Imagine writer-director Paul Schrader's delight when The New York Times Magazine, the bastion of cultural taste and respectability, called to write a piece about his latest directorial effort, The Canyons. Despite having penned cinematic classics like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and The Last Temptation of Christ, Schrader's signature flicks -- those beautiful meditations on misfits (vigilantes, gigolos, drug dealers, prophets) and life on the social fringe -- could not be made today. In fact, most of his body of work - -including his masterpiece Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and American Gigolo -- belong to a bygone era.
Back in Schrader's heyday, the 70s and 80s, the movie theater was the prime venue for showcasing new films and audiences hungered for the originality and grit of character-driven dramas, the kind of pictures that made Schrader famous. But with the advent of cable, Hulu, YouTube, Netflix, iTunes -- a plethora of new outlets for making and distributing films -- Hollywood studios have grown less inclined toward the riskier fare found in Schrader's oeuvre. And audiences, these days, seek their drama-fixes via cable or online.
None of that, of course, has stopped Schrader from getting his offbeat, nuanced narratives onto celluloid: He's relied on his own savings account -- $350,000 in one instance -- and global financing to bring his works to life. But for The Canyons he sought new school methods -- social media and Kickstarter -- to materialize his vision.
So when the Times rang to feature him and the cutting edge ways he's getting his stories told, he was more than happy to reciprocate their interest. But the angle changed -- and dramatically so -- when he cast the infamous Lindsay Lohan in the lead role. The story] (Stephen Rodrick's "Here's What Happens When You Cast Lindsay Lohan in Your Movie") devolved into "a celebrity-driven beast," as Schrader put it.
Rodrick's delicious page-turner chronicles the highs and (mostly) lows of Schrader's experience working with the unhinged and unreliable former child star: her inability to be on time, her resistance to fulfilling stated commitments (like a four-way sex scene), her challenges to Schrader's direction, her emotional outbursts and more.
When The Slant reached the maverick moviemaker at his home in New York City, he gave us his take on Rodrick's wild read, and offered refreshing insights on filmmaking today, Lindsay Lohan, TMZ and Taxi Driver.
Read the Q&A with Schrader at The Slant: There's Always More to the Story