Monki talks with Todd Holland, director of The Wizard!
Greetings humans, Monki here with an interview I did a while back with Todd Holland, the director of my favorite film of all time, THE WIZARD.
I held off on posting this for two reasons. One, the date of the screening got pushed back a few months (this interview took place the day after we had to postpone the screening) and two, it turned out quite long and I hadn't gotten a chance to transcribe it all.
Both of those problems have been resolved as the new date for the screening is February 8th with Fred Savage, Todd Holland and Luke Edwards all in attendance, and the insanely badass AICNtern Muldoon transcribed this puppy for me. Mad props his way.
I'll admit it, in this interview I kind of come across as a pretty huge fanboy...and the reason for that is because I am. The Wizard is still my favorite movie of all time, and getting the chance to talk to the director...it was one of those things that if I told myself when I was seven that I would be talking with the man who made my favorite movie almost two decades later...I wouldn't have believed you at all.
So I gush a bit and I geek out a bit...but can you blame me?
The interview is a long one where we go from what he's doing today to how Aliens (the movie) inspired parts of The Wizard to launching the career of Tobey Maguire.
Monki: So how are you doing today, man?
Todd Holland: I'm good! I'm in post production finishing up an ABC midseason series that we wrapped before the strike. I'm the DGA producer, so all of the writers are gone, well they walked out before we finished post, but I'm in the Director's Guild, so I'm able to stay and finish things up, so anyways I'm busy with that and just disappointed that Fred's not available. They're rescheduling this whole WIZARD event, right?
Monki: Oh yeah. I found out about it yesterday and I've been working with Zack over at the Drafthouse, trying to figure out what exactly we are going to do, but we are going to get this thing going and I'm still very very excited about it. I'm really excited that you are involved with it too.
Todd Holland: I appreciate that. [Laughs] It was like a "Fred Savage" movie, so I appreciate that the director gets anything.
Monki: Totally man. Well alright well I guess we will just jump into this. First of all, how did you get involved with THE WIZARD? How did it come to you?
Todd Holland: You know, I developed a couple movies for several years at Universal, really good movies that Universal, at that time, couldn't get off their butt's to make any of them and THE SECOND OF TWO that I worked on for three years fell apart and I was just looking for a movie to make and THE WIZARD was being made. I read it on Thursday, I interviewed on Friday, and I was prepping it on Monday and we were shooting about five weeks later, so it was really "wham bam, thank you ma'am." It was fast, quick, and dirty.
Monki: Can you tell me about the casting process? It sounds like it... Was it pretty much set by the time you got to it?
Todd Holland: No, actually Fred was the only one attached and we had five weeks to do everything. Mali Finn did the casting. The Mali Finn who went on to become this huge Hollywood power. She did all of the TERMINATORS and a bunch of huge movies for big directors, but she and I found everybody. Luke [Edwards] is the most mysterious, like I don't remember the process of finding Luke, but I know the girl, Jenny Lewis' character, we really fought for. I fought Universal over that, because they had this total Texas beauty queen that they wanted to cast in that role, this little tiny JonBenet character, you know? I spent a day with this girl playing every theater game on the planet, and she's like eleven years old, and I couldn't get anything out of her. I told them I had somebody I wanted, but they didn't think was pretty enough and it wasn't Jenny Lewis yet and so we are at these polar extremes with this beauty queen who could not act to save her life and then this other girl who was this really good actor who wasn't pretty enough for them and then out of the blue Jenny Lewis came in and we were all able to agree at what a blessing it was and how perfect she was. She was like the calvary coming over the hills to rescue us. She was a terrific young actor and the irony is that this whole Alamo Drafthouse incident is the only reason I ever discovered that she is Rilo Kiley. I didn't know that, because the last time I checked in with her she was an actor. She was in a couple TV series after THE WIZARD and I kind of lost touch and I thought "She grew up and doesn't act anymore." I didn't know... I hear her on our public radio station all of the time, well I hear Rilo Kiley on the radio all the time, but they never say her name.
Monki: Yeah, it's pretty wild. Literally now as I've been working on this whole screening, now I'm starting to hear Rilo Kiley all of the time on the radio and I mean maybe a year ago it probably would have been a little bit easier to get a hold of her, but now she's in a very popular band, so it's not enough.
Todd Holland: It's a real popular kind of indie band, right? I mean, it's not big time yet, but they really have a following I think.
Monki: I think they're touring in Europe right now as we speak.
Todd Holland: Oh really?
Todd Holland: Well, I believe it.
Monki: That's cool, so where was the film shot? Was it all in California?
Todd Holland: We shot in Fallon, Nevada... We had to do a road movie with kids in 36 days, so we really had to create a journey. We started in Fallon, Nevada which is a tiny little town not too far from Reno, but we were doing all of this driving were we would literally shoot in one town and then drive to the next location and kind of find roads on the way that we would use some of the road work with and we'd land in Reno, which was our big casino location and then we did finally move the company to Los Angeles and we did Atkins California, which is about...it's where the little airport is with Lucas. A lot of that is rural local desert Los Angeles, so we really between Nevada and LA rural and then of course Universal Studios. The script was wildly over length. I was very young in my late twenties and Universal didn't believe in me and I told them "This script is long. I can't shoot all of this. We have to cut this..." and they didn't listen and I ended up having to shoot every single thing that was scripted. The first cut I felt was like two and a half hours long and we had to take an entire hour out of the movie. Most of that was all the story of being in a small town... There was a couple of kids... A couple of Fred's best friends, these boys in this small town and shot in Fallon Nevada... they just got cut out of the movie and I had sent them a letter saying "You're not gone because of anything with your acting. You're just gone because the movie was too long." The biggest challenge in editing was finding out what parts of the story are important. The two biggest challenges in the movie, what part of the story was important and then cut it down to an hour and a half and then the other thing was my first real experience with this whole thing with dead people that are relevant to the plot. It was like, when you though it through, it was like trying to explain to an audience that... And I haven't watched it in a long time, but it's like "Jimmy is the result of a broken second marriage..." you know what I mean?
Todd Holland: It's crazy, because Jimmy has different moms, right? And trying to get that whole story clear for an audience where they can just accept what it was and move on, that was my biggest challenge. I didn't want people to be like "now who was that again and why did they care?"
Monki: One thing that has always bugged me is the dinosaurs in the movie. Is that something that was written into the script or was that something you knew about or...
Todd Holland: It was a whole thing... and the thing with the script is it had heart, but it was missing a lot and so I went and pitched that whole California thing. It wasn't in the script at all.
Monki: Oh wow.
Todd Holland: I pitched and I said... because the end at the original script, Jimmy literally takes that lunch box, and I have the original script to show you, he takes that lunch box and heaves it out the car window and it lands in a river and sinks. I was like "OK, his sister drowned, so how could he possibly heave his lunch box out of a car and let it sink in a river?" I picked this whole thing about him saying something that nobody understands, like what if he's saying something like "California" and nobody knows what that means, but really he knows what he means, because in the script I came on board to do, he was just wondering all of the time and wasn't going anywhere. I said "What if he's actually going somewhere as though he's on a mission? And that that sets us on the road journey and then... what if it's someplace that they all forgot about, like those dinosaurs on the 10?" and they went for it. The writer wrote it in and the studio liked it. They wrote it in and we were two thirds through the movie now, we had been to Nevada and come back to LA. I remember we were on set at Universal Studios and they came to me, my producers who I did not get along with and the writer, who I did not get along with by this point and they didn't like the whole California thing and didn't want to shoot the rest of it. I was like "what are you talking about? We've shot 2/3rds of it. Now we have to take it out of 2/3rds of the movie. Let's just shoot the rest of it, cut it together and if it doesn't work, then we will cut it out of the whole movie." It's crazy now to have a movie that... potentially complete a movie that is not complete and I won the battle to finish shooting that story to get to those dinosaurs and shoot that last scene. Because of their contensciousness over that scene, it needed to be rewritten. It was never working emotionally. That whole scene inside the dinosaur we literally ran in their and I was like "Frank, you say this..." "Beau [Bridges], you say this..." and we just literally made that scene up on the spot.
Monki: So what was it like working with Beau Bridges and Christian Slater?
Todd Holland: Well Christian was basically well-known from HEATHERS, but he was basically a young talented actor at that point. He was not a star, so I met with him and he didn't want to do the movie and I met with him and we got along and he loved... He had worked with Jeff, Jeff Bridges, so he really thought it would be cool to work with Beau and that was really how I convinced him to do the movie. Beau was just great. Christian was 19 and as wild and rambunctious, so the hardest part about working with Christian was just waking him up in the mornings. We would go and bang on his door to get him out of bed, like literally open the door and get him out physically. [Laughs] He would just sleep forever, but he's a great actor and we had a great time together. Beau was terrific, smart, and funny. I had a really good time with this entire cast. I have nothing but praise for all of them.
Monki: With people, the one criticism you always hear about THE WIZARD is that it's an hour and a half NINTENDO commercial and really you only hear the name NINTENDO called out twice in the whole film. Did NINTENDO have any hand in the movie at all as far as any kind of clout or anything or is that an urban legend?
Todd Holland: In terms of content, they were at our beck and call to provide us with what we needed, which SUPER MARIO BROS. 3 was the big cue and the power glove, so we were very much... They would have to provide us with these great videogame elements that people would want a glimpse at before the release, but they had no say in the story or anything like the plot or anything.
Todd Holland: It's so funny, because the head... the president of Universal kind of basically tried to have me not direct this movie, like he said "We don't want you, we want a hack or a guy to go in and go out. We don't really want anybody... You're overqualified for this," even though I was young. I love these movies and as a kid I love action movies with kids and road movies and so I really came at it with a lot of passion. That whole Video Armageddon, I made that all up. If you go look at the original script it has them go to a competition and they fight. It's in the script now, like the shooting draft, but I can show you the original and it's clearly two sentences with "Jimmy falls behind. Jimmy comes in and pulls ahead. He wins." I was like "no, it's got to have some kind of style to it. At the time, I was hugely influenced by ALIENS the movie, so we designed this thing with these giant floater doors and this whole sense of ALIENS basically.
Todd Holland: Well it might have been either ALIEN or ALIENS... 89'... which one was out by then?
Monki: I think ALIENS was out at that point.
Todd Holland: Yeah, I think it was because I remember being very influenced by it, so the whole Video Armageddon and all that style that was brought to it, was all brought in by me directing.
Monki: You would never think ALIENS would influence THE WIZARD, but that's pretty cool.
Todd Holland: I was trying to just make it a little cooler. I always said "I'm the perfect person to direct this, because I don't like videogames. If I have to make it interesting to myself, then I can make it interesting to anybody."
Monki: That was one of my questions actually, if you were a gamer yourself. So you are not a gamer at all?
Todd Holland: Not at all.
Monki: Wow. Has that changed at all?
Todd Holland: I didn't dig videogames at all when we started and then of course I got my first ever GAMEBOY from promotional stuff from NINTENDO when we started and then suddenly I became a little more into it, but it's what like 18 years have passed and I finally got an XBOX 360 and I'm trying to learn how to play some of this stuff and it's a whole different world. It's weird, because when you look at the poster for THE WIZARD you can see that big pixilated videogame logos of the icons. When they did the DVD, they took all of that pixilated shit away, because it was so dated. If you look at the DVD cover, all of the... You remember the original picture, right?
Monki: Oh yeah with the weird looking dragon heads and stuff on it. Isn't Mario on it as well?
Todd Holland: Yeah and there's a jet on there and there is this cobra... and even the background wallpaper behind our heroes is in big pixels and they took the statement of what video resolution was in 1989... and even the logo is made out of big chunky pixels, so it's funny how when they made the DVD they unraveled all of that, because they wanted it to feel more contemporary.
Monki: So they cleaned it up a little bit for you?
Todd Holland: They didn't ask me and I found out it was on DVD totally by accident, because of the web.
Monki: So let's talk about the music of the movie. Your movie is responsible for me loving SEND ME AN ANGEL.
Monki: I absolutely love that song. It's one of my guilty pleasures and it's totally Jimmy on the skateboard going down the road while SEND ME AN ANGEL rocks out.
Todd Holland: That song was on the radio at the time and it wasn't really popular, but was on the radio and said "I love this song, let's try it for this montage" and it really worked. We must have cut that montage like a hundred times and I never got sick of that song. It was like "it must mean something that I'm not getting sick of this song after listening to it this many times, so" I was listening to this drive time radio and someone called in and said "I'd like to hear that song from THE WIZARD" and they were like "Oh yeah, THE WIZARD" and they were trying to remember the name of SEND ME AN ANGEL and the rest of the music... we didn't have a huge music budget, so you'd have to tell me what the rest of it is, because I don't remember.
Monki: Yeah, that's the one song that stands out to me, but I remember that great 80's music kind of stuff.
Todd Holland: Yeah, it's got a lot of that and then with the end titles we tried to find a hit song off of somebody's album, but could never do it because no body had a song that was coming out. We were a very low budget movie at the time with a six million dollar budget. At the time, that was low, because it was a studio picture, so we didn't have a lot of money, so we ended up getting a friend to write that end title song which is totally forgotten, but SEND ME AN ANGEL is the one that is remembered. It's a guilty pleasure for me even to this day.
Monki: Now do you think a movie about three kids hitchhiking across the country to play in a videogame tournament could ever be made today?
Todd Holland: Yeah, but it would be much raunchier and hipper. It would be edgy, because when you make something this... you would have a lot of fart humor and all of that kind of stuff. I think you could probably do it, I guess. Although videogames are so ubiquitous like do they have big videogame conference championships anymore? Videogames are more like in everybody's homes and in your phones and in your car, you know what I mean? It's hard to imagine having to travel to one.
Monki: As a kid, seeing the Videogame Armageddon there at the end, it was like "Holy Crap, does something like that actually exist?" Me being young watching the movie and being like "Wow, that would be so badass..."
Todd Holland: Yeah, exactly. I don't think it existed like at that scale... like a game show or some kind of Videogame Theater. I think they had these videogame things but in lobbies at hotels, like at COMIC CON.
Monki: Speaking of the Videogame Armageddon, you have a couple cameos there at the end. I know Tobey Maguire is in there.
Todd Holland: Tobey Maguire's in there and he must have a credit, because his name shows up.
Monki: He was right there at the very end when Lucas walks out of the first round of Videogame Armageddon and points to the bounty hunter and tells him where Corey and Jimmy and Haley are.
Todd Holland: Does he speak though?
Monki: No no no, he just looks goofy.
Todd Holland: No yeah I couldn't believe it was him. Somebody told me Tobey Maguire was in my movie and I had no idea.
Monki: So, you launched his career.
Todd Holland: It's funny, because that ABC series that I'm doing has this actor named Kris Polaha... He was in NORTHSHORE, but he's one of the male leads in this ABC sitcom and he looks at me for the longest time and he realizes that I gave him his first job. He was a young photo double for Christian Slater in old family photos in THE WIZARD, so I went to a box of crap that I've had for years obviously and dug through and found the prop photos and low and behold, there is one of the leads of my ABC series 18 years later playing an eleven year old Christian Slater. It was hilarious, like I couldn't believe it. I'm thrilled though that THE WIZARD came out and was wildly regarded as a flop. I didn't direct for seven months after that, because I couldn't get a job basically and then I started doing more television and TWIN PEAKS and other stuff right after that, so things worked out fine, but the studio was bummed about it and everybody kind of wrote it off. It's really exciting that there were people out there who actually saw it, got what I wanted them to get, really enjoyed it and remember it. It's kind of remarkable that anything can happened in this... well it's not that day and age anymore, but it's remarkable. Everything now is so disposable, you're kind of wondering "Do other movies make an imprint on people that they carry their whole life and not come and go like cleanex..."
Monki: You get a movie every now and then where it strikes something in people. The last one that I cant think of off the top of my head is something like OFFICE SPACE, where it's a movie that people just take with them and have this sort of collective experience and I think THE WIZARD certainly is that with the kids of the 80's who grew up between five and ten when that movie came out and we are now in our mid to late 20's and I personally have carried that movie with me my whole life. I love it and it's honestly in the top three films of my life.
Todd Holland: I am just so pleased about that. How old are you now?
Monki: I'm 25.
Todd Holland: So you literally were what three years old when it came out?
Monki: No, it came out in '89, right?
Todd Holland: Yeah.
Monki: I would have been seven. It was one of the first movie theater experiences I remember, because they were handing out mini NINTENDO POWERS, the magazine, or something like that and so yeah it's one of those things where it was just a perfect time in my life for it to come out and for something like this to happen now is just so insane. I went to school for film and one of the things I've always told people that my ultimate dream in life would to do like a remake to THE WIZARD or something of an homage to it.
Monki: And then I started writing for AintItCool and this opportunity came up and it's just like... How we got the ball rolling on this was I'm friends with the owner of the Drafthouse and I had been pitching him an idea for a WIZARD reunion, because we did THE MONSTER SQUAD reunion about a year ago and so I was like "Hey, we should do a WIZARD one, I love that movie." He was like "meh, well you know..." kind of flakey and then KING OF KONG came out and we had a screening here in Austin and before the movie they showed some... they always show classic trailers before Alamo features and they showed trailers for THE LAST STARFIGHTER, which got some applause and then they showed the trailer for THE WIZARD and the people literally went apeshit. After the movie was over, I went up to Tim, the owner, and I was like "Tim, what do you think man?" and he was like "Alright, let's do this" and so from that point on we've really got the ball rolling and we contacted you and everything, but it was amazing to sit in that theater and hear everyone really cheering for this trailer and it's like "Oh my God, that's great." When the tickets went on sale, you always get kind of nervous like "Am I the only weird guy who really loves this movie?" When the tickets went on sale, it sold 100 tickets in less than five minutes.
Todd Holland: That's amazing.
Monki: That's like "OK, maybe I'm not a total freak."
Todd Holland: That's amazing and really gratifying. There was so much more I always wanted to do with it. There's that whole chase scene where the bounty hunter chases our heroes through the rafters and all of that. We were supposed to have like two or three days to shoot that and I got one day and it was really a bummer, because I was looking forward to the chase stuff and all of this and it was as basic as basic could be, like one shot with two cameras. I got like four hours or something and so there was so much more I always wanted that movie to be, but I'm glad it had enough heart and enough thrills and enough going on that kids like you watched it and remembered it, so...
Monki: Speaking of that chase scene, was it tough, because I know you shot in the whole Universal Backlot tour area? Was that tough to get under the scenes? I know you shot under KING KONG and all of that.
Todd Holland: Yeah, there's a little bit we shot underneath KING KONG, but just the layer below. We had to build all of those editorially, like with transitions of course, because... you've got to remember Jack I haven't scene the movie in like fifteen years, but I think we leave KING KONG and they end up in the rafters, then they end up coming down...
Monki: Yeah, he takes the elevator down.
Todd Holland: He takes the stage elevator and they end up backstage, so that was all... of course that is not how KING KONG is built. We went out with a window in KING KONG and then we went to CAL ART is where the whole rafters and the cage elevator are... There's a theater there that we shot at, where Video Armageddon... we were at the theater at that point. The theater at that time was all of these modular squares and kind of an erector's set, where you'd build whatever kind of stage you want... that's where we had Video Armageddon. They misrepresented the movie to extras and got people to come, because they were going to get free stuff like T-shirts and stuff that they never gave. We had all of these near riots with the extras who felt like they were being ripped off. I never approved of all of that... I didn't get along with my producers [Laughs]. It's funny, because Fred is now a good friend and he is now about the age I was when... now wait he's a little older than I was when I directed THE WIZARD, so it's really funny to deal with Fred now as a young director and he's a friend and it's really funny, because he doesn't remember much of anything about making the movie. He remembers the experience, but he doesn't know any of the politics, because he was a twelve year old, so it's funny to talk to him now about it. As a director, he can hear the stories and go "Oh my God, now I know how difficult that was for you." He asked his mom, he mentioned how he was going to see me at the Director's Guild Awards or something, he was nominated and she said something about "Oh, I don't think he had a very good time on the movie." And Fred goes "really? I didn't know that," which is funny because he was twelve.
Monki: Is there going to be any sort of shot of getting a director's edition DVD or would you even be up for doing something like that? Like doing a commentary...
Todd Holland: When I realized there was so much interest when the DVD came out, I was just going to try to get Fred, Jenny, and Luke together and do a little documentary thing and just post it on YouTube, because Universal never asked or anything. Like I said, I'm just happy it's in widescreen. I think the original release of it on VHS was full screen, so it's the first time it's ever hit video in it's regular theatrical aspect ratio.
Monki: That's cool.
Todd Holland: I could Xerox the shooting script and send it to you, if you would like it, you know?
Monki: Anything you could offer from that I would absolutely love. If you have any old pictures that you can scan in...
Todd Holland: I have tons of pictures.
Monki: I talked to the Drafthouse people and they said if you have any photos you would want to scan in that we could print out on a foam board or something that we could blow up, we would love to do that.
Todd Holland: You could do a whole gallery, because I have tons of pictures. Our Cinematographer, Bob Yeoman, shot the movie. He and I had done a little HBO project called VIETNAM WAR STORY and so I asked... I met him on the HBO thing and then after doing the movie, he went on to do DRUGSTORE COWBOY and all of the Wes Anderson movies. Bob is a very accomplished cinematographer and it's fun... I'm trying to think of some of my favorite lines from the movie...
Monki: "He touched my breast."
Todd Holland: What a different world, you couldn't say that now as a joke. I don't think you can say that today as a joke.
Monki: Oh no. Even "I love the PowerGlove, it's so bad." That's one of the most quoted lines from college students right now or at least when I was in college.
Todd Holland: That's hilarious.
Monki: You don't know where Lucas ended up did you? I looked for him and he kind of just vanished.
Todd Holland: That's the thing when Jenny vanished, I didn't think anything about it, because kid actors do that. They just kind of... it's not their thing or they are not really into it, but no I have not spoken to Lucas.
Monki: I managed to find a Luke Edwards on myspace and I think that's how we tracked him down. It was one of those things where just on a whim I was like "Yeah, I'm going to type his name into myspace" and it came up with a list and there was one in California and I popped it open and was like "he looks familiar." Then I cross referenced with his IMDB page and was like "Yup, that's him" and...
Todd Holland: Is he still acting?
Monki: I think so. I think he's doing TV or something now, so... If you check out his IMDB page you can see for sure exactly, but yeah.
Todd Holland: I'll tell you the most ridiculous story from the final mix of THE WIZARD... You know how they have that whole brawl, that fistfight on the tram around KING KONG with Beau and Christian and the Bounty hunter, played by Will Seltzer, well they had the big fist fight and after Christian punches Beau in the face by accident and then the bounty hunter jumps off and runs on and there's this moment of silence where the train is all settling down, in group ADR, which is where you add extra voices to make it sound real, I had some kid voice say as a joke "Mommy, I like Disneyland better!" It went into the movie and was mixed in the movie and we were finishing the movie and literally I got this call from my executive at Universal... I had no idea...to me it was a joke. I was 29 years old and it was a joke and I got a call from an executive at Universal who asked me in a very serious way "Did you put in a line in the movie where a boy says 'Mommy I like Disneyland better?" I was like "yeah" and he started screaming at me. He screamed so much and he hung up the phone, called me back, and screamed at me again. I had no idea of the venom between the Universal Studios and Disneyland... it was even then so vicious and so heightened that he thought he was going to lose his job. We had to pull the master back, remix it, take out that line and then re-master it and start making release prints.
Monki: So there are rogue prints of it already out there that are probably worth lots of money now?
Todd Holland: If anyone can hear that line, let me know, because all of those prints were meant to be destroyed. If you ever hear this tiny little voice saying "mommy I like Disneyland better..."
Monki: The print we are getting is from, I believe, Universal, so I don't know if it's an early master print or what but...
Todd Holland: Watch it be a print that has that.
Monki: I'll keep an ear out for it. Well, do you have any projects on your slate now?
Todd Holland: I'm doing this ABC midseason show called MISS/GUIDED. It's a six episode, well seven with the pilot, but it's got Judy Greer who is fantastic and hilarious. She's been on everything from... she's done a million movies... She was one of the evil coworkers in 13 GOING ON 30 opposite Jennifer Garner. She's the lead and she sort of plays a late bloomer 30 year old... It's a workplace comedy about high school staff and teachers where she plays the guidance counselor and it's her and Chris Parnell from SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and he plays this vice principal who is sort of into authority and discipline and she is into the more touchy feely and we have a really good cast. It's a very funny half hour... Created by Caroline Williams who was writing for THE OFFICE, so that's coming on ABC this winter. I can't tell you exactly when and nothing else besides pilot season, which is all on hold now... I'm developing an hour with Tim Minear. Tim Minear and I did WONDERFALLS together with Bryan Fuller. Have you heard of WONDERFALLS?
Monki: Oh yes. Our Hercules here on Ain't It Cool was pimping that quite a bit.
Todd Holland: Yeah, he was a big supporter. Ain't It Cool is really great support and wonderful and good friends of Bryan and so that's all on hold with the strike and I don't have any movie projects coming up right now. I written some stuff but maybe when the strike is over I can go back and quietly work on, but I own it, so it's not like anybody can... But with movies, I did a movie called FIREHOUSE DOG that came out this past year, another family film... I really wanted to make a dog movie with the same passion that I really wanted to make a kid action movie and I'm very proud of it. It likewise did not do very well... All of my fame and fortune seem to be in television, but still you've got to go to work. My whole thing is you make this stuff and pour your heart and soul into it and you might get a hit like MALCOM IN THE MIDDLE or a LARRY SANDERS or it can be a little flop, like what I always thought THE WIZARD was, but you still have to go to work and enjoy working with people. It's your job to go to work and have a good time and so I always try to pick stuff where I enjoy being there at work and at the same time be something I'm passionate about, so it's hard. It's hard to find movies where that works out. Movies are all kind of nuts.
Monki: It's not really about the "one person" any more, it's a whole committee of people that do those, so it's tough to make it your dream.
Todd Holland: It's so fast and you are left so creatively... because they know these decisions have to be made very quickly and now I'm basically at the top of my game in television, like I get the best material in television and I get the very C level material with features and it's where I am as a TV director and so I just get the best of the best of the best scripts to sift through and you know it's funny because they leave you alone to kind of bring your best game to it and in movies, there's so much time to second guess that everyone puts their two cents in and you spend more of your energy politicking than creating.
Todd Holland: It's so... It's not what I'm good at and not what I like doing. I don't like politicking. I don't like hand holding the studio president through a rewrite, but you have to and I hate it. [Laughs] Whereas with TV, they kind of know it's Todd directing and I can explain what I'm doing and you can go out and you say "Here's how we're changing the script." They go "sounds great" and they're all quick. In many ways for me, TV as film may become just as easily disposable, you know what I mean? Movies come and go as quickly as episodes now, you know? So the world has changed from... I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania where a movie would come and stay a month. It was the only theater I had when I was a little kid. Even if it was crappy you would go see it twice or three times, because it was the only thing there was and now it's like stuff comes and goes so fast.
Monki: Four movies will come out in a weekend and if you don't see it that opening weekend, you're not going to see it.
Todd Holland: You guys, I don't know how you keep up with Ain't It Cool, it's like there's just so much content everywhere now and if not on major networks and it's not always at movie theaters, but often there's a lot of good television on like DAMAGES and other stuff. There's a lot of good stuff on TV and it's not always in the places where it used to be.
Monki: Cool, well Todd I appreciate it and really looking forward to having you down here and having a beer.
Todd Holland: We haven't set a date, but I know it's going to be January or February or somewhere.
Monki: Yeah, because right now the whole point is we wanted to get you and Fred down and you guys were the keys to getting this whole thing setup, so we really don't want to do it without both of you down here.
Todd Holland: Oh, I don't want to do it without Fred. I was really bummed since I spent all of my time convincing Fred to do it. [Laughs]
Monki: He sounded enthused by it and he sounded really sad that he couldn't.
Todd Holland: It sounds really exciting, but I think all of the anxiety at first was "Are they going to make fun of us?" I said "Fred, I don't think so. I think it's like a Geekapolooza. I think these people just really love this movie."
Monki: We love it and the fact that it sold out in half an hour proves that we love this movie, so...
Todd Holland: It's very exciting and are people going to bring their POWERGLOVES?
Monki: Here's hoping man. I've got to find one online to get you guys to sign for me.
Todd Holland: Well buy it soon before the price goes up. As the event nears, I'm sure there will be a...
Monki: Ebay is going to be scavenged for POWERGLOVES. It should be interesting.
Yeah, I pretty much come off as a raving fanboy in this whole interview...but I don't care...THE WIZARD!!
Who would have thought the director of one of the most loved video game movies of all time wasn't a gamer himself? Pretty odd, huh.
For those of you who were lucky enough to score a ticket to one of the screenings, I will see you there. For those of you who didn't, I am sure you will hear all about the GREATEST MOVIE EVENT OF ALL TIME.
Until next time folks, back up the tree I go!
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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Jan. 14, 2008, 10:25 a.m. CST
Jan. 14, 2008, 10:30 a.m. CST
Not the Last Starfighter
Jan. 14, 2008, 10:31 a.m. CST
a Huuuuuge interview with Todd Holland and not one question about Fright Night? WTF
Jan. 14, 2008, 10:36 a.m. CST
was directed by TOM Holland.
Jan. 14, 2008, 10:37 a.m. CST
Jan. 14, 2008, 10:37 a.m. CST
Is that the movie with the kid from the Wonder Years. That shit sucked.
Jan. 14, 2008, 10:41 a.m. CST
Or is this just meant for a slightly more select (0.001% of normal) target audience? I'm not necessarily against obscure, nerdy content, but I just don't expect it among an otherwise mainstream crop of interests. AICN never fails to surprise me.
Jan. 14, 2008, 10:43 a.m. CST
It's clear to me that you aren't between about 20-27...everyone I know in that age range knows and loves The Wizard.
Jan. 14, 2008, 10:52 a.m. CST
I'll always remember it because my mother took us kids to the theater and that's when she told us she was pregnant with my youngest sister! She tried to wait until after the movie, but my sister and I had coaxed it out of her. Hilarious! Oh and that lame power glove was badass too!
Jan. 14, 2008, 11:10 a.m. CST
"Oh by the way, which one's Pink?"
Jan. 14, 2008, 11:17 a.m. CST
"Who would have thought the director of one of the most loved video game movies of all time wasn't a gamer himself?" well...terry gilliam never did acid and he made Fear and Loathing, so sometimes maybe it's better to take it from an outsider's perspective. I haven't seen the Wizard since I was probably ten years old, so I think i'll have to netflix that shit soon.
Jan. 14, 2008, 11:22 a.m. CST
just for Wonderfalls...the most criminally underrated show of all time. That mofo got me through the emotional distress of my A-levels and I grateful...plus the guy worked on Twin Peaks AND Larry Sanders so that will have me forgive him any "firehouse dog" (or whatever the fuck it was) anyday of the week!
Jan. 14, 2008, 11:26 a.m. CST
More people should suggest to directors when they have the chance that they should record commentaries at their homes with just a computer mike or something and post it on the net. Certainly Universal is never going to make a special edition of The Wizard, but it would be fairly easy for Todd Holland to record a track in the comfort of his home (he could probably even get Savage to or show up and be on it for a few minutes) and then posting it online so that those with the DVD could just synch it up.
Jan. 14, 2008, 11:27 a.m. CST
They agree that The Wizard was in fact an hour and a half commercial for Nintendo. Seriously though, I liked that movie as a kid but for some reason as a fourth grader at the time, I hated Fred Savage's guts. I was soooo sick of seeing him every where. I guess there will be a screening of Vice Versa where he and Judge Reinhold traded places? Great news day so far
Jan. 14, 2008, 11:30 a.m. CST
Of all time??? That's... just bizarre. I mean, I have plenty of guilty pleasures, but that's fucking ridiculous.
Jan. 14, 2008, 12:19 p.m. CST
and Salute your shorts was a great show
Jan. 14, 2008, 12:34 p.m. CST
Yea well I'm not a big fan of this shit. It's ok, good cult stuff I guess. I was into ninja turtles. TURTLE POWER!
Jan. 14, 2008, 12:54 p.m. CST
or I've missed something really special that would justify this much space for an interview. (I'll go with quiet news day for $5.)
Jan. 14, 2008, 1:05 p.m. CST
I was 10 when this movie came out and I was smart enough to know it was crap and I was being manipulated into buying Nintendo products. What a stinker from childhood. It sickens me to think in 20 years Monk's son is gonna try to put together a Clockstoppers or dungeons and dragons reunion. AICN has sunk to a even new low.
Jan. 14, 2008, 1:13 p.m. CST
by Grammaton Cleric Binks
You have issues.
Jan. 14, 2008, 1:20 p.m. CST
by Bungion Boy
Grew up with him in Nevada City. Many stories I could tell. Just an unpleasant kid. He used to get drunk and bitch about what a hack Fred Savage is. That may be true. But he was saying this before "Daddy Day Camp."
Jan. 14, 2008, 1:23 p.m. CST
There has to be a two disk directors cut then! That would be awesome! Plus they are going to have a convention for this movie? That is fucking awesome!
Jan. 14, 2008, 1:50 p.m. CST
by milla jovovich
that he himself made. Reading is fundamental. And The Last Starfighter is the best video game movie ever. King Of Kong was a documentary, so it's hardly comparable to LS.
Jan. 14, 2008, 2:33 p.m. CST
by Bob Loblaw Law Blog
I bought my ticket the second they went on sale because it was to be the night before BNAT... and I live in Oregon. The Drafthouse game me a refund, but I really wish I could be there.<p>Still, loved the transcript of the interview, Monki, and I hope the screening and resulting madness is awesome!!
Jan. 14, 2008, 2:36 p.m. CST
You're correct. I'm 38. What doesn't make sense to me is that I *should* be the target ago, since I was 16 or 17 when The Wizard came out, and I was big-time into Nintendo, etc. back then. 21-year-olds were only just being born; this flick should be old hat to them, no? :o)
Jan. 14, 2008, 2:36 p.m. CST
ago = though
Jan. 14, 2008, 2:37 p.m. CST
monki (wtf) talks to the director of the wizard (wtf). keep it up, crackerjacks.
Jan. 14, 2008, 2:57 p.m. CST
This interview was may too long. It should of really gone like this... "I liked your Nintendo movie." "Wow, thanks. Not many people do." "What are you up to now?" "Interviews,I was lucky I did this movie cause people call me up about it." "I really like this movie. Saw it as a kid.Kicked my shit in." "Thanks again." " Like your shirt by the way. What is that rayon?" "I guess?" "I gotta go watch Warriors of Virtue." "Yeah, I gotta go take a shit." Now thats an interview "I like your
Jan. 14, 2008, 3:53 p.m. CST
Jan. 14, 2008, 4:56 p.m. CST
what a bunch of negative whining jerks you all are. I expect the negativity towards certain directors or producers, or people remaking classic movies you feel are untouchable. but when did AICN itself become the only whipping boy?<p>a few years ago, a geeked out interview with a great, cheesy 80's video game movie would have been eaten up by the talkbackers. now all you all do is bitch and make fun and act like real assholes. that kind of vitrol USED TO BE reserved for the studios, the big time asshole directors...THE OTHERS...now it's Monki? the guy is putting together a showing of a cool little movie that he loves, and got the director and stars to come, and has a fun little interview. why on earth would you take it upon yourselves to shit on that? this isn't a pay site, you angry little dweebs. your 2 cents aren't even worth that.<p>if this ain't your cup of tea, fuck off and find another talkback about something that interests you. <p>and guess what? if you look around the site? and you don't find anything that interests you? feel free not to stay and make dumb ass comments. go to moviesfortweens.com and jack off to your heart's content. <p>leave AICN to the rest of us.
Jan. 14, 2008, 6:29 p.m. CST
by Grammaton Cleric Binks
interview Wonka, I just think a lot of us are seriously shocked that this his all-time favorite movie. Hey, we all like cheese, we all like camp. I mean remember the talkbalk on Monster Squad? That was a geek's talkback if there ever was one. We appreciated the movie for what it was. No one is telling Monki he must make Citizen Kane his favorite movie of all time, but The Wizard? I think the talkack would have been way different if he said he had an interview with the director of one of his all time favorites. Putting this at the top just seems weird, but hey that's my opinion, everyone's got em. There are people out there who think Equilibrium blows chunks, and if that's how they feel, so be it. I think there are just a lot of geeks who were seriously shocked by his statement, that's all.
Jan. 14, 2008, 6:50 p.m. CST
first of all, in the interview he puts it in the top 3.<p>second of all, I'm not really upset for people disagreeing about that (although getting angry about someone else's opinion is a little beyond me), I'm bothered by how many people think this is so useless that it shouldn't even be on the site. come on! how can we go form the Monster Squad talkback coolness to this hatred for Monki and The Wizard? as I said, it's just sort of a sign of the general degradation of the talkbacks. and the worst part is, the talkbacks gets worse, and they say the site is getting worse. the site is the same. just too many young kids here that love to yell and fuss about everything because they don't get enough attention in real life.
Jan. 14, 2008, 7:08 p.m. CST
by Grammaton Cleric Binks
The Wizard was a movie I never saw. I saw the commercial, and thought it looked dumb, plus I didn't really care for Fred Savage in as much as his character on Wonder Years seemed liked the ultimate wuss, and I didn't want to see two hours of that. As far as it being only one of his top favorites, then why in the first paragraph does he say it's his favorite movie of all time. That just strikes me as really odd. But like I said, everyone's got an opinion. A little less venom spewing would be nice.
Jan. 14, 2008, 7:15 p.m. CST
by Grammaton Cleric Binks
have been complaining recently about the lack of so-called cool news, and how things have been slow. There are days when I can't say I disagree. Things like this Wizard interview used to be nice geeky filler, but it now seems to be taking up too much content, hence the rantings. That's how it appears to me anyway. I used to work for a small weekly paper, so I understand a slow news week, but some people need to chill. Like I've always said you might disagree with my opinion on something, and that is your right, that's what we get together for to discuss cool news, not rip each other apart into tiny little pieces. Didn't mean to be too rough on Monki if I was in my first post. I thought I was making a light joke, but yeah there are people out there who live just to spew hate.
Jan. 14, 2008, 10:12 p.m. CST
by Osmosis Jones
Jan. 14, 2008, 11:15 p.m. CST
'In a world where gaming has become part of modern culture and our fates are decided by our online connection. There lives gamer who won't bow down to anyone.' "I am the WARLOCK!" 'Corey Woods thought his gaming days were over. But now a married man with 3 kids, must log online and decided the fate of every gamers on earth! WIZARDS 2: Rise of Warlock. Rated PG-13
Jan. 15, 2008, 1:25 p.m. CST
An unusual choice but different strokes for different folks and all that.
Jan. 15, 2008, 5:26 p.m. CST
by Lenny Nero
So that falls into your "TRON is not a video game movie" bollocks.
Jan. 15, 2008, 6:38 p.m. CST
by Bass Bastardson
The Wizard wasn't based on a videogame either (although some would say it was based on trying to sell one). What people are talking about is video game THEMED movies. Now that you understand the topic of discussion, maybe you can be less of a dick?
Jan. 16, 2008, 10:32 a.m. CST
what part of video games being a primary feature of Tron weren't you aware of? Oh, and resorting to ad hominem merely demonstrates your lack of wit.
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