Here is the unedited, real e-mail (not that fake crap you read on some film sites) that Jeff “The Dude” Dowd sent out just before the Sundance 2001 Film Festival kicked off. We love the Dude, no one parties like the Dude. And only the Dude would send out such a bizarre rant to everyone in his address book. He’s so high, we actually asked his permission to republish his e-mail and he said “Yes.” We love the Dude. Here is his unedited, long love rant:
Hi folks, ^ This is my love letter to all of you and my little way of saying thanks from the bottom of my heart to all the filmmakers— and all the people at all the organizations and companies who have given their lives to support the films and filmmakers because we know how important it is to keep the flame alive. -The Spirit of Sundance-the realm of ideas.
It may seem confusing at first but read on and it may just pay off.
It starts with a little note to Tom Bernard of Sony Classics which I was writing late at night and I kind of started reflecting on lots of personal memories and Sundance memories.
I thought they might be worth sharing with some of you who are my friends, others that know me and even those that don’t get my act so to speak.
Tom may, being a somewhat private individual, be embarrassed or bothered by my openness, but this is how I am choosing to tell the story and in saluting him I want to salute everyone who has made my life so rich.
As I was having an MRI this morning (thanks to wild dancing at China Club last Wednesday) to see how hard I can dance and if I can ski I was listening to Eric Clapton sing to Layla “I’m on my knees.” Well, this big fellow is his kness bowing down to you for all you have given and done.
And as I write my doctor (the best orthopædic Doc on the coast, Dr. Thomas Grogan) has said I’m okay to ski but I should restain my self going all the way to the floor when dancing. Guess I’ll just have to hold on tighter.
And away we go…
To: Tom Bernard ^ Sony Classics ^ Tom,
you should receive a fed ex package tuesday morning january 16 after 8 am
This is a personal token from your friend Jeff to you as congratulations for you and your teamates hitting the $30 million mark, your upcoming birthday and your friendship.
This is a very special something that I hope will remain close to your desk..
And in those moments when life is tough and you are taking a beating–just look at it and your spirit and power will return as you too feel part of a team and and you will know what to do as the power of the whole team multiplies your power.
Some have Buddha as a spiritual leader and honor his shrine, some have Yoda– others the Dali Llama. this shall be your spritual leader and shrine.
You have believed long ago and throughout many years in this force–and most recently you took a religious trek with many other followers to renew your belief.
This will commemorate your journey.
Yet, your shrine it is only 1/3 built. When you and your team hits the $50 million market and you get your Best Picture nomination you will be ready for the second part of your shrine.
And when you surpass $100 million (that’s domestic bub, not worldwide!) and when you get your Oscar for Best picture–then and only then will you be ready to embrace the third and final part of your special shrine and be empowered by it’s awesome power and ultimate spirituality.
Live large Tom!
And thanks for you and your team’s contribution to the mosiac of life that this shrine embraces.
And while not exactly a Gotham Award coming from Catherine Deneuve….
Your friend and admirer,
and his friend,
jeff “the Dude”
what the forwarded letter to Tom Bernard co-prez of Sony Classics , which is connected to this letter is all about is this:
some of you may remember a movie called SLAP SHOT– if you haven’t seen it check it out.
George Roy Hill directed it (BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, THE STING).
It starred Paul Newman who played a burnt out hockey coach of an upstate New York , class C hockey team (like Utica or something).
“The player-coach of a nowhere small town hockey team must deal with an intractable owner, hostile crowds and on-ice thuggery in this warm-hearted and only slightly farcical look at ice hockey. ” IMDB
Written by Nancy Dowd based on her brother Ned’s true life experiences (if we Dowd’s are related–an oft asked question -it would be through my great great grandfather Cleophas Dowd , who happens to be the guy who trained the horses for Butch Cassidy’s “Hole in the Wall Gang” (they said a Dowd horse wasn’t ready until you could shoot an entire six gun off between his ears and he wouldn’t blink) and gave a young sharpshooting –fellow gang member, named Harry Longbough ,the nick name “The Sundance Kid.”
Check out Redford’s coffee table book “The Outlaw Trail” in which he spends 7 pages on Cleophas–he ought to –Cleophas gave him the SUNDANCE KID name for christ sakes–until i gave Redford the temporary moniker “Ordinary Bob” in 1982 which stuck for awhile.
But I digress.
So in SLAP SHOT there were these three bothers –the Hansen Brothers based on 3 real life brothers–the Carlson Brothers –who Ned Dowd skated with, In the movie the Hansen brothers are guys with long , scraggily brown hair, thick black glasses and indeed the above mentioned thugs who even though they don’t look the type exactly, would skate on to the ice and kick a*s in a tres viscious way with little apparent interest in scoring goals as much as punches and wounds.
So I was on the way to say hello to Kenny Turan, who we were showing SCRATCH to Saturday night, with my kids (Annabelle 5 and Keely nearly nine) and Annabelle didn’t want to leave the house.
Fortunatley, I was able to get them out of the house because Keely had just bought her first wallet that she wanted to fill with my old credit cards etc and take the $40 or so saved cash and for the first time in her life buy her younger sister, Annabelle Daisy Dowd, something so Keely could feel she was “responsible.”
The same younger sister, Annabelle, who when Keely was three and realized Annabelle, the new born, was getting a lot of attention , too much as far as Keely was concerned, Keely said to me and her mom: “Mommy, daddy, let’s throw Annabelle in the garbage can and go to the beach.”
So, Keely wanted to go to this particular toy store on the Third Street Promenade.
But while inside she asked me and Annabelle to not watch her so she could suprise her with her present.
Well, those of you who have been paying attention, not doubt have figured out what happened next. Annabelle and I were crusing the store (she for her 118th Barbie) and me just checking out what’ the new trends are, when low and behold there on the shelf was:
A JEFF HANSEN action figure –about 10 inches tall with a stand that is one third of a corner section of a hockey rink which the package mentions can be joined to the other 2/3rds of the corner of the hockey rink and his other brothers.
Keely’s cash and my plastic hit the counter at the same time.
Tom Bernard ( who by the way , I get mistaken for 100 times a year– particularily if I lose about twenty pounds–you will see it happen live at Sundance yourselves).
Well by the time you read this Tom Bernard , (who skates on a championship hockey team in New Jersey every week and goes to Jerry Bruckheimer’s Vegas star hockey thing with all the celebs and is a Ranger season ticket holder) Tom will have his Jeff Hansen action hockey figure.
And you folks, who are headed to Sundance will have a little history about how it and we are all connected–
our lives, our movies, the line between the Hansen Brothers kicking a*s and a young woman kicking a*s in a kinder, gentler, more spiritual manner in Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon and how Tom Bernard and his Sony teamates are kicking a*s at the boxoffice and awards ceremonies,
and a fellow named Cleophas Dowd who rode with Butch and Sundance
and the Seattle Seven –some of who called themselves , including Jeff, “the Dude,” Dowd, The Sundance Collective (prior to BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID movie coming out thanks to Joe Kelly reading a book to us called “The Outlaw Trail” –the original not Redford’s)
And why this Dude will never forget a wonderful guy named Ordinary Bob Redford who decided to use his power to create an oasis of thought, friendship and vision in the Wasatch mountains of Utah and allow us to experience a chance for our tribe to come together and re-write history and not live in the past like the dinosaurs who abound, but embrace the future –with movies, music, theatre, dance and now Kenny Griswald and Jim Steele the inter-active internet village and who know’s what else.
As the creative organism expands to SlamDance, and Slumdance (where bob’s daughter could be seen dancing with her friends in the wee hours a couple of years ago) and all the other Nodances, etc.
We live in the realm of ideas where hopefully we can learn to live together as a society .
And many of us fondly remember Sterling Van Wagenen, Lori Smith (still alive) and others who aren’t except in our hearts and minds : Frank Daniel and Waldo Salt and Geoge White and dear, dear Claire Townsend and John Earle and all the others who layed the foundation for the Institute and the Festival they blazed the trail for us all.
And to Harvey and Bob , and Lindsey Law and Tony Safford and Bill Mechanic. , Steven Soderberg, Marcie Bloom, Jon and Marcus, and Joel and Ethan and Fran, Quentin, Kevin Smith, Eammon, Larry, and Russell Schwartz, Scott, Donna, Steven, Tom Bruggerman, Jon and Janet Pierson, Dennis Oconnor, Claudia Gray, and Ray Price, Chrisine V and Jeff Sharpe and Mr Harte, Liz Manne, TC , Paul Cohen , Mark A, Emily and Nancy, and Bob Shaye, Sara and Mark, Tom and Mark , Peter Broderick and John Re, and David and Ruth, Ellen, john F , Jon Dolgen , Ira Deutchman, Rob Friedman, Barry Reardon, Amir, Tom S, Rona, Clint, Valerie, Todd Mccarthy, Sydney and Peter, Sydney Pollack, Oliver Stone, and Roger Ebert, Gene, Kenny Turan , Elvis, Vincent, Janet, David Ansen, Dave Kehr, Richard and Mary Corliss, Amy Taubin and Amy Wallace, Patckick Goldstein, Shelia Bensen, Judy Stone and Ruby Rich , Charles Champlin, Andrew, Rick Jameson, Kathleen Murphy and Jim Emerson. John and Bill. Harry Knowles, Moriarity and Jon Robie, , Ann Thompson, Mark Gill, John Anderson, and Jeff Lipsky , Duane, Kirk, Bob and Jeanne Berney, Steve G, Kim J, Max, Bob, Greg Læmmle and Trisch Michele , Bil and Stella and Tom Luddy and Francis, Randy F and Bill Q and Ralph and Mel and Gary, Ted and Jim, Bert M, Howard Cohen, Sam and Meyer, Chris Gore, David P, Jeff Wells, Linda Brown and Jimmy, Peter Baxter and Dan Mirvish, Udy, Greg H, H, Dan Ireland and Daryll Macddonal, Reid and Hiroshi, Linda l and Carlos and Harris, Mark and Laura , Harry, cara, Jeremy, jeff, Falco folks, Donna D, and Larry Jackson and Jane Alsobrook and Geoff Gilmore, Nicole Guillemet, Lynn Auerbach, , Heather Ræ, Rebecca Yeldham, RJ Millard, Saundra Sapperstien, Sandy (with the camera), Legh Von der Esch, Tom(always at the door), Jill Miller, Trevor, Cara and Carla, Michelle Satter,Ken Brecher, Ron Fowler, Ian Calderon, Mary Kerr, Shari, Cooper, Michelle, Dawn, Alex, IFP east and west, Danaielle Neuharth, Lisa Viola, Louis Black, Richard Penaand Wendy Keyes, Charlie Sotelo, Rene Missel, Shaun Redick, Cassian and Rena, John Sloss, Tom Garvin, Mica and Matt, Ron Fowler, Whitney, Shaz, and the globe trotting aquisitions people like Matt , Arriana, Rosanne,Dylan, Lelani, Tom Quinn, and all the rest of you amazing people who I can’t remember at this moment at 4 am who have given your blood. sweat and tears –your entire f*****g lives to keep the independent vision alive in an often dark world-
And and a extra special thanks again to Geoffrey Gilmore-who has to take so much s**t for not selecting movies and work so hard with Nicole and their staffs to pull it all together-thanks for all the years you have given us and we will be right behind you helping you in anyway we can as you start year new life wherever it is -wherever it is in Burbank- wherever it is behind the Hollywood Way gate- wherever it is when you make a right at the water tower- where ever you are we got your back Bro! Because you had ours!
I for one feel so f*****g lucky to know all of you and live in the warmth of your shadow and the light of your vision– so as I bow down to Tom Bernard today and Bob Redford–I bow down to you with all the heart and spirit that I started this year on New Years Day bowing down to our Washington Huskies (theme song “Bow Down to Washington”) at the Rose Bowl as we started the year victoriously in a sea of PURPLE at the ROSE BOWL. (see attachment pic with UW student body prez ’77 Chris Pearson –who could pass for a Hansen brother)
I know that this will be a winning year for us all–we will all have many victories as we have in the past. As, the wise master and artist DJ QBERT says in SCRATCH–we are all on the same team and let’s try not to forget it. He was at the top of the world of “battling” and he stopped competing because he realized the only people we are competing against are ourselves. And now he is exploring new ways to express himself with his movie Wave Twisters that will blow minds at Midnight at Sundance.
It is a tough, tough world out there. We are the blessed ones, the very very luck ones who are lucky enough to go to Sundance this year. Where we can watch movies, make friends, and even party and ski and call it work.
We are the lucky ones who have been given power that few share –to really have the ability to communicate to millions and billions throughout the world.
I have made a new friend Sergio Castilla, a Chilean/American filmmaker, who is doing this. I only met him though his movie TE AMO (Made in Chile) and over the phone and Internet but I will meet him at the Oyster Bar in SLC just before the opening night film. Te Amo means I love you. And his movie takes 17 year old kids from two cultures (American and Chilean) who start sentences in English and finish in Spanish. Kids who have little support from their parents and have to find meaning and love and friendship themselves. They could be Japanese, French or Thai-they are part of the worldwide culture.
It’s about how we find love. I was inspired by it and I think young people from around the world may be too! Go Sergio.
And I made another new friend, Jeff Jenkins, who has a film at Slamdance called Play Dead that may seem like a gay necrophiliac love story on the surface that I suspected would revolt me but turns out to be so sweet and funny and once again about how we find love in an oft cold world.
It is like yesterday in my memory to see Steven Soderberg at the premiere of SEX, LIES AND VIDEO TAPE sitting in a Prospector Theatre praying to get distribution and very disapointerd when the very same Tom Bernard and Michæl Barker weren’t that excited about his movie. As Sly Stone would say “Different strokes for different folks.” Not the right match. Enter Harvey.
Well, Steven is doing a hell of a job using his power in a great way this year. Go Steven–enterain us, educate us and inspire us!
And so are Tom and Michæl and Harvey using their power in new and interesting ways too. (yes I am putting these “rivals” in the same sentence for a reason).
There are going to be tremendous “corporate pressures” on many of us–just like the pressure for a coach to make it to the Super Bowl or be fired.
But movies aren’t sports teams. Not in the eyes of the public. There are all kinds of ways different movies do different things for different people. And people go to movies for different reasons than football games.
Everyone of you knows that but the pressure is going to be really tough from the bottom line folks in the near future –mergers can be very good and very bad at the same time. As Huxley is quoted in “The Thought Gang” : “The truth lies at both extremes at once.”
So to all of you who have taken chances before (and know or fear it is going to be tougher for some now than ever to continue to do so) let’s not forget that the public will come to the rescue and flock to a concentration camp period piece movie because they know “Life is Beautiful” and they want it re-affirmed, they need a spiritual fill-up. Or go to a movie in Chinese with sub titles.
The stronger ones must support the chance takers even if they are so called competitors or rivals. A recession is going to bring huge pressures. And there may be one.
That’s for my father and step-father who are both economic historians to share with you and clearly articulate if you want.
We need a summit conference (like we had at Sundance in 1981) to deal with some serious problems like what’s going on in exhibition. Yo–what happened to the Sundance theaters?–this is part of a huge debt crisis problem not for lack of effort by the Sundance Kid and the Gang.
And let’s talk about opportunities that we can help corporate folks understand — like why don’t we help AOL TIME-WARNER follow Gerald Levin’s intitial news conference pledge that this is all being done to help more ideas spread to more people. I think those ideas are in movies and should not only be on the trail blazing champions like the Sundance Channel and IFC but many of these movie should be on HBO and TNT with Harrison Ford giving a little back and introducing movies and Michæl Jordon too as well as Soderberg and Spielberg. And AOL could spread the word. BLAIR WITCH is the tip of the iceberg. We got the content –let’s deliver it together.
But we must meet–and talk together and unify so the corporate pressures are relaxed enough to take chances–in unity there will indeed be strength. That doesn’t negate how well many are doing within their corporate environment–congrats! Nor does it negate healthy competition. But better to compete within movie palaces where movies have a chance to breath than out in the streets knifing it out with each other to get in for a week before getting thrown out and sinking together anyway in the sewer.
And we can actually improve if not solve the theatre problem if we talk it through. This could be an an opportunity now with these closing theaters if we talk and work it through. TOGETHER! It is one of the lynch pins to helping us communicate better and use our power better.
But I digress. And I’m feeeling a little bit like Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire.
And it’s time to sleep–and by the way the only drug I am on is your spirit–so thanks again from the bottom of my heart.
We are so lucky as long as we never forget what John Lennon said :
And last year when I was giving the IFP West Sundance Informational deal with Laura Kim, and others, Geoff Gilmore’s assistant, Chantelle said-“remember with all the business and all the other stuff- just try to see movies and enjoy yourself.” She’s right!
LET’S GET IT ON!
See you at Sundance,
your friend and fan -Jeff Dowd