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Low Budget Legends

13Bit Interview With Manny Kirchheimer Part 6


We recently had the good fortune to visit with Manny Kirchheimer, filmmaking legend as well as low budget legend.

Manny is best known for his groundbreaking work in “Stations of the Elevated,” as well as “We Were So Beloved.”

Legendary editor, director, teacher and mentor to many filmmakers, Manny was gracious to recently talk to us about filmmaking, life and, of course, the philosophy of low-budget filmmaking. We at 13BIT are not afraid to say that we love Manny for his philosophy and his artistic integrity.

Enjoy!

13BIT:

How about one offbeat question and then maybe we could go inside. You said you could show us —

MANNY K:

Sure. I can show you a sequence.

13BIT:

If you hadn’t been a filmmaker, what would you might maybe have been?

MANNY K:

Well, I wanted to be an architect. But, I couldn’t draw. I wanted to — my dad was an artist. Later, you can see on that wall in the foyer, those are his pictures. And he got me very interested in all phases of art, and I always loved architecture. And I would have liked to have been an architect, but my advisor in college said, “Well, you really need to draw.” And I was terrible. My line was just awful.

Now, I don’t even know if that’s true anymore. I mean, in the first place, they don’t even draw anymore, they make models, you know. And I’d probably be pretty good at making models. And I’m still in love with architecture, and I think that’s what I would have liked to have been. Yeah, and, you know, my guy — the guy who I love is Frank Lloyd Wright.

And I even met with him in 1956, for an hour. Because, one of my independent projects was that I wanted to use the building of the Guggenheim Museum as an example of Frank Lloyd Wright’s organic architecture. So, I went to see him at the Plaza Hotel where he had an apartment. And he was very generous with his time. Gave me an hour and showed me the plans for the Guggenheim and everything. Ostensibly I went to see him to see if he could help me raise money, which he, you know, of course he didn’t. But, yeah, that’s an answer to your question.

13BIT:

So, do you miss working with a Movieola, like the physicality?

MANNY K:

You know, I thought I might. But, no, I love this. I really love it.

13BIT:

When did you first start using Final Cut?

MANNY K:

Three and a half years ago. Well, no, you know what I did? I made — at school, I made three birthday films. When my oldest son turned 40, I made him a ten minute film about his life, which I can show you. And then my next boy became, yeah, a year and a half later, and I made that. And then a friend of ours became 70 about five years ago, and so I made these at school on Final Cut, so that I got my hand in before I did this. And I did a lot of transferring of older material.

13BIT:

We sit around and write love letters to non linear editing, We’re always saying thank God, what would we do without non linear editing, because we just couldn’t do what we do otherwise.

MANNY K:

And that’s, by the way, one of the pictures that the artists from my film made, that one over there which she calls ‘Blood’ — the big one. The big one, Paul. You know, Blood for Oil. She makes that in the — I film her making that, you know.

13BIT:

We did just for kicks one time something down at Manhattan Graphics Center down on Spring Street. It’s a great place. You have a couple of big, flat beds and litho. It was a lot of fun.

13BIT:

Yeah, we they did some silk screens.

13BIT:

Yeah, we just —

MANNY K:

Yeah.

13BIT:

Yeah, it’s fun. It’s good to experiment with different mediums every so often — media.

MANNY K:

Yeah, these are my dad’s over here, see. These are done in the ’20s, by famous artists who came — you know, we’re from Germany. And came over during the Hitler time, as you know. Well, you know that, Paul, because you saw the movie.

13BIT:

I love the style.

MANNY K:

And, these are in the movie. Yeah, that’s right, remember? Yeah. Max Schmeling up there. These were all done from life when they would come to town, where he worked, and he did them for the newspaper. This one, he did in America after he came over.

13BIT:

Oh, right. Okay.

MANNY K:

Yeah.

MANNY K:

So, he imbued me with that. Let me just try to find something to show here.

13BIT:

So, do you find yourself making — you made these three birthday movies. Do you find yourself making little short projects just to take a break from the big projects?

MANNY K:

Next year my kid’s going to be 50. Kid! And so I’m thinking of doing a follow-up, but, no. Because — no. Because — when you do a trailer — I’m going to show you the trailer for the new film after I show you this — when you do a trailer, that’s like making a little film. That’s an entirely different process. You know, I knocked off the trailer that I’ll show you. Knocked that off in two days, you know.

13BIT:

We love making trailers.

MANNY K:

And that’s a piece of cake, you know. But a long form is a whole other story.

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