Phillip Schopper began making films as a child with his parents’ 8mm camera. He edited his first feature-length documentary, the much acclaimed music film “Heartworn Highways,” in 1976. Through the years he has worked in production or post production on many feature films including “Prince of the City,” “Resurrection,” “Nine to Five,” “Reds,” and “Ishtar.” He’s bringing “All About Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State” to Tribeca this year.
runs Filmbank Entertainment, a full-service production company in New York City. He is a movie director, writer, and producer, born and raised in NYC. He told Indiewire he is “excited to premiere at Tribeca Film Festival.”
Tell us about yourself: Schopper: I’ve been an editor on projects for PBS, Bravo and A&E. At ABC I was a senior editor for the DuPont Award winning series “Hopkins 24/7” as well as the Emmy nominated “NYPD 24/7.” More recently I’ve edited many documentaries for HBO including the Emmy winning “Teddy: In His Own Words” and the Emmy nominated profile of Gloria Steinem, “Gloria: In Her Own Words.”
Biggest challenge in completing this project?
Schopper: Generally the biggest challenge in documentary story telling is always the same: how do you harness the story, maintain the salient facts and bring it down to a watchable length while retaining character and personality. In this case, Ann Richards had such an outsized personality and a saber-like use of wit that needed to be seen and heard, yet every example of it had to be in service of recounting her life.
Patterson: Accumulating our massive amount of archive materials. Many news stations in Texas erased or threw out their tapes when the conglomeration of media companies happened in the mid 1990’s. We had an amazing associate producer, Nancy Talcott, that drove all over Texas – climbing through attics and “storage” facilities where tapes sat to melt in the Texas heat. The stations didn’t even have machines to play most of the tape formats anymore, so she brought it all back to HBO where Phil and I sat combing through and ingesting 100’s of hours of tape into the AVID. Some tapes were so damaged we had to send them to be repaired. Many things we were told were “lost” we ultimately found. The movie is almost all archive.
Did you go to film school?
Patterson: I went to Fordham University for Finance. My “film school” was working every possible job on every set in Manhattan – from “30 Rock” to all the ”Law & Orders.” Learning from people who are actually making movies and television is essential. I’ve learned from the best and that includes the amazing Sheila Nevins and Jackie Glover at HBO.
Did you crowdfund? We do not crowd-fund. I’m not opposed to it, there are certain projects that need to be financed that way or they wouldn’t be made.
What camera did you shoot on? Red Epic
What films have inspired you?
Schopper: Probably most that inspired many of my generation and age: “King Kong,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Paths of Glory,” “Dr. Strangelove,” “Help,” “The Knack,” “Ben-Hur,” “The Birds,” “The Beast With Five Fingers,” “Dames,” “Footlight Parade,” “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” “The Pawnbroker”…. to, as they say, name a few.
Patterson: I love funny films that are uplifting and historically significant, like All About Ann. Ann’s story is so inspiring and she’s extraordinarily funny. Her ability to shut down nonsense with a one-liner or a simple stare is such a sign of intelligence and power.
What’s in the works?
Schopper: I’m working on a wonderful story for HBO.
Patterson: We have a couple high-profile projects in production now. I can’t say much more – but they are very exciting.
Indiewire invited Tribeca Film Festival directors to tell us about
their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and
what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up
to the 2014 festival. Go HERE to read all the entries.