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Crispin Glover brings Big Slide Show to Alamo

Submitted by MBergeron on July 6, 2011 – 3:18 pm2 Comments
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This Saturday, July 9 Crispin Glover presents Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show Part 2 and his feature film It Is Fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE!, to the Alamo Drafthouse, Mason Park (7pm.). Glover will be on the road in Texas unwinding his complete Slide Show and movies at Alamo locations in San Antonio, Dallas and Austin in addition to his Houston appearance.
Free Press Houston spoke to Glover, or more accurately emailed the Hellion a list of questions:
Glover: Thank you for the excellent questions! Below are the responses. If you can put a link in the article to CrispinGlover.com it is the best way for people to get more information about the shows and films and where I will be as I continue to tour.
FPH: Your film from 2005 What Is It? premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. And while it is not a film that is on the average person’s movie radar, I heard this guy talking about it in early 2005 in a shocked manner. How did you hear about this film, I asked him? He heard some right wing radio talk show host lambasting it. All I could think of was that whatever Crispin Glover was doing, he was doing it correct. Comments?
Glover: Thank you for the positive support. Journalism is a very important part of the shows in terms of getting people in the door. I could look at critique as a negative but I do not. I also funded the films and they were not inexpensive for me to make. Therefore recoupment is on my mind probably more than the artistic response. As much as I have made these films with a passion and with my own funds it means I can not make another unless I recoup my expenses. When I premiered “What is it?” in New York I had the opportunity to be reviewed by the New York Times. I fully expected a negative review for the film, but I felt it was much more valuable to have a negative review in the New York Times than no review. I figured there would be people who would see the review and even if it was negative still go see it. So of course I had the review happen. I was very happily surprised when it was a positive review and I still use this quote from it. “Crispin Hellion Glover, auteur,
 is a force to be reckoned with.” — Laura Kern, The New York Times.
FPH: Your five Texas appearances will include your recent (directed) movies and a huge slide show presentation. What kind of logistics are involved in a mini-tour such as this?
Glover: I book the shows myself through CrispinGlover.com. I arrange all the travel. I work with the venues of course to arrange the dates and count on them for arranging the interviews such as this. The tours are a huge amount of work and after touring in various ways over the years it has become apparent that I have to be careful with my energy and the amount of touring I do in a year. I have to take breaks in between the tours as it is a huge amount of energy.
FPH: Can you describe, as much as possible without giving away secrets, the content of the two-part slide show?
Glover: The live aspect of the shows are not to be underestimated. This is a large part of how I bring audiences in to the theater and a majority of how I recoup is by what is charged for the live show and what I make from selling the books after the shows.
For “Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show” I perform a one hour dramatic narration of eight different books I have made over the years. The books are taken from old books from the 1800’s that have been changed in to different books from what they originally were. They are heavily illustrated with original drawings and reworked images and photographs.
I started making my books in 1983 for my own enjoyment without the concept of publishing them. I had always written and drawn and the books came as an accidental outgrowth of that. I was in an acting class in 1982 and down the block was an art gallery that had a book store upstairs. In the book store there was a book for sale that was an old binding taken from the 1800’s and someone had put their art work inside the binding. I thought this was a good idea and set out to do the same thing. I worked a lot with India ink at the time and was using the India ink on the original pages to make various art. I had always liked words in art and left some of the words on one of the pages. I did this again a few pages later and then when I turned the pages I noticed that a story started to naturally form and so I continued with this. When I was finished with the book I was pleased with the results and kept making more of them. I made most of the books in the 80’s and very early 90’s. Some of the books utilize text from the biding it was taken from and some of them are basically completely original text. Sometimes I would find images that I was inspired to create stories for or sometimes it was the binding or sometimes it was portions of the texts that were interesting. Altogether, I made about twenty of them. When I was editing my first feature film “What is it?” There was a reminiscent quality to the way I worked with the books because as I was expanding the film in to a feature from what was originally going to be a short, I was taking film material that I had shot for a different purpose originally and re-purposed it for a different idea and I was writing and shooting and ultimately editing at the same time. Somehow I was comfortable with this because of similar experiences with making my books.
When I first started publishing the books in 1988 people said I should have book readings. But the book are so heavily illustrated and they way the illustrations are used within the books they help to tell the story so the only way for the books to make sense was to have visually representations of the images. This is why I knew a slide show was necessary. It took a while but in 1992 I started performing what I used to call Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Side Show. People get confused as to what that is so now I always let it be known that it is a one hour dramatic narration of eight different profusely illustrated books that I have made over the years. The illustrations from the books are projected behind me as I perform the show. There is a second slide show now that has 7 books and it performed if I have a show with Part 1 of the “IT” trilogy and then on the subsequent night I will perform the second slide show and Part 2 of the “IT” trilogy.
The fact that I tour with the film helps the distribution element. I consider what I am doing to be following in the steps of vaudeville performers. Vaudeville was the main form of entertainment for most of the history of the US. It has only relatively recently stopped being the main source of entertainment, but that does not mean this live element mixed with other media is no longer viable. In fact it is apparent that it is sorely missed. I definitely have been aware of the element of utilizing  the fact that I am known from work in the corporate media I have done in the last 25 years or so. This is something I rely on for when I go on tour with my films. It lets me go to various places and have the local media cover the fact that I will be performing a one hour live dramatic narration of eight different books which are profusely illustrated and projected as I go through them, then show the film either  What is it? Being 72 minutes or It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE being 74 minutes. Then having a Q and A and then a book signing. As I funded the films I knew that this is how I would recoup my investment even if it a slow process.
Volcanic Eruptions was a business I started in Los Angeles in 1988 as Crispin Hellion Glover doing business as Volcanic Eruptions. It was a name to use for my book publishing company.  About a year later I had a record/CD come out with a corporation called Restless Records. About when I had sold the same amount of books as CD/records had sold it was very clear to me that because I had published my own books that I had a far greater profit margin. It made me very suspicious of working with corporations as a business model. Financing/Producing my own films is based on the basic business model of my own publishing company. There are benefits and drawbacks about self distributing my own films.  In this economy it seems like a touring with the live show and showing the films with a book signing is a very good basic safety net for recouping the monies I have invested in the films
There are other beneficial aspects of touring with the shows other than monetary elements. There are benefits that I am in control of the distribution and personally supervise the monetary intake of the films that I am touring with. I also control piracy in this way because digital copy of this film is stolen material and highly prosecutable. It is enjoyable to travel and visit places, meet people, perform the shows and have interaction with the audiences and discussions about the films afterwards. The forum after the show is also not to under-estimated as a very important part of the show for for the audience. This also makes me much more personally grateful to the individuals who come to my shows as there is no corporate intermediary. The drawbacks are that a significant amount of time and energy to promote and travel and perform the shows. Also the amount of people seeing the films is much smaller than if I were to distribute the films in a more traditional sense.
The way I distribute my films is certainly not traditional in the contemporary sense of film distribution but perhaps is very traditional when looking further back at vaudeville era film distribution. If there are any filmmakers that are able to utilize aspects of what I am doing then that is good. It has taken many years to organically develop what I am doing now as far as my distribution goes.
For the live performance aspect of my shows I have been performing Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show Part 1 since 1993. I started performing Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show Part 2 three years ago. Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show Part 1 has stayed the exact same show since the first time I ever performed it. Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show Part 2 has taken a few years to develop and it is finally working extremely well. It is working well to the point that I think I am getting even better response Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show Part 2 than Part 1 and I always have had excellent response with Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show Part 1. Much of Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show Part 2 finally working very well was the addition of a book that was made specifically for the show.
Both Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show Part 1 and 2 are now set shows that do not vary. That being said there is an element of my own energy that will play a part on how either show is performed from night to night. So there are relatively small energetic differentiations from myself and from the audience that to me make a bit of a difference, but to the audience I do not think make as much of a difference. They key is if the structure of the show itself works. Now both the shows work very well and I and the audience always enjoy them. Every once in a while there can be a technical problem that has to be dealt with and the audience  actually always enjoys the aspect of “the show must go on!”
FPH: Alice in Wonderland is one of a handful of films to gross over a billion dollars in theatrical. The mind boggles at the thought of everything from the sag residual check to worldwide recognition. Would you say it is the most influential film you’ve ever been involved with from the point of view of your general public?
Glover: I am not sure about influence. That film certainly did gross the most of any film I have been in. I have been in enough films now so when people come up to me I never really know which film they are going to be coming up to me about. Sometimes people come up to me because of a more obscure film. Usually people come up to me from seeing me in various films. If a child recognizes me now it is usually because of Alice In Wonderland. I had a great time working with everyone on that film including Tim Burton.
FPH: And is there a specific film you would say that resonates with people who are specifically fans of your work?
Glover: It truly varies. Because of my personal interaction with audiences at my shows I certainly hear more about “What is it?” and “It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE.” there. Outside of my shows it is truly various.
FPH: You were in Nurse Betty. Quite a charming film but maybe one that has not gotten the cult love it deserves. Oddly I find myself thinking about NB every so often, usually when I am pouring boiling water from an open pot into my french press coffee container. Are there films (past or present) that for you provoke this kind of remembered response?
Glover: I had a great time working on that film as well with everyone involved including Neil LaBute. Are you asking some of my favorite films? Here are some of my favorite filmmakers: Werner Herzog, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Luis Buñuel, Stanley Kubrick, Todd Browning, FW Murnau, Fritz Lang, Akira Kurusawa, Frank Wysbar, Milos Foreman, Roman Polanski, Frederico Fellini, David Lynch, John Waters, Russ Meyer, Karel Zeman, Abbas Kiarostami, Wong Kar Wei, Ken Russell, Gaspar Noe, Orson Wells, John Cassavetis, Dennis Hopper, Timothy Carey.
There are many more favorites. My favorite film lists go in to the hundreds and there are a lot of my very favorite films that are just one offs where the director only made one film that I like. Many of the above directors have made multiple films that I admire.
FPH: Hot Tub Time Machine was a film where it seemed you were acting with an energy level one or two notches above the rest of the cast (non unlike Elle Fanning in Super 8). When you are in a film like this (i.e., not one that you directed) is there a method for you to gauge the level at which to perform?
Glover: had a great time working on that film as well. Steve Pink was great to work with as well as a really enjoyable cast.  I usually work with the director to figure out the right tone for the film. Steve Pink and I were very together on the energy level for that character. He was very savvy and thoughtful about what he felt would play for the humor of the film. He had good reasons specificity behind what he felt would work for the humor. I liked working with him very much.

- Michael Bergeron

2 Comments »

  • ralph says:

    jeeze, would it kill you to put some paragraphs in.

    i can copy and paste emails too

  • berg says:

    on my browser it is formatted correctly … what’s the matter Ralphie day got off to a bad start … thanks for reading

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