Dreams: 2012 News Blog

Edited by Phil Stubbs

As the year started, filmmaker Terry Gilliam continued to strive to get a feature film project off the ground. The two potential pictures for him at the end of 2011 were The Man Who Killed Don Quixote and Mr Vertigo, the latter based on a novel by Paul Auster.

Gilliam's short film The Wholly Family was given its web launch on January 23 at an event at The Guardian's office in London. The filmmaker was interviewed by the newspaper's chief film critic Peter Bradshaw before taking questions from the audience and people following the event on the internet. Dreams editor Phil Stubbs was at the event, and he asked about Mr Vertigo. A transcript of the event is available at The Guardian's website.

Immediately following this event, the short film was available to view through the Distrify application, which is available to watch within Dreams.

For more information on the short film, click onto The Wholly Family page within Dreams, featuring interviews with Terry Gilliam and cinematographer Nicola Pecorini.

Gilliam was interviewed in The Grauniad on 21 January, in its Saturday magazine's Q&A format. He claimed that his most unappealing habit is "farting in small, enclosed spaces."

Gilliam's production of The Damnation of Faust was staged at Palermo, Sicily from 22 to 29 January.

The BBC reported more information on a new Terry Jones film project, Absolutely Anything on 26 January. A script has been written by Gavin Scott with Jones, and will be directed by Jones, who is keen to get his Python colleagues involved voicing aliens.

Early in February, there was a brief interview with Gilliam in the Evening Standard. He revealed that the only TV he watches is Family Guy, and the reason he renounced his US citizenship was "Bush was running the show down. I got so depressed, I thought 'Enough, this is time to leave.' Without my taxes coming in their war fund is much reduced."

On 5 February, BBC4 broadcasted a spoof documentary Cricklewood Greats, featuring an appearance by Terry Gilliam. The documentary told the story of a fictitious Cricklewood film company, which had much success throughout the twentieth century, but was brought down by Gilliam's expensive disaster picture, Professor Hypochondria's Magical Odyssey. Peter Capaldi presented and directed the short tv film.

On 14 February, Gilliam published a St Valentine's cartoon on his facebook page:

There was an interview published with screenwriter Tony Grisoni in February, where he touches upon Fear and Loathing, Don Quixote and Tideland. In fact, Grisoni hinted at progress in getting Quixote a green light: "You will be pleased to hear the Don is back up and in the saddle and ready to ride under new colours."

Early in March, a new Holy Grail BluRay release, and an iPad app were announced, each featuring new material from the second Monty Python picture, such as:

> More than 70 minutes of never-before-seen video, including outtakes and visits to the Holy Grail locations.
> Interactive 360° Props
> More than an hour of audio, featuring rehearsals, wild tracks, songs, sound effects and your favorite quotes from the film
> Interactive map
> Original animations
> Never-before-seen stills
> An introduction by John Cleese
> The screenplay
> Continuity Sheets
> Michael Palin's Diaries

Supporting the new activity with Holy Grail, Gilliam spoke with Vulture magazine. He said that progress with Quixote would be known within the next week - and that Mr Vertigo and Good Omens are both potential projects, the latter requiring quite a large budget.

In April, Dreams launched a YouTube channel. Upon launch, there are three pieces that Dreams editor Phil Stubbs recorded on VHS videotape in the 1980s and 1990s, about Brazil, Munchausen and Twelve Monkeys. Here's part one of a documentary on Munchausen broadcast on BBC1 back in 1989:

Science-fiction blog io9 wrote an article about sci-fi/fantasy creators who became their own genre, in which Gilliam featured.

The Economist interviewed Gilliam in April, in which the filmmaker mentioned Good Omens and The Defective Detective as potential new projects. The interview took place in Brussels, where The Wholly Family opened the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival. At the festival, Gilliam was honoured as a Knight of the Order of the Raven... and there is a video of a Q&A session at YouTube.

On May 1, at the South Bank Show awards, ENO won the opera award for its production of The Damnation of Faust. A report at the BBC's website contains video interview with Gilliam.

On May 2, The Guardian featured an interview with Gilliam, concentrating on the new Holy Grail activity, and Python Bytes - the latter being a new app which delivers Python sketches to users of mobile devices. On May 3, Gilliam joined Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Carol Cleveland at Apple's Regent Street store in London to plug the Python Bytes app. Digital Spy have two videos of the event: one where the guests discuss the app, and another where they talk about their favourite comedies.

Gilliam was at the Cannes Film Festival towards the end of May to accept the filmmaker award at the IWC Schaffhausen dinner. According to a report in the New York Times, Gilliam used the occasion to drum up financing for his long-gestating film Don Quixote. He suggested that his producer, who was also at the dinner, pass around baskets for donations to finish the movie. “Anything less than a million dollars will not be accepted,” said the director to the audience.

The Wholly Family was presented in an unusual way on Stoleshnikov Lane in Moscow throughout the Summer of 2012. A series of stills and sketches from the short film were displayed throughout the cobbled road, in an exhibition created by the filmmaker's daughter Holly Gilliam. A news report featured interviews with both Terry and Holly in Moscow, on a visit at the end of May.

Gilliam at Taormina

Terry Gilliam was honoured at the Taormina Film Festival in June, as announced by the Hollywood Reporter, receiving their Taormina Arte Award. Gilliam gave a masterclass at the Sicilian resort, called "The Imagination of Dr. Gilliam".

On July 10, at the Ischia Film Festival, Gilliam revealed to the Hollywood Reporter that he had a new feature film project, but would only reveal that it was to be shot in Bucharest. It was not Quixote, which has had to be postponed.

Holly Gilliam launched a new blog called "Discovering Dad", on July 18, which focuses on her father's vast archive. Holly went on to feature scripts, sketches, storyboard and artwork - terrific stuff.

Filmmaker Chris Marker died on 29 July. In a tribute on his facebook page, Gilliam said, "The great Chris Marker is no longer amongst us but his work will long outlast all of us. His was one of the most insightful and humane minds. His films changed my perceptions of the the world and film-making. If you haven't seen his work, go hunting for it. It will be worth the effort." The script to Gilliam's own Twelve Monkeys, written by David and Janet Peoples, was inspired by Marker's 1962 short film La Jetée.

Early in August, Gilliam was mentioned as one of a number of artists criticising the treatment of Russian punk band Pussy Riot.

On August 13, Deadline reported that Gilliam's Bucharest-based feature film was in fact The Zero Theorem, with Christoph Waltz taking the lead role of Qohen Leth. The film is to be shot around Bucharest and also at the MediaPro studios, located just outside the city. The director had considered the script a few years before, and Gilliam told Dreams in June 2009, "It's a very smart script. I thought I could do it quite quickly and cheaply, and that would be a nice one, rather than getting caught in more expensive, more complicated or hard-to-finance things. But the year just got swallowed up by Parnassus and publicity, and preparation for Don Quixote."

This was then confirmed on Gilliam's facebook page on August 14. He said:

Announcement! I’m heading off to Bucharest to start work on my new film, The Zero Theorem. It stars everybody’s favorite Nazi, the great Christoph Waltz. Very original script about a man waiting for a telephone call that will give meaning to his life. Some other things happen as well. It’s profound and funny in more or less equal measures. We’re going to have fun. I’ll keep you posted as the cast expands.

A few days later, Gilliam gave away lots of information about The Zero Theorem in an interview with Dreams on August 16. When asked about the appeal of the project, he said:

Well, it's actually very containable; and it could be done this year. I've always liked the script, and it's always been an interesting project, because in many ways it's much simpler than anything I've done. Two-thirds of it - if not more - take place in a ruined chapel. So that made it possible. And we're also doing it for half the budget that we were talking about four years ago - so it fitted into the new climate perfectly. And that was also why we are in Bucharest - apparently it's the best, cheapest place in Europe right now to work.

At the time of this interview, Gilliam had cast David Thewlis in the role of Joby, but not all of the contracts had been signed, so his name couldn't be revealed at the time. Gilliam also confirmed in the interview that Nicola Pecorini is Director of Photography, Dave Warren is Production Designer, and Carlo Poggioli is Head of Costumes. Preproduction of The Zero Theorem officially began in Bucharest on Monday 13 August.

In September, Gilliam continued casting for the picture. In an interview with Le Petit Journal, French actress Mélanie Thierry revealed that she had a role in The Zero Theorem, together with Tilda Swinton.

On September 16, The Damnation of Faust was staged in Ghent, Belgium.

A facebook page for The Zero Theorem was launched on September 24.

At the end of September, Gilliam presented some pictures from the preproduction of The Zero Theorem. Click on the images for larger versions.

The chapel set,
under construction

Under construction,
the central computer system
On location at a science
park in Bucharest

Gilliam's Nike advertisement from the early 1990s has been uploaded to YouTube. It's been on since 2010, but it has just come to the notice of Dreams. Here it is...

At the start of October came an initiative from English National Opera to make opera more accessible to all, supported by Terry Gilliam and Damon Albarn. The goal, said Gilliam, is to dispel the notion that opera is "art for the rich, the successful and the almost dead." Below is a short film of Gilliam promoting ENO.

In October, Gilliam made a brief appearance on a BBC2 documentary about The Beatles' movie Magical Mystery Tour.

On October 6, The Wholly Family won an award at the 10th Mediterranean Short Film Festival of Tangier. It was a special award commemorating the 10th anniversary of this event.

Over in Bucharest, there were several casting announcements mid-month. Gilliam was delighted to report Sanjeev Bhaskar, Peter Stormare, Matt Damon and Ben Whishaw were on board. News of Damon's casting was a scoop for Brendon Connelly at Bleeding Cool.

Matt Damon spoke with Vulture magazine about his The Zero Theorem hairstyle. Damon said, "I'd do anything for Terry. It's been ten years since I last worked with him. I wrote Terry this whole e-mail, because we had this whole conversation about what the character would look like, because the story takes place in the future, but he had a specific look that he wanted, but then I had to [points to shaved head], and I said, 'Terry, what should we do?' And he said, 'Actually, we can take advantage of the fact that your head is shaved. Why don't we change your hairline?' So he mocked up a picture and sent me a real receding hairline, with white spiked hair. 'We might as well take advantage of the fact that you're bald and really do something, present you in a way you've never been seen before.'"

On October 16, The Damnation of Faust was staged in Antwerp, Belgium.

The Zero Theorem
started principal photography on Monday 22 October 2012. The schedule indicated 36 shooting days required. Gilliam and Pecorini are shooting on film. The main cast was confirmed as follows:

Qohen Leth
Christoph Waltz
Mélanie Thierry
David Thewlis
Lucas Hedges
Matt Damon
Dr Shrink-Rom Tilda Swinton
Doctor 1
Sanjeev Bhaskar
Doctor 2
Peter Stormare
Doctor 3
Ben Whishaw
Clone 1
Emil Hostina
Clone 2
Pavlic Nemes

Dreams spent a week on the set of The Zero Theorem in Bucharest gathering material which will be published on this website in the months leading up to the picture's release. Dreams has been given the go-ahead to upload this pic of an exhausted-looking Dreams editor in front of a sex shop location.

On November 25, someone uploaded video onto YouTube of The Zero Theorem location shooting on the streets of Bucharest...

The Zero Theorem completed principal photography in the first week of December. A 37th day of shooting was required to complete, meaning the picture went just one day over schedule.

The Brazil Criterion Blu-ray was made available for purchase in December 2012. A few bits of archive material were added to Criterion's own website to plug the release, including this pic of an unused eyeball sequence:

And as the year ended, Craig Clark posted details on The Dreams Messageboard of how Gilliam is featured within a new video game. The Unfinished Swan features Terry Gilliam's voice as The King. Here is a review and also a trailer.

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