Q&A with Paul Schrader – Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist

The Q&A session after Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist with Paul Schrader gave me the impression that Schrader is a man carrying a lot on his shoulders, and this whole experience has thoroughly disheartened him, although he carries much pride in his version of the movie. With only fifty thousand dollars for post production, compared with Harlins one million dollar budget, he had to pull many favours to get the music, colour mix and other post production activities completed. The movie that we watched was Schraders personal print, another highlight of the movie, so he does carry a pride of this work.

Still he seems quite demotivated. He sighed a lot, whether that was down to repetitive questions on his third night of Q&A I’m not sure, but he did seem unhappy and demotivated. He certainly thought that his career had been hit hard by this as no one in Hollywood cares why, they just saw that he was fired from Directing.

Schrader shared the poor misfortune of William Peter Blatty on The Exorcist III, where he was “screwed” by the owner of the movie, the same person who “screwed” Schrader on this one, and those are Schraders very words. As a warning, it is the same person who has signed the cheque on The Good Shepherd, Robert De Niro‘s much awaited CIA story.

Another revelation was that although it was easy for him to save his movie, Blatty has lost his version of Exorcist III. In those days it wasn’t as easy as “walking out of the edit room with your movie on a hard drive”, and there existed only one original negative which was physically destroyed. A sad thing to hear indeed.

He also told us the insightful information that Skarsgård was asked to think more Harrison Ford for Harlins version, rather than the inward tortured performance in his movie. Something that is very obvious when you have watched both movies.

The most telling part of the Q&A was the discussion around the actual events, and although Schrader presented his view alone, it was interesting to hear and he was very respectful of the people who had made the decisions. “This wasn’t the movie they had originally thought they wanted”, rather than being disrespectful to them.

He said that he had to finish this film, particularly after he and Blatty walked out of the Harlin version. Blatty was getting more and more wound up about how bad it was, and about how they had both been treated on their movies. If he did make this there would be some perverse interest in his movie that might make it popular, how bad could it have been after seeing Harlins version?

I’ll tell you, it was way better and stands wildly apart from Harlins without the need of a fanfare. Have a look at my review of the movie.

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