Dreams 10: May 1998 News Bulletin

Edited by Phil Stubbs

New! Terry Gilliam's Guilty Pleasures

The world holds its breath for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Fear and Loathing In Competition at Cannes
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas will receive its world premiere at Cannes on May 15, where it is in competition. Getting the movie finished in time has proved stressful... Gilliam has been working 20 hour days and flying between L.A. and London frequently. "The world could have blown up out there and I wouldn't know," says Gilliam.

The movie goes on full release in the States on May 22. Gilliam fans in the UK will unfortunately have to wait until 17 September until they can see the movie.

The official website is now fully up and running (it is very good indeed)... it can be found at Univeral Pictures' Fear and Loathing Website. It features a handy guide to the drugs mentioned in the movie, and has quite extensive (albeit official) information about the making of the movie. Also, US fans can enter the Sweepstakes and win some prizes. The Shockwave plugin is needed to view some of the site.

Fear and Loathing's Soundtrack
The Fear and Loathing soundtrack features an original score by Ray Cooper and Tomoyasu Hotei, and includes the following tracks...

  • White Rabbit - Jefferson Airplane
  • Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again - Bob Dylan
  • Time is Tight - Booker T and the MGs
  • For Your Love - the Yardbirds
  • Expecting to Fly - Buffalo Springfield

Also, listen out for Tom Jones, Perry Como and Debbie Reynolds. Geffen, which is to release the soundtrack in the US in May have created a Fear and Loathing soundtrack page.

Gilliam's relationship with Johnny Depp
During the filming of Fear and Loathing, rumours surfaced on the Internet regarding conflict between Gilliam and leading actor Johnny Depp. Gilliam has told Dreams that such stories are nonsense. "Johnny and I had a great time, he was better than I thought... so funny and inventive."

Fear and Loathing test screening
The test screening for Fear and Loathing was held at the Cineplex Odeon in Universal City, CA on 30 March 1998. Gilliam attended, as did Dreams reader Vince Cadena. Vince's account of the event is featured within the main Dreams Fear and Loathing page. From this page can be found a link to the Aint-It-Cool-News page featuring comments - both positive and negative - resulting from the test screening.

"We're the only film opening opposite Godzilla, which I think is really great," Gilliam told Dreams. "The studio, the marketing team are really behind it. I think I'm trying to get them to make their trailer to make the film look really like a wonderful funny romp and put some kind of warning in it that this is not gonna be for everybody. I think you've got to go for the ride. You can't resist... you've got to submit to it and go... it's a pretty intense experience. What was amazing at the screening was that the audience laughed all the way through the film. It never stopped. That was actually a nice surprise, because I didn't think it would get that much laughs."

A review of the Fear and Loathing trailer comes below from Mike (BevMantle), an alt.movies.terry-gilliam regular. "Oh. Wow. We got it in and I threw it onto a trailer ring and watched it a couple of times. it says 'version 3' but it's the only one that's been released. It's going to be nuts. Depp looks and sounds just like Thompson and there's one shot of him saying 'Get in' that has convinced me to buy a wide-angle lens for my Hi-8 (I was going to get it anyway, but this shot is so cool). But it's chock full of weirdness - the lounge lizards, Katherine Helmond's face stretching, the bats. Flea as a parking attendant. I hear that there is another trailer floating around, an 'all-audiences' trailer that has no drug references whatsoever. I'll have to see that one to believe it."

Gilliam appears at LA SF and Comic Book Convention
On Sunday May 3 1998, Terry Gilliam showed up at the Los Angeles Science Fiction and Comic Book Convention, at the Shrine Auditorium Expo Center, and was very eager to talk about Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Craig Mathieson was there and sent a grateful Dreams the following report...

At the convention, Terry Gilliam showed the R-rated trailer for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (which the audience loved) but was unable to show any clips from the film. He explained that this was the first film that he made in a one year time period, all of his others took around 3 or 4 years to make. He said that he wanted to keep in the spirit of the book and of Hunter Thompson in being very frenetic and wild, and so he and his writing partner put the script together in 8 days, did a two day rewrite and then made the movie.

They had a modest budget for the film (I think I remember $18 million) and they kept moving ahead as fast as they could. If something didn't exactly work as they planned, that was OK, they just moved on and did the next shot to keep the energy up and unbalanced. At the end Terry took it all back to England and he made it all work. He felt that he kept very close in spirit to the book and added that it is always a danger to make a movie of a book that had been around for so long that people had their own feelings about it, and the fact that Hunter is still very much alive and would have his opinion, and what is even more dangerous is that Hunter has a gun.

Someone asked if Terry had ever seen Where The Buffalo Roam. He said that he saw the first ten minutes of it, and did that answer the question? He felt that Bill Murray had been doing an impression of Hunter, and the difference with his film was that Johnny Depp became Hunter. Terry's daughter worked on the film and I guess she answered the phone one day when Hunter called, she told Terry that Johnny Depp was calling and didn't believe that it wasn't. He also mentioned that Johnny Depp felt a lot of pressure to get his portrayal of Hunter accurate because he also knows that Hunter has a gun.

Terry kept making the point that he was making films about things he cared passionately about and was very alarmed about people today becoming afraid to speak their minds becoming more like sheep falling in lockstep with the politically correct world. Someone asked if he would consider making a documentary and he said no, he had been approached to make one on Fritz Lang but didn't think he would know how to go about it. Then he thought for a split second and laughed and said that he was wrong about that, he has in fact been making documentarys all along but they are of his own private twisted world and only seem like fiction to us. Of course he was asked if there would be a Python reunion and he didn't have an answer. He made several comments with his tongue firmly in his cheek like: 1) He said that every time they get together as a group they have fun and get excited about doing something together, then they all leave and go their seperate ways and remember how much they hate being with each other and drop the whole thing. 2) They are spreading wild rumors to get publicity and have no intentions of doing anything. So in the end there was no answer. He was also asked what his favorite Python sketch was and it was the one where John Cleese shows up at the mortuary with the bag with his mother's remains.

He was asked if Time Bandits was part of a trilogy, and his answer was that Baron Munchausen was in fact the fourth part of his trilogy (much laughter here). When he explained he said that Time Bandits dealt with a young child, Brazil dealt with a young(ish) man and Munchausen dealt with an old man and in that sense they were part of a trilogy.

The question came up about how he felt dealing with Universal again after the way he got treated on Brazil. He said that the people running Universal now are not the same ones who screwed him back then, so he rather liked the irony of working for them. He did 12 Monkeys for them and had no problem. He said that one benefit of doing the battle with Universal was that he got the reputation of being a nut who was willing to fight over his films, his name was on it and he cares about things like that, and if they want to change his film the they should be willing to take his off and put their names on it. So now he doesn't have to refight that battle.

It was a very entertaining talk because Terry is so sharp and so full of energy and very funny. The audience loved it. He also took the time after his talk to sign autographs for anyone who got up. I was impressed.

Gilliam in Conversation with Ralph Steadman
On Sunday May 3 1998, a conversation between Terry Gilliam and Ralph Steadman was published in The New York Times. Track down a copy while you can! Ralph Steadman worked with Gilliam on Devious Devices (see below), and has illustrated much of Hunter S. Thompson's work. Says Gilliam in the article, "When the test audience turned in their opinion cards, the vomiting is No. 1 on the negative list... Suddenly you cut from a chocolate-box kind of scene to looking right down a flamingo-colored toilet bowl, and a full stomach-full going down - pow! And it's running out of his eyes, and it's great! It's trying to get visual nightmares going where it's not extreme psychedelia or distortion, it's real... The drug taking is so ugly and disturbing that I don't think it's going to add one more addict to the world out there. Nor will it take one drug addict away."

Other News

Devious Devices - press release
Devious Devices is an exhibition, touring the UK, of new automata inspired by twentieth century objects selected by Terry Gilliam. He advises everyone to see it as soon as they can. Talking to Dreams recently, Gilliam said, "My biggest fear is that these things will be breaking down. They've got an engineer full time keeping an eye on them. [The automata] are very clever. My work was very simple. The guys spent a year doing it and I get all the credit, it's grossly unfair."

"The person who lured me into this was Val Charlton", added Gilliam. "She is a model maker/special effects sculptor who did the three-headed griffin in Munchausen." The exhibition features the automata, plus a video installation and a bust of Gilliam by Charlton. For more details, consult the Devious Devices article from the Telegraph. More dates have been released, approaching the year 2000 - these are included in a press release about the event, which is reproduced below...

Devious Devices is a nationally touring exhibition of new commissioned automata by artists, sculptors and engineers. Amazing machines, from large scale sculptures to small scale devices have been created to surprise, astonish and amuse the visitor. The exhibition, which is funded by the Crafts Council, is a major touring showcase for contemporary automata featuring the work of 18 leading makers in a diverse range of media.

This will be the first exhibition to include a significant proportion of large scale and free standing works, to maximise visual impact and opportunities for audience participation. The exhibition has been designed by Axiom Design Partnership to provide a dramatic setting and theatrical atmosphere to enhance individual pieces, and create a powerful environment for the show as a whole. Themes within the exhibition have been developed through the involvement of film director Terry Gilliam, whose selection of a range of objects and ideas - "totemic" symbols of the 20th century and the coming millennium - have formed the starting point for each maker's piece. Selected objects have ranged from a psychiatrists couch and test tube baby to the rocket and a toothbrush.

Automata making as a distinct crafts practice has a long and fascinating history, from the spring and wind mecharusms of the master clock and watchmakers of late eighteenth century Germany, to the penny arcades of the English seaside. British sculptor Sam Smith continues It also has a relationship to kinetic art of the 20th century in the work of Alexander Calder who made and performed moving wire circus and made motor driven mobiles and also Jean Tinguely whose 'metamatics' were robots combining sound, movement and painting.

In Britain, Paul Spooner, Ron Fuller and Tim Hunkin have among others brought contemporary automata making to centre stage. Described by Paul Spooner as "tourists in the world of engineering", automata makers are characterised by their spirit of invention and individuality of approach and background, defying "curatiori' or classification through media, mechanism or iconography. The apparent simplicity of technology and the predictability of cause and effect are contradicted by a sophistication of action and anarchy of narrative, which subvert the viewer's expectations.

Automata makers in the exhibition are: Jim Bond, Sokari Douglas Camp, James Chedburn, Ron Fuller, Andy Hazell, Rachel Higgins, Joe Holman, Tim Hunkin, Hazel Jones, Tim Lewis, Keith Newstead in collaboration with Ralph Steadman, Andy Plant, Robert Race, Paul Spooner, Darcy Turner and Johnny White.

A video of interviews with the makers and work in progress has been commissioned and produced by Craftfilms, a group of young media practitioners from Birmingham with funds from the Arts For Everyone Lottery.

Exhibition Aims:

  • To delight and inspire visitors and would be inventors.
  • To promote and contextualise the work of Britain's leading automata makers (whether they call themselves artists, craftspeople, scientists or engineers).
  • To highlight the cultural and political significance of automata
  • To tie in with stages 1-3 of the National Curriculum

Automata making is at once a popular and very eccentric practice which appeals to a diverse audience including home inventors and model makers, scientists and engineers as well as children and families and a more traditional art gallery audience. Croydon Clocktower opened in 1995 and attracted 1.25 million visitors in its first year. The galleries, of 350 square metres, have established a reputation for exciting, interactive exhibitions, winning the Interpret Britain award in 1995 and in 1996 wirung the National Heritage Multimedia award, sponsored by IBM.

Craftspace Touring has a national reputation for curating and touring exhibitions of contemporary crafts, including the major exhibition Recycling, forms for the next century, which launched at the Crafts Council in February 1996 and ended its most successful tour in August 1997.

The exhibition will launch at Croydon Clocktower from 4 February - 4 June 1998. It will then tour for up to 24 months to major gallery venues. Its current tour schedule is as follows:

  • Croydon Clocktower: 4 February - 4 June 1998
  • Wolverhampton Art Gallery: 20 June - 19 September 1998
  • Museum of Science & Industry, Manchester: 30 September 1998 - 7 January 1999
  • Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery: 23 January - 18 April 1999
  • Newport Museum & Art Gallery: 1 May - 24 July 1999
  • The Ucheldre Centre, Holyhead: 7 August - 30 October 1999
  • Available: 13 November 1999 - 7 February 2000

New Gilliam Book
I understand that a new book about Gilliam is to be published in the UK, entitled Gilliam on Gilliam. If this is true, it is likely to form part of a series of books published by Faber and Faber, which assemble many interviews with auteurs into an approximation of an autobiography (other titles in the series include Scorsese on Scorsese, Burton on Burton).

Python Q&A
News of the Python reunion and Q&A session in Aspen in March was featured in the Dreams 9 bulletin (with photo). Gilliam fan Bonnie, from L.A., was kind enough to view the tv show of the Q&A session and provide Dreams with a transcript.

The session was taken up with discussion about group projects rather than any individual work. After Terry G. kicked over the urn which supposedly contained Graham Chapman's ashes, he was asked about working alone during the Python tv shows. Gilliam said, "In some ways I was the most free because they had to submit their material to the group, and everybody voted on whether it went into the good pile, the medium pile or the shit pile. My stuff was never comprehensible to them, and often not to me either, and I would sort of explain to them what I was doing and they would all just look like... like their doing now." The other Pythons stared at him blankly.

"Well, one of the things we decided very early on," added Gilliam, "was to get rid of punch lines, because before you would see Peter Cook and Dudley Moore doing a wonderful show... they would do great characters, and the sketch would go along, fantastic, and they would have to go into the punch line. And invariably the punch line wasn't as good as the body of the sketch, so we solved it, you know, the Gordian Knot, chop. Get rid of the punch line."

"There's one thing I really wanted to do at one point which was... the show would be going on and we would slowly take the sound down in a sketch, and do it very slowly, so people all over England would then (mimes someone getting up to turn their tv sound up). This would go on for about five minutes until they had their sets at a maximum level, and them we'd make the biggest noise we could, and blow up their reception... but they wouldn't let us do that." Gilliam also reinforced his disdain for many studio and media executives... "And I don't think that's happened since. I mean six people, it was all about making six people laugh. That was the end of it. There were no producers, there were no executives, there were no market research people saying this is what the audience should be going for."

On Holy Grail, "I remember seeing the opening in New York when the Vietnam War was still on, and the audience jsust went deadly still because then violence was a very bad thing so any form of violence, even cartoon chopping off limbs, just, they went still. And I think it was your second leg, when that came off they realised, oh, there's something funny going on. You can laugh at violence in the right form.

And on Life of Brian, "It's interesting in the States because it got on well in England and Ireland, but in America, especially in the Bible Belt, it just killed it dead, nobody went. In England, in different towns where it was banned, people organised bus parties and went from the towns where it was banned to the towns where you could see it."

When asked to choose as which Python character he would like to return to Earth, Gilliam said, "I think I'd have to go and get the one I didn't get right. At one point we were filming down in Dartmoor and I had to come down as an American dialogue coach and say 'OK'. And I actually couldn't say OK in an American accent! I completely blew it."

Farewell to PythOnline?
News of PythOnline's demise may have been much exaggerated. Eric Idle posted a valedictory message onto the AskPython messageboard on 28 April, claiming that PythOnline had just a few hours left. Gilliam responded, claiming a conspiracy of decent, right-thinking Americans were behind PythOnline's demise in order to prevent the site associating itself with Fear and Loathing, a "shocking, disgusting tale of depravity". However, at the time of writing, the PythOnline site is still up and running.

The Defective Detective
As of early April '98, The Defective Detective (see Dreams passim) has still not been green-lighted. Dreams will keep you updated with any movement on this Gilliam project.

New in Dreams 10...
In this release, you will find the following new features:

Contributions are welcome! If you wish to send letters, analysis, news or any information regarding Terry Gilliam and his work, then email me!
Hey readers! Thanks to everyone who has emailed me - keep in touch. To those who haven't, tell me what you think of Dreams. And let me know you've visited. Send your emails to me at phil@dreams.u-net.com

Dreams is stored by the witty, attractive and stylish people at Franklyn Press Multimedia, whose corporate HQ is situated in the glorious town of Macclesfield, Cheshire. These people know a thing or two about design, print and multimedia, so in the unlikely event that you have plenty of money to spend on design (regardless of media), give them a call.

Phil Stubbs - Wetherby, England. May 1998.

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