I have something to say about the director of a wildly successful independent film and his choice to insult a fan.
Twit Jason St-Laurent described Weekend as a “Neo-Realist masterpiece” before the movie rolled at Inside Out this week. The film has received nothing but critical accolades. (I should know; I’ve read all of them.) Andrew Haigh is, frankly, living the dream.
He wrote and directed his first picture. Somebody else paid for it, but they don’t hold the copyright. And this film will turn a profit.
That film was received with delight at South by Southwest, where Haigh landed a distribution deal (later a few other such deals). You’ll be able to watch Weekend in cinemas, on video on demand, on disc, and eventually on television. (Probably with crap captioning and no description, but it will be available.)
The film’s rapturous reception continued unabated at other festivals from Nashville to Toronto, which flew Haigh and his lime-green sneakers into town and treated him like a prince. He sold out a newly constructed, prestigious, 540-seat auditorium.
Who else’s story can be compared to Haigh’s? Lisa Cholodenko made her first feature, High Art, on a shoestring. (Given the economics of film versus video, the two movies’ budgets were roughly proportionate.) Critical response was equally as rapturous, and if you want another point of comparison, both movies are built around drug-taking.
Cholodenko’s next film, Laurel Canyon, was no sellout; she retained her auteur role as writer–director. I saw Cholodenko on TV saying she had nothing to complain about, because her second film had a budget ten times bigger than her first. Both are very good movies, and I proudly hold on to my DVD of Laurel Canyon.
Cholodenko directed one more film, which she co-wrote with a
gay writer. The Kids Are All Right grossed five times what Laurel Canyon did and brought Cholodenko to the Academy Awards, for which it was nominated four times over.
Andrew Haigh is too young (and as green as his trainers) to realize he is firmly on the career path that brought Lisa Cholodenko to the Oscars. Haigh’s next screenplays are already in development. (They aren’t gay-themed; he will have grown out of that ghetto, I guess. Cholodenko never felt the need.)
Haigh’s experience is a dream come true for a filmmaker
While John August has made more money, he hasn’t enjoyed anything like this degree of critical and audience success. The only other gay-male film that received a response this rapturous was Parting Glances. But writer–director Bill Sherwood was dead within months and never made another movie. That won’t happen to Andrew Haigh. I’d say he can afford to be generous.
But he wasn’t. He chose to be cruel and snide in the face of one fan’s disappointment and Haigh’s first and only mildly unfavourable coverage.
And the Times clinches it
(2011.06.17) If you thought my analysis was a tad too optimistic and Andrew Haigh couldn’t possibly be planted solidly on the path to success, note carefully that no less than Tony Scott of the Times described Weekend as “perfectly realized.” That’d be the banner of the DVD case right there, I’d say.