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Dawson 3rd Draft

Dawson 3rd Draft

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Published by wellesnet
3rd draft of interview
3rd draft of interview

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Published by: wellesnet on Apr 03, 2013
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04/03/2013

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LF: I was just looking at the American Cinematographer article you did onOTHELLO. You say in this article that you were going to do a documentary onOrson Welles?MD: Interesting that you should mention that. I was recently at a cocktail party inChicago, and I was surrounded by friends who were saying "All right Mike; it's timeto get on with the show, so to speak." Originally (CITIZEN WELLES) was thoughtof as a 90-minute feature. With Orson Welles, the material...let me give you anexample: a professor who teaches at the University of Tallahassee, was writing ahistory of radio, but he kept finding more and more material, and this just went onand on and on, and that's kind of the way the situation has been with thedocumentary. Of course, when you take on Orson Welles, it can become anastronomical Black Hole.We now have probably about 35 hours of raw footage in the can, shot in all differentformats, including 35mm. We realized we've got a three volume - at ninety minutesper volume - series of films here. So essentially, Volume 1 is about 80 percent done.Like with anything though, when you get involved in other projects outside the filmindustry, you can get waylaid. So that's where that lies. I'm pursuing the idea of atleast releasing Volume 1. We've got some real rare stuff that I can't divulge, butwhat's interesting now is something I had asserted thirty years ago, watching thenews footage about Welles’ passing and thinking about the mythology of his declineafter CITIZEN KANE and how it should be rectified somehow. He continued tomake masterpieces, but just did so under increasingly difficult circumstances. That'sbeen essentially my attitude about it.LF: So does this footage consist of interviews with people and so forth?MD: Interview footage, some rare footage from the Todd School for Boys, things of that nature. We in the Midwest have been glad to discover that he sprang from us,and had his formal schooling at the Todd School in Woodstock, which is about anhour and a half from Chicago. It's like a wonderful little oasis in the middle of thecornfields, but of course, everything is always expanding.
Michael Dawson interview with LarryFrench 2012
 
LF: I've talked with Kathleen Spaltro, who wants to put on a show there for thecentennial in 2015. She was the one who spearheaded the effort to save GraceHall, the last remaining building at Todd. The council eventually voted against it,and tore it down to build apartments instead.MD: That's too bad. When we had Beatrice there as a guest years ago, weactually stayed with the woman and her husband who came up with the money torestore the Opera House. At that time there were two buildings left from Todd,the other being, I believe, their stage building, which still remains. It became aMasonic Lodge before being converted into a condominium complex calledRoger Hall.
TOP: Orson Welles with Todd School class in front of Grace Hall, 1930BOTTOM LEFT: Grace Hall destroyed in 2011BOTTOM RIGHT: Woodstock Opera House
 
Woodstock Opera House
MD: As you know, I recently attended the Opera House Orson Welles stagededication, an idea conceived by Chuck Workman for his project on Welles. I wasalso shooting some footage for these little spots that we’re going to release forpromoting the 100th anniversary festival, and the 80th anniversary fest next year(of the 1934 Theatre fest that Welles staged with Hilton Edwards and MichaelMacliammior). Chuck was wondering why there were cameras there at the stagededication, because he knows I have my own project. I told him that the joke wasoriginally, since my project was started in 1988, “was CITIZEN WELLES goingto be finished before the 20th Century was over?” Now the joke is, “Is the filmgoing to be finished before the end of the 21st Century?”I’ve since been approached by several people, including an affiliate of the BBCwhich surprised me. They had done the Arena documentary back in 1982,probably one of the better documentaries on Welles. We put together thisexpansive 30-minute work-in-progress trailer, which we did copyright...and oneof the original investors, who wanted us to at least get Volume One done in timefor the 100th birthday, was concerned that I might be giving away things in myinterview for Chuck that they wanted kept secret for my film. So there’s been abit of pressure from my friends and investors in the project not to “show mycards”, so to speak.LF: You mentioned footage of the Todd School and Roger Hill. Have you thoughtof putting some of that together for the celebration next year?MD: I’m going to take a lot of stuff from Volume One and use it for these one-minute promos, for both next year and the 100th. It’ll be showing bits and piecesof it to promote both the fests and my documentary; hopefully it will serve a twofold purpose.So one thing I’ve thought about is releasing Volume One at the beginning of 2015, then a few months later release Volume Two, then at the end of the yearrelease Volume Three. That way, we can get the whole thing off the shelf. Nextyear would be a perfect opportunity to show the Woodstock stuff, so it’s certainlypossible we could show some of it as a “work-in progress”.

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