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Director, writer, producer
Interview by Thierry ATTARD (Oct 2004, revised March 2006)
Special thanks to Ed CHOI

To insufflate a true artistic vision is not easy for a director when he must head a multi-million dollars production. Known till then for his two comedies with Adam Sandler (The Wedding Singer, and The Waterboy), Frank Coraci offers us with his remake of Around the world in 80 days, not only an excellent entertaining moment but also an arresting, imaginative and funny movie close to the spirit of The Great Race.

Interview with the Master of Ceremony of Steve Coogan and Jackie Chan’s fabulous journey.

D.R.Objectif Cinéma : You have an obvious talent in orchestrating comedies but, interestingly, your first movie as a director was a remarked thriller called Murdered Innocence.

Frank Coraci : I was 26 when I made that film. A producer approached me at a video store in New York, Fred Carpenter. He had made a few other indies. He knew I was a director. Since graduating New York University I had shot a number of short films. He took a look at my reel and was impressed enough to offer me the opportunity to direct a script he had raised $200 000 to make. He was to star in it.

Objectif Cinéma : You also co-wrote the script...

Frank Coraci : I read the script which was very derivative of a 70’s TV police drama. It needed work so I said I would do the film if I could rewrite it. We agreed on the terms that I would complete the rewrite in two weeks and then we would start shooting.

I immediately called one of my good friends and fellow classmates from NYU, Steven Peros. Both of us had a love for noir films from the 40s and realized the script lent itself to that genre with a detective haunted by his past put into a morally ambiguous situation.

Corny police exposition could be turned into stylized dialogue. Guns, flashbacks, murder, a Femme fatale - it all fell into place and we had a script in 2 weeks.

D.R.Objectif Cinéma : Could you tell us some words about the shooting ?

The movie was mostly cast by the time I was involved. Jason Miller (The Exorcist) was set to be the lead. The rest was true independent casting - FX/make-up artist was the villain and Miller’s friends the other detectives. Nobody really got paid. Most of the crew was from Hofstra film school on Long Island. It was a true independent in that way.

Our 14 day planned shooting schedule turned into 33 days. It wouldn’t be uncommon that the caterer would show up and pull my producer and actor Carpenter off the set to rough him up to collect money we didn’t have. We somehow managed to pull it off on budget and sold it to Columbia/Tri-star home video. The film went on to win the Long Island Film Festival in NY. And was showcased at the Sao Paolo festival in Brazil.

On that film I met my producer, Phyllis Alia, who has been involved on all my films since. My good friend Tom Lewis was my editor on that film and has cut all my films to date.