Dreams News Bulletin: December 2000
Edited by Phil Stubbs.  Published 28 December 2000

      In this issue of the Dreams News Bulletin...

1. Quixote "will happen again"
2. The Men Who Shot the Man Who Shot The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
3. The Quixote Shoot - Autumn 2000
4. The Monasterio de Piedra
5. The Good Omens deal becomes firmer
6. Gilliam judges Sci-Fi script competition
7. Gilliam supports new Messiah Pictures venture
8. Miscellaneous News
9. New Links

· Gilliam turning 60, self portrait

Depp and Gilliam on the Quixote set (scanned from HEAT)

1. Quixote "will happen again"
In mid-December a source close to Terry Gilliam spoke to Dreams, confident that work on the director's Quixote project would recommence. There are several problems to overcome, but Gilliam and his financial backers all still appear keen to restart the film.

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote started shooting in Spain towards the end of September 2000 with actors Johnny Depp, Vanessa Paradis, and Jean Rochefort as Don Quixote.  Due to unprecedented wet weather and an injury to Jean Rochefort, shooting was unfortunately halted early October. At the time, it was felt that a January restart would be possible, should Rochefort be able to return soon.

M. Rochefort's problem was eventually diagnosed as a double-disk hernia, but as of mid-December following an operation, he was still unable to work.  The filmmakers are also awaiting news from the project's insurers before further production can be conceived. Once the insurers have reported, "we'll just carry on and try and revive the film for as soon as possible, but when that's going to be, we're not too sure" said the source.

Due to other commitments, it is likely that not all of the original cast and crew will be able to work with Gilliam on the film when shooting recommences. For example, it has been reported that Vanessa Paradis is due to dedicate a great deal of the early part of 2001 to her career in music.  Further, Johnny Depp's name has been linked to a project about playwright Christopher Marlowe, due to start filming in March.  However, Depp remains committed to Quixote.

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, when finished, will prove to be one of director Gilliam's key works.  Though much of the story is clearly derived from Cervantes' novel Don Quixote, the script has plenty of Gilliam's own themes and autobiographical detail, and is set to be his most personal film since he made Brazil and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen in the late 1980s.

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2. The Men Who Shot the Man Who Shot The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
In an interview with Kenneth Plume before the Quixote shoot began (find the link at the foot of this page), Gilliam revealed that the filmmakers who made a documentary about the making of 12 Monkeys are also to make a film about The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.  Keith Fulton and Lou Pepe are two Philadelphia-based filmmakers who created The Hamster Factor back in 1996 from many, many hours of footage collected from the set of 12 Monkeys.  Presumably Keith and Lou have no shortage of drama on film already.  Of course both Quixote and The Making Of are keenly awaited.

3. The Quixote Shoot - Autumn 2000

Jean Rochefort

On Monday 25 September 2000, the Quixote shoot began in Spain. On Tuesday 26, it rained, which developed into flash floods. A huge amount of damage was inflicted on the set and the equipment, which delayed the shoot for several days as the crew cleared up the mess the flood had caused.  On Friday 30 September, 70-year-old Jean Rochefort caused himself some damage when climbing onto a horse.  At the time, no-one knew what precise part of himself that Rochefort had damaged - but the veteran French actor was suffering badly, in great pain.  By the next day, Rochefort was in a Paris hospital.  Thus the very first week of shooting saw very little progress, with the irreplaceable actor away from the set for an unknowable amount of time.

The second week of shooting began on Monday 2 October with damaged equipment and no-one to play Don Quixote.  Dreams understands that limited shooting was able to take place that week, but Rochefort was not able to return to the set.  The project's insurers then began to intervene.

By the third week, there had been a temporary closure of the film.  It was believed at the time that it could be restarted soon, but the extent of Rochefort's illness was still an unknown factor.

Johnny Depp (right) with equine co-star (scanned from HEAT)

By the following week, it became clear to the production team that the recommencement of the shoot could not take place until January at the earliest, and Hollywood Reporter, quoting Mate Productions as a source, ran the first item on the Internet describing the problems on the set.  It said that Jean Rochefort had to undergo surgery for two slipped discs. By this time, Depp and Paradis had left the set for the States.

On Monday 23 October, Screen International ran a piece "Quixote struggles against collapse" by Jennifer Green, mentioning Rochefort's injury as a double disk hernia. This report was then picked up many journals and newspapers that week - all quoting a January restart.

Given the threat of the upcoming proposed actors' strike, speculation started about what productions were set to start. Johnny Depp's name appeared several times, and on Sunday 5 November, Depp appeared to be attached to a project Marlowe, alongside Jude Law.  Things looked bleak as French organisation AlloCine reported that they'd spoken to one of the financiers Hachette Premiere who said that the film could be delayed by one or two years.

On Tuesday 7 November, Le Monde (a Paris-based newspaper), ran an interview with Rene Cleitman, the French producer of Quixote. It is included below in full [in French... also with translation into English] . As soon as this was published, M. Cleitman's comments were picked up by many other news organisations, including France's Ecran Noir which paraphrased Cleitman by suggesting the film would be restarted "without Terry Gilliam, Johnny Depp or Vanessa Paradis."  But Gilliam was not ready to let go of this personal project.

Before the end of this week, Harry Knowles at Ain't It Cool News pasted up an optimistic report from someone who'd been on board the Quixote project in Spain. Apparently everyone - director, stars, financiers and insurers - wanted to see the film complete, though Paradis had had to drop out.

Dreams understands that M. Rochefort underwent an operation mid-November. Since then, there has not been much change - the film still being in limbo - and as the year came to an end, Gilliam was waiting for news of both the insurers' report and also Rochefort's ability to sit on a horse. Even if these problems are solved or bypassed in some way, the project would still need a few months to get things going again, so a January restart now looks impossible.

Rene Cleitman
(image from Hachette website)

Interview with Rene Cleitman, from Le Monde

Vous venez d´arrêter le tournage de L´homme qui tua Don Quichotte, de Terry Gilliam, que vous produisez. Cet arrêt est-il définitif?
You're going to stop the shooting of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, by Terry Gilliam, that you were producing. Is that stoppage for good?

A la suite d´une hernie, Jean Rochefort, qui interprète Don Quichotte, ne peut plus monter à cheval pour un temps que les médecins ne peuvent déterminer. Ce qui est indéterminable est ingérable, le film est arrêté. L´idée de donner le rôle à Jean Rochefort, qu´avait eue Terry Gilliam, m´avait particulièrement séduit lorsque j´ai décidé de produire le film. Depuis qu´il avait été contacté pour le rôle, il y a deux ans, il avait travaillé son anglais. C´est d´autant plus absurde que c´est un excellent cavalier.

As a result of a hernia, Jean Rochefort, who plays Don Quixote, can no longer climb onto a horse for a period of time that the doctors cannot determine. What is undeterminable is unmanageable, therefore the film was stopped. The idea to give the role to Jean Rochefort, which was made by Terry Gilliam, to me was particularly appealing when I decided to produce the film. Since he had been contacted for the role, two years ago, he had been working on his English. It is very absurd that it concerns an excellent horseman.

Que va-t-il se passer maintenant?
What's going to happen now?

Nous sommes passés de la production d´un film au règlement d´un sinistre avec les assurances. Nous sommes en train de fermer la production du film à Madrid. Terry Gilliam pensait à ce film depuis longtemps mais l´adaptation littérale d´un roman picaresque était difficile. Il avait eu l´idée d´introduire un personnage contemporain, un publicitaire précipité dans le passé aux côtés de Don Quichotte, que devait jouer Johnny Depp. Terry Gilliam n´avait pu trouver de producteurs aux Etats-Unis, parce que, malgré l´introduction du personnage joué par Johnny Depp, il reste très fidèle à Cervantès, ce qui est un avantage en Europe, mais un handicap à Hollywood. Johnny Depp, comme toutes les vedettes hollywoodiennes, était en pay or play (clause standard des contrats aux Etats-Unis, aux termes de laquelle un acteur s´engage à tourner un film avant que les financements ne soient réunis, à condition qu´il soit payé au même prix que le tournage ait lieu ou pas, NDLR). Le budget total du film était prévu à 32 millions d´euros.

We have moved from the production of a film to the settlement of a disaster with the insurance companies. We are set to close the production of the film in Madrid. Terry Gilliam was thinking about this film for a long time but the literal adaptation of this picaresque novel was difficult. He had the idea to introduce a contemporary person, a busy advertising exec who was going to be played by Johnny Depp, into the world of Don Quixote. Terry Gilliam had not been able to find producers in the US because despite the introduction of someone played by Johnny Depp, it remains true to the spirit of Cervantes, which is an advantage in Europe, but a handicap in Hollywood.

Johnny Depp, as with all Hollywood stars, was on a pay or play clause (standard in the US contract, the terms of which are that an actor commits himself to shoot a film before the financing has been put together, on condition that he is paid at the same price that the shooting had taken place or not). The total budget of the film was forecast as 32 million Euros.

L´arrêt total d´un film de cette importance est un événement très rare.
The total stoppage of a film of this importance is a rare event indeed

Oui. On doit faire face à toute une cascade de conséquences. Si le projet revoit le jour, il aura un autre visage, artistiquement, financièrement. Nous avons été frappés au tout début du tournage. Je me sens comme un coureur qui aurait fait toute la préparation pour les Jeux olympiques et qui reste coincé dans les starting-blocks.

Yes. One must face a stream of consequences. If the project sees the light of day again, it will be have different appearance - artistically and financially. We have been stricken at every start of shooting. I think of myself as a runner who has made all the preparation for the Olympic Games yet who remains wedged in the starting blocks.

Translation by Phil Stubbs (please let me know if I have made a linguistic faux pas in the above)

4. The Monasterio de Piedra
Dreams understands that the Monasterio de Piedra was used as a location for the aborted shoot.  Translated into English, it means "Stone Monastery", and is described by the Rough Guide to Spain as "scanty Cistercian ruins which boast a beautifully green park in this otherwise harsh, dry landscape."  It is situated near to Zaragoza, in Aragon, in the North-East of Spain.  Below are some photos of the monastery taken by Dreams editor Phil Stubbs during a visit there a few years ago.

5. The Good Omens deal becomes firmer
Screen International reported on 22 October 2000 information of the slate of projects that UK-based Renaissance Films is working on.  This includes the Good Omens project which Gilliam is set to write and direct.  The report said, "Terry Gilliam has for the second time this year secured financing out of Europe for a large-scale production, partnering with the UK's Renaissance Films to direct $50m comic fantasy Good Omens.  The Gilliam picture is being adapted by the director and Tony Grisoni from Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's best-selling book.  UK and US-based Marc and Peter Samuelson are co-producing with Charles Roven's US-based Atlas Entertainment.  The picture, which is to shoot in the UK late 2001, tells the story of an angel and a demon sent to Earth to track down the Antichrist.  Renaissance's involvement in Good Omens comes after Gilliam this year secured financing from European sources including UK National Lottery franchise Pathe Pictures and France's StudioCanal for The Man Who Killed Don Quixote."  The Good Omens project therefore gives Gilliam something to do while awaiting a Quixote restart.

6. Gilliam judges Sci-Fi script competition
The First Film Foundation, a UK-based charity supporting new filmmaking talent, has launched a new sci-fi writing competition, for which Terry Gilliam is a judge.
  The First Film Foundation exists to help new British writers, producers and directors make their first feature film. By providing a range of high quality educational and promotional programmes, the Foundation aims to give filmmakers the contacts, knowledge and experience they need to achieve this goal.  This particular scheme, Sci-fi Shorts, has invited filmmakers to write a script for a science fiction short film.  The winning script is to be made into a film next year.

7. Gilliam supports new Messiah Pictures venture
Pythons Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, and John Cleese together with pundit Jonathan Ross have joined forces to back a new company which plans to make low-budget British films, according to Empire Online.  Called Messiah Pictures (maybe as a nod to Life of Brian), the venture will concentrate on new talent, and announced that it is developing a project by Brazil editor Julian Doyle to adapt The Chemical Wedding for the big screen. The Chemical Wedding is a story by Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson.

8. Miscellaneous News

  • Terry Gilliam turned 60 years of age on 22 November 2000.  He drew a self portrait of himself turning 60, which is included at the top of this webpage.  The director celebrated by hosting a party in a restaurant in the North of London.
  • Gilliam revealed why he is not going to direct the new Harry Potter film.  Talking to Daniel Solle of 6degrees, he said, "After having a meeting with the studio I realised that what they were trying to make was a franchise - something that would sell and would probably betray the essence of Harry Potter, but I'm sure Chris Columbus will sort that out and everything will be wonderful.  What's happening in Hollywood - and Harry Potter is one of the example - is they actually asked me whether I would do two films back to back, and I don't think that's filmmaking any more - that's making cars, shoes... nice consumer products."  For more of the interview, click on the link below.
  • Terry Gilliam and a host of artists, filmmakers and musicians have sent in contributions to a Royal College of Art show of postcards which opened in November 2000.  Among many others sending in their postcard designs were Nick Park, Damien Hirst and David Bowie.
  • On Saturdays 18 November and 2 December, Terry Gilliam appeared in two programmes within the BBC2 tv series, Watching.  Within the series of essays on film written and presented by Tom Sutcliffe, Gilliam commented on the use of a BIG cinema screen and also fighting on film.

9. New Links
Included here are some links to sites external to Dreams for you to browse...
  • A page featuring some of Gilliam late-sixties work for comic CARtoons is featured in the following link: Gilliam at CARtoons
  • Website reelscreen.com features an interview with Tony Grisoni, who has worked with Gilliam on scripts for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, Good Omens and The Minotaur.
  • An interview with Gilliam by freelance writer Mark Campbell
  • 6degrees - interview with Gilliam at the recent Sitges Film Festival mentioned in the last Dreams newsletter
  • IGN film force interview by Kenneth Plume, conducted Summer 2000

Dreams welcomes contributions. If you wish to send letters, analysis, news or any information regarding Terry Gilliam and his work, then please email me. Thankyou to everyone who has emailed - keep in touch. Tell me what you think of Dreams, good or bad. Send your comments to me at phil@dreams.u-net.com

Dreams is one of the smart.co.uk family of websites

Phil Stubbs, Edinburgh. December 2000.  

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