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'Not Fade Away' Creator David Chase Wants to Stick with Film, But Return to Genre

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood December 27, 2012 at 6:22PM

I expected "Sopranos" creator David Chase to be scary and intimidating. He's a sweetheart. I first met him at an industry screening of "Not Fade Away," a look back at his days as a young musician in New Jersey. The movie opened December 21 after a New York Film Festival launch. Is this movie commercial? No. But it's good. And it hits the Boomer demo head on. Did you listen to John Mayall and James Brown in high school? Remember when vinyl records were wrapped in plastic and people wore pea coats and grey suede Vegas boots? Then this movie is for you.
'Not Fade Away'
'Not Fade Away'

With TV you live with it for years and you're working at it all year long, the ctiicism or the reaction, what you feel yourself about it changes over a period of time. You watch it on air, it's a much longer connection with the audience.

AT: It's thanks to 'The Sopranos' that you got to make this movie.

DC: Brad Grey had a lot to do with it. Could this movie have been made at another studio? Probably. I can not go back in time four years and think and try to deduce how much heat I had off that show. Someone else might have gone a long way into it, maybe not as readily.

AT: He also made it possible for you to buy all that great music. Do you still play vinyl records?

DC: Yes, with independent financing we wouldn't have had the Stones and the Beatles. My music, I have CDs, my vinyl collection is in bad shape. I don't use LPs in my house.

AT: Were there songs you couldn't get?

DC: We were able to get almost everything we wrote, the only exception, I was brokenhearted that we couldn't get The Who.

AT: Did the studio give you notes and set parameters about what you could and couldn't do?

DC: I can't remember the ins and outs with Paramount, they were not concerned about a great deal. I was given pretty much a clean slate to do as I wish. Once we shot, they had things to say about the edit.

AT: You had disagreements?

DC: It was tough, it took a long time, we exceeded the time limit allotted for the edit. Nobody told me anything. I kept editing for over for a month, they wanted me to edit, I kept selling them on the idea that it would be shorter, which they liked. The first version was 2 1/2 hours, now it's 1 hour and 54 minutes. There was more of the mother in it, more about Douglas's family life than there is now. It got repetitious. Now we're holding to the central story of the band's progress.

AT: Any of the performances surprise you?

DC: Jack Huston. He's very young; I'm sure he'll be a marquee name. He's a good guy. He deserves it, he's a serious actor, like Jim [Gandolfini] in that respect. He's tough on his own performance, wants to make sure to get every little thing, always feels he hasn't.

AT: Would you like to make another movie?

DC: I like the idea that it is finished. I have a sense of completion and closure. This is one of the reasons I'd like to do it again. When a TV series is successful, it goes on and on, you find yourself solving the same kind of problems every week, that's the good and the bad of it. Movies present new challenges you never thought existed, the whole idea is how to solve the problem, to put it in the visual sense.

AT: You had a learning curve.

DC: Yes, true. In fact people who know me said 'you learned a lot.' I did, I remember watching Kurosawa get his Lifetime Achievement Oscar at age 85, he said, 'the great thing about filmmaking is you never stop learning, there's always brand new stuff to learn.' That's a good way to go through life.

AT: What would you do next?

D.C. I don't know, I'm trying to figure it out. This was personal, autobiographical. At the moment I tell myself to do something more genre--I don't consider coming-of-age a genre--more of a psychological thriller cowboy coming-of-age. It's a category. A couple of things I am looking at. I want to make up my own stories, 'Sopranos' was genre. I enjoy that kind of thing. I was thinking about Bella Heathcote, her friend Andrew Dominic did "Killing Them Softly." I envy him his mob man. That's the way it is in the grass-is-greener out-of-genre world. I want to get back into that and amp up. When we first talked, Gandolfini told me, 'you know this is very difficult, you are biting off a lot here.' I stupidly didn't hear him.


This article is related to: Not Fade Away, James Gandolfini, Jack Huston, Interviews, Interviews

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.