The Movie Business
This is a posting from my ‘other life’, at my Rock and Roll Blog, http://meandtherollingstones.com discussing my experiences in the music business. which I was involved in. There is a bit of blur between the two sites, when it comes to films about and with the people involved in the music business. This began with the first film that Allen had me work on, featuring Herman’s Hermits, “Mrs Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter“. I quickly learned about the business! Every reference to the film shows Saul Swimmer as the director, which brings me to my first ‘job’ on the production. The original director was Morton DaCosta of “The Music Man“. After a period of interaction, Saul felt that Morton didn’t know how to direct the film. He felt that Morton was more of a play director instead of a feature film director and Allen and MGM agreed. My first job as the young kid was to fire Morton DaCosta. I went to his mews in London and told him he was fired. He told me that I was a young kid and had no power and couldn’t fire him, but he found out he was wrong and I found out that most of the executives in the business were cowards.. at another time I will go into the politics in the business, as that is what shelved the film after MGM opened it quickly.. It was a sweet little film–Mrs. Brown being a greyhound and the daughter referring to her litter..come on, kids, dogs and music.. and studio politics killed it..
On all but one film I worked on, we had a year of pre production, months of casting, working on scripts, location scouting and tons of planning. These films eventually were released and faded into obscurity. That one film that had no planning, no pre production, location problems, et cetera that still is in world wide distribution and gets me royalty checks is “GIMME SHELTER”. The film came about on an airplane back from San Francisco and a hand shake between David Maysles and myself! Agreements had to be drawn afterwords and the Stones had to have me give the film to them. The back story behind the film could be a book or movie unto itself and hopefully I will write or record it so that the truth and facts are on record. From the point that Mick didn’t want the film to include the murder (interesting for the Satanic Majesty) to the battle over the sync rights with my uncle, even a touch of John Philips of the Mama’s and Papas, Leonard Holzer (Baby Jane Holzer’s husband), screening battle at Warner Bros, Rugoff of Cinema 5. I am glad I didn’t sell out to the Stones when they offered to buy all my rights…two years after the film was distributed.
I never liked making films as I felt that it was a gigantic risk with hardly any reward, in fact when people would ask what I do, I would say, “I’m a Gambler”. What else can you call it when you spend a year, millions of dollars and roll the dice on the day it opens. The opening day can forecast what the film will earn, just read the entertainment headlines. $ Millions on the line –interesting that they call where you roll the dice in the casino– the crap table!