A few months ago, EW interviewed director Nicholas Winding Refn about his upcoming coffee table book “The Act of Seeing,” an anthology of reprinted movie posters which Refn bought from little-known New York filmmaker Andy Milligan. “The Act of Seeing” was first made available through Austin, TX’s Fantastic Fest just over a month ago, but its history remains compelling.
Over the course of a recent hour-long discussion at the BFI Film Festival, Refn (who curated the book) talks about its creation with the book’s author, Alan Jones, a noted film critic who reports frequently on horror pictures. From the start, Refn says “I have this collector-mania, where suddenly I get obsessed with stuff and I just buy and buy and buy… at one point, I got obsessed with the filmmaker called Andy Milligan, who [sic] is not something to be obsessed about,” Refn jokes, even though he wound up purchasing Milligan’s collection of movie posters for $10,000.
When the posters arrived, Refn had no idea what he’d gotten himself into. A box filled with paper showed up at his house one day (much to his wife’s chagrin), and the filmmaker began the process of determining what he’d acquired. Ryan Gosling, star of Refn’s “Drive” and “Only God Forgives” happened to be visiting around that time, and his reaction to the collection got Refn thinking that maybe he had something valuable.
Refn decided to do something with his new collection, and he felt sure that whatever he did had “to be the most expensive poster book ever produced.” Alan Jones introduced Refn to Harvey Finn, who Refn describes as “a one-man army” type guy who “doesn’t socialize” and “lives in an attic,” but knows a hell of a lot about books. So Refn approached Harvey with a series of questions: “What is the most expensive book you can ever produce? What would it cost?” “In the end, it cost about $70,000, and it was going to be posters from movies that no one has ever heard of, and it was going to be the biggest volume, and it was going to be the most expensive poster book ever produced.” Sounds like quite the sales pitch, no?
Watch the full 60-minute discussion below. You can then head over to Amazon to purchase a copy of “The Act of Seeing” for yourself.