Eighteen years ago, I got a call from my manager, the suspiciously supportive Harriet Sternberg, with word that the Independent Film Channel was interested in letting me make some promotional spots for the channel. I was an IFC viewer, and a believer in the notion that not all films are created colossal. I’d done my share of lower-budgeted flicks and found the guerrilla mindset kind of thrilling, and I’d long admired resourceful filmmakers who can pull great work out of seemingly thin air. So I said “sure”. I think that’s a direct quote.
I wrote the five spots over couple of weeks, using as a satirical model the brilliant Ken Burns mega-docs on the civil war, baseball, the National parks, etc. The scripts were approved and I started calling my friends to see if they’d honor the Independent Spirit by working for free. Long story short, I have wonderful friends.
IFC has become something much different than it was back then. I make no judgment here: the landscape has changed enormously and keeping the brand (IFC, Sundance, et al) alive means selling commercial time and Law & Order. To be sure, there are ways to see Yojimbo, Bottle Rocket, or Laws of Gravity without commercial interruption, but the Independent Film Channel started life as such a venue.
The enclosed pieces were made (with love) to be shown in a few theaters and on IFC and associated cable channels. It’s been a while since they saw the light of day, and I’m glad to make them public once again. Thanks to my pals (and a few then-new friends!) for playing with us: Ed Begley, jr., Annette O’Toole, David Duchovny, Gina Gershon, Howard Hesseman, Eugene Levy, Parker Posey, Bijou Phillips, Donal Logue, Kyle Sullivan, Scott Lasky, and our once-in-a-lifetime band, T-Bone Burnett, Jack Black, Bela Fleck and Richard Greene. Shot by the brilliant Stephen Lighthill.