David Litz Interview, Grindhouse Glory


If you have been visiting the site for awhile now then you would know that I have been following the documentary Grindhouse Glory very closely. So I was really stoked to get the chance to ask director David Litz a couple questions about the project. So without any further babble here is the interview...

Hey David, were glad you could take some time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions for us. I wanted to start off by asking you how you found yourself involved with Grindhouse Glory?

I have been a fan of these types of films since childhood, really.  It occurred to me a few years ago that there wasn't a documentary that I was aware of that explored the origin and history, not to mention the allure, of the grindhouse era.  So, I decided to tackle it head-on and start shooting interviews with filmmakers from that era that I had access to. I knew there had to be interesting stories behind the origins of these films, stories that were as wild as the films themselves.  And I was right!
Some of our readers are probably too young or just have never heard about the old grindhouses in New York. Could you explain exactly what the Grindhouse is and what types of films use to play at them?
A Grindhouse was an inner-city theater that would show double and triple bills of exploitation movies, sometimes around the clock. They would show Kung-fu, blaxploitation, horror, any kind of exploitation films.  According to what I've read, a lot of wild characters hung out at these theaters: junkies, derelicts, prostitutes, you name it. Bill Landis and Michelle Clifford wrote a great book called 'Sleazoid Express' that really delves into the Times Square grindhouse scene during the late 60's to the early 80's.
It seems like making a documentary about the golden age of the Grindhouse would be a no brainer. Why do you suppose that it has taken so long for someone to finally make one?

Major studios and/or networks are probably afraid to tackle a documentary like this because the subject matter for a lot of these films is aggressively un-PC, which could limit the marketability of the project for them.  In my humble opinion,  the un-PC nature of the project is a major selling point.
Personally I am very excited about this project, so I would like to know who you interviewed for this documentary?

So far, we have interviewed Don Edmonds, Jeff Lieberman, David Durston, John "Bud" Cardos, Richard Compton (Pictured on the right side with David Litz on the left), Greydon Clark, and William Smith.  
Since all the Grindhouses are pretty much extinct did you end up using a lot of stock footage? or did you stay away from digging up old footage of the theatres?

For the 5 minute presentation trailer, we didn't use any archival footage of the theaters themselves, but I would absolutely LOVE to use some footage or stills of them.  That is something we will definitely include in the finished piece. If anyone has leads on this type of footage, let me know about it in the forum at GrindhouseGlory.com.

Were there any interviews that fell through that you really wish you could have gotten?
I want to do a section called "Young Turks", where we interview the new practitioners of the grindhouse aesthetic.  We had an interview scheduled with Rob Zombie, but it fell apart due to scheduling conflicts.

How exactly did you approach the subject? Will this be more of a look at the Grindhouse itself and the times or a look at the films?

A little of both.  The culture at the time (late 60's to the late 70's) was so permissive that it allowed films like these to find an audience. I think it is important to paint a picture of the "cultural moment", so to speak.  So we are having the interviewees talk about things like Viet Nam, Watergate, the sexual  revolution, etc.  These big issues of the day were often the background, or subtext, of a lot of the grindhouse classics, believe it or not.
Did you include any clips from the films to integrate into the documentary?
We are absolutely using clips! They are a major part of the story.

Which of the interviews was the most fun for you to conduct?
All of the interview subjects thus far have been very gracious. If I were to pick a favorite, though, it would have to Don Edmonds. His anecdotes are hilarious, and he had the whole crew laughing to the point where we blew a few of our own takes.
What stage are you in currently in the process of getting this film completed?

I would like to get 8-10 more interviews.  Right now, we have a 5-minute "proof of concept" trailer that we are showing around the web just to create buzz and get some feedback. This trailer is based on the 7 interviews I have conducted thus far, and we have copious film clips in it as well as a bunch of cool songs. So far, the feedback has been very positive.

Can you tell us what kind of timeline we are looking at for the release of Grindhouse Glory? Do you plan on playing a few theatres or taking it straight to DVD?

It really depends on what kind of interest we can generate from distributors. I can see it as a specialty documentary along the lines of "A Decade Under the Influence"  or "Inside Deep Throat", where it plays some art houses and festivals and then finds its real legs on cable and DVD (hopefully!) And, we are not ruling out posting it on the web and making it viewable that way.
I think with the string of horrible remakes this is a breath of fresh air and will expose many people to films that have been somewhat cast to the side. Was that something that you felt going into making the Doc?

Absolutely. These films and the unique individuals that made them have forever intrigued me. In a lot of ways, these grindhouse films were blazing trails and breaking taboos, and it is ironic that now you are seeing major studios doing remakes of films like "Dawn of the Dead" and "Texas Chainsaw Massacre". The people who made the original grindhouse films seem to embody the quintessential American entrepreneurial spirit: they accomplished their goals through street smarts, sweat equity, and more than a little showmanship. They didn't have the backing of major media conglomerates.

If you could go back and view any of the Grindhouse films of the past what double bill would get your money?

Wow, that's a tough one.  How about "The Candy Snatchers" and "Last House on the Left"?

So after you finish up with Grindhouse Glory do you have anything else you are working on? Perhaps a feature with that classic "grindhouse" feel? We
definitely need one.

I have a writing partner, and he and I came up with a new twist on the biker genre called "Blood and Chrome".  We wrote it a few years ago, and we are pretty proud of it. We also have a car-jacking thriller called "Dead End" and a thriller set in the corporate world called "The Promotion". I would say those are the three strongest "grindhouse" -type scripts we have.  I also have a "dream project" which is based on  a true story about a major crime figure from the Cleveland area. It could be like "Boogie nights" meets "Catch Me If You Can".  

Thank you once again David for taking the time to answer these questions for us. Is there anything else you would like to add or plug before you go?

Thanks for the interview. I hope to bring "Grindhouse Glory" to completion sooner rather than later. I hope the fans love it. I did this project as a fan, first and foremost, and I hope that sentiment comes through in the final project.  I also want to thank the hardworking crew on "Grindhouse Glory", and of course, a big "Thank You" to all the filmmakers that granted interviews.  Lastly, when it comes to format, I am very much a "film snob". I shot this film on 16mm, not on video/hi-def/digital/what-have-you.  I feel it really does justice to the subject matter. I am trained as a cinematographer, and I am a proud member of the International Cinematographers Guild, so I am doing my best to keep film alive.  So, kudos to all those filmmakers out there who still shoot on film!

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