Cleveland International Film Festival } April 7 – April 18, 2021 } Playhouse Square

Hal, the Genius

April 11, 2018   |   posted by Lara Klaber in Filmmakers

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Amy Scott was eight months pregnant with her first child when she read Nick Dawson’s biography on Hal Ashby, Being Hal Ashby: Life of a Hollywood Rebel.

“It floored me,” she says. She was familiar with Ashby’s films, and was “an ardent fan of his storytelling and gorgeous artistry,” but she didn’t know much about the man.

“I could immediately visualize his story,” she continues, but assumed that it had already been done. “Miraculously,” she says, “it had not.”

It was time for the story to be told, and she knew she was the one to tell it. Yes, her background was in filmmaking, but as an editor.

This would be her directorial debut.

Hal Ashby was a cinematic genius and quite prolific in the 1970s. “Harold and Maude,” “Coming Home,” “Shampoo,” and “Being There” are just some of his films that cinephiles will recognize. “The fact that he was able to create seven Oscar-winning films in nine years is a crazy feat of creative strength and endurance,” exclaims Scott. She knew, however, that even geniuses are not without fault.

“When you can witness that level of creative output,” she says, “it often comes at a cost—usually in the form of an emotional and personal sacrifice.”

Not only did Scott interview the likes ofJane Fonda, Jon Voight, and Rosanna Arquette, actors in Ashby’s films, she was able to read his letters and corr espondence, which she found fascinating.

“I knew he had a sharp wit from the scripts that he chose to make, and he had a deep understanding of the human condition and dark comedy,” says Scott. “But it was his wry sense of humor that really got me … [he wrote] these hilariously acerbic memos to, like, the head of Paramount!?!”

Although her children are growing up on Disney, her introduction to film was drastically different. “My parents gave us a lot of latitude with the TV and I can remember watching ‘Close Encounters’ and ‘Jaws’ at way too young of an age,” she admits.

In college, she “discovered the world of documentary filmmaking and never looked back.” After her professor made her class watch two documentaries in one day—“Hands on a Hard Body,” an independent film, and “The Sorrow and the Pity,” a war/historical story, she was hooked. “It cracked my brain wide open,” she says.

To other young women trying to follow their dream of filmmaking, she has this advice: “None of this will be easy, and perhaps won’t pay off for a long time—and never in the form you think it will—but it can, and will, be done if you adhere to the stubborn, blind passion that is filmmaking!”

Anne M. DiTeodoro

PDF  Download Related PDF [1.2 MB]

Related Screenings:
04/10/18 @ 9:45 PM – Hal
04/11/18 @ 6:30 PM – Hal
04/12/18 @ 11:45 AM – Hal

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Join us September 24th - 27th for a special screening of AGGIE, the story of Cleveland’s own Agnes “Aggie” Gund who is equally known for her exquisite art collection and her fight for social justice. A post-film Q&A will take place with director Catherine Gund and the film’s namesake Agnes “Aggie” Gund. Full info at Fall Online Event Series link  in bio.
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