You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

DiCillo finds payoff in skewering biz

While filmmakers have long been pointing the cameras back at themselves in self-reflexive meditations on the Hollywood machine, rarely have the results of such a film proved as ironic as they have for writer-director Tom DiCillo. For in his case, it took a scathing satire of the independent film scene to propel him to the front of the indie ranks and, possibly, to the role of new Hollywood player.

DiCillo had been cutting his teeth on film as a cinematographer throughout the 1980s, working on several independent films including Jim Jarmusch’s “Stranger Than Paradise,” which clearly aided in forming DiCillo’s indie aesthetic. “Jim opened up to the world the possibility of making entertaining, personal films. Prior to ‘Stranger Than Paradise,’ the only person who was doing it was John Sayles,” DiCillo says.

While DiCillo’s directorial debut was 1992’s “Johnny Suede,” with then-emerging star Brad Pitt, it was 1995’s “Living in Oblivion,” which DiCillo describes as “a film that came out of my deepest and darkest frustrations about the film business,” that won massive critical praise, festival awards and even something of a cult following. It also gave DiCillo the opportunity to direct the comedy “Box of Moonlight,” the film he’d been struggling to make for five years.

The combination of “Oblivion” and John Turturro starrer “Moonlight,” which has been making the festival rounds and will be released tomorrow by Trimark along with a “Making-of” book, in turn paved the way for “The Real Blonde,” a satiric comedy with an ensemble cast including Matthew Modine, Catherine Keener, Kathleen Turner and Christopher Lloyd. The Lakeshore production, to be distributed domestically by Paramount later this year, is significant for DiCillo in that it represents a step toward the major studios, as well as working on something other than a shoestring budget.

‘Blonde’ on a big budget

” ‘The Real Blonde’ was $10 million, and in some ways it felt like an absolute luxury,” DiCillo says. “The money enables you to do some things that you could never do on a low-budget film; to stop and look around and say to everybody: ‘You know, I’ve got to stop. I’ve got to look at this scene, and I’ve got to work with the actors.’ ”

For a filmmaker who has always worked in the auteurist myth-making arena of independent film, DiCillo’s view of directorial control over his first major studio-released picture is surprisingly realistic. “The more money you’re given for a film, the more people’s opinions you have to pretend to listen to,” he says. “In my case I had to fight some battles, and I had to fight them really hard. Ninety-nine percent of them I won, and 1% I lost. It’s still my film, with some tiny compromises. It’s hard to say that, but on the other hand, they did give me $10 million.”

More Film

  • Film Constellation Boards Werner Herzog's Japan-Set

    Film Constellation Boards Werner Herzog's Japanese Film 'Family Romance'

    London-based sales house Film Constellation has boarded Oscar-winning director Werner Herzog’s Japanese-language film “Family Romance,” which will have its world premiere in the special screenings section at the Cannes Film Festival. Written and directed by Herzog, the movie was shot last spring and summer in Tokyo and Aomori, Japan, with non-professional actors (Yuichi Ishii, Mahiro [...]

  • Avengers Endgame Box Office: Can It

    'Avengers: Endgame' Expected to Shatter Box Office Records

    “Avengers: Endgame” has its sights set on world domination. Disney and Marvel’s upcoming superhero epic should light the box office on fire when it launches this weekend, with the hopes of setting domestic, international, and global records. In North America alone, “Avengers: Endgame” is expected to earn between $250 million and $268 million in its [...]

  • Katie HolmesAT&T Presents: Untold Stories Luncheon

    Katie Holmes, Kal Penn Help Decide Winner of $1 Million Filmmaker Grant

    Tribeca Film Festival and AT&T gave one young filmmaker a million and one reasons to rejoice at the “Untold Stories” third annual competition. After a nerve-wracking 10-minute long pitch in front of over 850,000 live stream audience members and a panel consisting of celebrities and industry leaders, filmmaker Kate Tsang was awarded $1 million on [...]

  • Reed Hastings seen on day one

    Netflix CEO Reed Hastings' Compensation Jumps 48% to $36.1 Million

    Netflix chief Reed Hastings is being handsomely rewarded for calling the shots at the streaming giant. His compensation package, which is largely in the form of stock options, climbed 48% in 2018 to $36.1 million. That’s up from $24.4 million in the previous year. Hastings’ salary is a relatively modest $700,000, but his stock options [...]

  • Emma Thompson to Star in Extinction

    Emma Thompson to Star in Extinction Rebellion Climate-Change Satire (EXCLUSIVE)

    Emma Thompson will play a climate-change activist in “Extinction,” a timely satirical short film that will include footage of the Extinction Rebellion group’s ongoing wave of action in London. Two-time Oscar winner Thompson has herself been involved in the high-profile London-based protests. She addressed crowds over the weekend from Extinction Rebellion’s signature pink boat, which [...]

  • First Look at Cannes-Bound ‘Diego Maradona’

    First Look at Cannes-Bound ‘Diego Maradona’ Feature Documentary

    Diego Maradona waves to raucous Napoli fans before heading into a media scrum and press conference in the first clip from the feature documentary about the soccer superstar. “Diego Maradona” is the third film from the team behind the award-winning “Senna” and “Amy,” with Asif Kapadia directing and James Gay-Rees and Paul Martin producing. They [...]

  • Raising Hell: The Life and Times

    Film Review: 'Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins'

    One of the more entertaining as well as insightful political commentators of the past half-century is paid a suitably entertaining tribute in “Raise Hell.” A long tall Texan too amusingly outrageous to draw real resentment from most of her targets, Molly Ivins nonetheless aimed stinging criticism at political figures both national and in her native [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content