Alexander Baack is the writer and director of Hollywood Musical: Here is a link to his website:
Q: What is “Hollywood Musical” about?
A: It’s about a group of artists in Hollywood struggling with their personal and professional lives. There’s a director, a screenwriter, an actress, a singer and a producer, among many others we meet along the way. They also occasionally burst into song.
Q: What inspired you to make the movie?
A: Total depression. I’d been at this for over 20 years, trying to start a career first as an actor, then as a writer and director, but about 5 years ago I was finally ready to give up. It was the first time I’d really felt that way, as bad as it’s been in the past. This was the first time I’d faced the mortal abyss of actually surrendering to total defeat. And I really wanted to. I wanted to call Dr. Kevorkian and pull the plug. But I just couldn’t walk away after all that time and work without proving to myself one last time that I could make a movie that I was really happy with, regardless of the budget. Around this time my good friend and genius composer, D.D. Jackson came to L.A. to play the Jazz festival at the Hollywood Bowl (with Bill Cosby’s band!) and he suggested I just pick up a camera and shoot something (again). That night I was watching the Tony awards and I thought, “Well, nobody’s done a no-budget musical. Not really.” I called up D.D. and blamed him and sent him a script the following week.
Q: How autobiographical is it?
A: It’s so autobiographical I had to split myself into two characters. The director (who I play) is my more benevolent side. The positive, patient one who just appreciates the love of his family and keeps putting one foot in front of the other. The screenwriter (beautifully played by my good friend, Stefan Lingenfelter) is my cynical, bitter side. The one who’s had it with mediocrity, ignorance and a seemingly Jobian fate in an art form he still loves with all his heart. It’s also autobiographical in that all the other characters are a mix of so many friends of mine, men and women, most over 40, who have been pounding their heads against a wall for decades, cannot catch a break but still find a way to keep going, and without losing their passion for what they do. It’s something I find quite beautiful.
Q: How did you get funding for the film?
A: I didn’t. I just scraped a little together and shot it in 8 days. I still owe money to my mom’s friend Abigail.
Q: How did you get Sally Struthers to be in your movie?
A: She’s an old friend of Angela Pupello, who plays Diva the singer. Sally was so great. Supportive, funny as hell and game for anything. She didn’t care what she got out of it. She was just happy to help out some kids with a dream.
Q: How will you get it distributed?
A: It didn’t get into a single festival anywhere after three years of trying and no distributor would touch it. But a nice guy named Glen Reynolds at Circus Road Films got it to a small digital distributor called Indie Rights and they agreed to put it out so it’s now available on iTunes, Amazon, Xbox and Vudu. We also put out the soundtrack on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.
Q: What are the advantages and disadvantages of using a green screen?
A: I imagine the advantage is that you can have people in spaceships. But I haven’t used one yet.
Q: What are your real feelings about the film “Crash”?
A: Ha! You’re referring to Stefan’s explosive lament against that movie. Well I don’t like to trash other artists’ work. I’d rather hide behind fictional characters and let them do it for me
Q: Do you think that aspiring actors, writers and directors are more inspired by a need to create or a need for validation?
A: Man, I don’t know. There’s too many people out there with all kinds of motivations. But I’d guess there are many who start with a need to create and end up with a need for validation.
Q: If you could turn any book into a movie what book would you pick and why?
A: Hm, there’s a few. I’ve adapted one but I don’t think I’d better mention it here for legal and karmic reasons. But there are a few that come to mind. I would love to do Brian Selznick’s Wonderstruck but I’m sure someone’s already on that. There’s a Fitzgerald short story called The Glass Bowl I’ve always wanted to adapt. I really want to do a movie from John Taylor Gatto’s Weapons of Mass Instruction but what that would be like is beyond me right now. Just about anything by Michael Chabon, though his writing is so great it should probably be left alone. Great movies rarely come from great prose because it’s a totally different form of expression. It’s the lesser novels with great plots that translate better into great cinema. Think of The Godfather, The Graduate, M.A.S.H., Jaws, Raging Bull or Schindler’s List. Nobody, in my opinion, has ever been able to make a great movie from The Great Gatsby or Lolita.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)