Have you ever thought about publishing the screenplays? ^ We had a deal to publish one of the screenplays once. In fact, Crumb did a few drawings for it. I don’t know what came of it. We sort of went on to other things and lost interest. One of them’s really good. He wrote most of it. I cannibalized some of it for this film, some of the stuff with Seymour dating Dana. That whole scene where he’s watching Peter, Paul and Mary on TV, we had to cut the whole joke out of the thing because the rights at the last minute to that footage got crazy. That scene was the best thing I’d ever accomplished as a filmmaker just totally cut to ribbons as unrecognizable.
How did you meet Dan Clowes? ^ I liked his comics a lot. And Robert Crumb stays with me and my wife whenever he’s in San Francisco and at one point I was working my way through all of these bad scripts. And my wife worked at Last Gasp Publishing and Crumb would always go there to get comics anyway, so he’d always bring stacks of comics back here. And one day my wife was pushing me to do Ghost World as a movie. It was her idea. And I didn’t see it translating very well, there’s no plot, it’s very episodic, great dialog, great characters. So, I asked Robert Crumb about Dan. He says, “Oh, he seems like an okay guy.” So I went over there to meet him and I liked him right away. He’s very funny, very smart guy and I threw out the idea of writing a screenplay with him. We threw around a lot of ideas and we kept going back to Ghost World and I tried to retain what was very strong and personal to me about it. I very much related to these two alienated teenagers. That’s pretty much how I still feel. I always feel very much an outsider and alienated person as a teenager. I still am. The Seymour character I added is based on me. I hauled most of my house down to LA to be in his room. It’s all my stuff for the most part. I collect old records. I just had to make it more personal to make it interesting to me. So it became this very weird hybrid of the comic and this stuff I was adding. I told Dan from the start that this is going to be different from the comic, you’re probably going to hate it. I kept him very heavily involved and I’m glad I did. I kept him on the set every day.
How did you and Dan Clowes go about writing the script? I understand that you type using one finger? ^ (Laugh) It was pretty slow. It took a year and a half. (Laugh) I had an office in San Francisco and we would meet there once a week and we would meet at his house in Berkeley once a week and usually just go out to a dessert place and have coffee and talk. But it took us a year and a half to get the story down. Our producer Lianne Halfon was very helpful with the whole thing. She sort of guided us along and she met with us in person every month. We would meet about twice a week and she encouraged us very emphatically to get the structure down and get the story down. And then make note cards for each scene and then assign each other scenes to write and come back and critique each other’s scenes. So I let Dan write almost all of the Enid and Rebecca stuff. A lot of which got cut out of the film since I ended up not relating to it. It turned out to be like a three-hour film that I had to cut about an hour and a half out of.
It’ll make a great DVD. ^ They won’t let me put a lot of the deleted scenes on the DVD. I’m having a fight now. Thora Birch doesn’t want to allow it. Her father is her manager and I have yet to talk to him.
It’s not like she did nude scenes. Or did she?! ^ No, she didn’t. The scenes that I would put in are very well acted on her part. I think they would be very interesting for people to see. I don’t know what her objection is to it. I didn’t realize that all the actors on deleted scenes have to sign off on them before you can use them. I would just assume that the studio owns them but apparently not.
I want to get serious for a moment and talk to you about: farts. ^ (Laugh) Originally I had four farts that I put into this. I was on the ground crying with laughter when I put in these four farts and Dan and Lianne really fought me on them. The one that I left in they were really against. I like it. I think it has everything to do with that character. It’s like the ultimate insult. Seymour sitting around and this fat, slob of a roommate comes in and it seemed in character to me, so I added it.
It’s just so funny because it goes completely unacknowledged. ^ It’s exactly what that roommate would do. And it’s very understated and I thought it was hilarious and Dan hated it and Lianne hated it. It was a big fight. I don’t know why they got so upset over that.
You could do a director’s cut of the movie and just put all the farts back in so the movie can be seen as you originally intended – with lots of farts. ^ (Laugh) I have all the fart jokes on the deleted scenes, but I don’t know if I can use them now.
Get the complete story in the final part of CRUMBY DIRECTOR: A TERRY ZWIGOFF INTERVIEW>>>