You have to fire yourself as the writer when you direct something you’ve written. You have to fire yourself, or else you get precious about what you’ve written. You’ve got to open up and let the actors in, and re-conceive a lot of things. – Joel Schumacher
Legendary Director Joel Schumacher passed away aged 80, last week (22 June). He battled against it for over a year, but finally the cancer won. He leaves behind an amazing cult movie, a movie about a gang of teenage Vampires, which has been watched, loved and adored by different generations for the past 33 years.
Yes, he created mine and a lot of other fans favourite movie, the seminal The Lost Boys (1987), however he also did so many other incredible and iconic movies. In Flatliners (1990) he created another Gothic world of medical students playing with and pushing death to the very limits to see what comes after. Falling Down (1993) saw a man on the edge, who finally snapped at society around him, and whilst he excepts his failings in the end but is still a victim himself, of the world around him. The movie was made during a time of civil unrest around the US, and mirrors in a lot of ways, what is going on in the present day.
Sandwiched in-between two very different Batman movies (Batman Forever, 1995 and Batman and Robin, 1997) he made one of the greatest courtroom dramas of all time. A Time to Kill (1996) is a dark and powerful movie which is punctuated by an outstanding, all-star cast including Schumacher’s frequent collaborator Kiefer Sutherland, his father Donald, Samuel L Jackson, Sandra Bullock and Matthew McConaughey. It also stars legendary actor Patrick McGoohan as Judge Omar Noose.
The cast assembled in this movie and his others, and people willing and wanting to work with him again and again shows the affect and positivity he showed to gave to his cast. Alex Winter (Marco, The Lost Boys) said in a heartfelt tweet “Joel saw something in me as an actor I didn’t see and gave me the confidence and space to pursue it…”. Kiefer Sutherland who he directed on four different occasions said, “Joel gave me opportunities and lifelong lessons, making films such as The Lost Boys, Flatliners, A Time To Kill and Phonebooth. His mark on modern culture and film will live on forever. I will miss you, my friend”.
This sentiment was echoed throughout social media by actors and crewmembers he worked with and even those who just appreciated his body of work. Jim Carrey who Schumacher directed as the wonderful and iconic Riddler in the ’95 Batman movie, and as man seeking the truth of a book given as a gift, but veiling a deeper meaning in the much underrated The Number 23 (2007) said, “He saw deeper things in me than most and he lived a wonderfully creative and heroic life.”
These sentiments mirror what was said last year when myself and thousands of horror fans packed in to a hall in Manchester. This was for the For the Love of Horror event, which had of the course the now legendary ‘The Lost Boys Reunion’. Each cast member who was interviewed, Jason Patric, to Alex Winter to Jamison Newlander all spoke so highly of the director who crafted the movie and brought it to life on screen. They all spoke about a how as young actors he showed them patience but most importantly gave them confidence and respect they need to grow. Corey Feldman even acknowledge when paying his respects on Twitter, how much he tried to steer him away from the self-destructive life style he was bound for.
I could sit here and write, talk and chat about his movies and what they meant to me growing up and still do. Indeed each one of the movies mentioned above, including Phone Booth (2002) could have it’s own article (and I haven’t even mentioned the iconic St Elmo’s Fire!).
I could use thousands of words to describe the impact he made to pop culture all day and use pictures of his iconic designs and visions to get my point across, but I’ll leave you with this quote from him from an interview a couple of years ago. Something which I didn’t know about him. I feel this in many ways explains his love for movies, getting lost in another world. I also feel it goes some way to explain his affinity with his young cast on set in ’87, and the safe and confident family atmosphere we’ve all heard he cultivated on set;
“You know, I’m just a kid whose parents died very young who was on his own and grew up behind a movie theatre before TV, and I wanted to tell those stories, and look what happened.” – Joel Schumacher