to grab the money from European funding sources. It is the last gasp of the Arts Council Lottery panel before the Film Council takes over. The result is another Europudding. The question must be asked: is this the best use of public funds?"
An enraged Gilliam hit back, and his response was printed in the same newspaper, “The controversy surrounding the Lottery award for my film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is surreal. And Alexander Walker's contention that I am an American film-maker exploiting the European funding systems is at best inaccurate, at worst absurd. Far from being an 'expatriate American', I am a British citizen and travel on a British passport. I have lived in the UK for 33 years - the majority of my life - and have made British television productions and British films. I am also a governor of that most British of film institutions, the BFI.
Gilliam concluded, “If I am an example of an American director exploiting British public-funding bodies, then my advice to Hollywood film-makers is this: come to England, get yourself a British passport, begin your career in British television, get married, have kids, pay British taxes and settle down here. Then wait for 33 years before plundering the limited cash resources and public-funding bodies to make a feature film.”
Stefan Buskey, a Gilliam fan who used to work in the public funding of the arts - including Lottery funding – submitted a commentary to the new Dreams MessageBoard, “Contrary to popular opinion, Lottery funding of film is not a handout," said Buskey. "It is a state-provided financial key to unlocking the making of a piece, and as such comes complete with a cat’s cradle of conditions. Lottery money will not be leaving the country, even if the film is a run-away success. The offer will require that excess profits be returned to the Lottery ‘pot’, up to the level of the original grant. This is standard practice. And is non-negotiable.
“Despite tabloid suggestions to the contrary, the appraisal process for Lottery grants is exhaustive. Every element of the proposal will have been assessed against a set of carefully crafted criteria. Unfortunately, the system is apparently as not as exhaustive as Mr Walker would appear to require. However, I for one would not envy the appraisal of a grant application where I was required to research the birthplace of the cast and crew.
“Following recent Lottery films I would have imagined that anybody that cared about British film would welcome the entry to the arena of an A-list director with a history of innovation and risk-taking. Does anybody at the Standard recall that Lottery arts funding is supposed to encourage new and challenging work?"
For the full text of the Evening Standard articles, go to the Dreams Quixote page.
3. Quixote pre-production well under way
In May, the casting of Johnny Depp, Vanessa Paradis and Jean Rochefort in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was confirmed. Gilliam has considerable admiration for Depp, who will play the character of Toby (aka The Man Who...). Gilliam said that working with Depp on Fear and Loathing was like his old Python days. “We just giggled a lot”, said Gilliam. Many were surprised that Gilliam chose Depp’s real-life partner Paradis to star in Quixote. He said, “I’d spent time with him and Vanessa, but then I saw Girl on a Bridge and thought she was extraordinary.”
An office has been created in Central London to co-ordinate pre-production for the film, which is now well under way. There will be some shooting work in London, but almost all of the shoot will take place around Madrid in Spain. Toledo, Guadalajara and Salamanca have been selected. Gilliam commented that the film is “a quest for... values, something we don’t have much of in the modern world.”
4. Gilliam directs US ad for Micron pc
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Phil Stubbs, Edinburgh. June 2000.