Filmmaker of the Year Quentin Tarantino on Finding the Right Story, What Streaming is Missing, and His 10th Film

on December 16, 2019, 12:00am
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On Preserving Film History

Los Angeles, Quentin Tarantino, New Beverly Cinema

Photo Courtesy of New Beverly Cinema

Do you see the New Beverly as your new Video Archives?

Well, I see the New Beverly as an extension of what the New Beverly always was. I mean, the New Beverly started officially as a double feature revival house around ‘78. So it’s kind of always been more or less once I started getting in a car and driving around Los Angeles. It was always there, so it’s just kind of up to me. It’s less of a continuation of what I did in Video Archives and more of a continuation of the revival house film culture that used to exist in the 70s and in the 80s — in Los Angeles, I mean.

Using an example: In 1978, there were five revival houses in Los Angeles. So, you had five calendars to deal with, and that’s not even counting UCLA and the MOCA — don’t even count them. We’re talking about actual theaters with the printed calendars that you picked up at the coffee shops. Then sometimes, it would even get bigger because some theater is either going out of business or something, and so before they went out of business, they took a hand at being a revival house for about four months. So all of a sudden, the Alex Theatre would be a revival house for about five months, and they would just show like Maltese Falcon and shit like that. But, you know, you could have as many as eight or nine calendars in LA at one point in time, and that’s not even counting special screenings.

Los Angeles, Quentin Tarantino, New Beverly Cinema

Because that was the only way you could see these movies.

But you know, you saw them a lot, though. It was like a whole thing and it didn’t really die out and video didn’t really kill it — it was still popular in the ‘80s. I mean, now they had shrunk, so now it had come down to four. But four is still a lot.

It was also interesting because they had touchstones where it was like every calendar would have Harold and Maude and a Lina Wertmüller double feature. Every calendar would have one of the Pasolini films, you know, Arabian Nights, or The Decameron or something like that. Frankly, I’ve got a great situation with the people who work there, that it doesn’t take that much time for me. I come up with the calendar. I give them the calendar. I let them show matinees there during the day, a classic movie — I let them do that. Sometimes, I pick half of the kiddie matinees, and I’ll let them fill out the rest of the kiddie matinees.

Calendar Board, New Beverly Cinema

Calendar Board, photo by New Beverly Cinema

But, for the most part, I always choose all the evening shows, and I choose the midnight shows. It’s just a fun thing for me. So, I figured out the calendar. I have always had a good idea of what we can get. It’s between what we can get from the studios, what we can possibly get from UCLA — there’s about like two to three other collections out there now that they borrow from. I have my own collection, and they borrow from me and I borrow from them. The way me and the collectors feel is like, “We don’t really own this; this is all of ours.” We’re just trying to get it to see the light of a projector. So, with all that information in front of me, with all those lists, I can put together a pretty good calendar of things. We have a good handle on this; it’s not just pie in the sky.

However, maybe I’m having a Roger Moore retrospective. Okay, so I know that we can get a Roger Moore, but then I’ll make up a couple of things. “Hey, let’s see if we can find these. Can we find Gold? Can we find ffolks? I write the that down and so that’s the fun part — but then it’s their job to then call up the collectors and arrange to get them and then tracking down ones that are harder to track down and they go the full yard. When we wanted to have a Lina Wertmüller double feature, we couldn’t find anything in America, we had to go to Italy. I mean not fly to Italy, but we got in touch with the people and got them from some Italian film archive that had English subtitles. The cost of the freight … we were never going to make our money back, it was going to cost us, but I wanted to show them, and we could afford it.

On the Future of Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood

Quentin Tarantino for Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood, photo by Gennady Avramenko

So, what’s next? Are you really going to stick to the 10 films?

Yeah, that’s the idea.

Is Star Trek going to be part of that?

I think I’m steering away from Star Trek, but I haven’t had an official conversation with those guys yet. In a strange way, it seems like this movie, Hollywood, would be my last. So, I’ve kind of taken the pressure off myself to make that last big voilà kind of statement. I mean to such a degree there was a moment when I was writing and went, “Should I do this now? Should I do something else? Is this the 10th one?” No, no don’t stop the planets from aligning, what are you, Galactus? If the Earth is saying do it, do it. Not that it was an argument, but a little thought, like, “Well, if I’m gonna go out like Max Ophüls style, Lola Montez, this is it, and if It’s not good, then all my other work is trash, alright.” This would have been the one. But in a weird way, it actually kind of freed me up. I mean, I have no idea what the story of the next one’s going to be. I don’t even have a clue.

tarantinos real life steven fiche Filmmaker of the Year Quentin Tarantino on Finding the Right Story, What Streaming is Missing, and His 10th Film

Tarantino by Steven Fiche

Is there a genre you’ve been starving for?

No, I know nothing! I’ll tell you in a second, not what it’s going to be, but why I don’t know. But one of the things that it has done is that it has made me feel like I’ve made my big statement on Hollywood and that there is the accumulation of a career, accumulation of my interest, accumulation of the filmography. If the idea that all the films are a boxcar and it’s all one train, they’re all telling one story. Well, this is the climax, so I can actually see now my 10th movie probably being a little smaller.

Like an epilogue…

Yeah, yeah, like the epilogue, you know, an author’s note. And look, I might come up with a really big idea. But right now, the idea of a smaller audience almost all the way around is appealing to me. But one of the things that happened on this one is normally when I’m writing a script, people are waiting for it. So, if I finish the script on Thursday, we’re usually opening up offices the next Wednesday because I don’t need to make a deal with a company to do the movie, because I know I’m going to make a deal with a company, so I can just pay for everything until we actually make our deal, and then I’ll get paid back. But normally, no, everyone’s ready to go and here we go. When I finished Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood, I was like, “I’m not ready to make this yet. I’m not ready to start that train, I’m not ready to put the shingle out yet.”

One, I just wasn’t ready to start the journey yet — I knew it was going to be a big journey. And, I had more to do — I had more writing. I had more writing in me. I didn’t even tell my agent that I was done with the script. I just kind of put it aside. I put it aside, and then I wrote a play, and then when I finished the play, I wrote a five-episode TV series. And somewhere around the five-episode TV series, I let the agent know that I had written the script, and I still wasn’t ready to get started with it. We had a six-month period, though, where I’d go, “Well, I don’t want to get started, but now would be the time to actually show this to Leo [DiCaprio]. Now would be the time to show this to Brad [Pitt]. Now would be the time to start considering who I’m going to get for Sharon.” So, even if they are doing something, we have six months out to plan, or if they like it, then they can put it in their schedule.

Bonus: On Halloween and His Original Idea for Six

Halloween, Trancas International, 1978

Halloween (Compass International)

You started your whole [podcast] with Halloween. You know, the first Halloween was fantastic, but the sequels were horrible.

Oh, they’re awful.

They’re like fruit from a poison tree because Laurie is not the brother of the Shape.

Yeah, which is why I don’t like the second one because it makes that revelation.

It’s horrible that it does that.

It just totally takes away everything that was great about the original one because he was just The Shape.

Absolutely, he’s just The Shape. There’s something far more scary that he’s going through Haddonfield and it’s just her.

Halloween II, Michael Myers, Universal

Halloween II (Universal)

Yes, and she’s just the babysitter, you know? That’s what I didn’t like about this new one, either. It took away from the great ending, where he’s anywhere now. That’s the whole appeal of the breathing at the end. But anyways, I’ll be obsessed with this franchise forever.

Danielle Harris gives a fantastic performance in those movies. She does what she can to make it legit, but it’s just that horrible idea that John [Carpenter] and Debra [Hill] threw in the movie that ruined the entire franchise.

I wonder if it’s because the Empire Strikes Back had come out the year beforehand, and they were like, “Well, I guess we need to have some familial twist.”

I think they just yanked some idea out of their ass, alright, and they just talked themselves into “Hey, well, this is why…” and now part two has a reason.

Carpenter credits it to a six-pack these days. Hilarious.

Okay, I’ll throw in one of the controversial thing about Halloween, though.

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (Dimension Films)

Because you were attached for six at one point?

Yeah, yeah, well, way before I’d ever done anything … it would have been if I had done it — I never got hired — but it would have been my job to figure out who the guy in the boots is.

Exactly. Because the director of five had no idea. They were just like, “Ah, let’s put him in.”

Yeah, I was like, “Leave that scene where [the Man in Black] shows up, alright, and freeze Michael Myers.” And so the only thing that I had in my mind — I still hadn’t figured out who that dude was — was like the first 20 minutes would have been the Lee Van Cleef dude and Michael Myers on the highway, on the road, and they stop at coffee shops and shit and wherever Michael Myers stops, he kills everybody. So, they’re like leaving a trail of bodies on Route 66.

With the mask on and everything? [Laughs.]


Halloween II (Dimension Films)

Halloween II (Dimension Films)

That would be hilarious … in another world.

But the thing is now, I am a big fan of the Rob Zombie Halloweens. When I saw the first one, I didn’t like it at all. I didn’t like the aesthetic. I didn’t like everything that he added to it and then the last hour just becomes this fast forward remake of the first one. What the fuck is all this shit? Eight months later, I watched it on video … and I really liked them once I got all the preconceptions out of my head. That kid [Daeg Faerch] is really good. I mean, what did I think Rob Zombie was going to do with it? Do I want him to do something else? I like his Sam Peckinpah aesthetic. So, now that I didn’t have a bug up my ass about it, I was actually able to appreciate it. And again, it’s that kid who got me into it, and Danielle Harris is fantastic.

She’s great in the second one, too.

She steals the second one if you asked me, but Brad Dourif is terrific in it. And then the second one is really great because it completely can now go on its own.

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