- It’s Good To Be Kim
Venerated Korean film director Shin Sang-Ok enjoyed several decades of success in filmmaking before his wife, a well-known actress, disappeared. The North Korean government had kidnapped her, and when Shin Sang-Ok went looking for her he was kidnapped as well. The next several years of their lives would be spent in the gilded confines of Kim Jong-Il’s palace. During this time Shin Sang and his wife would be forced to act as the dictator’s personal production team. The last of the films Kim Jong-Il would mandate was Pulgasari, a feature film about a Godzilla-like monster who ravages the countryside. Discover the writings of Kim Jong-Il, a man fascinated with the craft of filmmaking, as seen by his 1972 publication of On the Art of Cinema and personal collection of over 10,000 movies. Learn about Shin Sang-Ok’s previous endeavors, imprisonment by Kim Jong-Il, escape from North Korea and subsequent projects.
- king of the moon
- The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
After the definitive success of Time Bandits, Terry Gilliam set out on one of his most ambitious projects, the whimsical story of The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. It is a story of tall tales, madcap adventures and discovery. Just as the improbability of the Baron’s stories grew, so did the production budget, which doubled by the time film was complete. This however, was just the beginning of the problems. As new management took over at Columbia pictures, the film would feel the political fallout from the new set of executives eager to dismiss the film. The foreign locations only added to the rigors of a lavish production filled with explosions, trained animals and special effects. Among those to experience the stress of the film was not only Gilliam, but then child actress Sarah Polley surrounded by pyrotechnics. Gilliam claims that everything that could go wrong did go wrong in the making of the film.
- Last Shot of the Night
- Twilight Zone: The Movie
The original idea for the project was simple: four respected directors each complete a 30-minute sequence for the film. The final picture would consist of four short stories, each inspired by the original television show created by Rod Serling. One such sequence was to be directed by John Landis, a popular director in Hollywood with several hits to his name. One scene in his portion of the film was to involve a man leading two children across a shallow body of water as a helicopter hovered above. The scene resulted in a pyrotechnical malfunction that caused the helicopter to crash on the three actors, killing them instantly. The disaster had an immediate effect on the director, as well as Steven Spielberg, an executive producer and contributor to the movie.
- Hollywood Be Thy Name
- Heaven’s Gate
Following the success of The Deer Hunter, director Michael Camino oversaw a production that defined extravagance. The primary problem of this project was financial stability, as the studio saw millions siphoned off by a shoot that spent frivolously on unnecessary efforts to build the verisimilitude of the picture. Many believe the sky rocketing costs were attributed to the ego of those involved who thought they could do no wrong. In the effort to create a period piece, many of the actors were subjected to esoteric training exercises while studio bankrolls unraveled without regard to limits. The turmoil experienced by the studio, as well as the devastating aftermath of a multimillion-dollar effort failed to yield profits.
- Adventure is over
The story of this production cannot be told without first telling the story of two men: Claus Kinski and Werner Herzog. The bizarre and volatile relationship between Herzog, the audacious director, and Kinski the incendiary actor, is the basis for the discussion of a film that suffered numerous set backs including the loss of principal actors, unfriendly locals, an unstable actor, and the monumental task of dragging a full scale steam boat over a mountain. In an effort to capture realism, Herzog insisted that the story of a man fixated on hoisting a steamboat over land should be created by actually embarking on the feat for real. This meant soliciting the help of countless locals in a dangerous jungle teeming with poisonous snakes. Herzog was brought to near madness as the laborious production moved the boat only inches per day while Kinski’s insufferable demeanor exhibited itself through his raving tirades on the set.
- The Idiodyssey
- Apocalypse Now
Director Francis Ford-Coppola found himself at the epicenter of converging forces ranging from drug-addled cast members, recalcitrant actors, natural disasters, crumbling finances and political instability. The dark journey of the protagonist into inhospitable territory mirrors the struggle of many of the cast and crew forced to endure a shoot wrought with hardship. The story of this production is a story of personalities. A motley crew of cast members provides a spectrum of character in the making of the film. Marlon Brando stands in opposition to the director in almost every scene, while Martin Sheen loses control to substance abuse. The chapter relies on the testimony of the director and his wife along with many of the actors, who suffered exhaustion, brutal weather, endless shooting days, and the constant threat of local rebels.
- Black and Blue
- The Crow
This production grabbed many headlines before principal photography completed. The backstory is one of the most disturbing events of all those discussed in the book: the lead star Brandon Lee was fatally shot on the set while filming. One day, without the gun wrangler present, part of the cast and crew filmed additional scenes, which, through the inexperience of those involved, resulted in the discharge of an ammunition shell, striking Lee in the chest. Many of the incidents in this production underscore the importance of planning and communication on the set and most importantly, safety.
- Welcome to my Nightmare
- The Abyss
There are numerous difficulties facing even the most basic of films: the continuity, the schedules, and the technical rigors of shooting a scene. For this deep-sea adventure these problems were compounded by the experience of an underwater shoot. Before the epic odyssey of Titanic, there was James Cameron’s first ocean adventure that commanded many of the actors’ performances to be completed below the surface in an enormous tank where the set rested submerged in water. The shoot had many of the actors literally holding their breath for each scene to end as they swam through the set relying only on nearby scuba divers to provide them with air. The strain of the production exacted a toll on the cast and crew, sometimes resulting in actors walking off the set.
- Rough Waters
Movie theaters and studios were happy to oblige a growing audience as event pictures moved to the forefront of popular culture inthe early 1990s and when a hopeful young talent wrote Waterworld for a B-movie production house few could have imagined the record-breaking budget the picture would consume. However, the epic narrative of the adventure story lived in the shadows of the interminable articles and TV spots spreading stories (some true, others false) of the dangers, feverish spending, and egos on the set. The cast and crew weathered forces of nature like the rough seas and storms, one of which sunk a set. Before the shot was completed each member of the production would learn the price of dreams.