So enough years have passed to go on the record. Yeah, it was a struggle to make SOUR DEATH BALLS back in ‘93. The project generated a lot of buzz from the get-go. I was in talks with Warner Brothers for months, but they balked at my insistence on casting unknowns. It would be perfect for Jodie, they’d say. I knew what that meant. Attach the big name and a few months later, SDB becomes A Film By someone else.
With other studios the battle was over the films projected length. Couldn’t I just add, say, another 85 minutes or so? No, I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my vision so they could sell more popcorn. Sometimes the sticking point was the sour death ball itself. Was its extreme sourness enough to wow the 18-25 crowd? Couldn’t it also burst into flame? And was I aware that shooting in black and white would kill box office? The doubters started to line up and take numbers.
I came closest to making the film with Paramount, but that fell apart as well. The film, they felt, was simply too bleak, the sour death ball too relentless in its attack. As one executive infamously protested: Its just that, in the end, the sour death ball is still so sour. Couldn’t it sweeten up a little?
“Look,” I said. “Maybe you live in a world where every candy has a soft gooey center, but those aren’t the streets where I grew up.” And I left. Six months and several maxed-out credit cards later, the documentary short showed at Sundance, and from there well, enough said. You don’t polish the trophies when company’s over.
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