It’s the height of awards season: Oscar nominations came out this week, and the Golden Globes are tonight. The various guilds are handing out their awards. It’s a time when the film industry seeks to celebrate the craft that goes into moviemaking and give Daniel Day-Lewis more stuff for his mantel.
But never mind all that. Today’s New York Times Magazine features a cover story that’s a ringside view of a less lofty side of filmmaking in Hollywood. A tale of naked desperation and colorful bad behavior — i.e., the story of how writer-director Paul Schrader cast Lindsay Lohan and porn star James Deen in a microbudget feature… and, as the subhead puts it, what could possibly go wrong?
As I read the story, I had to remember that Paul Schrader’s writing career began with a scholarly tome on the films of Ozu, Dreyer and Bresson, before he went on to write Taxi Driver and The Last Temptation of Christ for Martin Scorsese and direct his own films. Now here he is in his mid 60s, fighting to keep his career going and willing to strip naked in front of Lindsay Lohan and his crew to do it. (This is the New York Times Magazine, so I assume all of the details have been fact-checked.)
The story makes clear that, as if we didn’t already know, the movie business is impossible to satirize. (Not that that will probably keep Bret Easton Ellis from trying.) It’s a sensationally entertaining piece, but also instructive: every aspiring filmmaker in the country should read it… and pray that nothing like this ever happens to them.