Popular Films Can Still Be Great

Question: Do you or your fans worry that your latest project \r\nwill be too “mainstream”?

John Cameron Mitchell: Well, for me, "mainstream" is not \r\nnecessarily a negative because when I grew up, mainstream films in the \r\n‘70s were critically lauded and popular.  You know, in a theater there’d\r\n be "Godfather" movies and "Network" and "Nashville" and, you know, \r\nthese were popular movies, these were mainstream movies.  "Cuckoo’s \r\nNest" and "MASH" and these were all very iconoclastic films and often, \r\nwhat would be considered now art films and independent films on bigger \r\nbudgets, starring major stars that looked like us.  These people looked \r\nlike us, as opposed to now where stars are, you know, really kind of \r\nroyalty or aliens and they look that way.

\r\nSo, to me, I never separated "popular" from "good."  And, you know, \r\nbecause of economics I think it has separated and so it’s rare for me to\r\n go to a Hollywood film unless it really got recommendations from people\r\n I know, because I'm... just so disappointed usually when so much money \r\nis being spent, you tend to have a, go for the lowest common denominator\r\n in terms of quality.

But there is, you know, doing "The Rabbit \r\nHole" really is, the budget was less than "Hedwig," it just happened to \r\nhave major stars in it, and there was no distributor or studio involved,\r\n putting on commercial pressures, it was just the producers, who have a \r\nmainstream understanding and how you live in Hollywood, but who \r\ndefinitely had good taste.  So, in a way with "Rabbit Hole" we’re trying\r\n to make the kind of film that was a small, a quiet film about real \r\npeople that was common in the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s as a mainstream\r\n film.  You know, like "Ordinary People," or "Kramer vs. Kramer" or \r\n"Shoot the Moon," or any number of serious-minded-but-mainstream film \r\nwith mainstream stars, which is unusual right now.

Recorded on May 3, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen

For his first "mainstream" film ("Rabbit Hole"), the indie director tried to make the kind of small, quiet art picture that defined the mainstream in the ‘70s.

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