Crispin Glover on The Bag Man and His Next Directorial Feature | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Crispin Glover Discusses The Bag Man, His Touring Show, and Next Directorial Feature

Plus: An Update On The Third Film In His It? Trilogy

Feb 27, 2014 Web Exclusive
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David Grovic’s directorial debut, The Bag Man, opens in theaters tomorrow. The film stars John Cusack as a criminal hired to pick up a mysterious bag for a volatile crime boss (Robert De Niro.) Bag in hand, he checks in to a seedy motel to wait things out, but promptly entangles himself in the troubles of a beautiful femme fatale (Rebecca Da Costa) and finds his own life is in extreme danger.

Crispin Glover co-stars in the film as the motel’s suspicious manager. Glover is well-known playing idiosyncratic characters, such as George McFly in Back to the Future, Andy Warhol in Oliver Stone’s The Doors, and cousin Dell in David Lynch’s Wild At Heart. For the last decade, he’s been touring with a live show followed by screenings of his own directorial features, What Is It? and I Am Fine! Everthing Is Fine.

Crispin Glover recently spoke with us about his role in The Bag Man, his as-yet-untitled next directorial feature, and the current status of the third film in his still-in-progress It? trilogy. (For a great, in-depth interview with Crispin Glover about his entire career, be sure to check out this classic Under the Radar feature from 2006.)

Austin Trunick [Under the Radar]: The Bag Man has an interesting mix of talent, split between veterans such as yourself, Cusack, and De Niro, and relative newcomers, such as Rebecca Da Costa and director David Grovic. Can you tell me how you became involved in this project, and what it was that attracted you to the role?

Crispin Glover: I was offered it through my agent, and I liked the dialogue.

From other interviews, it sounds like your own input into a role has sometimes heavily shaped the characters you’ve played. Are there things about your character in The Bag Man that were your own ideas that maybe weren’t there in the script?

CG: No… All of the dialogue was good dialogue, and it was played within that. I mean, the way I played it, and the way I look at all of that plays into it, but the dialogue was all as it was written.

There’s not a lot of information out there yet on your next directorial feature, outside of some great stills on your website, and the mention of a 10-minute preview in Chicago last month…

CG: Right. I tour around with my own features, What Is It? and I Am Fine! Everything Is Fine. I’m on year nine of touring, and now I have ten minutes of the next feature I’m in the midst of shooting. Ten minutes of contiguous, edited material that I’ve been showing at these shows. I have a one-hour live show I’m touring as well. People can find out about the live shows and where they’re playing at CrispinGlover.com.

You’re co-starring in that film with your father, Bruce Glover. What was your experience like, directing a parent?

CG: That part of it is relatively easy. He’s become involved in the writing of it, as well, which was a little more difficult, in a way. I’m excited about the movie, but I of course still have a lot to shoot. There’s a lot of work ahead.

From what can be seen in the one wide still on your website, the sets looks pretty spectacular. You had them built on some property you own in the Czech Republic?

CG: Yes, the film will be completely shot on sets. Everything Is Fine was shot primarily on sets, as well. I prefer to shoot on sets, but that’s actually an expensive endeavor. Most movies, especially lower-budgeted films these days, are all shot on location. I usually find—but not always—that the best-looking movies are the ones shot on sets. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into the sets being built on 14,000 feet of what were formerly horse stables on property I own in the Czech Republic, which I bought—I think—nine years ago.

There’s a lot of Czech in your family background, correct?

CG: I have some Czech heritage, yeah. I don’t know that it’s predominant, but I do have Czech heritage.

That country has a wonderful surrealist tradition…

CG: Oh, yeah!

It seems like a very fitting place for you to explore your filmmaking vision.

CG: [Laughs] Well, yeah. There are some great Czech filmmakers, like Karel Zemen and… I’m forgetting his name. He’s Czech, and a great filmmaker…

Jan Svankmajer?

CG: Yes, Svankmajer! I remember his titles, like Conspirators of Pleasure, exactly. They’re fantastic. But, I’ve never met these filmmakers… I’m kind of isolated in a certain sense at my property. I have the negatives developed at Barandov in Prague, and that’s where I had the prints made for Everything Is Fine. So, there’s a little bit of that element of community, but it’s quite difficult. I’ve experienced a lot of culture shock. It’s not an easy thing to do, but I’m glad I’ve done it. It’s a long process. I’ve been there for a long time, and it’s a lot of work. But it will be worth it in the long run.

You have the two It? films finished, and you alternate them at your live shows…

CG: I have two live shows, as well. I perform one live show before What Is It? and a different live show before I Am Fine! Everything Is Fine.

From what you’ve seen, is it a lot of the same audience members returning each night, to catch both parts?

CG: Sometimes, but not always. It depends. I would say a majority of the audience comes to one show. They’re curious, but they don’t know what they’re going to see. The are definitely people who come back, or come back many times, to see both films. Often, what I’ll see is they’ll come back to a different city two, three, or four years later, to see the second show. It’s a very long-term involvement.

I do meet people after the show, at the book signing, so there’s a personal element involved that isn’t the same as standard distribution. With self-distributing, I’m there with the films, performing, and then there’s a Q&A session. Then I stay after and meet people, so it’s a very personal situation.

As far as the third part of the trilogy, where does that project currently stand? I know you’re working on this other film right now…

CG: Right, I’ve been working on this trilogy for about 15 years. That’s a long, long, long time to be involved in a continuous, thematic element. I needed to step away from the trilogy and do a different project. I’d been developing this other project to act in with my father for a number of years, as well. My projects, for whatever reason… [laughs] I’d like for them to go faster, but they take a lot of time.

Well, you’re funding them yourself, and distributing them yourself, and overseeing every step of the process…

CG: Exactly. Like, right now I need to work, because I need to bring money in to continue the production. So, I have to take a pause in production.

Do you have a script in place for the third It? film?

CG: Oh, yeah. There’s 20 minutes of edited material. I always work from screenplays, it’s never an improvised production. It’s a very concise screenplay. I keep it at a minimal amount of pages. For whatever reason, my pages tend toward editing together at about two minutes per page, when industry standard is about one minute per page. I like my features to be short—at about 72 or 74 minutes—because I have a live show I perform before it. At a 2-minute-per-page average, if I want a 72-minute film, it means I should have a screenplay which is half as many pages. Right now my screenplay is a 48-page screenplay, which means I should cut it down, even though an industry standard screenplay should be 90 pages.

But, I see a tremendous amount of waste. If you take the dialogue of a finished film’s screenplay, I think usually you’ll usually find you have a much shorter screenplay than what was originally written. You might see a 90-minute film, but if you really just carefully put the dialogue and the essential, necessary descriptions, you’d probably have closer to a 48- or 50-page screenplay.

The Bag Man opens in theaters tomorrow, February 28th. For more information on Crispin Glover’s films and touring show, head to CrispinGlover.com.  

 



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