Roger Corman: Father of independent film celebratesWritten by Eva Csölleová, Vítek Formánek
American independent producer, occasional actor and director Roger Corman was born on 5.4.1926.He graduated on industrial engineering college and in 1948 he went to work for U.S.Electrical Motors.He stayed there for 4 days and left saying he made terrible mistake.He got a job in 20th Century Fox studio in mail room.After a while he left and went to study English literature on Oxford University and upon his return to LA in 1953 he jumped into film industry, firstly as a producer and script writer, since 1955 as a director.
As producer he made his debut in 1954, when he borrowed money from family and friends and made a film“ Monster from Ocean Floor“ which was directed by Wyatt Ordung.Roger called himself a producer but he did everything.As a member of one man crew he came early morning, helped to build decorations, made a film and in the evening helped to dismantle decorations again. After that he made everything to complete movie.He didn´t have money to waste so adopted philosophy „More I will do myself, less will I have to pay the rest“. Film earned enough to bring him money for next movie and that was „Fast and Furious“.He soon understood how it works in Hollywood.That the biggest problem is between cummulating the money for the movie and waiting for screening in theatre and getting money for sales.So he joint forces with newly established company AIP and sold them „ Fast and Furious“.He asked for deposit for three films which would be distributed by AIP which satisfied both parties. Corman had money to make a film, AIP had films to distribute.In first half of 50´s Corman made as many as nine films a year.
He managed to shoot „ The Little Shop of Horror“ within two days and one night.He rented a scene for a month and since first film was made with three days to spare he decided to use the scene and made another film to save the cost.Something similiar he has done later on when he filmed „ The Raven“ with Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson.Since he had two days to spare and same decorations he made „ The Terror“ within two days with same actors.
For movie called „ The Cry Baby Killed“ he hired Jack Nicholson.Film was kind of sequel to „ Rebel without cause“ and it was made within 10 days and cost 7000 dollars.Bigs studios didn´t get the plot and it took 18 months before AIP found theatres for screening.
Very interesting method Roger used while filming“ The Little Shop of Horrors“.To save money his let his actors and crew climb over the fence into old Charlie Chaplin´s studios in La Brea and used it without permission.Film was made within two days and two nights.
At the beginning of 60´s the big studio started to take Roger seriously and they liked his formula, low costs and big profits.In 1965 he made two westerns „ The Shooting“ and „Ride in the Whirlwind“.Apart director, all actors and crews were using drugs. Furious and fast film was created with lots of shooting, fast action and little dialogues.Both films were made almost simultaneously when Carole Eastman wrote script for one while Roger and JackNicholson wrote script for second one.They found locations which suited both films and made second film immediatelly after first one.Corman sold them as a packet to US distributors and while it failed in America “The Shooting“ became big hit in Cannes, where Jack Nicholson took it with him.While being there on festival he met and befriended delegation of Cahier du Cinema and found common interest with French new wave directors of Francois Truffaut, Eric Rohmer and Claude Chabrol.
In 1966 Corman made first out his many films about biker´s gangs.This one was called „Hells Angels on wheels“.Budget was 300 000 and profit was staggering 15,5 million dollars.Apart from bikers gangs´films Corman started to film novels of Edgar Allan Poe e.g.“ Pit and Pendulum“, „House of Usher“, „ The Masque of the Red Death, “Raven“ etc.
In 1967 he directed „ The St.Valentine´s Day Massacre for 20th Century Fox studio.He receiver 2,5 million dollars as a budget and saved 400 000 feeling disgusted with amount of time and money big studio wastes.He returned to his low budget, independent films.
In 1970 Corman established New World Pictures and can be thanked for showing films by Bergman, Fellini, Truffaut and Kurosawa in America.After that he sold his company and later established new one called New Hozizons.During his career Corman produced over 300 films and directed more then 50 of them.
Big number of today´s big directors can thank Roger Corman for a chance he gave them at the start of their career and showed them in and outs of filmmaking.Among them are Francis Ford Coppola, Martis Scorsese, James Cameron, Joe Dante, Ron Howard and others. As a gratitude they gave him a chance so show up in their own movies such as „Philadelphia“, „Apollo 13“,“The Silence of the Lamb“ or „The Godfather 2“.With same gratitude remember him big names of screen such as Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Bruce Dern, Roberto De Niro or Jack Nicholson.
Photo: Roger Corman, imdb.com, Pinterest, Wikipedia