Director Amy E. Scott is turning her longtime love of director Hal Ashby, who brought us “Harold and Maude” and “Coming Home” and a dozen other gems in the 70s and 80s, into a feature-length documentary tribute. (Videos after the jump.)
Currently in the home stretch of its Indiegogo campaign, “Once I Was: The Hal Ashby Story” will cover the director’s life and career from debut feature “The Landlord” (1970) through his death in 1988. It has so far raised $48,000 of its $50,000 goal. And with 11 days to go, it should cross the finish line.
Exec producers (and Ashby fans) Fred Beebe and Brian Miller recently jumped aboard the project, lovingly summarized here by the director herself:
I had to skip film class as a college freshman to see “Harold and Maude.” As a student, we were being fed a steady diet of Stanley Kubrick, Chris Marker and Jean Luc Godard- but I found Hal Ashby on my own. I will never forget the visceral reaction I had to that film; his use of music, the heart and soul of his characters, their style, all became the key to unlocking an entire interior world within myself. His subsequent films spoke to me in a language that I had never heard before or since.
His streak of films in the 1970s rivals his more famous contemporaries, and personifies Hollywood’s Film Renaissance at that time: its moral ambivalence and political rage, its stylistic audacity and deeply human voice. That he disappeared behind a string of disappointing pictures in the 1980s and died before redeeming his reputation has led many critics to dismiss Ashby as an important filmmaker. My inspiration for making “Once I Was” is the desire to explore the profound impact of Hal Ashby’s body of work on modern cinema, and to understand this Hollywood insurgent.
The filmmakers have been working closely with Ashby’s estate, capturing archival footage, audio recordings, and photographs. One of the donor perks is a selection of Jane Fonda’s costumes from the heart-tugging war story “Coming Home.”
Fonda, who recently picked up an AFI Life Achievement Award in Hollywood, told the LA Times that Ashby was one of her favorite directors to work with. The performance won Fonda her second Best Actress Oscar.
More on the film here. Watch the campaign trailer, and Ashby clips, after the jump.