Monday, July 16, 2018

Is Tobe a "Take-Charge" Sort of Guy? And, The Bird Story.

SPIELBERG: "Tobe isn't what you'd call a take-charge sort of guy.  He's just not a strong presence on a movie set."

Is he?  No.  This doesn't mean he didn't have vision, or that he didn't have a backbone.  Texas Chain Saw alums remember a few tantrums.  He was a quiet, interior, sometimes inarticulate, largely mumbly artistic presence.  He is going to fare even less well on a heavily-structured major studio set that was automatically biased toward Spielberg.  Does this mean he didn't direct the film?  No.  Are there other ways to exert your influence?  Yes.  It is these smaller, less conspicuous and showy ways that crew members ignore for Spielberg's more attention-grabbing producing.

"If a question was asked and an answer wasn't immediately forthcoming, I'd jump up and say what we could do. Tobe would nod agreement, and that became the process of the collaboration."

If an answer wasn't immediately forthcoming.  And in those cases in which he jumped in, he didn't really care.  "You want the clown to be skinnier instead of stubbier?  Sure."  And when he cared, you better expect he spoke up.  It became the nature of the collaboration: frustration on both ends.

"Well, the turmoil is essentially created by wanting to do it your own way and having to go through procedure.  That is why I will never again not direct a film I write.  It was frustrating for Tobe Hooper and it was frustrating for the actors, who were pretty torn between by presence and his on the set every day."

Procedure.  Spielberg had to suppress himself.  Things had to be uniformly agreed upon.  Hooper was the director who worked in tandem with Spielberg.

Also, from my diligent Facebook stalking, I can confidently say there was at least one instance where a stand-up person out there who "happens to know a person" who "worked on the production," says that that person he knows said Hooper directed.  Whenever you find a comment saying "I knew a crew member," it is almost always a vote for Spielberg, but there is one, golden time where the person who knows the person, and that person was in the crew, holy cow, said the person said it was Hooper directing.  There is at least one production personnel on my side, whoever you are. *weeps*

And I'll finish off this short post with the "Bird Story," graciously tipped off to me by a reader as invested in the Poltergeist story as I am, told by the late Lou Perryman on the Dead Pit podcast that you can listen to here.  It is a case of Hooper having a forthcoming answer...

"[Answering the question] Tobe directed it.  ... Tobe directed it.  You know, Tobe told me that what he had to do was accept reality.  He and Steve were writing a script, together, and they were probably gonna take 16 years to write it, who knows, with Tobe.  Who knows, I don't know, less?  But at some point, Steve wrote it, said, "Here's our script, this is what we're going to shoot."  And, of course, he's got, "Written by Steven Spielberg."  And I believe Tobe.  Absolutely I believe Tobe.  Tobe, Tobe had a [...?] story, and understood what needed to be in there, and was certainly conversant with Poltergeist and what was into that.  But Tobe directed me, and everything I saw while I was there he directed.  Steve was there, you're not gonna ignore Steve, but he's only gonna step-- he only stepped in... I think they talked about some stuff.  He didn't go in and take things over, while I was there.  I heard some of the stories that were... not flattering of Steve.  Of making trouble.  Remember the scene in Poltergeist where the mother is getting ready to flush the little dead bird, and there's the shadow of the dead bird on the toilet lid?  All of a sudden you see the shadow of this hand holding this bird... and evidently, Steve wanted Tobe to put his profile in that shot in the back of the toilet.  Anyway, weird; Tobe said no.  Tobe said, no, I don't believe I'll do that.  I don't want to do that, Steve.  And Steve stayed after him and [?] him about it.  And made almost an issue of it.  I believe Tobe on that one.  Tobe wouldn't tell that story, I'm sure.  But it's difficult, you know, we're all human and shit comes in, and he might've felt some breath from Tobe, I don't know what.  What can we imagine, that Steven Spielberg who was not the monster star even then as he is now, but with all the heavy weight that he was there... he was busy doing E.T., evidently, so he was there only a part of the time, so if there was anyone who was there part of the time, it was Steve.  But yeah, Tobe directed, Tobe directed me.  It was tense, you know, you've got Steve Spielberg looking over your shoulder, holy mackerel.  You're gonna be on your best behavior.  I've known actors that have been just so tense around certain directors who didn't make them feel comfortable.  I've worked with directors who didn't make me feel comfortable... god damn Oliver Stone, man.  Wanna be tense?  Holy shit, that's the guy.  God damn."

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