February 11, 2018
Nick Redman and Julie Kirgo:
A Cinematic Love Story
When I first contacted Nick Redman and Julie Kirgo for this interview I had a goal in mind. I had been in contact with Nick Redman last year for an interview and had been lucky enough to stay in correspondence with him since the interview. One of the things that Nick had confided around the time of the first interview was that he was battling a serious illness. I also had figured out that he and Julie Kirgo were in a dedicated and loving relationship and that she was helping him every step along the way during this difficult time. My goal with the interview was to discuss their working relationship and share the story of their relationship. I wanted to share their support of one another for others to read. I am not in any shape or form a professional writer, but I hoped that I could do justice to their love story, which they shared publicly for the first time in this interview. I am thankful that I get to share their story.
I am an unabashed fan of the work that they do together with Twilight Time – a label that is helping to bring High Definition versions of classic films to Blu-ray. In the wake of the abandonment of these films in the form of physical media by the studios that have restored them, their film label has become one of the greatest niche film distribution labels. I appreciate the effort they have put forth to get these films into the hands of film collectors like myself. Their list of titles full of great films for you to add to your library. As an exercise, I would suggest looking at the schedule of films that Twilight Time will be releasing in the next few months versus comparable labels like Criterion. My guess is that you may be surprised to see which label is putting out the most exciting titles in the coming year. I hope that the interview itself conveys how warm and kind both Nick and Julie are. I hope that you will find yourself wanting to send them your thoughts and prayers during this trying time. I am so thankful that they have one another and I hope you enjoy hearing more about their story. So, without further deliberation, here is the interview:
Blu-ray Authority: Julie, can you tell me just a little bit about your background and where you were born and raised?
Julie: Sure, I was born in New York City. My parents were living in Greenwich Village at the time. My dad was an aspiring writer at that point and a rare book dealer. Very soon after I was born, he moved us to New Haven, Connecticut to carry on that book business, because most of his dealings were with Yale University. They had a big library and so forth and so on. He specialized in twentieth century poetry and novels, and things like that. We lived there for a while, and meanwhile he was writing a book. We moved back to New York after my sister was born. I have a little sister and a little brother. When dad wrote his book he started going on TV on talk shows and stuff to talk about it. He was a great raconteur and somebody hired him out in California to be on another TV show. So, we upped stakes again and moved to Los Angeles. I lived there from my early adolescence until I was eleven in California. So, I have been back and forth between the East Coast and the West Coast a lot. My dad became a screenwriter and television writer. He ultimately ended up doing that. You know I don’t ever think that I was ever going to be anything but a writer. It just wasn’t in the cards for me. That was it!
Blu-ray Authority: That makes perfect sense.
Julie: I have been making my living as a writer, sometimes a very poor one, just scratching it, but I have been a writer my whole life.
Blu-ray Authority: You know that makes perfect sense that your dad was a book dealer. I mean a lot of Twilight Time’s output is very literate. It just sort of makes sense… it’s all coming together!
Julie: You know what’s funny is my daughter was a book seller for an independent book seller for many years. Now she works for Vintage/Penguin/Random House as an editor.
Blu-ray Authority: That’s awesome. (editorial note – that is my favorite book publisher in the country. I will mention this again later)
Julie: The literary tradition is continuing on.
Blu-ray Authority: The torch has been passed down obviously. I saw recently that your father had fought in the Pacific. And you mentioned his love of Japan afterward. I couldn’t help but wonder did his love of Japan lend to your love of Samuel Fuller’s films?
Julie: You know that’s a really interesting question. I think the first Fuller I ever saw was The Naked Kiss. It has nothing to do with Japan…a real shocker. Wow. But, I think my favorite is House of Bamboo. That made me think so much of my dad, because it was the first Hollywood film to be shot in Japan after the war. That type of occupation era Tokyo, I would look at it and think “that’s what my dad saw,” because he was young. He enlisted when he was seventeen and it was towards the end of the war so he was actually in the Army past the end of the war, so he was there for a little part of the occupation. So, yes, definitely, House of Bamboo has a particular meaning for me there. It’s also just a great movie.
Blu-ray Authority: Yeah, I could not agree more. House of Bamboo is just an awesome flick. The Technicolor is super vibrant in that one.
Julie: Yeah it is gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. The other thing I find so amazing about it is you have Samuel Fuller – he was a journalist and an old-fashioned newspaper man. You can understand where a lot of his ruder vibrant screenwriting comes from. What a prodigy he was visually. No one taught him how to do that! He just knew how to do it. He just knew how to use the scope frame. He knew how to move his camera and when he should and shouldn’t. He was like an idiot savant in terms of his visual style which is so extraordinary.
Blu-ray Authority: You mentioned you were a writer. I did a little bit of digging. I saw that you worked on shows varying from Welcome Back Kotter, Fantasy Island, and Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. Can you tell me more about your your career in writing all these years?
Julie: My first job out of college was working with my dad. This is total nepotism. He was working on a syndicated TV show called Young Dr.Kildare. What they needed was somebody to take the old hour-long Dr. Kildare scripts and just adapt them. Cut them down basically to the half hour syndication spot. It wasn’t really writing, it was more editing. That’s what I did for a few months right when I got out of college. And it was great practice actually in terms of figuring out structure and stuff like that. So, I did that, and then I worked at a lot of different little jobs. Doing that Young Dr. Kildare job got me into the Writer’s Guild. So that was one problem out of the way. But I didn’t do a lot more television for a few years. I actually worked at Universal as a publicist. I wrote press kits. Then my sister and I decided that we were going to write together. My sister and I got some work. You know we were basically comedy writers and we did do a lot of different episodic TV shows where you know we were just contributing like a script here or a script there. Fantasy Island – one script only. Then we became story editors and producers and we worked on a number of things. Probably the longest gig we had was on One Day at a Time where we worked for three years.
We did quite a bit of that and then time went on. I got married. I had children. My then-husband and I decided we wanted to get out of LA and so we moved and my sister and I stopped writing together. She kept writing – incredibly successful. I worked as an editor at Vermont Magazine and did a lot of journalism but I was still doing a little bit of Hollywood work with friends who would say “can you send me a script.” Hardly anybody would let you do that unless they knew you. That’s how I got the Doctor Quinn and I wrote a couple drama scripts on my own and then by the time I moved back to Los Angeles, my sister and I were aged out. And I wasn’t that old, let me tell ya. I started doing what I actually had done some of back in my early twenties. Started writing about movies. So I wrote for American Movie Classics magazines and did interviews and stuff like that and in fact Nick and my first professional connection was he hired me! He hired me to write some CD notes.
Blu-ray Authority: So, the introduction between you two was was through that connection?
Julie: Sort of. You know he is a very famous music producer, so I had certainly heard of him. He had not heard of me. (laughs) We met by chance at a film music event. I twas a tribute toDavid Raksin and I met him and John Burlingame, all in the same night. We got along great and he hired me. It was wonderful. He was really fun to work for and it was really fun to have the work.
Blu-ray Authority: One of the things that’s really apparent when listening to these commentaries is your near encyclopedic knowledge of film studios and their executives. When did you first start really digging deep into the back stories of how these films came to be made?
Julie: Well I mean you should turn to Nick. He actually in many ways is far more knowledgeable about that than I am. Funny you should say backstory, because we both had some connections with Kevin Burns at Fox who did this series of backstory documentaries. Nick, was that how we met Stephen Smith as well?
Nick Redman: That’s how you met Stephen Smith and Kevin Burns. I had known Stephen since the Eighties.
Julie: There are just a lot of great people that you know you get to meet and, if you’re lucky, to work with, and if you’re even luckier you get to know them. You know when you’re working on something like documentaries then obviously you’re doing your research. I think most of my background was more from a critical angle. I knew a fair amount about film noir because that was one of the first things I ever wrote about, so I had some stuff there. Also, I lived in Vermont for ten years, so that’s where we moved to, my ex-husband and I. While I was there I worked for Vermont Magazine but I also worked for Burlington College teaching cinema. You know when you’re doing something like that you learn more even if you are hoping that you are teaching people.
Blu-ray Authority: It’s sort of like the the little steps along the way becomes like cumulative knowledge and that feeds into everything.
Julie: Yeah that’s so true.
Blu-ray Authority: Well, I sat down and watched Being John Ford which you two worked on together. I really enjoyed the film especially the section regarding Zanuck and Ford’s military service. I had no idea that those guys had gone over there during that time and were firing arms at the enemy and everything. That sort of blew me away. Was that just material that was low hanging fruit or was that something that isn’t well publicized?
Nick Redman: Right now, I think it’s always been well known that there were many people in the studios, both executives and actors, who did in fact enlist in the army and did serve in combat situations. I could run down a list of many many many people, even people that were shot and wounded, injured out – like Lee Marvin for example, who was badly wounded on the island of Saipan as a twenty-year-old serving his country. So those stories are often well known, but I think that the focus on Zanuck and Ford is interesting because they really were influential over each other in a way. Even though, it’s hard to know how much they liked each other, I think they needed each other, so when we made the documentary Becoming John Ford it made sense that when there was a hiatus of their working relationship that they still served their country in similar ways. Right now, there is a book, a very good book, by Mark Harris called Five Came Back which is about five directors who came back from military service. There has now been a documentary made about that book. This subject of serving the military and serving your country coming from the studio system is something that’s been pretty much in the public eye of late.
Julie: I think also, because they’re filmmakers, suddenly you’re looking at this amazing footage. Ford, George Stevens, William Wyler…These guys were bringing all their extraordinary talents to bare on making documentaries about the war. The stuff that’s in Becoming John Ford is especially spectacular because one – it’s in color – and two – a lot of it is just caught on-the-fly battle footage. These guys were definitely there. Zanuck was probably a little less in harm’s way. Not that he wasn’t in harm’s way. You can see it. You can see it from that documentary footage. Ford was in battles. George Stevens liberated a Jewish concentration camp, or was with the people who were liberating. It’s an incredible record of an incredible time.
Blu-ray Authority: In the film, the voice of John Ford is supplied by Walter Hill, a director whose films have appeared on your label. How did all of you become friends originally?
Nick Redman: We didn’t actually know Walter until we made that documentary. We were going a different direction. We thought we were going to have actors play Zanuck and Ford. In fact, we had Sam Shepard and David Strathairn agree to do the voices. Julie wrote the script of their dialogue which was based on actual quotes by the two men in question. We got those two-notable people to sign on to it. Unfortunately, we couldn’t in the end go with that because obviously being in the screen actors guild would have required residual payments. The studio that we were making the film for, in this case Fox, doesn’t have those kinds of residual agreements in their home video projects so we were not able to use those two. In fact, Sam Shepard in particular was very upset about it, because he really wanted to say those lines. We were very disappointed to lose him. So then it was getting a bit late as to how we were going to pick them. We suddenly had a thought. What if we went with directors? We could escape the residual clause. We knew Ron Shelton. He was somebody that I had been friends with for about a decade at the time when we made that film. We’d always been huge fans of Walter Hill and somehow we got his contact info and asked if he would like to do it and he surprised us by saying he would. We spent a wonderful afternoon and evening with him when he came in to record all his dialogue. We did then remain friends with him ever since. It’s not like we see him all the time socializing. I was just saying this to somebody the other day, that the wonderful thing about Walter… he really is a terrific guy… is when you call him and say “Can you help us out with such and such?” He’s always willing to do it, if it’s within reason.
Julie: He is a doll. Let me just put it right out there. He is just absolutely wonderful and I think he told us that his favorite directors were Kurosawa and Ford. So, he was thrilled to get to be John Ford for a little while. I think he really enjoyed the experience. Of course, we did our very best to find him all the juiciest quotes.
Nick Redman: It remains the only narration that Walter has done like that to this day. I was surprised that no one else had asked him, because I did a documentary in the Nineties where I featured John Milius as the narrator. He has a wonderful voice and he speaks in a very apocalyptic poetic way. That was the first time he had done something like that, and lo and behold, he became the narrator of like a thousand documentaries. Walter, I thought I would do the same for him, but he has either declined to do so or no one has asked. Right now, as far as I know, that remain’s Walter’s only appearance playing somebody like that.
Blu-ray Authority: Nick, How did you like being in the director’s seat?
Nick Redman: Well I sort of had done it before with documentaries. We had made quite a few little things for various people.We had done a lot with Sam Peckinpah, for example, to keep his legacy alive. I had produced a documentary in the Nineties that was lucky enough to get an Oscar nomination. My friend Paul Seydor directed that one which we essentially put together a lot of preexisting material. We sort of developed a technique where everything would be preexisting so we didn’t go out and shoot anything. It became an exercise in editing preexisting footage, whether it be newsreel footage or behind the scenes footage or somebody’s footage, whatever it was. I kind of liked that medium of where you would just create something out of twenty thousand pieces of nothing. I went on and we did the same thing with the documentary for The Searchers a couple of years later which is the one John Milius narrated. So, I was the director of that one, so I was experienced in doing this kind of thing and we had made a few other things in between Becoming John Ford. Becoming John Ford was something that kind of came out of the blue because Twentieth Century Fox were presenting a giant box set of John Ford films and they wanted something with sort of suitable weight and gravitas to go with it. So they wanted a feature length documentary – something that would be about ninety minutes long and exclusively cover those early Fox years. We probably should have added a subtitle. We didn’t. Subtitles are very fashionable. It should have been called Becoming John Ford for such and such to do with 20th Century Fox, but we just left it Becoming John Ford. Therefore, a lot of people who saw the documentary at film festivals and things like that were a little bit disappointed that it didn’t go beyond those early Fox years. It ends in 1946 with My Darling Clementine and the trouble that they had with that project that basically led to the dissolution of their relationship. But it really was a Twentieth Century Fox project, so it had to focus on the early years. And again, we thought we would do something different and strange. This time we did actually film people in situ. But this situ was actually the screening room on the 20th Century Fox lot where Zanuck and Ford sat and looked at the dailies on those films. So we really felt that the location gave the film some verisimilitude that it perhaps otherwise would not have had. We decided to go the kind of academic route which we prefer and we got Joe McBride and our friend Jim and several other people who could speak in rather educated terms about Ford and Zanuck and their lives. It is one of my biggest regrets that I did not put Julie in camera. (Julie laughs) She would have been great. We later discovered that she was great when other people put her in front of camera and asked her to talk about films, and I am really bothered by the fact that I didn’t get it. It wasn’t that we decided not to do it. It just didn’t occur to us to do it because Julie was the writer of the film and she was the interviewer. She conducted all of those interviews that occur in the film. Really we should have put her on the other side of the camera as well, but we got some great stories from people and it was just one of those things where we spent about a week or ten days. We had that little set built inside the theatre by my DP Bengt Johnson. We built a little set with a working projector that was very atmospheric and black and white. It looked beautiful. Then we would invite people to come to sit inside that set and talk about Ford and Zanuck. So, I think we got a lot of material about those two that looks and sounds very atmospheric and has a kind of Old World feeling. We really wanted to try to convey, and we couldn’t actually say it in the film of course, but those people were actually sitting in the same room where Ford and Zanuck sat – where those films were made.
Blu-ray Authority: One of your releases that that you recently put out is a film Two for the Road which is one of my aunt’s favorite films. She recommended that I purchase it. And then, lo and behold, you all had just released it.
Julie: Thats amazing! What a lovely coincidence.
Blu-ray Authority: Yeah. I love stuff like that. And I find that happens a lot with you guys. My aunt is an avid reader and we talk about movies, books, stuff like that, so a lot of time she’ll mention something. “I’ll be like, oh yeah, I just bought that! That’s on Twilight time! We end up going back and forth on stuff like that. But, on a film like Two for the Road, when you land a film that’s as well loved as that one and you’ll gain the rights to be able to distribute it… What is that feeling like when you know that you’re about to put your label on something like that? When you are going to be able to put your name on it and put it out there?
Nick Redman: The funny thing is, Jake, a lot of people ask us all the time is “how do you choose the movies you put out? The sort of joke answer is, we put out what we can get. But the greater reality is that what we do is we submit these long wishlists to the studios, and the studios come back and say “you can’t have this, you can’t have that”. They won’t let us have their biggest films, but when it comes to the deeper catalog it’s fairly wide open. Then it becomes a matter of materials. Do they have an HD master? Is it good enough to release? That kind of thing. So, we put forward a long list to all of the studios that we work with, then we get a long list of titles that we’ve licensed. And it sometimes, I mean it sounds peculiar, but it can be two to three years that we might have had the title licensed before we can put it out and that might be because they haven’t got an adequate master but we know that they are doing a new one, so therefore we simply wait for it. So, in other words, I might say to Julie and other people at Twilight Time, “we’ve got Two for the Road” and they go “oh that’s great.” Then we don’t think about it for three years. That’s the weird thing. And then suddenly, it falls to me to do the schedules. I try to put a few films together in each month that we release things. There is a common denominator between the films as much as I can. Sometimes it’s very very slight. Sometimes it’s very very overt but I’d like to think that the sharpest people out there that catch why we block certain films together. So Two for the Road, when we released it at the beginning of 2017, I think we released it at the beginning of this year, it fell because we had a brand new or newish 4K transfer from 20th Century Fox on the film. It went well with Stanley and Iris and other films of that ilk. In other words, there was a relationship denominator for that month. Therefore, Two for the Road just fell in and so Julie, who might have known that we had Two for the Road for two or three years, suddenly it’s time to write about Two for the Road. That seems exciting then because then it’s a reality that we are putting it out and then it comes out. We hope that people like it and we hope that people are glad that we did it, or understand why we did it. Or get the greater meaning of why it was put out when it was put out and enjoy all aspects of it. The truth is we don’t really get much time to enjoy it ourselves because by the time Two for the Road comes out, we’re already working on the ones that are coming out after it. So it’s kind of like a conveyor belt. Indeed the excitement is fleeting, because it comes and goes. But I can tell you that I am very proud there are certain films that we have released that I just am so happy we put out because they are just childhood favorites and therefore they have a very high nostalgic factor for me and I’m sure that Julie has a clutch of them too.
Julie: I’ll tell you what one of Nick’s is, it’s Zulu. If we’re talking about the childhood favorites. And one I’m very proud of is The Big Heat. I think Nick is exactly right, that there are certain ones that come along that you do feel, what you are driving at Jake, is a little swell of pride, or you think “OH MY GOD I’VE LOVED THIS MOVIE FOR SO LONG”. The World of Henry Orient, there’s another one that’s very much a long, longtime favorite of mine. I was so happy to put that out. I’m proud of all our releases, because I think we do a really good job, and Nick and Brian in particular are so careful about choosing beautiful transfers. Not letting the quality drop, and that’s very important. I think Nick has hit on something, which is there are some you have a feeling about, it might be from decades ago, and those are the ones where you really get a thrill when you can put them out.
Nick Redman: When I was was still living in London in the early 1980s, which was sort of the beginning of the home video revolution. I would walk up and down Wardour Street in London and I’d look into the storefronts of companies. There were several companies that got in on that. They were right there at the beginning of home video. Certainly you had this remarkable phenomenon where, although they were very pricey then, you could actually buy a film that you love on tape and take it home and keep it and watch it as many times as you want. I think that for people that are younger than that era just don’t appreciate how incredible it was for us older people that you could certainly own a film. And I thought then, this video business seems very very interesting and how cool would it be to be able to distribute films like this for people at home.
Blu-ray Authority: You all have a good amount of transfers that you are receiving from Sony and those transfers in particular pop because Sony are some of the best in the business at really making sure these transfers are incredible. One of the films in their catalog that I know they have the rights to that, I just don’t understand how it’s not out yet on Blu- ray, is the film Half Nelson. Have you guys heard any rumors on anybody putting that one out eventually or anything like that?
Nick Redman: We haven’t yet. I will tell you that Sony of all the studios have a very high standard of quality control and all the titles that we have licensed from them since we started are films that they have said “it passes our quality control”, which is why all of our releases that are from Sony have a very high level of quality about them. That is just simply because that’s what Sony insists upon and they won’t license titles that don’t have that quality. So let’s put it this way, those films they have done a treatment to are the ones that you see coming out. All of the ones that they haven’t done it to are ones that they may one day get around to doing or have no plans for. What those are – we don’t know anything about obviously. We’ll never see them on any type of list because the only list that they make available to choose from are films that they have already brought up to contemporary QC levels.
Blu-ray Authority: I’ve just been shocked, considering how popular Ryan Gosling is, that film isn’t out already.
Nick Redman: As you probably know, Sony now has their own Blu-ray kind of BD-R program. They are not all that active, but they are sort of active. It wouldn’t surprise me if something like that wouldn’t pop out on their BD-R program. It’s kind of like the Warner Archive except they do BD-Rs meaning they don’t do pressed Blu-Rays, meaning they do BD-Rs on demand. So Warner Archive began on a DVD-R program but then went to Blu-Ray, but they press their Blu-rays at Warner. At Sony they now have a BD-R program where they press them on demand. It seems to me that a film like the one you just mentioned is likely to appear there at some point.
Blu-ray Authority: Nick recently you had written about your experience coming to America from the U.K. 31 years ago. Can you sort of speak to that experience?
Nick Redman: I mean I came here and permanently moved when I was 31 and I’m now 62. So, I have truly lived in the United States for half of my life. I look back on that transition, and while there are certain things I kind of miss about my hometown of London like my sport club Chelsea – I wish I could go there every week and see them play like I used to – I know that moving here was the best decision I ever made in my life. I would never change it for anything. At the time that I moved here I had been various things. I had been an actor, I’d been an executive, I’d worked for the government, I had been someone who had made documentaries at the BBC, kind of. So, I had a pretty all-over-the-map kind of existence in my first thirty one years of life and I wasn’t happy. I came here, I didn’t really know anybody. I had a couple distant relatives in Santa Barbara area. I came here. I knew no one. I met a young woman, I got married very shortly after my first visits here and I made a new life for myself. I had a beautiful daughter who is now 24 years old, and after the first couple of years of thinking “Shit, what do I do here,” because everything I had done in London previously meant nothing here. I had to find a whole new direction. It surprised me that my direction was film music which is something that I had always loved, but had no professional involvement in. I got hired by a person who is a pal named Bruce Kimmel, you may know the name. He is an actor and musicals producer, he is very well-known in musical theatre. He had a little record label and he wanted to start putting out soundtracks. He asked me if I would be interested in doing it, so I had to teach myself how to produce and release soundtracks. Which has been a feature of my life that I have had to teach myself how to do things.
Julie: And he’s really good at it!
Nick Redman: I’m what Julie calls, is it an autocrat, is that the word?
Julie: No. Although you can be autocratic. You’re an auto-didact.
Nick Redman: An auto-didact. That’s right. Which is true. I’m a self-taught person. I left school when I was fifteen which is not unusual for British kids to just quit high school in the middle and never go on to any upper education. I didn’t need it or see any benefit in it. So, you train yourself. Like Stanley Kubrick said when he dropped out of college, he dropped out of college and became a student for life. You know I did the same thing. I taught myself a lot of different things and then I taught myself how to produce film music. So I guess I got pretty good at it because 20th Century Fox offered me a job to go into their vaults and see whether or not we could create a business out of finding and releasing on compact disk vintage 20th Century Fox music . I started that job in 1993 and I still have that job today almost twenty five years later. We’ve been running the Film Music Preservation and Restoration program at Fox for almost a quarter century now. I’m very proud of that program which has rescued thousands of 20th Century Fox scores from oblivion and has proven to be quite a lucrative asset for 20th Century Fox. Other studios followed suit. I was the first person to be given that type of job at a studio and other studios followed suit. Now it’s become a normal thing and, like the Blu-ray business today, film music sort of dropped out of the studio purview and became a third party outlet. So there are lots of labels out there for example La-La Land Records and others who now routinely license the music that we restored at the studio and release those on CD for those people who care. With my long association with Fox and throughout that time, because I am not an employee of Fox – I fall into the category of consultant- it means that I am non-exclusive so I can go to work for other studios. So I was able to make the documentaries for Warner Brothers and do other things throughout that 25 years without stopping the work that we’ve been doing for 20th Century Fox. So it’s been a very lucky thing for me that I have had 25 years experience of working at multiple studios, but mostly Fox and secondarily at Warner Bros. So it seemed logical that when DVDs and Blu-rays seemed to drop out of the studio purview and they lost interest in releasing their catalog that that too would default to third parties and Twilight Time was one of those third parties.
Blu-ray Authority: So between you two, how did your relationship sort of grow over the years? Going back to when you met?
Julie: It was a tribute to David Raksin who wrote Laura and Forever Amber and so many great scores primarily at Fox. Nick knew him and I was just a fan and I went with a friend of mine, another film music fan. Nick was there with John Burlingame, the dean of film music writing, and we met. He hired me to do some work for him. Luckily, I had already done quite a bit of movie-related journalism/ criticism. You know, doing CD notes for Nick was great for me because, like him, I always was a writer but I had had to learn to do different kinds of writing. So this writing CD notes was something new for me at that point. And then we were both in marriages, we had children you know and our marriages were kind of unhappy and some years later when our children were considerably older we successively split up from our spouses, not too acrimoniously and eventually we got together on a personal basis as well as on a personal basis.
Blu-ray Authority: So that’s pretty beautiful. Was the development of your feelings for each other from just years of being around each other or was there a moment that struck you guys? Or was it a combination of moments?
Julie: Oh gosh, combination. Probably a combination. I mean, you know we had this great thing, which is, we already loved the same thing and we knew that. And I will also say that Nick is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met in my entire life. That, for me, is just about everything. He also has a great sense of humor… so real smart, real funny. He is really cute, but that’s sort of down the list a little bit. Just the fact that we have this incredible commonality of interests. Also I will just tell you as a lifelong Beatles fan it did not hurt that he was English. It just didn’t hurt, and he has that beautiful voice.
Blu-ray Authority: And, how about for you Nick? Was there a certain moment where it sort of clicked for you where you go “Oh, I think I may be in love with this person” or was it a combination of shared experiences?
Nick: Well, I think when we met it was a jolt. I think when you recognize that someone else has everything that you love then it sort of becomes all encompassing. And I was aware of Julie, one of the things that she didn’t mention, one of the things that she had done, was that she had contributed to a book in film noir… the most famous book on film noir that my father, I remember, I didn’t have a particularly great relationship with my dad but you know he worked for a publisher called, and again an arbitrary connection, he worked for a publisher called the Heineman in England. And occasionally he would give me books that were published by the Heineman group of companies. There was one, this Film Noir encyclopedia that was published by Secker & Walhburg in England. which was sort of a very prominent publisher, this book Film Noir, and I treasure it and I still lug it around everywhere for the last 38 years I have had it or however long it’s been since I’ve had it. I still have my same copy and inside there is a list of contributors and Ms. JK is one of them and it’s a strange fact. You know, there is this old joke in show business that there are only 12 people in it. (laughter) You just see the same 12 people all the time. I find that that is really true because I look down my list of contributors in that book, Film Noir, and I know almost all of them. I’ve worked with many of them. You meet, and you just fall into the orbit of people. You know, I didn’t know anything about Julie other than she was a writer and that she contributed to this book I liked. But when you meet her she’s so powerful in a way. She’s so overwhelming in terms of her personality and her aura, everything about her. Everyone that meets her feels the same. They are overwhelmed by her smile, by her personality, her radiance, her well being, everything that emanates out of her which people constantly talk about once they meet her. I’m sure you’ve seen dozens of Facebook posts about her. It’s really true. You’re up against something that is really potent.
Julie: I have to go get a fan or something. I’m blushing.
Nick Redman: It’s all true. We became friends immediately, I would say close friends immediately. I leaned on her for so many things you know. My own writing, I mean, I think I’m a decent writer. Once I met Julie, I had her look at and review, edit every word that I wrote. I remember I had to write a huge piece on John Milius for an Italian film festival. It was a gigantic piece. I remember Julie faxing in those day, this was in 2002, faxing all of her changes.Whereas, I would have hit the roof and gone ballistic if anyone had the temerity to ask me to make those kinds of changes, with her I just thought, “oh, that’s what Julie said. I will just make those changes.” Everything she listed I just instantly knew was right.
Julie: Let me tell you, it was mostly things like put a comma here, okay? It wasn’t the writing. (laughs) It was the punctuation.
Nick Redman: The important thing though is knowing that someone else is steering you in the right direction. For someone like me, who is completely self-taught and had no mentors, teachers, nothing. You are very resistant to someone telling you what to do. I am very resistant to it. It makes me bristle like nobody’s business. It is not necessarily that I think that I know everything. I need to be convinced. If something’s wrong, I need to know why it’s wrong. If I think, “Oh, I agree with that.” I’ll change it. I’m fine with it. With Julie, I never had that thought. I just instantly knew that if she needed it to be changed, it would be better. So therefore we’re now talking about an area of trust that I didn’t have really in anybody. Certainly not in any working or professional capacity, so when you trust someone always to be able to do the right thing and you don’t think about it. There is no compensation high enough for something like that. So when you think of all of that rolled into one, it is probably obvious to any red-blooded person that it would lead inevitably to something else. We did not want to smash up our marriages. We did not want to hurt our children. We always put them first. We didn’t do anything drastic until they were old enough to live with the life change that was coming.
Blu-ray Authority: The reason I wanted to ask you these questions isn’t just because I care about the label but from an outside perspective, when you’re listening to these commentary tracks… when you keep showing up in people’s living rooms in their houses. You find yourself just sort of curious like how did these two come to have this relationship? Because it really comes across when you’re listening to those tracks. You can sort of feel the love in the room.
Nick Redman: It is funny that you say that because I think we both often wonder. I think that we pretend that people don’t think that we’re a couple. Obviously that will change with the piece like the one you’re writing. I have mentioned over the last couple years that we are a partnership. We are not married but we are a partnership. But when we do commentaries we try to be… we don’t reference our own relationship in those commentaries except in sometimes in the most little things.
Julie: Coded! It’s all coded, Jake! (laughter)
Nick Redman: We just recently did a commentary for Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice which is a film, as you may or may not know, is about group sex and all kinds of adult things. Therefore, we were doing a commentary and sometimes our own feelings about these things wandered in and out. At the end of it, we were laughing about what people would make of what we were talking about in this commentary. (laughs) Sometimes it becomes a little more obvious or evident. We’re disappointed in the fact that this year, 2017, we’ve had to scale back on commentaries. This is partly to do with, as you know, I’ve been dealing with some serious health issues. We have been so overloaded with hospital stays and hospital visits and medical tests and all sorts of things. I have to tell you that Julie has been there for me every time. That she has sat there with me through every procedure. You know everything I have had to go through this year she has sat there with me. We just chat away. It sounds like a commentary track. If we go to a bar for a drink our conversation is just like a commentary track. It is what we talk about all the time, but I can’t tell you how she has got me through this year.
Julie: Where else would I be? I love you, you know.
Nick Redman: I understand that, but if you were on your own. If one had to be on their own to go through this, I don’t know how you get through it. For everyone out there who may or may not know, the reason that there have been far fewer commentaries of late is because we just can’t do them. We haven’t got the time and have had so many other things to deal with. But we have crept back and done a couple recently. We did one for a fellow label in the UK, a Powerhouse title they have not announced yet. We have done a couple of Kino (Kino Lorber) and we have done a couple of commentaries for upcoming Twilight Time releases. So we haven’t given up quite yet, but it has been much harder in 2017 than it was before.
Blu-ray Authority: Are the Kino ones Peckinpah related? Like for Junior Bonner?
Nick Redman: No, the Junior Bonner commentary dates from 2005. It is one that we did for MGM back in the day and they put it on their DVD so Kino ported it over. One that we did that has come out that I can mention. We did Red Line 7000 which Julie’s father wrote which is why we did it.
Blu-ray Authority: Oh wow! That’s pretty cool. Is it fun seeing your father’s work make it’s way to high definition?
Julie: Yes. I mean the basic answer is yes. It’s not the world’s greatest movie. It’s got a great director, Howard Hawks, and it has some wonderful performances. One by James Caan and one by Marianna Hill, but the movie is not great. But, I was frank about that, and Dad always was too, let me tell you. He was funnier about that movie, than anybody has the right to be. (laughs) It was great to be able to do the commentary. It was really fun and as usual it was always fun to do it with Nick. Because we just sit there having a chat. There is nothing more enjoyable than that. It was wonderful.
Blu-ray Authority: So with with you guys battling back this illness and everything together, is there anything that fans of a label can do to support you guys during this time? Is there anything that we can do on our end?
Julie: That’s so sweet…You know enjoy the movies. Get the movies. Talk up the movies.
Blu-ray Authority: So, Nick, basically because I had done a rapid fire with you this last time, I reserved this rapid fire for Julie. So Julie, when I asked Nick his favorite director in the previous interview he replied Kubrick. So who is your favorite director and why?
Julie: I would say, William Wyler. One of the reasons I love him so much is that I think he is hideously underrated. Andrew Serenson’s book on American Cinema put him in the category of less than meets the eye, which I think is so horrifying. I can’t even believe it. He was a brilliant director who worked in every genre and he directed my favorite movie, The Best Years of Our Lives.
Blu-ray Authority: Oh there you go. And you know that was that was going to be my next question. So you beat me to that one. As far as favorite actors, who’s at the top of your list?
Julie: Burt Lancaster, and maybe like a hair lower is Robert Ryan.
Blu-ray Authority: Nick, that’s your favorite actor isn’t it?
Nick Redman: I think I gave you two or three. I threw in William Holden, Clint Eastwood, and Robert Ryan. Like we said at the time, this can change at any time.
Julie: Yeah. You can change your mind about this stuff in lightning fast time
Blu-ray Authority: I know that feeling. I have my constants that I keep, but I go back and forth. My favorite film has pretty much stayed the same for forever which is Apocalypse Now. I can’t get over how that came together.
Julie: It’s an amazing movies.
Nick Redman: That’s a film that had gone through three years of vilification by the press upon its release. Before the film came out everyone was set up to hate it. Everyone thought it was going to be the disaster to end all disasters. It turned out to be, I think, without a doubt, the best movie made about Vietnam to date. It’s one of the all-time great movies. When you think Francis Coppolla, here’s a guy, all he had to do was to direct The Godfather, The Godfather Part Two, The Conversation, and Apocalypse Now and you would go to heaven just based on that.
Blu-ray Authority: For me what made me jump over the line and love it even more was when I found out that they hadn’t written the script for any of that narration. (I was only referring to the voiceover of the film here, not the script, but Nick makes some excellent and interesting points here so I left this statement here. My sincere apologies to John Milius if I stated this completely incorrectly!)
Nick Redman: I have to correct the record a little bit there, Jake. I want to stick up for my buddy John Milius here. He wrote that script in 1967. In those days it was called the Psychedelic Soldier. That was at a time when it was going to be shot on 16mm and George Lucas was going to direct it. They were actually going to go to Vietnam while the war was on, if you can imagine such a thing. That was John Milius’s idea. George Lucas obviously had no intention of going to Vietnam or any such thing. So, it languished for a while and then eventually, because Francis Coppolla had made the two Godfathers and he was kind of looking around for something big and epic. He went back to that John Milius script. I will tell you because John Milius gave me a copy of one of his earlier drafts and the shooting draft of the film. That movie in the through line is the movie you know. Plus, some of the Redux scenes, which I don’t like. I don’t like Apocalypse Now Redux at all, and nor does John Milius. At least he didn’t the last time I talked to him about it, because it doesn’t reflect as well. The only change, I will tell you where the film changes and where the trouble emanated making the film is when they cast Marlon Brando and he showed up, you know, 500 pounds overweight. He refused to do anything except sit in the dark. They didn’t have anywhere to go because John Milius’s script had Colonel Kurtz as a commander that was leading raids in the jungle. He was doing atrocities and all sorts of terrible things but he was in his mind winning the war. Kurtz as presented in the movie isn’t doing anything. Therefore, Francis Coppolla says he dropped Milius’s fighting ending because he thought it was kind of hoary and a little bit old-fashioned like a World War II movie he said. But really it was more to do with Marlon Brando’s appearance and his reluctance to do anything. When people talk about “they had no script,” it’s really not true. They had John Milius’s script. Right up to when Willard arrives at the compound, everything is in Milius’s draft. Right from the beginning. It’s all there. Everything. All the dialogue. The napalm lines, Charlie don’t surf.. Everything that people love and remember about that film is in that script. It’s the last third of the film where it basically turned to shit on them because of Marlon Brando and they had to make what they could out of nothing. It’s where the film almost falls apart but it doesn’t quite is where Francis Coppola had to do all that rewriting. Eventually they brought in Michael Herr to be Willard’s kind of conscience and voice, which was all sort of last minute programmatic changes. I always stick up for John Milius because I know he had it all before they set foot day one.
Blu-ray Authority: I guarantee you anybody that is interested in reading our interview on this site is probably going to be a huge fan of Apocalypse Now. I think it’s great to set the record straight on stuff like that.
Nick Redman: I absolutely love the film. John Milius is a fantastic screenwriter. People can nitpick about his directing, you know maybe you can say, Francis Coppola is a great director, and John Milius is not a great director. He is a great screenwriter. He is one of the greatest of the modern era. His scripts are fantastic to read. I’m lucky enough to be in possession of a whole bunch of scripts that never got made. They are just great. He has his point of view. He is very war-like and hawkish and a bit right wing and all that sort of stuff. People argue about that but he is a great screenwriter. His original Jeremiah Johnson, it’s like, “Oh my God, I wish that movie had been made.” Even though I love the movie that was made. Milius’s movie is different. You know he is a great screenwriter. Like Walter Hill was a great screenwriter before he was a director. Coppola was great screenwriter with Patton.
These guys are all super talented. I think Coppola’s genius was that he made Apocalypse Now. He made it. You’ve got that movie because he made it. I don’t think John Milius would have gone out there and made it and George Lucas certainly wouldn’t have gone out there and made it. But Coppola went through all of that hell of getting that movie made for years, I’m just talking about the production which went on for practically three years. But John Milius wrote it, and I just I just always wanted to defend John when people say they had no script that is not true.
Blu-ray Authority: I was just referring more to the narration of the film. Like in Blade Runner, the voiceover.
Nick Redman: You know why it’s done mostly because when a film has been made and its not testing very well or people are worried that people aren’t going to understand it. They add dialogue as an afterthought, so that basically it doesn’t explain the film exactly but it’s there to help you understand what’s going on. That’s what the narration in Blade Runner is for. I think the film works with it and without it. We saw it with the narration version first, so I love the narration version more than I do the other version but both work. In the case of Apocalypse Now I think it’s slightly different. They wanted Michael Herr because Micahel Herr was really in tune with Vietnam experiences. By the time that film was made it was so impressionistic and so beautiful, so sprawling. It’s kind of magisterial the way you are drawn into Willard’s journey up the river. I think the narration helps. It would be very interesting to watch it without the narration, because I think you would have a different experience.
I think it was specifically because it was so impressionistic that you don’t understand Willard’s point of view in Milius’s original script. While Willard does in the end kill Kurtz, I think it’s inadvertent because they’re out actually fighting. They are fighting the guerrillas in the jungle and Kurtz is killed in the skirmish. I can’t remember if Willard does it or if it just happens to Kurtz. Willard then goes back home. He goes back to the USA and visits Kurtz’s wife, and he lies to her about what Kurtz is like. Very much in the same way as in The Godfather, when Kaye is allowed to ask the new Don Corleone, Micheal. She’s allowed to ask him one question about his business, and when he answers her he lies to her. The ending of Apocalypse Now was very much like that. It was very effective. I think probably one of the reasons it was rejected, was because it was to close to how The Godfather ended on a lie. A profound lie. Just like Apocalypse Now when Mrs. Kurtz asked him, “What was my husband like?” He lies to her. It’s interesting how you can spin all kinds of different versions of films in your head and think of how if they had used this version or that. It’s amazing what you can come up with. But you’re talking about Apocalypse Now, one of the greatest movies ever made.
Blu-ray Authority: That’s all pretty fascinating. I had no idea that that was the original ending. I mean it would be so different. I mean a totally different film.
Nick Redman: Now the ending is he has become Kurtz and he’s lost in the jungle. You don’t know if he will ever get back to civilization or get off the boat and take over Kurtz’s place.It’s all very ambiguous and powerful. Even though you know one version of the film actually ends with the compound being bombed. The airstrike has been called in and the airstrike happens and the compound is destroyed. In the main film in the way we saw it, Willard just gets back on the boat and you don’t know where he is going.
Blu-ray Authority: So Julie, what film is your guiltiest pleasure?
Julie: It’s a funny question and actually I have thought about this a lot. Now that I am an older person, I would say I feel guilty about none of my pleasures. I really don’t. However, in the spirit of your question, I would just have to say I love melodramas. I love them with a passion that knows no bounds. Something like The Best of Everything… I adore. What did we just see… it was kind of a melodrama, a little more serious than most, but Ship of Fools. I love. That’s Kramer and I love Kramer. Anything that is three gals in a city, if its about that, I’m going to watch it. Particularly if it’s an older film. Three gals in the city now – not so interesting. Three gals in the city in 1948 or 1956? Oh yes. I’m going to watch it.
Blu-ray Authority: Your son Daniel Kaufman is a filmmaker that recently made a biopic on Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs. What drew him to that project? How did he get involved in that?
Julie: Well he actually is a youngish guy – he’s not yet thirty, but he has done a lot of music videos. I think what has happened is just that his reputation has been building and so he was asked to do that. This is a world I am not terribly familiar with, but one thing I found out is that for these big videos, and in particular this biographical film, you have to do quite a lot of writing. First of all before you get the job, you have to write treatments to let the people know what your plan is for the film. Not every music video is going to have a script per se like a feature, but there’s that, and then the other thing is you have to have a distinctive visual style. Daniel really does. So I think it was a combination of his good writing and the fact that he had done quite a few things and had an interesting idea and interesting stylistic things to offer. That’s how he got the job. The other thing is that Puff Daddy just had huge amounts of footage. All kinds of things. His life for the last twenty years has been very thoroughly documented. There was a lot of material for Daniel to work with. Then it was the question of adding to it and bridging the material together to make it interesting beyond just having it be vintage footage.
Blu-ray Authority: Your daughter you mentioned is working for Penguin…
Julie: It’s Penguin Vintage and it’s all under the Random House umbrella.
Blu-ray Authority: That’s my favorite book label.
Julie: Guess what… we have a lot of those orange spines and black spines here too. We love them.
Blu-ray Authority: So she’s been helping on a book called Collusion. It’s on Trump’s Russian ties. She’s helping on it. Luke Harding is the author?
Julie: Yes. Luke Harding is the writer. He’s a fantastic British journalist. He also has written about Edward Snowden. He actually met Christopher Steele, the author of the Trump-Russia dossier that has not yet been fully confirmed, but I firmly believe it will be. This is his book where he brings together his entire case for how Russia actually deliberately helped Trump win. The title of the book says it all. Anna was a co-editor on that and we are all very proud of her she had something to do with that.
Blu-ray Authority: Do you guys ever sort of feel like you all are the Royal Tenenbaums with all these talented kids running around?
Julie: (laughter) I always say that Nick’s daughter is also fantastically talented. She is an actress/director/producer. She is amazing in the theatre. We will always say, we will look at each other and just shake our heads and go “We Failed!We failed miserably! We tried to tell them how hard this way of life was, but would they listen! No!”
Blu-ray Authority: It’s been a pleasure talking with you guys.
It was a great pleasure getting to talk with Nick and Julie. The interview took place in late November of 2017, but I waited to release it until I had it fully ready, and then thought it would be great to release on Valentine’s Day. If you have not checked out Twilight Time, I highly recommend you look through their releases. They are some of the best in the business. In the meantime, send your thoughts and prayers to Nick and Julie as he battles his illness and kiss your loved ones.