heartbeat from over a 140 and clammy hands.....
I couldn't be more happier and yet be more nervous because Alex was so kind to enlighten us all
on what he is up to these days with this
July 7, 2003
and Brave are both companies you have co-founded; Hyena you founded with with
I also noticed his name on the end credits of Impact Video Magazine. Have you known each other for a long time?
Alex: Alex Halpern and I met at NYU film school. Been friends about twenty years. A venerable loonie in his own right.
Hyena seems to be comprised of a nice bunch of young and creative people. Can you tell us a little more about the company and the crew and what it's like working with them?
Alex: We’re more interested in filmmakers than just career ad people. Hyena is developing a movie, a tv series and some long form documentaries, and we wanted to create a brain trust.
Are you still working in the UK these days?
Alex: A bit. Home a lot more. Which is nice.
One can recognize your directing style in your videos and commercials. Which commercial and/or video were the most fun to make, and how long does it normally take to get such a project on film?
Alex: Favorite commercial is BBC Fingers. That took a few months, given all the effects. Most ads take roughly a month to prep, shoot and post. My favorite video was Exactly What you Wanted for Helmet. About seventy cameras running simultaneously. That was a trip. Just completed a long form DVD for Bill Laswell. It’s a live concert with his band Tabla Beat Science. Amazing music.
I really like the story of Fever. What gave you the idea for the film, or should I say what inspired you?
Alex: I’ve lived in NYC most of my life, and felt the city I knew wasn’t the one being shown in movies. There was a story about life in the city I wanted to tell, and I wanted to tell it in an expressionistic way.
Idiot Box and Freaked could be categorised as being more satirical comedy.
Did you see this as a challenge to try something else?
Alex: Definitely. I wanted to try something new, and I wanted to tell a story that relied on the visuals, as opposed to dialogue-driven gags as I’d done in the past. I learned a lot. Good and bad. But I’m really proud of the finished product.
Fever received favourable reviews at the film festival in Cannes. What happened with the European market? Why didn’t the film get a better release and a wider distribution over here?
Alex: It’s not a very commercial movie in that there are no big stars in it, and the style and subject matter are fairly obtuse. That’s it in a nutshell I guess. Too bad. But it’s had a great life on cable and vid. The DVD is a beautiful transfer, it looks and sounds really nice.
a layman I've often wondered what happens to the original script after the
Does it get published or just dissapear on a shelf of a large bookcase?
Alex: Some get published. Mine are on the shelf of a large bookcase ;>
Tom had a guest appearance in Fever. Are you guys planning on working together again in the future?
Alex: Yeah, we’re working on a movie about the life of Spike Jones, the virtuosic musician who helped pave the way for Monty Python and Frank Zappa, etc. We’re developing it at the moment. It’s a raucous comedy, as we are wont to do…
Back in 1992 I heard you were working on Freaked. Anxiously looking out for the film I was shocked that it got thrown overboard by the studio like that and felt terrible it never got the attention it deserved. How do you look back upon this?
Alex: It was a definite bummer. But I love the movie and learned an enormous amount making it.
The special effects, masks and outfits are really impressive. But it must have been a grueling awful experience to walk around in some of them, let alone sleep in them. Any funny anecdotes you’d like to share with us on this matter?
Alex: Well, I did scare the hell out of a group of Oriental businessman in the carpark of my condo. I would sleep in the makeup and then groggily drive to work. I was ambling towards my car, pre-dawn, forgot I had it on and casually waved to this group of guys who screamed bloody murder and took off.
I also really liked Randy Quaid in the film. What was it like working with him?
Alex: He’s amazing. I love Randy in Freaked. It’s an incredible performance. His timing is so odd yet so perfect.
Who are your favorite directors these days? And what is the last film you saw that you *really* liked?
Alex: There’s a lot of good stuff happening right now. My last favorite movie was Mulholland Drive. I recently saw “The Eye” which I liked. Lotta great directors working now; Lynch, the Coens, Kiarostami, Cronenburg, etc.
I got hold of an editorial you once wrote for the LA Times and know you used to write columns for newspapers. Do you still write such columns?
No. I’ve written film criticism for publications in LA, London and here in NY. One day I woke up and realized the truth of Godard’s axiom that the best way to criticize a movie is to make another one.
Would you like to act again? And if so, what kind of role would you love to have the opportunity to play, or is there a specific role you might prefer over another?
I’m kinda itching to act again. Something small and interesting. Real busy with the filmmaking at the moment.
I grew up with the comedy of Monthy Python and Peter Sellers. Were you very much influenced by British comedy because of your English background?
Sellers is one of my biggest idols, and Python. Alex Guinness, Spike Milligan, all of that era. Really amazing. I’ve never been so upset as when Sellers died. He was a huge influence for me.
one I'm anxious to know about; I’ve read that you’re currently
working on a script about Napstar icon Sean Fanning.
Can you already tell us a little more about it?
I’ve spent the better part of the last year researching and then writing the Napster story for MTV. I plan to direct it this fall, and am cranking out a second draft as we speak. Actually, I’m writing you, instead of my script, because it’s more fun. Shawn Fanning is very involved and it’s an extraordinary story. I’m really happy with this project. Doing it as a kind of political satire, very absurd, fast paced and surreal.
What’s next besides the script for MTV? Are there anymore film projects coming up? I know your fans are anxious to see some more of your work soon!
I’m developing a satire about foreign aid (ala MASH) which I plan to shoot after Napster. Spent a lot of time on this, travelled all over the globe to refugee camps and UN installations. That’s the next one, hopefully.
Who would you like to work with once more and what would you consider a non-repeatable work-experience for you?
I’d like to act with Reeves again. We talk about it a lot, but the project would have to be right. And I sort of see every experience as non-repeatable, either for good or bad reasons ;>
I once read in an interview you were working on a script for a horror movie. What happened with that?
That may have been the sci-fi script I co-wrote. It’s in the hopper, maybe one day we’ll get it made. I’m not focused on it right now, but it’s a cool script. One insane project at a time!