I felt a teeny bit antsy and uncertain about contacting Roger Avary following his release from jail a couple of years back. (He did time for DUI manslaughter that resulted in the death of a friend.) I’ve been a fan and admirer since the Pulp Fiction days, but I didn’t know if he’d want to hear from guys like me. But this morning a Locarno Film Festival interview that he gave to Indiewire‘s Eric Kohn signalled that he’s back. So I wrote him and hope to say hello sometime soon.
After doing so I was immediately reminded that I’ve never seen Glitterati, the feature-length version of a sequence that appeared in Avary’s The Rules of Attraction (’02). Avary showed me a portion about ten years ago, but I never sat down and saw the whole thing. Here’s Avary’s YouTube explanation of what it is/was:
“For this sequence, from The Rules of Attraction (2002), I directed Kip Pardue to remain in character as the vacant, vapid, and self-absorbed Victor from the moment we stepped onto the plane to Europe until the moment we returned to Los Angeles. A blinding twelve cities in two weeks shooting every possible moment on a Sony PD-150. It was an endurance test. I told Kip that I would have 24/7 access — no matter how intimate the situation.
“With no script, and the loosest of plans, I tracked Victor as he partied across Europe in the shell-shocked weeks following 9/11. We would be raving with Paul Oakenfold one day in Dublin, and then at a Ford model party in Paris the next. Five minutes into a conversation with, say, an heiress or a model, I would stop shooting, explain who we were, that Victor was actually the actor Kip Pardue, and that we were shooting a scene for my latest film, The Rules of Attraction. Our only other crew member, Academy Award-winning producer Greg Shapiro, would then step forward and get them to sign a waiver, and then Victor would proceed to dawn.
“I didn’t sleep more than a few hours those two weeks. Months later, Kip would receive calls from the various girls Victor had hooked up with who were confused as to what was real and what wasn’t. Who were we? Where is Victor? I cut the 70 hours of footage down to these 4 minutes which I cut into the film. Years later I decided to form the unused footage into a musical tone-film of all it’s own: Glitterati.”
“Roger Avary’s Glitterati is a kind of dramatic documentary about a European debauch enjoyed in September and October of ’01 by Rules of Attraction costar Kip Pardue. Or rather, technically speaking, by Pardue’s character, Victor Johnson, since Pardue stayed more or less in character during filming.
“The footage was initially intended to be used for a brief episode in Rules. It became that and, for my money, is easily the single coolest portion.
“Now, however, Avary has decided to expand the 70 hours of footage he captured of Pardue running around Europe and getting down with various women into a feature-length docudrama. Avary is about halfway into the editing, and is hoping to put the finished product into theatres before it goes to DVD sometime next year. I was shown two or three clips and found them…well, a lot more than fascinating.
“Avary followed the 26-year-old actor around in all these cities with two video cameras — the larger and more professional-level Sony DP 150 and a smaller Sony PC 9.
Every woman Pardue met and hooked up with signed a release obtained by producer Greg Shapiro with an understanding the footage being shot was for inclusion in a feature film. And according to Avary, they all went for it hook, line and sinker, even to the point of making out with Pardue and, to some extent (I’m not sure how explicit the footage will be in the end), having sex with him on camera.
“I didn’t see enough footage to be able to tell if Avary pays as much attention to the European scenery and tourist sights as he did the women, but the thing captures the way Europe can look and smell and sound to a touring, hang-it-all youth who’s constantly distracted or on the move.
I absolutely love this portion: “The look of Glitterati on Avary’s Macintosh flat-panel screen was awesome as well. The video footage seemed to have the texture of film, except for those odd moments when sunlight would hit somebody’s face and that portion of the image would briefly white-out. The footage seemed more textured than what video usually delivers, and yet like something other than film — it’s some kind of hybrid. If only digital video could look this good on a big screen (pixellation is always visible when you blow things up), the whole video-to-film thing would be a much more tantalizing option.”