Jim Hemphill is a filmmaker and film historian whose award-winning movie THE TROUBLE WITH THE TRUTH is currently available on DVD and streaming on Amazon Prime. When he’s not directing movies he writes about them for publications including American Cinematographer and Filmmaker Magazine, and he has recorded numerous DVD commentary tracks for titles including INHERIT THE WIND, VALDEZ IS COMING, and the upcoming 50th-anniversary edition of HANG ‘EM HIGH. Jim is a programming consultant at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles and his movies have screened at the Sundance Film Festival, Alamo Drafthouse, American Cinematheque and many other international festivals and art houses.
Q: Which film do you love that might surprise people?
A: I don’t know that anything I love would surprise people who know me well – and thus know that I can have some pretty eccentric tastes – but even my closest friends might be surprised by the depth of my love for the 2002 Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle COLLATERAL DAMAGE, which I think is a stone cold masterpiece. A fairly sophisticated morality play and sociopolitical commentary masquerading as a potboiler revenge film, it’s exquisitely directed by Andrew Davis and chock full of great supporting turns by people like Elias Koteas and John Leguizamo – and Arnold gives a legitimately terrific, tortured performance at the film’s center. Not just one of my favorite Arnold movies, not just one of my favorite action movies or Andy Davis movies – one of my all-time favorite movies, period.
Q: If you could pair up any two actors/actresses, living or dead, which two would it be & what kind of film?
A: That’s a great question…my ultimate fantasy is to adapt Bret Easton Ellis’ novel IMPERIAL BEDROOMS and reunite the cast from LESS THAN ZERO: Robert Downey Jr., Andrew McCarthy, Jami Gertz, and James Spader.
Q: Which film has had the biggest impact on you personally, and why?
A: There are so many, but I’d probably have to go with THE SHINING because it was the movie that really taught me what a director does…how he/she filters material through his/her point of view and makes it something different through his/her choices in terms of performance, camera movement, lenses, music, and everything else. I was very conscious as a kid that Stanley Kubrick’s THE SHINING was a different animal from Stephen King’s THE SHINING, and I become obsessed with figuring out how and why the movie worked on me the way that it did. I’m still obsessed.
Q: If you could have one prop from any film what would it be?
A: The painting of William H. Macy hanging in Burt Reynolds’ house at the end of BOOGIE NIGHTS. Or the one Dirk Diggler commissions of himself. Or Don Cheadle’s blood-spattered white suit from the donut shop scene. Or Mark Wahlberg’s prosthetic penis. Basically, anything from BOOGIE NIGHTS, which is my favorite movie of all time.
Q: Is there any subject matter which you would not make/watch a film about?
A: I’ll watch a film about virtually anything and everything…as a filmmaker I guess I’m a little more selective in that I have to be pretty interested in a subject to spend years of my life working on it, but I can’t think of anything I would actively be opposed to exploring…my attitude is that anything that happens in life is fair game for examination on film.
Jim Hemphill Films (Website)
(Director Jim Hemphill with John Shea and Lea Thompson making THE TROUBLE WITH THE TRUTH)