Quote of the Week

Part 2 of director Alex Cox‘s tale of his encounter with Timothy during the filming of his student film Edge City (aka Sleep is for Sissies) (1980):

Clearly, Timothy was right for the part of the mysterious, mythological madman, the wisdom-dispensing grail-o-matic at the end of Roy’s desert quest. I offered him the part, making it clear that there wasn’t any money, this being a student film. He told me this was fine. What was important, he said, was somewhere he could be quiet and prepare, on set, before we filmed. This was a reasonable (if inconvenient) request; in my head I saw myself pitching a tent, in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Timothy also thought that some of his observations, particularly regarding farts, might fit the character of Beauregard. I couldn’t have agreed more. How much film would it use up? Not that much. I could always cut the fart stuff out – though, if Timothy said it with the passion he evidently felt, it would probably be better than the lines I’d scripted.

I spoke to him a couple of times at his home in El Monte. The LA County Fair was held in nearby Pomona, and Timothy urged me to attend it, in particular so I could marvel at its enormous pigs. I said I’d try, and returned to issues of the shoot: costume, location, date, etc.

My plan was to shoot our showdown on one of the trails above Will Rogers Park. This was then an unspoiled and wild part of LA, whose canyons and roadless areas had so far defeated the developers. If you got deep enough into it, and looked the right way, all you could see was desert hills and the ocean. I was giving Timothy the directions to Will Rogers when he hit me up for cash. And he didn’t mean gas money, he meant a fee.

I’d already explained I had no money, that the film was being made via a ‘UCLA waiver’ by which Screen Actors Guild members could work for no money without breaking the guild’s rules. I reminded Timothy of the waiver, but he was now unwavering. ‘You must be able to come up with something,’ he told me, ‘even if it’s as little as 10,000 bucks.’

$10,000 was more than the entire budget of the film. I told him I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t pay for anything, beyond gas, food, film, and his fucking tent.

I saw him only once thereafter, a couple of years down the line. I was going to a screening at the Hitchcock Theater on the Universal lot. And there was Timothy, sitting in the guard’s booth with the guard, singing and playing the guitar. He fixed me with an intense gaze, and serenaded me as I passed.

– Alex Cox, X Films: True Confessions of a Radical Filmmaker (I.B. Tauris, 2008)

Edge City (1980) in four parts on YouTube

 

 

3 responses to “Quote of the Week

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