Nasir Pasha & Matt Staub

Director Edreace Purmul Explains Tarantino’s Problem with Star Wars [e245]

The guys welcome Edreace Purmul to discuss Quentin Tarantino’s problem with Hollywood’s Cinerama Dome allegedly backing out of its agreement to show his movie in lieu of Star Wars.

Edreace Purmul graduated from San Diego State University’s Film and Business school in 2006. His first debut into the cinema limelight incidentally was also his first film attempt post-graduation. His micro-budget feature film MOZLYM received immediate international acclaim and interest for its controversial and socially conscious appeal. MOZLYM received a Nomination for Best Picture in 2008 at the Cairo International Film Festival and won the Audience Favorite award at Riverside International Film Festival. It also was selected for official competition at International Film Festival Thailand,  South Africa Film Festival, and British Film Festival of Los Angeles, where Purmul received multiple nominations for Best First Time Director.

Check out Edreace’s latest film here!

Transcript:

NASIR: Welcome to our podcast where we cover business in the news and add our legal twist. My name is Nasir Pasha and this time we’re joined with a Star Wars expert, Matt Staub, right?
MATT: You know, you’ve said many different things for me. This was probably the one that’s farthest from the truth.
NASIR: Yeah.
MATT: I’m trying to think of some of the other ones you’ve said for me in the past like make-up expert. I think mine might be closer to that than Star Wars expert, unfortunately. So, I don’t know how much I’ll be able to offer on this but we’ll see what happens.
NASIR: No. In fact, I’m pretty sure we talked last week about covering this episode and you’ve only seen the old ones which is forgivable because the new ones aren’t as good and we can kind of get into that discussion but it seems like you weren’t too familiar with it so I went ahead and got my own expert – since I knew you’d be lacking – my good friend, Edreace Purmul. He’s an independent filmmaker in San Diego.
Edreace, are you there?
EDREACE: Yes, I am!
NASIR: Nice. Welcome to the podcast.
EDREACE: Thank you guys for having me.
NASIR: No problem.
So, Edreace, Star Wars… This new film, is it going to be good, bad, or to be determined?
EDREACE: Star Wars is kind of one of those unique – I guess you could say – sagas or series that the properties that it carries in terms of fan base and how it’s made and who’s behind it is very different than something that’s a little bit more consecutive because it’s spread out over the span of, you know, we’re talking 1976, it had its own fan base. George Lucas had his own – you know, he has his take on what he wanted to do with it and, really, the first Star Wars was not really called Episode IV. That’s not how it started. He actually just created the idea and didn’t really think about if this thing became a sequel. And so, after it kind of struck gold, then he started to kind of look at it and say, “Okay, let’s map it out.” But then, thirty years later, there’s a reboot and there’s another trilogy that’s part of the same clause, I guess, but you have completely different takes on it and you have a lot of jaded Star Wars fans who are like, “This is not the Star Wars I remember.” It got to a point where, you know, one of the reasons why Lucas even claims he left and basically sold it to Disney was he kind of lost control over what he thought was his own creative vision because the world had kind of owned it at this point and they were telling him, “You should have done this and you should have done that.” I think him kind of surrendering the reins to J.J. Abrams and Disney, it’s probably just going to feel different, in my opinion. I know J.J. Abrams, one of his goals was to try to really make it feel like the Star Wars that inspired him when he was young. I think he saw Star Wars when he was like eleven or something. And so, there’s a little bit of hope I guess for some of the older Star Wars fans that, “Wow, we may get to see that same texture and style that we remembered it as.” It’s strange; if you talk to Star Wars fans, you know, you’ll have very strong opinions. You won’t find people that say, “Oh, I like all six.”
NASIR: You mentioned Disney taking over and I think that’s the issue that we wanted to discuss with you about because here we have Quentin Tarantino who is a very well-known director going off on Howard Stern yesterday about Disney. I don’t even understand this whole feud. Do you, Matt?
MATT: I just hope that our guest will be able to fill us in on this because I don’t really understand this theatre. I mean, I guess it’s something that is really great about this and I don’t remember the name of it…
NASIR: ArcLight Cinemas. I don’t even think it’s cinemas nationwide. I think it’s either one cinema or it’s the Cinerama Dome or what-have-you. So, Edreace, you heard about all this, right?
EDREACE: Yeah, I saw the article yesterday and I kind of read the transcript from the show and then I didn’t see the video of it until today but I think Tarantino as a filmmaker is kind of dealing with something very different – as more of an artist or I would say there’s a term “auteur.”
NASIR: Sorry to interrupt. Let me explain exactly what happened on that show.
Basically, Tarantino was complaining about Disney because, apparently, Disney went to the owners of ArcLight Cinemas and basically said, “We want our film, Star Wars, to be shown in this particular theatre instead of Quentin Tarantino’s film, The Hateful Ape.” Apparently, Tarantino has a contract with ArcLight Cinemas but Disney is like, “I don’t care. Either you play our Star Wars,” and this whole story, I don’t think Disney has actually responded in public yet but, according to Tarantino, Disney made it very clear that, if ArcLight doesn’t play Star Wars in this theatre, then you’re not going to be able to play Star Wars in any of your theatres. Literally the biggest blockbuster or biggest movie of… I don’t know about the year but at least of the holiday season.
MATT: It’ll be the biggest of the year, for sure.
NASIR: Well, I don’t know. I haven’t decided if I’m going to see it yet. If I see it…
But, yeah, okay. Edreace, back to you, almost in film way, what are your thoughts?
EDREACE: There’s kind of a line drawn I guess in the diagram between filmmakers and what industry as opposed to people that are creating it as an extension of who they are and I think Tarantino is definitely more of a classical artist in terms of he wants to get his work out and he’s a small guy. He works with the Weinstein brothers, they finance very modest budgets for him, but there’s a niche fan base for him. For him, he doesn’t have the luxury or I guess you could say he’s not Disney and I think Disney, they’re the 800-pound gorilla in the room. For them, their gears are turning differently. For them to go and do something like knockout the Cinerama Dome showing which he made in 70 mm which 70 mm is, you know, you have to be very intimately involved with the film process to appreciate 70 mm. In that show, the classical films are 35 mm. You know, there was a concept of doubling the resolution and the picture quality. You know, it’s called 65 mm but eventually they just named it 70 mm because they added six kind of audio tracks to it. Basically, just think of it as like high definition standard film. A lot of people, they couldn’t afford it. Cinema houses were not really able to show it. You know, they couldn’t really finance projectors like that and very few films were made in 70 mm. Lawrence of Arabia, My Fair Lady, Sound of Music, you know, I can’t really think of any more but he, at a time where film has approached to digital is dying, very few filmmakers are still trying to cling on to that. Steven Spielberg being one; Christopher Nolan continued to use it in The Dark Knight trilogy. So, for him, the Cinerama Dome, they were one of the first people to have 70 mm projectors and, from my understanding of the Cinerama Dome, it’s kind of a curved screen and so it’s not just one projector because, if you curve a screen and you skew it, you’re going to get a stretched picture so they actually have three projectors simultaneously playing it in 70 mm so it’s a very powerful way to do it. But, for him to film it in 70 mm is incredibly expensive and that’s a very artistic risk. And so, having a contract probably in place prior to probably even filming it that way to make sure, I think he even said in the title in the beginning of the film, it says Cinerama. You know, it’s just such a different artistic touch and he’s dealing with a completely different machine which is Disney and they have that kind of weight to just, you know, knock him out because, for them, hey, that’s big cinema. There’s going to be a lot of people. Can we sit more seats? Can we sell tickets? Yeah, let’s threaten them or whatever, extort them and get that for our own venue or for our own picture.
NASIR: Okay. So, it’s coming to a little bit more understanding now as to why Tarantino is so upset.
Matt, here we have a contract, assuming everything’s true what Quentin Tarantino is saying, you have a contract between him or his production company or a production company and ArcLight Cinemas and then Disney who is not a party to this contract comes in and basically extorts the hell out of this cinema to basically breach their contract. Now, I don’t even know if it actually made this final decision. It seems like, at the end of the Howard Stern show, it was still more recent news. But what are you thinking? I’m sure we’re thinking the same thing.
MATT: I bet we’re not because, from what I just saw, apparently, Disney secured this Cinerama Dome or whatever it’s called months ago and Tarantino only recently learned about this and that’s why he started voicing his displeasure with this. And I guess he owns and programs the new Beverly Cinema which, Edreace, maybe you can confirm this – I don’t know – but it looks like it might be a rival or a competitor of this other place that’s an issue now.
NASIR: Okay. Well, you know, this is so classic, by the way, and it reminds me of, as an attorney, when a client comes to your door, whatever story that client tells you, that is literally the best case scenario of how it happened because, from then on, the story gets derailed and degraded from then on because then you start interviewing witnesses, you get the other side of the story, and so who knows? I like the idea of just assuming that Disney’s completely wrong on this because it makes me feel a little happy. We all know Disney is really aggressive in their business tactics and they seem to be this kid-friendly company but we know that they’re not.
MATT: Yeah.
NASIR: But the first thing I was thinking about is whether or not there’s an interference of contract and, if there’s a valid contract – and that’s, of course, at question here – and Disney had knowledge that this contract existed between these two parties and intentionally – and the keyword here is also “improperly” – caused the breach or the interference of those contractual relationships, then literally Disney can be held liable in the same way that the cinema could by Quentin Tarantino. But, again, I don’t know if that would matter to Disney in that case. But I guess what you’re saying may change everything, right?
MATT: Yeah, but assuming that your hypothetical is the correct one, I mean, you’re right. Oftentimes, this gets brought up in who’s to say how much is really at stake here, but I’d say this is… well, I guess, maybe not. How much does that theatre hold? Maybe it’s really not that much. I have no idea about the actual specifics of the theatre. I was thinking there’d be a lot of money involved in this but if we’re only talking about one specific theatre that could be limited, then maybe it’s not that big a deal.
NASIR: Well, Edreace, I mean, this isn’t really about the money for Tarantino, is it?
EDREACE: No, not at all. I think Tarantino is niche fan base. You know, he functions well within his niche. I don’t think he’s ever tried to kind of go beyond that and get into the mainstream with cinema. I mean, I think he refused even being in the Director’s Guild, the DGA, which is a prerequisite to be in any major studio production. So, he reserves the right to be very eccentric and to just work with small studios. But, here, I think, yeah, for him, I mean, if you’re a filmmaker or you’re someone, I mean, you don’t even necessarily have to be a filmmaker but, when you’re trying to show something, you’re not just thinking of the film itself. You’re thinking of it all the way until it gets to the viewer. I mean, I can tell you, I’m a little notorious even from my friends to, you know, when they’re watching a film with me that I want them to really appreciate, it’s not even my film, you know, I’m so cautious of making sure that they get the perfect representation of what I had intended or what I wanted for them. And so, I mean, it gets even more extreme when you’re making the film and you have this idea. I mean, oftentimes, you’ll always see an artist – whether it’s a musician or a singer. If you’ve ever been to any kind of venue where there’s someone independently performing and there’s some technical issue or the speakers aren’t getting the crowd or whatever, there’s an incredible amount of anger that’s usually not understood by people who are like, “Hey, it’s just a song,” or “Hey, it’s just another movie,” because, for them, they had this vision of how this was going to be presented. So, I can definitely see he sees it more that way. I wouldn’t think it’s because of money.
NASIR: Yeah, and we’ll link the YouTube video. Make sure we do that, Matt. I mean, Quentin Tarantino is visually upset, I mean, emotionally upset about this and compare that to Disney. I mean, Disney has licensed Star Wars to death. Licensing deals, we talk about licensing all the time and licensing is a great way to make money. That’s how Trump does his basically, you know, infamous now on golf courses and buildings across the world. He stamps his Trump logo on there and doesn’t even have to actually build any more. In the same way, Disney has licensed, you know, you go to the grocery store, I literally saw a picture of a bag of oranges that was labelled with Star Wars logos all over it – a bag of oranges which is ridiculous. Put that against Tarantino any day and obviously there’s a big difference on the approach of film.
MATT: I mean, I think I know what this is. I don’t know the numbers but I think Howard Stern Show’s one of if not the most popular show and he just signed a five-year re-up I think but this is just publicity for his movie that’s competing against Star Wars.
NASIR: That’s true, but, at the same time, I don’t even think it’s in that many theatres. I don’t even think I can go, if I wanted to go right now, I wouldn’t even know where to see it, if my understanding’s correct.
EDREACE: Yeah, I wouldn’t think that the film is really in the same target audience as Star Wars. You know, Tarantino’s films – if anyone’s seen any of the Kill Bills or Pulp Fiction – you know, they’re pretty explicit films and I don’t even think Quentin himself even probably sees his film as a competitor to Star Wars. I think he’s fully aware that all the families, the kids from ages five to grandparents, are going to be buying tickets and he understands the power. I think he mentioned it even in the show. They have the biggest film ever – everything that they could want commercially. Like you said, I think you’re right, that’s based off the fact that I’ve only seen one side of the story but you’re right, there’s something else going on.
MATT: So, Edreace, you mentioned the way the cinema is set up with three different projectors. Do you think it’s a situation where, I mean, he purposely made this movie this way with the 70 millimeters and it needs to be shown in a theatre like this to actually get full appreciation for it, is that something that could be the case?
EDREACE: I think so. I mean, as a film student, you study Tarantino, you read his interviews. You know, he’s a big fan of Spaghetti Monster and some very classical movies. Actually, after Django Unchained, he said in a big directors’ gathering like, you know, I forgot how, it was all the Oscar-nominated directors for I think it was 2013, I believe. And so, he told everyone that he’s quitting film and they said, “Why? Why would you do that?” and he said, “Because, honestly, I understood film as a very classical technology and that’s what’s cinema is. I don’t understand this digital age.” You know, he’s very opinionated and they told him, “You know, we hope we don’t see you end.” He’s just like, “No, I didn’t sign up for this,” you know, this whole 4k and all this stuff. He’s like, “Film has such a nostalgic texture that we all understand and this is this.” He’s not your typical filmmaker trying to make it. He’s very nuanced and so I think this kind of definitely would be something which probably caused sleepless nights and he’s very, very upset. That’s my reading off of Tarantino.
NASIR: Well, I think I can solve the dispute right here and now between the three of us by asking one simple question. We’ll be the judge. I’ll start with Edreace. If you had to watch one movie, would you watch the new Star Wars or the new Tarantino film?
EDREACE: Wow, that’s tough. If I had to choose one film, it would probably be the Tarantino film.
NASIR: Wow! That’s interesting!
EDREACE: Here’s the funny thing. I’m watching Star Wars in one hour. I’m literally…
NASIR: Yeah, I’m not asking you to actually do it. Okay.
Matt, what about you?
MATT: I’d probably just go Star Wars just because…
NASIR: Oh, yeah, you’re a sell-out.
MATT: No, I think just because more people are going to see it and I’ll have something to talk about with them. I don’t know.
NASIR: You’re a social butterfly.
MATT: The people that appreciate the movies that come out are limited. I can’t speak on the same level they can. Like, Edreace, he’d be talking about certain things and I just watch movies for entertainment. I can’t see all the different things that he sees. It’s like, you know, Nasir, you and I watching a basketball game and I notice the pickup on these things that you don’t.
NASIR: Oh, man, that’s a low low.
Well, let me answer my own question. I mean, I’d watch Star Wars. I mean, I’m a sell-out so it’s easy for me, but I do like Quentin Tarantino’s films though. I think that’s two to one, Edreace. You’re allowed to watch Star Wars tonight.
EDREACE: Sounds good!
NASIR: Which Star Wars character are you dressed in tonight?
EDREACE: You know, I’m probably the only guy that’s not going to be wearing a costume.
NASIR: Okay. Well, we may have to bring you back for the actual review of what happens tonight and give us an update. But thanks for joining us though.
EDREACE: Thanks for having me, guys!
MATT: Yeah, thank you!
NASIR: All right, thanks for joining us everyone.
MATT: Yeah, keep it sound and keep it smart, and we will see you in… well, you will hear us in 2016.

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