One of the best actors of our generation, Crispin Glover, is coming to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Chandler Friday, June 23, and Saturday, June 24, when he will screen his films, It Is Fine! Everything is Fine and What is It?
Each film will be preceded by Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show, a one-hour live dramatic narration of eight different profusely illustrated books. The images from the books will be projected behind Glover during his performance.
We spoke with Glover about his projects and his appearances, as well as his thoughts about Arizona.
The Entertainer!: Hosting events like the one at Alamo in Chandler, must be very gratifying for you. It gives you a whole new way in which to show off your craft.
Crispin Glover: The first time I played What Is It? outside of the three U.S. festivals was the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin Texas in 2005. Tim League was the first person to contact me about showing the film even before I had completed it. I’m so glad that Tim and the Alamo have continued to prosper because he keeps the heart in what continues to be an excellent expanding what is becoming an arthouse cinema empire. I am very happy and grateful to have been touring in various Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas now for 12 years. Every one of them has been a great experience and I can tell they always bring excellent culture to the various cities in which they open.
A huge part of what makes the Drafthouse a great venue/chain is the business structure of it. The fact that they make most of their income from the beer/food means that they can hire cinephile programmers who really enjoy bringing interesting and unusual entertainment to the audiences, which ends up making for a much better show than standard corporately run cinemas. Also, many traditionally run art houses (no beer, food service) have struggled to get the audience in the doors as they have to worry about their programming. With home theater, it is a can be a real struggle to get people in the doors of a cinema. I admire and business person/entity who is able to keep the cinema tradition going.
I will play as many of the Drafthouse cinemas as possible as they become available. I am very glad the Drafthouse chain is expanding.
The live aspects of the shows are not to be underestimated. This is a large part of how I bring audiences in to the theater and a majority of how I recoup is by what is charged for the live show and what I make from selling the books after the shows.
For Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show, I perform a one-hour dramatic narration of eight different books I have made over the years. The books are taken from old books from the 1800s that have been changed in to different books from what they originally were. They are heavily illustrated with original drawings and reworked images and photographs.
People sometimes get confused as to what Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show (Parts 1&2) is so now I always let it be known that it is a one-hour dramatic narration of eight different profusely illustrated books that I have made over the years. The illustrations from the books are projected behind me as I perform the show. There is a second slide show now that also has eight books. Part 2 is performed if I have a show with Part 1 of the IT trilogy and then on the subsequent night I will perform the second slide show and Part 2 of the IT trilogy. The second slide show was developed over the first few years of touring with It is fine! Everything is Fine. The content changed a bit as it was developed, and I am very happy with the content of the second slide show.
E!: It is Fine! Everything Is Fine. stars Steven C. Stewart, who suffers from cerebral palsy. That’s really noble of you to take on a project like this. How do audiences react?
CG: I find the initial idea of what Steven C. Stewart, who wrote and is the main actor in the film, to be noble in the humor, rebellion and ultimately the pathos that the concept embodies. It has been many years of work, but work that is probably the work I am most proud of in my whole career.
E!: the Slide Show seems to be your focus at the moment, but this has been a busy year for you, between American Gods, Tranzloco, We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Brits are Coming, all of which you’ve been involved with in 2017 (per IMDB). How do those projects compare to your other films?
CG: Yes there has been a good amount of interesting variety in the last couple of years. The IMDB can be a bit confusing as to when something was actually shot. Many films come out a year after they have been shot. In any case, Tranzloco is a film in development, so one never knows when or if those happen although that is an interesting screenplay.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle was shot in 2016 and based on Shirley Jackson’s excellent 1962 novel of the same title. I love having the opportunity to work on literary material and this was a great one.
The Brits are Coming was shot in 2015 and then some more in 2016 and American Gods is also based on Neil Gaiman’s award-winning novel of the same name and he is executive producer of this serialization of his novel. This production is extremely well written and produced and is getting great reviews. I’m grateful to be part of American Gods. It began shooting in 2016 and will continue shooting in 2018.
I am grateful to be part of all these productions and there is wonderful material and excellent people involved in all of them. I’ve also been shooting my own next feature film since 2013 and different production segments. I tend to shoot my own features in different production segments. Usually feature films are shot all in one production segment but sometimes different things happen. For my own films, I have always shot in different production segments. I like it that way because it lets me have time to think and organize for different elements and I can produce it on my own this way of course with the help of the people that come and work on the productions. Financing, producing and directing my own feature films is a lot of work but very rewarding.
E!: What project did you learn the most from throughout your career? It would seem that Everything is Fine and What is It? would be the answer to that question.
CG: Well I suppose I’ve learned a lot from so many different things and people in the industry I’ve spoken with and, of course, watching directors I’ve worked with and how things were done and organized for film productions. But yes, there is nothing like learning from the experience of making your own films.
What is It? started as a short film and then turned in to a feature film. So, I sort of learned as I went even though I had directed some other things that were not feature films before What is It? There was a lot to learn and there always will be. That is part of what I love about making films.
What is It? started production as a short film in 1996. It took 9.5 years from the first day of shooting on the short film to having a 35-mm print of the feature film. I wrote it as a short film originally to promote the viability of having a majority of the characters that do not necessarily have Down Syndrome to be played by actors with Down Syndrome.
The way this came about was this. In 1996. I was approached by two young writers and aspiring filmmakers who were from Phoenix to act in a film they wanted to produce and direct. They made a monetary offer to my agents, which they really should not have done as they did not actually have financing. Nonetheless, it did get me to read the screenplay which I found to be interesting. This screenplay was not What is It? I found interesting things about the screenplay and was interested in the project, but I thought there were things about the screenplay that did not work. I came up with solutions that needed reworking of the screenplay and I told them I would be interested in acting in the film if I directed it.
They came to LA and met with me and wanted to know my thoughts. There were quite a few things but the main things were that most of the character were to be played by actors with Down Syndrome. They were fine with this concept and I set about to rewriting the screenplay. David Lynch then agreed to executive produce the film for me to direct. This was very helpful and I went to one of the larger corporate entities in Los Angeles that finances films and met with them. They were interested in the project but after a number of meetings and conversations they let me know that they were concerned about financing a project wherein most of the characters were played by actors with Down Syndrome. The title of this screenplay at this point had become It is Mine. And will become part three of the It trilogy. It was known yet at this time that there would be a trilogy, but it was decided that I should write a short screenplay to promote that the concept of having a majority of the characters played by actors with Down Syndrome was a viable things to do for corporate entities to invest in.
This is when I wrote a short screenplay entitled What is It? We shot this short screenplay in four days. I edited that over a period of six months and the first edit came in at 84 minutes. The final feature length film of What is It? is 72 minutes.
Sometimes people ask me if the length of time (9.5 years) it took for me to make the film had to do with working with actors with Down Syndrome. This was not the case. Even though the film took many years to make much of the delay were technical issues. What is it was actually shot in a total of 12 days which was spread over several years. Twelve days is actually a very short amount of shooting days for a feature film. The most important thing about working with an actor whether they have Down Syndrome or not is if they have enthusiasm. Everyone I worked with had incredible enthusiasm, so they were all great to work with.
E!: Do you have any fond memories of being in Arizona?
CG: Yes, I’ve been in Arizona a lot throughout my life. My father is an actor and the first times I was in Arizona were in both Tucson and Phoenix in the early 1970s. They were both very different at the time and Tucson really was very intimate in the early 1970s. I liked both of them very much and also remember going out in to the desert with my parents looking for rock specimens as I had and still have an interest in geology. Also, the stars were extremely vivid at night as there was little light competition, particularly in Tucson. Memories of that time period are interesting. The world definitely looks very different now compared to the early 1970s.
Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show Part 2 and It is Fine! Everything is Fine!, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, 4955 S. Arizona Avenue, Chandler, crispinglover.com, 7:45 p.m. Friday, June 23, visit the website for more information.
Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show Part 1 and What is It?, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, 4955 S. Arizona Avenue, Chandler, crispinglover.com, 7 p.m. Saturday, June 24, visit the website for more information.