If you know movies, you know Roger Corman. You can’t help but know it, because in many circles of fandom Roger is known as the King of Crap, a guy who has produced or directed at least four hundred movies that can be described in two word: “Low Budget”. These days Roger’s work usually ends up on the Syfy Channel (or as I like to say it, “Siffy”), as the Saturday Night Monster Movie, where we have been entertained with the likes of Piranhaconda, Dinocroc vs. Supergator, and that most marvelous of wonders, Sharktopus.
Corman makes movies. Good or bad, you can argue that all you like. He has said that he’s never lost money on a film, because he goes cheap and fast. It is said that he completed filming of Little Shop of Horrors in two days. A running joke was that he could negotiate a movie over a pay phone, then shoot the movie in the phone booth with the money found in the change slot.
There’s something else he’d done: he’s pretty much made modern cinema.
No way, you’re saying. Way, I tell you. This guy may be a schlock merchant, and he’s done a lot of things on the cheap; yep, no argument there. He’s also discovered, or gave early roles to, Jack Nicholson, Charles Bronson, Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Diana Ladd, and Sandra Bullock. He worked early on with screen writer Robert Towne. And he’s mentored and/or given starts to a few directors you may know: Jonathan Demme, Francis Ford Coppola, Ron Howard, John Sayles, James Cameron, Joe Dante, and Martin Scorsese.
Roger has always been ready to help people get started, to show them what they need to know to keep making moving and being creative. We have ways of doing that today, though most do not involve making miniature flying piranhas.
I have more than a few friends who are in the creativity business. The majority of them are writers, like me, but I know a few poets, a couple of artists who love to draw, and one film maker. I’m all over the place, I am, being plugged into this network of magic makers who, for the most part, struggle to get their creations made so that others may enjoy.
My filmmaker friend is Jo Custer. Her bill paying job involves driving a cab done New Orleans way, and she’s written about the experience a few times. She made one short film, Hotcakes, and she’s in the pre-production phase of her second film, Sonuvabitch. There’s a nice website up for the film, to give you all the information you may need, but there’s something else as well– See, Jo wants to do things a bit different this time around. She wants to shoot on locations; she wants better equipment, and she needs more actors, because she has one scene that involves about twenty people in frame.
Jo has put up a Kickstarter to help her meet her budget, because she isn’t exactly getting funding from Universal. I get involved in Kickstarts now and then, only because I’ll see something come along that gets me interested, and I slide a few bucks their way. I don’t do it very often, but when I can help out the creative community, I do what I can.
I know what you’re saying: “Cassie, are you hyping this woman’s project?” Yeah, I am. I usually don’t do things like this–hell, I hardly promote my two stories–but I like Jo. She has something I didn’t have at her age, and that’s tenacity. She puts in a lot of long hours in an attempt to reach her dreams, and if I had been more tenacious with my creativity when I was her age, I might be sippin’ on cognac right now, thinking about what i’m going to write next–though if I’m sippin’ on cognac at nine AM, I’m probably working on getting drunk by ten.
We should help the dreamers however we can. I gave money to a young girl who had been accepted into Space Camp, but who didn’t have the finances to travel there, nor to cover her expenses while there. I gave her money because when I was a kid I dreamed of going into space, and if I could go to Space Camp today, I’d leave in a second. If there is one thing I could do before I shuck this mortal coil, it would be to go into space.
I know about dreams: I have them all the time. Some of them I’m starting to turn into life, and one day, maybe, they will be my life.
Jo’s got a dream. If you can, help her out. If nothing else, pass the info along to some friends who might be interested in playing Roger Corman in their own way, ’cause when you make a dream come true, it not only brings you good karma, but it makes the world a better place.
That said, I need to start working on a story treatment I have for a film called Acrocalypse—
I heard Roger might need something for Siffy, and I believe I got a winner here.