The digital video boom has made it easier than ever for anyone to make a movie – and, as a consequence, has made it harder than ever for the talented artist to get his or her movie noticed. Writer-director-cinematographer Tim McCann drew critical acclaim for his first two projects, “Desolation Angels” and Revolution #9, landing endorsements from such luminaries as Roger Ebert and Jonathan Demme. Yet McCann has had to self-distribute both films in order to get them seen, thanks to the indifference of the dominating film industry that has no room for edgy, offbeat and original visions.
On the heels of the recently released Revolution #9, McCann is slaving over the tail end of post-production on his latest project, the pitch-black comedy “Nowhere Man,” starring Michael Rodrick and “B-Movie Goddess” Debbie Rochon. Like his previous films, “Nowhere Man” concerns itself with male angst and emotional disturbance. And, in all probability, McCann will end up distributing this one too.
To the mainstream film industry, “independent” means “under five million dollars”, but something produced between $25,000 and $50,000 is completely beneath notice, referred to as a “B-Movie” in a derogatory tone normally reserved for backyard-shot slasher movies. While “Nowhere Man” contains some gruesome material – the film is about a woman who castrates her husband and proceeds to hold the member for ransom – it is a piece of Outsider Cinema far removed from juvenile horror fare. Hollywood suits are unlikely to make the distinction.
The indifference the mainstream feels towards the Outsider filmmaker is mirrored in McCann’s utter contempt for today’s entertainment realm – a healthy hatred cultivated at an early age. “When I was 15 my mom took me to a local library film series, where they showed a 16mm print of Werner Herzog’s Aguirre: The Wrath Of God and I was spellbound by it’s greatness,” McCann says. “I thought it was so refreshing from the diarrhea at the local multiplexes that I was supposed to identity with, like “Porky’s” or “The Breakfast Club.” A couple weeks later I saw “The Conformist.” It became my life to try and make films. Little did I know how goddamn naive I was to aspire to these types of films, and that films like the ones I hated would from then on completely take over the market place.”
A graduate of SUNY Purchase, where he now teaches, McCann was drawn to making films like the ones he’d appreciated as a kid, influenced by Sam Fuller and Michelangelo Antonioni, turning his back on “popular” entertainment. “There is such an emphasis on production value in our culture, and such a suffocating restraint put on any genuine socio-political or emotional _expression, that it is all but impossible to find survivors in this environment. If Bob Dylan were trying to come up today, forget about it. If you go to the clubs down in Nashville, it is shocking to hear how many true and talented bands there are. And if you turn on MTV, it’s like you died and went to Hell. That being said, there are, I’m sure, many more terrific films being made than I’m aware of. For the last half dozen years, I’ve shielded myself to the culture in general – I’m much more likely to be listening to an old time radio show, or watching a 50’s film noir, than going to the mall to ingest the latest putrid, moronic Hollywood defecation.”
That said, obviously one shouldn’t expect “Nowhere Man” to be a Lifetime Channel regurgitation of “The Lorena Bobbit Story”. In fact, the basis of “Nowhere Man” goes back almost as far as McCann’s love of film. “When I was 17, long before Lorena Bobbit ever lifted a knife, I was sitting in a doctor’s office and I overheard two nurses talking about a young man who had cancer of the penis. And they had to cut his wanker off. I was horrified. Of course I went home and thought about how goddamn unbelievably horrible life must be for this kid now. That kind of stayed in the back of my mind. I think I was there for acne treatment or something so trite. Kind of put it in perspective.”
The incident stuck in McCann’s head and refused to go away. “Several years ago I wrote a script called ‘Devil Woman’, about a damaged girl who went around to Westchester bars and picked up guys, and during their one night stands she would cut their dicks off. She would feed the dicks to her pet piranha. So you had all these macho guys running around, teaming up, trying to get their dicks back. It was a horrible, darkly funny situation. When my agent at the time read it he called me up and said he no longer wanted to represent me. So I forgot about it for a while. Nowhere Man is a very different story, but obviously similar.”
The interview continues in part two of TIM MCCANN: ON THE ROAD TO NOWHERE>>>