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An Oscar for Roger Corman

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Mark Suszko
An Oscar for Roger Corman
on Sep 14, 2009 at 7:53:22 pm

(Cross-posted because they seem to be asleep in the film forum, but also apropos here vis-a-vis business practices)

Rumor has it Coppola will be handing a lifetime achievement Oscar to Roger Corman. I say bravo, myself, as the guy has made more movies than any three producers you can put together, and lost money (supposedly) on only one in all that time. At his advanced age, he is STILL producing. A lot of Big Names got their start under Roger's wing on b-movies and drive-in exploitation flicks. Some of Rogers movies were even GOOD!:-) One of my personal faves, "Battle Beyond the Stars", helped the just-starting careers of John Sayles and Anne Dyer (script),james Horner (Music) and art direction by some nobody named Jim Cameron. Plus a star-studded cast of has-beens, genre giants, and up-and-comers. Read his biography, it is most inspiring and amusing as well.

But Roger also contributed new (at the time) business practices to the industry. Roger's schooling was not in film, but in accounting, and he was a zen master of pinching production pennies. He would shamelessley leverage one movie off another: getting the money for shooting one picture in Hawaii, he quickly assembled scripts and cast for principle photography of one or two MORE films and shot them ALL on the dime of the original initial paying production. He would do this a lot, geting "two-fers" wherever possible. Aspiring "guerilla" film makers could do worse than study this guy.

One of his biggest hits, "Little Shop of Horrors", was famously done basically "on a bet": the bet being that Roger could shoot ALL of the principle photography for a picture in one weekend, when a free soundstage came available on short notice. Someone else had rented the stage for several days but wound up not needing the last day, a stagehand tipped Roger he could use the stage for free. Corman quickly threw together a team to write and act and shoot. The script was constrained by the single location, and they wound up shooting takes for scenes while the paint was still drying from the re-paint. YES, some exterior MOS was shot later, and the edit took some time, however, Corman basically "did" shoot the thing over a weekend. Dov Simmons is but a pale shadow of Corman. The inexpensive, singe-set nature of the film is one reason it became a staple of high school stage productions, which eventually gained the film so much fame it got re-made as an "A" picture musical comedy with Steve Martin and Rick Moranis as two of the stars.

He may not make Hollywood proud, but the guy was a major force in film for decades and shaped the business as few other "moguls" did.

Can you imagine the film landscape today, if we could have hooked Welles' talent to Corman's prolific production schedule?

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Todd Terry
Re: An Oscar for Roger Corman
on Sep 14, 2009 at 8:07:43 pm

Hear! Hear! to Roger Corman...

I always really liked the guy. Not because of his movies, but because of his lets-get-this-done attitude.

My next door neighbor Ed, who is a fine semi-retired actor with many TV shows and features to his credit, acted in a couple of Corman's films in his early days. Ed is an endless source of crazy stories of those days.

Aside from making movies, not everyone knows that Corman was also in them on occasion... and not a bad actor ("Silence of the Lambs", anyone?).

And my six-degrees-of-separation personal connection to him... before I was a wannabe director I was a wannabe actor. My thankless roles in bad TV shows and Lifetime movies led to my present career on the other side of the camera. Which all started 21 years ago when I stepped on stage for the first time in my first role... that of the evil dentist (a role made famous by Steve Martin) in a really excellent production of "Little Shop of Horrors." I even got to ride a cool vintage (and finicky) motorcycle on stage in my first entrance. So, in a way I must thank Roger for my present career. Or at least the path to it.

Go Roger.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Arnie Schlissel
Re: An Oscar for Roger Corman
on Sep 15, 2009 at 12:56:50 am

If anyone deserves that award, its Corman. He really has achieved a life of film making.


Post production is not an afterthought!

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