What inspired you to get into film-making?
Mark Christopher: It was a class I had in college. I had been writing plays from a very young age as well as acting and taking pictures. I also loved music. Film-making brought them all together.
Do you have a favorite memory from the set of 54 or from constructing The Director’s Cut?
Mark Christopher: So many from the set, but among them was whenever Disco Dottie (Ellen Albertini-Dow) appeared. She was a sweet, delightful soul in a giant wig. Also, I almost always played a song that fit the mood of a scene before we shot each scene in the club. There were times I’d spot a soundman or grip dancing before I cut the music and called action. We had a lot of fun on that set. As far as The Director’s Cut, it was a labor-intensive process, but getting to go back into the archives and reconstruct the film the way I intended it to be seen was a great feeling.
What are the key differences with The Director’s Cut and theatrical cut?
Mark Christopher: It could be said that 54 was ahead of its time. Maybe some people weren’t quite ready for a look at the real 1970s in 1998. But in this age of complex, no-holds-barred premium cable, it seems audience appetites have changed and The Director’s Cut is edgier and focuses more on what was intended to be at the heart of the film: the sex, drugs, and bisexual anti-hero. In fact, the 1998 cut looked and felt like an entirely different movie than we started out with -- my producer, Dolly Hall, dubbed it “55.”
What was the best part about making this movie and then The Director’s Cut?
Mark Christopher: From the original film, it was definitely the opportunity to work with these actors and crew and re-create a little disco magic. Working with Ryan [Phillippe] in his first lead on my first feature is something special for a director and an actor – our process was caring and seamless, and his performance in The Director’s Cut is something very special – adventurous, sexy, vulnerable, and moving. Being able to revisit the film and his performance and finally release it as intended is very important to all of us.
Were there any particular challenges with making this movie and The Director's Cut?
Mark Christopher: It was a large cast and crew with hundreds of extras to manage. It was also a period piece so getting all the details right from that era proved challenging. I was a first time director so taking on a film like this was a daunting task to get everything just right… but I loved it! And then with The Director’s Cut, we had to go back to the vaults and assemble it from dailies on VHS. There was no easy way to reconstruct it so it was a very manual process of matching up shots and editing it together with the help of my post-production supervisor Nancy Valle and editor David Kittredge. There is a brand new behind-the-scenes featurette on the Blu-ray that goes into more detail on how it was all done.
Here is an exclusive sneak peek of the featurette:
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
Mark Christopher: You always wish you got a particular scene or image that you didn’t have time for. But I think we got it right 17 years later with The Director’s Cut!
If you weren’t a writer/director what would you be doing?
Mark Christopher: Good question. I’d probably be working with languages in New York or Brazil.
Do you have any advice for young aspiring writers or directors?
Mark Christopher: Tenacity is paramount…If you have a vision, stick with it.
When you aren’t making movies, you are ________________?
Mark Christopher: Watching movies, old and new, and dark one hour TV dramas. The Norwegians are doing really good stuff these days.
What is your favorite Miramax film?