Dreams: 2011 News Blog
Edited by Phil Stubbs
In January, Terry Gilliam has been shooting a new short film, The Wholly
Family, in Naples. On this project, he has teamed up again with cinematographer
Nicola Pecorini and costume designer Gabriella Pescucci. Shooting in Naples
took place from 10 to 16 January, and there was a further day of greenscreen
work in Rome on Thursday 24 January. Funding came from the Garafalo pasta
company, which has funded Italian film in recent years.
Gilliam on set with actor Cristiana Capotondi
A report featured on an
Italian tourism website - looking like it has been translated into English
from original Italian (but you'll get the basics from this)...
|See Naples and then shoot, must have thought Terry Gilliam,
who has recently finished to film The Wholly Family. On the screen,
the Parthenopean city and the Phlegrean seaside for a short-film signed
by Pasta Garofalo. The cast includes Capotondi as protagonist, Douglas
Dean, Nicolas Connolly, Sergio Solli. Showing that tourism can be
promoted also through the citys natural sets.
The visionary director of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas has chosen,
for his key scenes, beautiful, realistic and interesting locations.
Word of Gilliam. Among the sets, the Ospedale degli Incurabili, the
Ospedale delle bambole, San Gregorio Armeno and the ex asilo Filangieri,
the Succorpo Vanvitelliano and the Guglia di San Gennaro. The Phelgrean
area is also present with the Casina Vanvitelliana di Bacoli and the
Grotte della Sibilla di Cuma. Theres everything: from the most
popular Naples to the breathless views.
Plot: a wealthy American couple walks among the crowd of the historical
centre with their small child, who, at some point, is attracted by
the lucky horns, the pulcinella, the crib scenes and sacred images.
He, then, disappears, and so starts an oneiric journey through reality
and imagination. Suspense is guaranteed by an expert direction.
He cast is completed by Renato De Maria, Antonino Iuorio and Nico
Cirasola. Costumes are of Oscar-winning Gabriella Pescucci. Photography
is by Nicola Pecorini. The film will be on TV and in cinemas in May.
Gilliams work is the fourth of a series of short-films produced
by Pasta Garofalo. Before the American director, Eldo Tagliavini has
filmed Alchimia del Gusto, Pappi Corsicato Questione di Gusti and
Valeria Golino Armandino e il Madre, all set in Naples. A peculiar
choice that of the pasta company to sign art films.
More details on this project will surface here at Dreams over forthcoming
interview with Donnie Darko director Richard Kelly was published
online in January. Kelly spoke about the film which changed his life
and that film was Terry Gilliam's Brazil.
Good Omens, which Gilliam was once attached to direct, is now to
resurface as a TV series. Gilliam is no longer attached, but
it's been reported that his Python colleague Terry Jones has been approached
regarding adapting the book. As recently as Nov 2009, Gilliam
was saying that he was still interested in making Good Omens,
yet now looks unlikely as a feature film prospect.
On February 14, it was announced that there will be a celebration of Gilliam's
work at this year's Bradford
International Film Festival. Not only will there be a retrospective
of Gilliam's films on the big screen, but also festivalgoers will get an
early chance to see The Wholly Family, Gilliam's new short film.
As described in the press release below, Gilliam will be presented with
a Fellowship Award at the festival.
|Bradford International Film Festivals Artistic Director Tony
Earnshaw today announced that award winning filmmaker Terry Gilliam
will receive the Fellowship Award and a retrospective tribute to his
work at this years Festival which runs 16th - 27th March.
Gilliam has brought his unusual mindset to an array of films that
continue to provoke debate and entice audiences into new worlds of
wonder and fantasy.
Following a spell with the Monty Python team he broke into directing
with Jabberwocky and has since thrilled and amazed cinemagoers with
titles such as The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Twelve Monkeys,
Brazil, The Fisher King, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Time Bandits.
Gilliam commented; "To be honoured by such an important festival
pre-posthumously will force my family to treat me with some respect
while I'm still alive. I will always be grateful for that."
The Fellowship honours a practitioner who has made significant contributions
to several areas of filmmaking. In 2010 it went to Nicolas Roeg.
As part of the retrospective programme of Gilliams work, Festival
goers will be able to enjoy screenings of early shorts such as Storytime
(1968) and The Miracle of Flight (1974) along with features including
Jabberwocky (1977), Time Bandits (1981), Brazil (1984), The Adventures
of Baron Munchausen (1988), Twelve Monkeys (1995), Fear and Loathing
in Las Vegas (1998), and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009).
Gilliams newest short film, The Wholly Family (2011), is also
Post-production work has continued on The Wholly Family in London
- it will be shown at the Bradford Film Festival on March 19 if it is ready
At the end of February, Nicola Pecorini - the Director of Photography on
The Wholly Family - spoke to Dreams. The resulting
article is here. Pecorini talks about its preproduction, and also provides
some technical details about the shoot.
On March 2,
a further video from ENO was released. It featured Terry Gilliam talking
about his forthcoming opera, The Damnation of Faust, together with
some pencil sketches.
On March 13, Gilliam was
featured in The Observer. Specifically, he was interviewed about
the film that changed his life. The pic he chose was Stanley Kubrick's Paths
of Glory, and he mentioned how certain tracking shots in Brazil were
influenced by Kubrick's war picture.
|Almost every film I've ever watched has changed my life, but this
is the one that provoked a definite shift in me.
It's a film about a first world war battle but it's absolutely ridiculous
because everyone's going to die yet the general claims they are making
progress and so over the top they go, and it's a disaster. But rather
than accepting the blame the generals accuse the troops of being cowardly
and three are chosen by lots, tried and executed. It just made me
so angry that that kind of injustice could exist, that people were
dying for other people's mistakes. That was a growing-up moment for
I must have been about 13 or 14 when I first saw this, which is a
very vulnerable and dangerous age because something as simple as watching
a film can change your perception of the world. Before this, I'd just
seen films as a form of entertainment, but suddenly here was something
that was dealing with serious issues, and I realised that you could
use films to say something important.
This was the first film where I became aware of the camera. There
are these incredible tracking shots through the trenches: I'd never
seen anything like that and suddenly the mechanics of film and how
they're made became interesting to me. This was probably the film
that led me to want to be a director.
You can see at the beginning of my film Brazil that the huge
tracking shots are basically inspired and stolen from Paths of
Glory. That's what happens when you make films: you try to emulate
images that had an impact on you. For me, this is one of Kubrick's
best films. He did things in a way that was really new and exciting.
And I learnt that the camera can do things rather than just record:
it can effectively become a character in the piece.
On March 19, Gilliam was in Bradford to receive its International
Film Festival's Fellowship award. In the Pictureville cinema at the city's
National Media Museum, the director introduced a screening of Time Bandits.
It was remarked that the film had been released thirty years ago.
This was the first time that I (your Dreams editor) had seen Time
Bandits on the big screen. Unfortunately the print had a crackly soundtrack
and looked worn. Also, it appeared out of focus. Despite this, there was
detail on the screen that I hadn't seen before. The appearance of the Supreme
Being was extremely bright, and the film was played very loud indeed (though
I was at the front). What I enjoyed more than I ever had done before was
the soundtrack. And all the way through I was thinking just how wonderful
the script is - even though I was expecting all the gags.
Following the feature, there was a screening of The Miracle of Flight,
Gilliam's short film from 1974. Then the filmmaker was interviewed by festival
director Tony Earnshaw. It was a wide-ranging interview, covering his first
animations all the way through to The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus.
In the interview, Gilliam spoke about the many problems he has encountered
in his career. He said he had been incredibly lucky - overall - to do what
he has wanted to do. He has never taken on projects he didn't want to do,
so all the mistakes are his own mistakes. Further, he had many stories and
anecdotes about the stars he has worked with, including Bruce Willis, Brad
Pitt, Robert de Niro, Oliver Reed, Jonathan Pryce and Jeff Bridges. I recorded
the interview so it's likely that some transcript may appear here in the
He touched upon the opera he's been working on. And with respect to The
Man Who Killed Don Quixote, Gilliam said he is still working on gaining
funding, and that Robert Duvall is still attached.
Sadly, there was no screening of The Wholly Family, even though a
few days before the interview, Gilliam told Dreams that he was hoping
to bring it with him to share with the audience.
Tony Earnshaw presents Terry Gilliam with the
BIFF Fellowship Award in March 2011 (pic by PS)
At the end of the interview, Gilliam was presented with his Fellowship award
by Earnshaw. There was then a screening of his 1968 short Storytime
and also The Christmas Card from Do Not Adjust Your Set -
the latter being a real audience pleaser. The whole session had lasted over
A short video of Gilliam talking about Julie Christie in Billy Liar
and Darling was uploaded to the festival website. This can be seen
While he was in Bradford, Gilliam also popped in to see the cast of Spamalot,
which was on tour at the Bradford Alhambra theatre, next door to the Media
Museum. In the pic below, he is with cast member Phill Jupitus.
Gilliam was at Istancool, the Istanbul International Festival of
Culture at the end of May. There was a screening of some of his films, together
with a Q&A session. Gilliam was mentioned
in a report in The Independent, and featured in a video film
from "Diary of Mu".
Terry Gilliam was in New York City mid-June for an exhibition entitled Magnificent
Obsessions. The exhibit features mixed-media looks at past obsessions,
from sound design, to costume design, to set design. Gilliam was guest-of-honor
at the opening night, where he
spoke with The Wall Street Journal.
|I liked the idea of something about cinema and obsession,
the director said on the rooftop terrace, during a quiet moment before
the party kicked into high gear. Its a term that gets
used a lot but most people dont experience what true obsession
Ideas take me over. They possess me, he said. And once
ideas take over, its a battle to clear it out. When
it works, theres a film to show for it. Other things,
you work on for years and it doesnt happen. Those are the ones
that take a lot of energy out of you. Theres been several of
Im not a director for hire, Gilliam said. I
only do films when Im obsessed or possessed. Im always
impressed with directors for hire. They take any old thing and show
up for every day. I have to be driven, because I dont like getting
up to work every day.
Gilliam at the Magnificent Obsessions
launch night with the Kingsleys
Gilliam was also interviewed
by Vulture while in NYC, which included the following quotes:
|[On Quixote] ...its trying to get this money! We had
almost all of it together last year and then it fizzed out. Whats
happening with money is theres a number thats the wrong
number, and were at that number $25 million, thats
just the wrong number. But itll work out. We just keep looking
at different places to shoot, checking out Argentina, see if thats
less money. I dont think in the States. I think most of the
money is going to come from elsewhere. They want to give people $200
million to make the same film. Or they give them $5 million to do
I think one of the things that bothers me about The Imaginarium
of Doctor Parnassus is how it was handled so badly in the
States. That has left me with a kind of very depressed attitude about
whats possible, because that should have been successful. In
places like Italy, it was a success, but not America. I learned one
company not to work with!
[On The Defective Detective] ...thats great, if youve
got $100 million. [Laughs.] And weve been running around trying
to resuscitate that little baby. And if I cant get the money
for the $25 million thing, I can try for this, and people in Hollywood
will say, Can you do it for $50 [million]? Can you
do it for $20 [million]? And you realize, there are idiots out
there. How many people in Hollywood just have no idea how films are
made? Whats involved in making a film? Thats the one thing
that always assuages me: No matter how dumb my thing, theres
always one thats dumber.
On 21 June, the
Guardian reported that the BBC is making a drama about the release of
Monty Python's Life of Brian. The members of Monty Python will be
played by actors. The TV film will be shown on BBC4, which has already produced
many dramas about British comedians, including Frankie Howerd, Kenneth Williams
and Harry H Corbett & Wilfred Brambell.
On 26 June, the New
York Times reported that a new animated film is being made, based
on Graham Chapman's book, A Liar's Autobiography. Chapman's Python
colleagues - including Gilliam - have recorded dialogue as themselves for
the picture. Gilliam will also play a number of roles.
Gilliam reciting his lines for the Chapman
Terry Gilliam features in a new documentary biography of Beatle George
Harrison, directed by Martin Scorsese. It is called George Harrison:
Living in the Material World. More details on the
official George Harrison website.
On July 21, there was a screening of The Wholly Family in Los Angeles,
in the opening night of the LA
Shorts Fest. The Wholly Family will continue to appear at a number
of film festivals around the world. Producer Amy Gilliam is currently working
on plans to make the film available to those around the world who'd like
to see it.
Gilliam went to the Era
New Horizons Film Festival, in Wroclaw, Poland at the end of July. There
was a full retrospective of his films, together with a few showings of The
Wholly Family. Gilliam turned up to a screening of The Imaginarium
of Dr Parnassus. And on July 27, he was at a Q&A session at the
Gazeta Café. A book about Gilliam was published at the festival,
called Wunderkamera. The following three pics are from the festival:
At the Polish festival, in a further Q&A session, Gilliam
was recorded revealing that he had started work on an adaptation of
Paul Auster's novel Mr Vertigo. He said:
|You read books, and you say, "That will make a great film"
... and then you realise: no, it wouldn't make a great film. Well,
I can actually answer you right now... I got a book, it's called Mr
Vertigo, by Paul Auster. I'm actually working on a script of it
at the moment. It doesnt mean there'll be a film, but I'm working
on a script. It was a book that I read - it was presented to me...
I said yes, this is good stuff. And now we are adapting the script
and I'm beginning to think I was wrong. Often what makes it work as
a book is the very thing that means it's not going to work as a film.
You want slightly simpler things to make a film out of. So Mr Vertigo
- we're trying to do right now.
Gilliam went on to talk about not making a feature film in the last year:
|This last year has been very strange, I'm not sure what I want.
I'm in a funny state about what I want to do, and what I don't want
to do. With Quixote, I just want to do it because everyone
says I won't be able to do it - which seems a good reason to do it!
But its almost reached the point that it's been around so long that
I'm beginning to wonder whether I've made it in my head too many times.
That's one of the dangerous things about having projects around for
a long time - you finish the works in your head. It reminds me of
Nikola Tesla. He used to design all of his great inventions - and
half of them we've never seen because he said to himself, it works
fine, let's move on to the next thing.
I think I've got to make another film next year. I don't know what
it is yet, but I need to do it. But there's another side of me that
says, do I really want to wake up at 6:00 in the morning and go out
in miserable weather when I can sit at home and do nothing? But...
yes I do want to go out in miserable weather at 6:00 in the morning!
At the end of July, it
was reported by the BBC that Terry Gilliam is to feature in a new BBC
film called Cricklewood Greats. It is a mockumentary about some fictional
British actors, to be broadcast on BBC4. Gilliam is to appear as himself,
talking about a fictional project that went awry, Professor Hypochondria's
Magical Odyssey. The TV film is written by and directed by Peter Capaldi,
who is most famous in Britain as Malcolm Tucker, the foul-mouthed Director
of Communications for the British Government in The Thick Of It.
The film has been shot, and is currently in postproduction.
Gilliam's appearance on the 1974 BBC programme The
Do-It-Yourself Animation Show was
uploaded onto YouTube this month. This is an illuminating resource on
how Gilliam created his Python cartoons.
Terry Gilliam is one of a number of famous individuals whose likeness
is featured into a well-known work of art or cultural artefact, for a Sky
Arts TV programme called Fame in the Frame. According to the
press release, a tranquil Terry Gilliam lets his thoughts run free as
The Buddha by Odilon Redon.
The Buddha by Odilon Redon
Gilliam appeared at Empire magazine's Big Screen, a movie
convention event held in August in London. An interview with the director
was uploaded to YouTube
and is embedded below:
At Big Screen, Gilliam said:
|I'm always working on things... and whether they become reality
or not is in the lap of the financial gods, who have taken over the
world - they are berserkers now. I have just finished working on a
script with Paul Auster called Mr Vertigo - it's from one of
his books. Quixote keeps hobbling along. There's another thing
that may be interesting. I don't know, I've reached the point now
where I am waiting for things to happen. I'm not going to make anything
happen, I'm going to wait for them whoever they are to come to me.
[On Quixote] I met somebody just recently who has given me
a bit more hope that we might be able to pull the baby off. It's just
a funny time now. I assume that everybody out there if you are not
working for the studios, you are scraping and struggling. Because
that's what's happening now.
As part of London Film Festival later this year, Terry Gilliam is to get
involved with a filmmaking initiative. Gilliam is to host a video contest
for MOFILM, where budding filmmakers must select a corporate brand, and
make a film according to the set brief. The brands are Santander, Campbell's
Gilliam was in Marrakech for its international film festival. He was
presented with its Golden Star Award, and was introduced on stage by Emir
While at Marrakech, Gilliam was
interviewed for website 99u, and at the end he selected his favourite
shot from all of his films. It was from The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.
|I think I'm pretty proud of the Brazil flying sequences. They were
pretty spectacular. Actually, the most sublime shot, there is one.
It's in Baron Munchausen. There's a scene where they go to the moon,
and there's this big storm and then suddenly we cut to what looks
like a starscape. And then the little boat comes in, but it's upside-down,
it's the wrong way around, and then the stars disappear and become
sand. It was all done in one shot, which I knew what I was trying
to do. But it wasn't until we actually turned the film and pulled
that, and we did the light change, and I actually went "ohhhhhh,
that's fantastic." And that was one of those moments that all
the planning wasn't as good as the final result. The final result
was a quantum leap. Those are nice moments.
Also at Marrakech, Terry Gilliam gave away his
secrets of successful filmmaking:
1. Growing up is for losers.
2. Film school is for fools.
3. Auteurism is out. Fil-teurism is in.
4. Put your ideas in a drawer. Take them out as needed.
5. All youve really got in life is story.
6. Command the audience with your lens.
7. Nothing can defeat a director who is one with his actors.
8. Surround yourself with improvisers.
9. Directing is not for the faint-of-heart. Or the sane.
10. Be an enlightened despot.
Bonus Lesson: And whatever you do, dont ever work with the Weinsteins.
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