It’s hard to think of an independent film during the 1990s that didn’t star John Turturro, the actor being one of the stock players for Spike Lee and the Coen Brothers. It was during the heyday of independent film that Turturro made his feature directorial debut with Mac, a drama about a family of Italian American carpenters which he made for $2.3M.
Turturro attributes the rise of great indie filmmaking and the fact that Mac got made to Columbia TriStar video executive Larry Estes. “He was singlehandledly the man responsible for like 50 interesting independent movies.”
What’s changed according to Turturro is that “the medium-sized film has gone away and been replaced by stuff on television” such as the sublime HBO crime series The Night Of in which the actor played a low-priced criminal attorney fighting for the redemption of a Pakistani-American college student accused of murder.
“You have a shorter amount of time,” says Turturro on how indie filmmaking production schedules have been squeezed. “It’s harder to do it now because you have less time…Eight weeks was a short shoot, now it’s five to six weeks. You’re really a tightrope walker.”
This year Turturro comes to the Tribeca Film Festival with a short he directed starring himself and buddy Bobby Cannavale called Hair.
For the most part, Turturro and Cannavale improvised the short. Says Turturro, “Bobby came up with something because he was concerned about something that I thought was humorous. And hair is a big part of people’s lives until you get into it.”
“Everyone has their own crazy relationship (with hair),” explains the actor filmmaker, “Now there’s so many different kinds of hairdos, it’s fascinating — the whole history of hair.”