Since 1998, Crispin Glover has been working hard to bring his What Is It? Down Syndrome trilogy to the screen. The first film took more than seven years to complete. It has been described as a bewildering, unnerving, surreal, black comedy that revolves around the inner and outer struggles of a young man facing villains and demons on multiple planes of existence. Though revered amongst critics and fans alike, the film has only ever been viewable at any one of Crispin's traveling book tour road shows. In 2007, the novelist and actor completed the second film in this trilogy It Is Fine. Everything is Fine!. Which again is only shown during one of Glover's live performances. Those lucky enough to have seen the film, which follows the plight of a man suffering from Cerebral Palsy and his inward fantasies, have hailed the picture as an "astounding masterpiece".
Now, Crispin is currently working hard as an actor in big budget films such as Alice in Wonderland and Hot Tub Time Machine to earn enough money to produce the third film in his trilogy It Is Mine. We recently caught up with the co-writer and producer of that film Ryan Page, who has his own directorial effort Blood Into Wine being in theaters this Friday. Here's what he had to tell us about the ongoing saga of Crispin's trilogy in the making:
I want to ask you about another film that you co-wrote and produced. Crispin Glover's What Is It? You guys are working on the third film It Is Mine. Where does that stand at the moment?
Ryan Page: Have you seen What is It?
Yes. But I have not seen the second one. It Is Fine. Everything Is Fine.
Ryan Page: I wrote a screenplay in high school. I was a senior. I didn't know anything about the movie business. I just knew that I wanted to be a writer/director. The only script I sent out was to Crispin Glover. I'm 18 years old and living with my parents. I'm still in high school. He called me up and said, "I love your script and I want to direct it. But I want everyone in the film to have Down Syndrome." I said sure. And that's how I started making that film. I produced it. We co-wrote It Is Mine. It is the third in our Star Wars trilogy of Down Syndrome films. That's what we like to call them. I haven't talked to Crispin in a while. We had a bit of a falling out. I don't know where he is at with that. He did another film called It Is Fine. Everything is Fine! Which I had nothing to do with. That is the second film in the trilogy. I haven't even seen it. I hope he does decide to shoot It Is Mine. He has been concentrating on acting. He's in Alice in Wonderland. But I hope he makes It Is Mine. I felt it was the best of the three scripts. He'll do it.
So he hasn't even started filming that one yet?
Ryan Page: Not as far as I know. No. I have made a career out of working with really eccentric, interesting artists. And it's not easy. From Crispin to Maynard, that is a strong through line of eccentricity there. They usually make the best films. They make the films that I am interested in seeing, and being a part of. But they're not the easiest guys to deal with, either.
We talked with Crispin during the promotional tour for Beowulf, and at the time he said he was only acting to gather enough money to complete It Is Mine. I thought maybe there was more information out there about the production at this point. That was back in 2007.
Ryan Page: I know he does do that. He will take roles in bigger budget films so that he can finance these movies he wants to make. Part of our falling out? It's nothing that extreme. The first film took ten years to make. It was ridiculous. I remember trying to figure this out once. We started before Titanic. And we came out after Eyes Wide Shut. But it went even beyond that. Even Kubrick and Cameron. We beat those guys. Even throughout their entire release patterns. And preparations. Everything. What is It really only came out a few years ago. We started working on it in 1999.
It had to have been 1999 that I saw an unfinished print of it. Then I didn't hear anything else about it until just a few years ago.
Ryan Page: Where did you see a print?
Crispin had come to La Luna in Portland, Oregon. Which I don't think is around anymore. He was doing his book tour, and it was supposed to be a ninety-minute show. But he came out and said that he was going to show the film first. That was so long ago. What I want to know is why the film has never been released on DVD?
Ryan Page: He believes in putting things onto DVD. But this was part of our falling out. Back at the beginning he told me, "Look, I don't care about revenue. I am not putting this film out on DVD." Mabe he is afraid of piracy. He likes to tour the film around. He is like the P.T. Barnum of obscure, independent filmmaking. He really wants it to be a show. He is literally at every single screening of it that he has ever had. It doesn't screen without him being there. It will never be on DVD.
He also said that he has the only existing print of Rubin and Ed.
Ryan Page: He is really good friends with that director. His name is Trent Harris. There is no more interesting person in Hollywood than Crispin Glover. Even though we have had our disagreements, I respect the guy. I would love to work with the man again on something that I direct. Our falling out was over the film getting out. A girlfriend of mine had taken it and watched it on VHS. That was our falling out. Literally. She had taken it from my house. We broke up. And she had a copy of it. He became irate. That was it. He is an interesting guy. I haven't talked to him for over five years.
It's good to know it will never be on DVD. I've always wanted to know a little more about the background on the film. It certainly is an interesting piece of art. And its something that sticks in your head. I'd like to see it again, it's been so long.
Ryan Page: It's cool. Like I said, I wrote the script when I was in high school with another guy. We turned it into him. And he liked the story. He just wanted everyone to have Down Syndrome. He was into bring that to the screen. When we show emotion, we try to mask what we are feeling. When you see a Down Syndrome person, their facial expressions are representing their true emotions. That is why Crispin was interested in working with Down Syndrome actors. We wrote the script a little bit with him. And that was that. I produced the first film What is It, and I was on set everyday.
Blood Into Wine opens this Friday, February 19th, 2010, in select theaters across the country.
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