Hey folks, Harry here... and boy, I just love Bruce Campbell's talks to film goers around the country.... He doesn't pull punches... he doesn't placate... he just is balls-to-the-wall... And when you read what he thought of the Special Editions... if you don't crack up... you pretend to be waaaaay too serious... Here ya go....
I would like to apologize for the lateness of this news but I was alternatly horribly sick and then I apparently passed it off to my computer because it bitched out on me come the weekend, but better late than never.
This past Wednesday, Bruce Campbell came to speak at my college- Virginia Tech- to talk about the current state of Hollywood, plus to embrace his cult following. A funny sidenote, some friends of mine were standing in line to get good seats and they were talking and one of them said "I wonder how they got Bruce to come here" and from behind them a voice proceeds to say "Cause they asked me" and they turn to see Bruce. This would be a pretty good indicator for the evening because he was funny, sarcastic, playful and insightful throughout the whole evening. He covered a broad range of topics, gave some nice insights, talked about his career and gave some hints as to what would be forthcoming from him.
It should be noted many of his most pointed and insightful comments came after friendly heckling from the crowd (which he heckled in return- it was a wonderful give and take). I will throw on quotation marks to his statments to yelled out comments.
They canceled your show!
I hadn't heard. We had a talking parrot. This may be why (someone placed a plastic parrot on the lecturne before he came out with a nametage that said "Hello. Shemping for Jean-Claude".).
He started out asking what people thought of the spate of movies this summer, and what we thought of them? He pointed out some of the following:
Coyote Ugly - from the makers of Flashdance
Gone in 60 Seconds - a remake of a lame-ass Roger Corman movie
Shaft - Remake
Nutty Proffessor II, Flinstones, Blair Witch, and MI: 2 - All sequels (it should be noted he said, "You see one John Woo movie, you've seen them all. Doves. Slow motion. Unlimited bullets in guns." This got a mixed reaction from the crowd).
What about Evil Dead?
"No sequels to that movie!"
He praised The Blair Witch project because it took the movies out of the hands of Hollywood and did it on their own. He also gave an idea of the Hollywood mentality after Blair Witch considering it was the most profitible movie ever (60,000 resulting in 150 million in the US alone merchandising notwithstanding. He said that people looked at it and said:
"How much did they do that for?" "60,000"
"what can we get for 60 grand?"
"Unknowns, non-union and a shakey camera."
"What about for 600,000?"
Inevitably, they'd end up at 60 Million.
He questioned Hollywoods lack of ideas. He compared Frank Darabont's Shawshank to the Green Mile. Period movie pieces written by Stephen King. "That's a stretch." He pointed out what's awaiting for us this Holiday Season. He loved the animated Grinch movie, but questions the live action version.
Jim needs another 20 mil.
"Yeah. 20 million doesn't get what it used to."
"Dear God, make it stop."
"A movie based on a shitty TV show."
He claimed Hollywood is attempting to fool a generation. He asked us for some good movies.
The Sixth Sense - "Didn't Insult my intelligence. Much."
Braveheart - "Good, but could have lost 20 minutes."
Titanic - "3 hours and 17 minutes long. They could have lost 3 hours and 17 minutes from that."
He claimed filming in New Zeland didn't really make him miss much in terms of movies. He believes that the higher the budget, the lower the IQ. The more studios spend the fewer changes they will take. He used Darkman as an exacmple of the "Hollywood Homogonizer Theory". After they made the move (originally, Sam Rami wanted to do "The Shadow" so when he couldn't he thought of a name close to the Shadown and Darkman was born) the movie went to a test screening and a focus group. There was a scene where the main badguy comes out of the shower, dumps a box of gold kruggerands on the bed , got naked and rolls around in it. People saw it and got nervous and it was removed. We will never see it and it was the best scene in the movie. He only saw it because during this time he was kicked out of his house and did sound on the movie. Every bad guy that fell and died, he did the screams.
The key to Hollywood is "Franchise". He refered to a friend of his, Scott Seagle who wrote the script for "The Rookie" with Charlie Sheen and Clint Eastwood. In the first draft, Clint Eastwood got killed. He was told by the producers not to show it to Clint cause he'd like it. As far as they were concerened, you don't kill off Clint and you leave it open for a sequel.
He told us not to cry for Hollywood, they have all the synergy it needs. And they love that word, he used recent Bond movies for an example.
"What does he drive?"
(I decided to be the purist I am and yelled out -Aston Martin DB5. He acknowledged me as a purist but then said, what does he drive now?)
"He comes around a corner, what is he wearing?"
Crowd: Armani tux!
"He gets a call, what phone does he have?"
"He checks the time, what watch does he have?"
"Why the fuck should you know this?!?"
Hollywood if left to it's own devices would market it out and resort to a cookie cutter world. He had a great example where he played "Green Light". He asked for a volunteer and said "I'm going to present you a package- cause in Hollywood it's all about your package (pause for a long laugh here) so, I'll present to you my "package" and you tell me if you'll green light it or not. Ok, we have the editor of "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Erin Brokovich", the cinematographer of "Empire of the Sun", the writer and producer of "Jurassic Park" The assistant Director of "The Color Purple" The volunteer says "Yes, greenlighted"
"Congratulations. You just made "Congo".
He then asked if there were any aspiring filmakers in the crowd. Some hands raised.
"You poor bastards" He believes hollywood needs more competition. More Blair Witches. He used an example from his childhood. He used to drive a 1973 Chevy Bel-Air "the single crapiest car ever made." 70's cars in America sucked. Car makers thought, they'll buy what we make. Then the imports started and were more fuel efficient and better designed. American cars are now good but it took the competition to bring about that change.
Hollywood tried this in the 60's and 70's. Movies like "Bonnie and Clyde", "5 Easy Pieces" and directods like Lucas, Coppola and Scorcese tried to change the system. Unfortunatly they created the Blockbuster as a result. "The Godfather", "Star Wars", and the first true blockbuster "Jaws". They succeeded in changing things too well.
So now, with Blair witch as our template, take Titanic's budget; 200 Million. You could have made 800 $200,000 movies or 200 $1,000,000. If less money was used on movies and more chances were taken, better movies would result.
He gave some advice for those wanting to advance in movies:
Writers: Information is being lost from generation to generation. But one thing holds true: "If the script sucks, so will the movie." He used a movie he was in "Assault on Dome 4" as an example. He was appraoched to play the lead, but his lines were basically "Move! Down! Get Em! Run!" and so on. He elected to play the bad guy since it wasn't as poorly written as the hero.
Actors: Practice your craft. Have a work ethic. Memorize lines. You show me an out of work actor, I'll show you a lazy one. "You can read the phone book in front of your mirror in Butt-Lick Indianna, you're an actor". "You can choose to be an Actor or Famous. They are two seperate pursuits".
Directors: "Masturbate in the privacy of your own home" The idea of being a director is to make people copy your ideas. "Don't get hung up on trends." He used "A Simple Plan" as an example. "If you took Sam Rami's name off of that movie, would you have known it was a Same Rami movie?" People think directing is a bunch of cool shots. It's more than that, Sam changed with the material.
What do they do?
"Let me put it in perspective. A Producer and Director are in the desert. The Director sees a spring and says 'Isn't that beautiful. It's so peacful. It's glorious. I bet the water is cool. I bet it tastes sweet. I'm going to go get a drink'. The producer says 'wait, let me piss in it first'." He said if you want to act and/or direct? "Be a producer".
Over all he challenged those in attendance to dare to be different and be trendsetters. Learn your craft and look to make a trend, not follow it.
On "The Hudsucker Proxy" Jennifer Jason Leigh had like 9 million lines of rapid fire dialogue. And she was like a machine. Never screwed up a line of dialogue. He used her as an example of an actress who knows her craft.
On appearing on "The X-Files": "Fun to come back to a show I used to introduce". He came up to David Duchovney on the set (who has a dry sense of humor that he loves) and said "So....David. You survived?"
On "Special Editions": CHEATING!!! "Fuck George Lucas!"
Evil Dead: Hail To the King Videogame: Official game. "Next best thing to a sequel cause you're not gonna get one"
Actors Strike: Fun to watch commercials this past year go downhill. He can't wait till the actor's strike. Looked at "Survivor". Essentially no writers and no real "actors". We're gonna see a lot more "Survivor" if the strike goes through.
The Ash Action Figure: "Great. Only took them 9 YEARS!"
Bad Movies: "Most Actors will deny they've made shitty movies. I've been in a lot of shitty movies. Pain goes away payday."
It took 7 years for them to break even on "Evil Dead" (hence the sequles he joked). But it was all worth it in 1998 when "Evil Dead" was the number 3 selling movie of the year. He said there was a small point where they unseated Titanic at one point. Joked about the 22 versions of the movies Anchor Bay has put out (claims Rami gets paid, he doesn't see a dime).
A fan asked what he thought of Duke Nukem 3D which essentially ripped off his best lines. He said, well copying is the sincerest form of flattery, but he checked out the makers website. A lot of people have brought this up on their Message Board and they have been very venemous in denouncing him as "A washed up, out of work, B-movie actor" To which he said "Touchy rip off artists".
What's it like having a cult following? "What makes you think that? Doesn't really affect my life. Except on College Campus'. Why's that?"
"I shoulda killed Rami when I had the chance."
The one day he had off years ago on "The Adventures of Brisco County Jr." he went to visit Sam on the set of "The Quick and The Dead". An actor was causing trouble so Sam had Bruce dress up as "The Wedding Shemp" and had him get beaten and abused and made him look like a total fairy. After the shot was over, he came over to Bruce and said "You'll never see that scene". He did it just to shut up the asshole extra.
On Computer Effects: Effects shouldn't be noticed (used feather in beginning of Forrest Gump as a good one). They should be used to help the tell the story instead of being the story (Episode 1).
Might be in the next Phantasm if the funding gets there. Might appear in "Bubba Hotek" - he'd play a 70 year old Elvis who got bored with fame, traded off with a Elvis Impersonator Lounge Act. The impersonator died and people just assume the real Elvis is a really good impersonator.
Was recently on an episode of "Beggars & Choosers" playing a gay actor. Finished his documentary called "Fanalize" "I'm sticking the camera in YOUR face."
His biography "My Chin Can Hurt People: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor" comes out in spring. He said he might bundle in a DVD with it. Either his documentary, extras from movies (outtakes, stuff that was cut) or both. He hinted at both but no specifics- either way, free DVD with a biography of Bruce will rock no matter what.
Overall he was incredibly witty, had wonderful chemistry with the room and had us eating out of his hands. Gave his honest opinion and enjoyed bantering with people in the crowd. He talked for a good 2 hours and he must have stayed after for a good 2 hours plus to sign autographs and take pictures. He had a friendly word, smile, and handshake for everyone that came through the line. He had no sense of pretense and he never came across "Respect my craft! My art!" He was/is very levelheaded and insightful. If he ever comes near you, see him. You'll have a wonderful evening listening to an articulate and funny guy.
- The Will Of Crom
P.S: Harry, I'm including a picture of Bruce holding up a Ash Figure that someone in attendance brought. It's funny in a surreal way so if you want you can post it.