Interview
Rock & Rule (Part 2)
Canada Trust Company/Unearthed Films
Clive Smith: When we finished this film, one of the cities that it was tested in was Boston. And I went down with Frank [Nissen], and we spent about three weeks going around universities with a whole package of slides and drawings and stuff, discussing the process of making this film. And we did radio interviews, we did TV interviews. I rented a car. I plastered Rock & Rule posters all over the car. This was a rental car. [laughter]

Lenora Hume: It wasn't those magnetic things you just peel off.

Clive Smith: No, these were pasted [laughter]. I remember because I spent hours in the parking lot when I was returning the car. [laughter] Hours before returning it, scraping this thing off.

But [we were] driving around Boston with this very loud car. Because there was no advertising. The film was simply dropped like a hot potato by MGM.

Anne Marie Bardwell: It was ignored.

Clive Smith: For a number of reasons. So we were down there trying to promote this thing. And it opened, indeed, it opened in about three or four theatres in Boston. And it was at the same time the universities were on their break. And all the kids were studying, I believe, and the theatre that I went into—oh, we had the investors down too. On the night of the opening, there were probably about fifteen of sixteen of us down there, and that was Patrick [Loubert], Michael [Hirsh], myself, a bunch of people. So we split up to go to different theatres. And then we reported back.

Well, there were four people at the theatre that I was in. And I think we all came back with about the same story.

Greg Duffell: Wasn't that the night that Flashdance came out? I heard that Flashdance came out that same week, and that was a huge hit.

Clive Smith: I don't remember whether that was the case in Boston. It might have been the case somewhere else.

John Halfpenny: I can't imagine there being a crossover audience. [laughs]

Greg Duffell: I hear there was some problem with United Artists when—I remember we were invited to a screening, a little screening in the studio. I don't know whether anybody remembers this, but they sent up a trailer of films that they were involved in. And I believe they were also involved in The Secret of NIMH, which was being made sort of concurrently as we were making [Rock & Rule].

Anne Marie Bardwell: That rings a bell.

Greg Duffell: But they sent up a trailer of what they thought was their big movie for the summer. And it was called Roadie. With Meat Loaf. [laughter]

Anne Marie Bardwell: Yeah.

Greg Duffell: And we saw this trailer, and I can't remember who was there, but we got this thing from United Artists [and said], "Hey, this is the company we're really working for," in a sense, you know, "This is the company that's going to be releasing this movie, and here's their big hope for the summer," [we] put on this five-minute thing, and it was the worst thing I'd seen in my life. And I thought, oh, there's problems down there at United Artists.

Robin Budd: I don't remember that at all.

Anne Marie Bardwell: I do.

Rob Kirkpatrick: You guys got caught up in that debacle with what happened at United Artists after Heaven's Gate. Wasn't that the reason why it wasn't—because after Heaven's Gate there was that huge, you know, sort of domino stuff that happened in Hollywood, and I think MGM/UA ended up not doing a lot of stuff, and yours was one of them.

Clive Smith: The fact is, when we made the original deal with United Artists, part of the agreement was to deliver the film at a certain time. Being new to the business, we thought we should just make it better, and we kept making it better. That was probably one of our lessons. It's more important to deliver the film on time. Then the second important thing is to make it better. So the problem was we were still working on it a year later. And MGM/UA changed—I think there were two or three sets of new brooms [that] came in during the time that we were still making the film. So by the time it was ready to be released there was nobody there who was a supporter of the film.

Anne Marie Bardwell: There was no alliance.

Clive Smith: Yeah, nobody was championing it. They basically just met the basic minimum requirements of the contract, which was to release the film in certain theatres, which they did. Without very much hoopla.

Anne Marie Bardwell: So we cried. We cried great, unappreciated tears.

Clive Smith: Oh, my God. I went to Nantucket for three weeks, did a lot drugs, and had a lot of lobsters. [laughter]

At the same time?

Lenora Hume: And had a lot of nightmares.

Robin Budd: [laughs] Yes, that would do it.

Larry Jacobs: They could have seen the movie, those lobsters.

Robin Budd: [watching "My Name is Mok" on the TV] Hey, girls.

Larry Jacobs: I'm looking at this and remembering a bit of gossip. Was it Michael who asked Lou Reed to sound more like Mick Jagger?

Dave Cox: He was polite, the way I heard it.

Anne Marie Bardwell: "Not a problem, man, not a problem."

Gord Hill: But it was so long, I remember. It just never had an end to it. Year after year. And you'd go in on a weekend, or something, and everyone was tired. I remember Lenora was so tired, I remember she said "All I want to do is sleep."

I recall that because everyone was so wasted. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. That's what it seemed like. And every time there'd be some revisions. You'd shoot these scenes, and then you'd be tired at the end of the week, and then a month later they would revamp something and then you'd do it all over again.

One time, I think they were trying to get some money. There were some investors who were going to give a chunk of money to keep the thing going. But the stipulation was if there was a certain number of sequences done. So we were asked, could we work these weekends to get this one sequence done, and Patrick came in, he was all like, "We've got to do it. Here's my offer: A plane ticket to anywhere in Canada." [everyone laughs]

John Halfpenny: Moncton, here I come! Woohoo!

Gord Hill: Then I remember I said, "Is that return?" [laughter] And just looked at me crosseyed. And he said, anywhere in Canada if you get this done, that was the offer. Gee, where's the farthest place? The Yukon? Whitehorse, I wonder what that costs.
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