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The Reeler Blog

Radio Free Hickenlooper

Hickenlooper with Factory Girl star Miller

The monthly podcast at Fat Free Film features a guest of likely interest to Reeler loyalists: George Hickenlooper, the filmmaker who technically won the race against time to finish Factory Girl for an Weinstein Co. Oscar-qualifying run last December but whose bleary-eyed labors ultimately stirred more friendly chatter around the Web than any kind of Academy momentum. While I certainly wouldn't define Hickenlooper based on this experience alone-- the long podcast has some nice anecdotes about his work on Hearts of Darkness, as well as persuasive admonitions against film school -- the Factory Girl snafu just sounds worse every time we hear about it, and I haven't heard this version of the story before:

There are all kind of rumors that the movie was in trouble -- that we're doing reshoots. That's not the case. When we shot the film, we needed $8 million. I had to cut 15 pages out of the script, so what I did was a big gamble, but I cut out scenes that were essential to the movie; you couldn't finish the film without them. No one realized that until the end. Harvey Weinstein bought the film at Sundance, but he bought it based on the dailies. But he didn't know I had these three essential scenes that I had to shoot in New York, which I had cut out. And it was easy to cut out because I couldn't shoot them in Shreveport anyway. ... When I presented my director's cut, there were, like, these big "SCENE MISSING" cards. And Harvey was like, "Where are these scenes?" And I was like, "Well, we have to shoot them." And he flipped out for a day, but then he was fine.

Hickenlooper proceeds to explain how a cast regroup was necessary to finish shooting -- which, as we know, didn't take place until November. But they didn't shoot 15 extra pages. They shot 30, in part because "Harvey had his ideas" as well. Hence four days to edit before Academy screeners went out in December, and hence the end of Factory Girl's Oscar hopes. As far as mythology goes, sure -- it's a bit half-assed. But it's four minutes of your day you won't have to do actual work, so find the 48-minute mark and turn it up.

Posted at March 20, 2007 11:20 AM

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