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The names we've barely heard of (but who still left their mark)

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Inspired by max's mentioning Production Designer Richard Sylbert, thought it'd be interesting to gather the names of people who had an indelible effect on the movies they worked on over the course of their careers, but whose names we don't hear often or maybe don't even know. Might be wise to try to limit this to the US film industry...the world is a can of worms.

Val Lewton

Producer Val Lewton never directed any of the metaphorical B horror pictures he made, but they're all infused with his unique style and vision regardless, nearly trumping the directorial authorship. WB put out a great box set of his movies several years ago, whuch includes a Kent Jones-directed documentary on him produced and narrated by Martin Scorsese.

Ross Hunter

Producer Ross Hunter started off making Douglas Sirk melodramas and sort of carried over that highly-production-designed look that Sirk was so well known for into the later movies he would produce without him. I don't know very much about this guy, but here are some images from his later stuff to get an idea from:

Pillow Talk (1959)

Madame X (1966)

Back Street (1961)

Midnight Lace (1960)


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Reply #1 on: September 14, 2014, 04:21:21 PM
Stephen Sayadian

Director Stephen Sayadian aka Rinse Dream

Quote from: Wikipedia
Began his career as a Creative Director for Larry Flynt Publications. He's co-written, designed and directed the motion-pictures Nightdreams (part 1,2,3), Cafe Flesh, Party Doll a-Go-Go and Dr. Caligari, a semi-sequel to the 1919 film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. The film premiered as an opening night selection (Midnight Madness) at the Toronto Film Festival. In addition to film and videos, he's designed and directed for network television, MTV and the stage. As a print art director he's collaborated on numerous motion-picture one-sheets including films by Brian De Palma, John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper. His print work has appeared in many publications including Zoom.

Stephen Sayadian is a born provocateur. A gregarious storyteller. A genre unto himself. The genre he created, dominated and left behind could best be described as surrealist nightmare art-porn. But funny. With his twin early-’80s epics Nightdreams and Café Flesh created under the pseudonym “Rinse Dream”, Sayadian lifted from experimental theatre (where he has also worked extensively), silent cinema and absurdist comedy to create X-rated films that are hallucinations that stick with you.” (Twitch Film)

Cafe Flesh (1982)

Dr. Caligari (1989)


The Projection Booth - Ep. 57 - Nightdreams

“I Know You’re Watching Me”: The Bizarre Visions of “Rinse Dream”

Francis Delia

A collaborator of Sayadian's, Director Francis Delia, credited as F.X. Pope on Nightdreams (1981) and Cafe Flesh (1982), directed a couple episodes of Michael Mann's "Crime Story" (1986), as well as his own movie Freeway (1988), shot by Frank Byers. Frank Byers, who also shot the entirety of the Twin Peaks TV series, has to be one of the great unsung DP's, but his career went strange places after 1991. On a visual level, Tarantino had to have been inspired by this movie for Death Proof, no?

Freeway (1988) - Amazon

Delia also directed his share of music videos, including

-Blue Oyster Cult's "Shooting Shark"
-Starship's "We Built This City"
-Wall of Voodoo's "Mexican Radio"

among others.


Francis Delia - Official Site

max from fearless

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Reply #2 on: September 16, 2014, 04:39:56 PM
Joan Tewkesbury

She wrote Robert Altman's 'Thieves Like Us' and 'Nashville', was continuity on McCabe and Mrs. Miller and was an uncredited writer on 'The Eyes of Laura Mars'. Now obviously saying you wrote an Altman film is a weird one because he so often veered off script, but it really felt like she was instrumental in regards to putting 'Nashville' together. Going down to Nashville and keeping a journal and just constructing the screenplay from people she met and incidents she witnessed. From Jan Stuart’s 'The Nashville Chronicles: The Making of Robert Altman's Masterpiece':

"Altman sent Thieves Like Us screenwriter Joan Tewkesbury on a guided tour of Nashville, where she went to the Country Music Hall of Fame and other stage-managed tourist attractions. She found the experience boring, and told Altman she didn’t see a movie set there; he sent her back for a second trip, this time on her own, and she managed to suss out more of the authentic texture of the town. Many of the elements of the film—the traffic jam, the visit to the recording studio, the way Robert DoQui’s Wade sits down next to Lily Tomlin at the Exit/In—were directly inspired by things that happened to her on that trip."

She fell out of Altman's circle for a bit. Here's her talking about it, from Mitchell Zuckoff's incredible 'ROBERT ALTMAN' book:

"Scotty (Altman's exec producer) did all the stuff Bob didn't want to do. She was the one who tied up all the loose ends. And he trusted her - which is no mean feat - because he knew that he owned her. She was the "It" person. But it was a dark "It". Between me and Bob there was a period of time when it was not great. I would try to see him or talk, and he simply was not interested. It was a lot to do with Scott. She had gotten Tommy Thompson out. Bob Eggenweiler left. I mean, these men were his soul, they were his guys, you know, and they were hilariously funny, stupidly funny. They were part of the old crowd, with Louie Lombardo. Now they're all dead. All of them."

She tried her hand at directing and did a movie called 'Old Boyfriends' written by Paul and Leonard Schrader, with music by David Shire (whose Zodiac score I still gush over, especially the track 'Aftermaths'). The film also has a killer cast and after that one, she mostly did a lot of TV, including Doogie Howser MD...

Here's an interview with Tewkesbury via Bomb magazine (which has some great film interviews with Carlos Reygadas and Altman)


So here's part one of Old Boyfriends via Youtube. (Can't wait to see this...)

In this Altman doc, Tewkesbury talks about 'Kansas City' being one of Altman's best (and i agree, i think it's aces!) she comes in around the 4:58 mark

And David Shire wise, this guy doesn't get enough props or enough gigs, he did fantastic scores for: The Conversation, All the President’s Men, Saturday Night Fever, The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 and Zodiac, amongst others.

David Shire interviewed by Francis Ford Coppola (great story about everyone falling asleep during one of the first screenings of The Conversation and a sing along at the end that's cute)



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Reply #3 on: October 04, 2016, 04:25:19 AM
Budd Boetticher (1916-2001)

Minimalist western director Budd Boetticher’s Comanche Station (1960) was just released on blu-ray in Germany and five of his movies are available in a DVD Box Set from Sony (OOP). I see a lot of parallels in these films with what Michael Mann does, in both the themes and the visual framing.

A brief video essay by Matt Zoller Seitz:

“All these movies were shot on location in Lone Pine, CA. Boetticher and his cinematographers, including regular collaborator Lucian Ballard (who would later shoot Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch) emphasized the smallness of the characters, suggesting that God, or nature, or the universe have no opinion on matters that seem so urgent to the human race. The sky, the mountains, the rivers, and the rocks can seem oppressively vast, like a science fiction panorama or a Samuel Beckett wasteland. Boetticher’s films treat the Old West as a metaphoric space, an arena in which competing value systems can be tested.”

Comanche Station (1960)

Ride Lonesome (1959)


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Reply #4 on: October 19, 2016, 06:10:52 PM
John Paizs

John Paizs (born in 1957) is a Canadian director, writer and actor. In 1985 his independent comedy Crime Wave was presented at the Toronto International Film Festival. He was the male lead and also wrote and directed the film.

Crime Wave (1985)

A seminal film in Winnipeg independent film-making in the 1980’s Crime Wave is a work of incredible imagination and inventive ideas. Upon its release in the mid 1980's the film played to terrific acclaim at film festivals across North America. Crammed with B movie gags and pop cultural references, the movie follows the story of Steven Penny, a crime writer who wants to create the perfect colour crime movie but he is only good at writing beginnings and endings (and not the stuff in the middle).

Quote from: John Paizs
What about your own style, how would you describe that?

My style grew out of my limitations. At first I didn't shoot in sound because I didn't have the ability to, and I didn't move the camera because all I had was this old rickety tripod. Working within my limitations proved to be a good thing, however, as it gave my work something that was visually different from the majority of other films of that time. If you look at my older shorts, the more successful ones are the ones where I didn't have a lot of dialogue. Basically, they were almost silent movies with narration, which is a great device to use to tell a story, because you're able to jump around in time without confusing anybody—it's very easy to organize your material with it. And it's also a great way to get into your character's head to communicate their interior life, or what have you.

Quote from: Review by Jane Black
There's this feeling I get sometimes as I watch a movie. I can't say when or how it comes about, but it's that feeling I get when I realize I'm watching something special, something that isn't just going to make me think or feel, but something that is going to knock me over. Sometimes, like with Late Spring or Make Way for Tomorrow, it's tied to this profound sadness that hits you as the dramatic punchline rolls. Sometimes, like with Chain, it's because the film makes an idea crystalize in my mind. It spurs an epiphany, major or minor. Sometimes, like with L'ange or Feherlofia, it's simply a matter of being floored by technical mastery and a sense of wonder--grim or bright--that comes from seeing something imaginative.

With Crime Wave, like with UHF and Rubin and Ed and Pink Flamingos, it was because it tapped into this deeply held delight in camp, in absurdity, and in a kind of cool corniness that is nearly impossible to pull off. In the first ten minutes of this film, something clicked, and I knew that--barring some horribly offensive characteristic suddenly showing up--I was watching a new favorite. It was in the overblown delivery of the narration, the painfully precocious performance of the female lead, the Technicolor homage, and the little details that defied my expectations that did it.

The last one on that list is crucial. When the little girl shows her obsession with the writer above her garage to her parents, I expected scorn or some sort of repressive response, but instead, they were amused and oddly supportive. The tone of the film remained consistent; the world it exists in was one where dreams matter most. When things finally do get dark, it's only in service of the weird narrative and not some tired twist. Even at its darkest, the film is at its funniest, anyway. And while dreams matter most, the film slyly suggests that their fulfillment is not always what we expect. It is almost Buddhist in its suggestion of contentment over achievement.

While this might work well enough with a slick aesthetic or a different visual style, the one used--a mixture of 1950s and 1980s that fits the film's setting and the main character's throwback obsessions--is perfectly suited. It's a VHS world where bright colors are inherent, a world seen through the eyes of a child whose best friend is a 30 year old greaser failed screenwriter. It captures the distorted sense of reality when a kid just old enough to almost get it has that cooler older friend who opens up the world to them, and it marries all of this to a setting that is a half-step away from a cartoon. Everything is heightened somewhere between melodrama and Looney Tunes.

The book John Paizs’s ‘Crime Wave’ by Jonathan Ball explores the critical dimensions of the movie:

John Paizs’s ‘Crime Wave’ examines the Winnipeg filmmaker’s 1985 cult film as an important example of early postmodern cinema and as a significant precursor to subsequent postmodern blockbusters, including the much later Hollywood film Adaptation. Crime Wave’s comic plot is simple: aspiring screenwriter Steven Penny, played by Paizs, finds himself able to write only the beginnings and endings of his scripts, but never (as he puts it) “the stuff in-between.” Penny is the classic writer suffering from writer’s block, but the viewer sees him as the (anti)hero in a film told through stylistic parody of 1940s and 50s B-movies, TV sitcoms, and educational films.

In John Paizs’s ‘Crime Wave,’ writer and filmmaker Jonathan Ball offers the first book-length study of this curious Canadian film, which self-consciously establishes itself simultaneously as following, but standing apart from, American cinematic and television conventions. Paizs’s own story mirrors that of Steven Penny: both find themselves at once drawn to American culture and wanting to subvert its dominance. Exploring Paizs’s postmodern aesthetic and his use of pastiche as a cinematic technique, Ball establishes Crime Wave as an overlooked but important cult classic.

Crime Wave (1985) is available digitally restored on DVD from Winnipeg Film Group. Springtime in Greenland (1988) is available on a short film compilation DVD from them, Isolation in the 80s, and his earlier short, The Obsession of Billy Botski (1980) is available on Beginnings 1976-1983: The Early Years


Springtime in Greenland (1988) - Short Film

A lifetime of suburbia in a half hour, Springtime in Greenland uses 50's cinematic conventions and attitudes to tell a story about the sophomoric inhabitants of a fictional utopia. Meet Nick, a young Adonis played by Paizs. He is silent, aloof and straining against his suburban values. Nick wears a gloomy cloud despite the sunny spring weather.


Interviews and Articles

-Media Impack: John Paizs’ Crime Wave, Canada's Lost Indie Classic
-John Paizs’ Vow of Silence
-Canuxploitation Interview with John Paizs


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Reply #5 on: October 22, 2016, 12:42:35 AM
i promoted him pretty heavily on here in my hyper douchey era circa 2004. i stumbled upon crimewave because the coens made an equally bizarre film of the same title that no one really talks about.


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Art Director Cedric Gibbons (1893–1960)

I stumbled upon this art deco house that belonged to silent-era art director Cedric Gibbons. Then I learned about the man, whose work defined much of the visual style we associate with early studio pictures.

There's an excellent write up on his work on the blog Girls Do Film. An excerpt:

For someone who shaped much of the visual aesthetic of film in its formative years, Cedric Gibbons isn’t well known outside of art and production editors and classic film enthusiasts. Surprising, considering that his name is associated with more than 1500 films between 1924 and 1956, thanks to a stipulation in his MGM contract that ensured he received art director credit for every movie the studio released in the US, and he took the Academy Award statue he designed (allegedly on a paper napkin) home 11 times. In terms of Oscar wins, he’s the Academy’s most successful art director. It’s not just contemporary audiences who are unaware of Gibbons’ influence, it’s likely that audiences of the day were unaware of the man and perhaps even his work – after all, set design is meant to fade into the background and complement the ‘action’.


Gibbons often opted for luxury even if the screenplay didn’t call for it – this was an amped-up ideal of everyday life, where polished floors, mirrored surfaces and crystal surfaces were de rigeur.

Still from The Kiss

Still from Our Dancing Daughters

Still from Our Dancing Daughters

The lobby of the Grand Hotel


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Reply #7 on: December 11, 2017, 08:44:38 PM
i promoted him pretty heavily on here in my hyper douchey era circa 2004. i stumbled upon crimewave because the coens made an equally bizarre film of the same title that no one really talks about.
A lot late to the show, sure, but :saywhat:.


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Maybe my head was in the sand but I had no idea these projects were connected.

Eiko Ishioka - Costume Designer / Art Director / Stage Director

In 1985 director Paul Schrader chose her to be the production designer for his 1985 film Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters. Her work went on to win her a special award for artistic contribution at the Cannes Film Festival that year. Eiko's work with Francis Ford Coppola on the poster for the Japanese release of Apocalypse Now led to their later collaboration in Coppola's Dracula which earned Eiko an Academy Award.[6] She has also worked on four of Tarsem Singh's films beginning with the Jennifer Lopez starrer The Cell in 2000 and including The Fall, Immortals, and Mirror Mirror.[1]

She has also done costume design for theater and circus. In 1999 she designed costumes for Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen at the Dutch Opera. She designed costumes for Cirque du Soleil: Varekai, which premiered in 2002 as well as for Julie Taymor's Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, which premiered in 2011. She also directed the music video for Björk's "Cocoon" in 2002 and designed costumes for the "Hurricane" tour of singer Grace Jones in 2009.[4]

Ishioka's work is included in the permanent collection of museums throughout the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Coppola' Dracula

Coppola' Dracula

Coppola' Dracula

Coppola' Dracula

From a 1999 production of Der Ring des Nibelungen

Matthew Barney's Cremaster series

Tarsem's The Fall

The Cell (2000)