Sometimes it seems filmmakers forget they are in SHOW business. It is never enough to simply make a film or screen a film, and then hope that they will come. You need to create an event about your work and screen it in a context that makes people want to participate.
James Schamus, my former business partner and now President of Focus Features, has long had a poster on display in his office for William Castle's The Tingler. He is just one of the many disciples of Castle, an auteur of showmanship if there ever was one. For those of us who missed out being Castle-ized back in the day, we are lucky to have Jeffrey Schwarz new doc on William Castle to feast on. And for you, dear reader, we are truly fortunate to have Jeffrey contextualize with a guest post on why Castle matters to us all.
The America that William Castle made his films for was a country that prided itself on its regional differences - a far cry from today's fast food and big box landscape. Unlike today, when a film will open simultaneously on 3000 screens, Castle's pictures opened city by city. He traveled from place to place and each campaign was tailored for that particular area. It was as if the circus was coming to town and Castle was the jovial ringleader. I feel this fostered a sense of community and allowed folks to make the experience their own. Today's movie going is becoming increasingly solitary, and I hope this film reminds people of the joy of a shared experience, and how movies can encourage community and connectedness.
William Castle's life is profoundly American. He was an orphan growing up on the streets of New York City who through fast-talking, bravado, and genuine talent made his way to Hollywood and reinvented himself. He put himself on the line financially and emotionally for his films, and for that reason Spine Tingler! is a tribute to dreamers everywhere.
Jeffrey Schwarz is President & CEO of Automat Pictures, a leading producer of studio EPKs, DVD content, original TV programming, and feature films. He has produced and directed the feature documentaries "Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story," winner of the AFI 2007 Documentary Audience Award, and "Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon." He is currently in production on "Activist: The Times of Vito Russo," an indpendent feature documentary about the beloved author of "The Celluloid Closet" and “I Am Divine,” the story of John Waters’ legendary muse.
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