Financing For Terry Gilliam’s ‘Don Quixote’ Has Collapsed

Published 4 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 4:30 pm,

Variety caught up with filmmaker Terry Gilliam at the Deauville American Film Festival this past week and learned that his seemingly cursed dream project, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, suffered more than a financial hiccup last month.

The former Monty Python animator confessed that financing for The Man Who Killed Don Quixote outright collapsed “about a month and a half ago” and that “the [original] plan was to be shooting ‘Quixote’ right now.” Despite this most recent setback, Gilliam insists that the search for new financing rights has already begun.

Rumors that esteemed actor Robert Duvall will play “Quixote” were confirmed by Gilliam last year – according to the filmmaker, that is still the case.  Ewan McGregor is not officially set to star as Duvall’s sidekick in the movie but (going off Gilliam’s word) he is virtually a lock for the part.

Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe’s documentary Lost in La Mancha chronicled the tumultuous nature of Gilliam’s first attempt to film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote with Johnny Depp back in 2001 (see below).  That doomed project has become legendary over the past decade and has served as a cautionary tale for aspiring filmmakers about how wrong even a professional production can go.

Fans of Gilliam and his warped breed of cinematic artistry continue to hold out hopes that The Man Who Killed Don Quixote will actually happen in the future – the infamous history of the project will likely both attract and deter potential financiers from deciding to back it at this point.

Will The Man Who Killed Don Quixote ultimately prove to be worth all the time and effort that Gilliam has sunk into getting it made?  That is a question that even the filmmaker himself cannot truthfully answer for now.

As he put it:

“‘[The Man Who Killed] Don Quixote’ gives me something to look forward to, always.  Maybe the most frightening thing is to actually make the film.”

Source: Variety

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  1. There is no doubt in my mind that Gilliam will be faced with the real challenge of fulfilling his dreams as a vision become real through the sort of work which really boils down to the cost of a quality investment. Filing appropriate proposals with partners and planning acceptable time lines is no long a situation of ‘looks as ifs’ but rather something of a cooperative stock value in such franchise matters. Production crews are people who know their craft. Gilliam’s relationship with the industry rests in his own hands.

    At this point its pretty clear that securing reputable sources of resource and talent are only the tip of the iceberg, getting adequate insurance to cover the conditions of the situation will be another brewing pot on the stove all together. Is there a willingness to see the windmills for what they are or has it reached the deep blue sea?

    Defining the limits as levels of involvement are not just words. Taking one’s life on following ones will has always been a gamble and this is not a case where people are willing to gamble for the sake of making light of that which is in essence the source of life for many.

    Its beyond right and wrong as far as I can tell…

    • Text correction: ‘Taking one’s life in one’s own hands’ was supposed to be read in the last paragraph. Not sure what happened…

    • Come again?

      • I wasn’t being flippant, tre. Your entire post reads as though you’re writing the Architect’s speech in The Matrix Reloaded: a kernel of meaning surrounded by a giant hairball of semantics.

        “Defining the limits as levels of involvement are (sic) not just words.” It is until you state what you mean by either.

        “Taking one’s life on following one’s will/one’s life in one’s own hands has always been a gamble and this is not a case where people are willing to gamble for the sake of making light of that which is in essence the source of life for many.” The source of life for many is what now? Taking one’s life in one’s own hands? Who’s making light of it?

        “Is there a willingness to see the windmills for what they are or has it reached the deep blue sea?” Has what reached the deep blue sea? What is the deep blue sea in this analogy? Or the windmills, for that matter? Is there a willingness to see these windmills on whose part?

        “Filing appropriate proposals with partners and planning acceptable timelines is no long (sic) a situation of ‘looks as ifs’ but rather something of a cooperative stock value in such franchise matters.” Cooperative stock value? What franchise matters?

        “There is no doubt in my mind that Gilliam will be faced with the real challenge of fulfilling his dreams as a vision made real through the sort of work which really boils down to the cost of a quality investment.” The question of the “cost” of an investment aside, if what you’re saying here is that the quality of Gilliam’s work is dependent on how much money he gets and who he gets it from, then that’s the only sentence you’ve written that I vaguely understand. Except…when was that ever not the case? For him or any other director?

        Come on, I’m a bear of very little brain and long words baffle me. Help me out here!

  2. NnnOOOOooooo!!!!! Sonuva *****!!!

  3. To put it all squarely on the table you may want to watch the film series ‘Lost in La Mancha’ to understand the series of budgetary and professional compromises which resulted from poor execution of plans associated with location, communication of design specifics, complication relative to seasonal terms, compounded lack of planning associated with accommodations for the talent and production crews, it was clear to me that the shoestring that was holding the whole thing together was too short to tie it all together. Maybe that is a harsh thing to say but clearly any one of those issues could swag the hell out of a tight budget much less all of them.

    On top of that you may want to have a look at the featurette on youtube which explores Gilliam/s approach to the making of Dr. Parnassus if you want to see the way that Gilliam approaches the leadership role of a large scale production. He is a gifted man with some decent connections and resources and yet there is a vast set of realities which foil him.

    When a production group gives you their best or put their equiptment at your disposal and you are not on the level to understand the risk of their investments or the conditions which might permanently compromise their equipment in a timely manner then you might well expect some flack.

    Establishing a successful relationship with your sponsors and franchise partners takes time, listening and preparation which means you did your homework on options, points of drop out or extensions of budget within reason. I think the whole point here is that Gilliam should be past the learning curve by now and well into a decent proposal with some sound responses to particular questions if asked. Nevermind that he needs to be able to do a ‘walk through’ on his narrative and liabilities with some very dull boys and bean counting toys…. Its no game…

    • I’ve watched Lost In La Mancha a couple of times but not the Dr Parnassus featurette (still haven’t seen the film yet) – I’ll check that out. Another good one is The Hamster Factor documentary from the Twelve Monkeys DVD.

      I’d imagine Gilliam renouncing his American citizenship hasn’t helped him in some quarters either, especially as this restricts the amount of time he can spend in the US for production or promotional purposes.

      Right, I get the angle you were coming at it from now – thanks for laying it out straight.

  4. No problem… I seem to have a knack for that but only professionals seem to appreciate it…

  5. “When a production group gives you their best or put their equiptment at your disposal and you are not on the level to understand the risk of their investments or the conditions which might permanently compromise their equipment in a timely manner then you might well expect some flack.”

    I am not sure I understand this – are you referring to the flood in an area that hadn’t seen rain in 70 years? Have you personally done location recces for large motion pictures?

    Gilliam’s “overambitious” “out of control” directing on Munchausen was due to a lot of things that simply weren’t his fault. He then directed for the studios several movies that weren’t his own that showed he is a competent and experienced worker who brought in the pictures on time and within budget.

    Every movie has it’s problems, it’s only that the Gilliam “mystique” heaped upon him from “Munchausen” continues to follow him around and he will admit that he partially fosters it. Thus people hear more about the problems than say a Speilberg or Lucas film where problems are downplayed. (and budgets are more readily available) I would say if he didn’t “understand the risk of crewmember’s investments” then the same people he continually works with and attracts simply wouldn’t want to work with him anymore. Which isn’t the case.

    Gilliam’s current problems stem from the current state of the global economy, and the fact that he wants to make independent films with studio sized budgets, or at least with studios’ money. They should just give him the money and autonomy since no one else quite does what Gilliam does, and if you market it right, I do not believe that they are “niche” films that only a certain amount of people would “get”. All his films with proper theatre release numbers and marketing have done just fine. Those that haven’t have had smaller releases and little money spent on marketing. While it was cool, and certainly would have gotten a wider release had it first been put out as an independent film, would Avatar have smashed all records (or even been made) without MASSIVE studio support?

    The bigger the risk, the bigger the possible returns. No one currently has the proverbial balls.

    • Kris… I think you missed the real point here and then even provided fuel for the fire with the whole Munchausen thing… if it were one element of errant projection or misdirected planning then a person might understand such as this particular you mention:

      ‘I am not sure I understand this – are you referring to the flood in an area that hadn’t seen rain in 70 years?

      Gilliam’s “overambitious” “out of control” directing on Munchausen was due to a lot of things that simply weren’t his fault.’

      That having been said, lets just keep in mind that ‘should’ is no longer a financially viable word in anyone’s vocabulary regardless of global economy or artistically ethical realm of consideration once you take people to the brink of death with some flight path bombers who dont even speak your language flying over every 15 minutes targeting your range of production for both demolition and re-configuration of constructions.

      Knowing when to say when was already a standing source of concern which secured a sense of mistrust and lack of consideration for others previous luck and proven sensibilities… In a perfect world I can hear your argument as a debate but in this world and these times there is a clamor of how the hell can you run the risk of lettin that deal go down like that again in any way shape or form… No one can justify it…

      Go on with yer bad self David… get the populace involved… maybe Gilliam can muster the sort of grassroots film empire which has been calling to the Nomadic Nation for nearly a century as Gauguin ventured beyond the confines of a society which rejected his callous treatment of their concerns or the wild west painters and photographers strove to depict the wonderous beauty and latitude of nature to provide against all odds as a dying brand of personal austerity in a world going to hell.

      Whew… love Gilliam but understand the ‘haters ways’ in a world full of bigger than we know and badder than we expected… my point is that none of these industries want to end up back in the mix with either a natural disaster or the sorts of liabilities that come from working in a nation rapidly unhinging or unbinding from its securities…. Comprende lui n’est pas???

      • Er…with all due respect, no comprende hombre.

        Sounds like you’re just making the argument that since the world is going to hell in a hand-basket we should squash anything of beauty that might actually speak to us as the very food for thought we need to undo some of the frankly small-minded prejudices rampant. As if this has never been, and great art previous to this time period only existed side by side with perfect financial situations and peaceful world conditions. Too much money being bandied about to say there is none available for what is essentially some of the best visionary product to leak out of the human mind.

        “That having been said, lets just keep in mind that ‘should’ is no longer a financially viable word in anyone’s vocabulary regardless of global economy or artistically ethical realm of consideration”

        Sure there is.

        “take people to the brink of death with some flight path bombers who dont even speak your language flying over every 15 minutes targeting your range of production for both demolition and re-configuration of constructions.”

        Again, where are these interpretations coming from? Did we watch the same documentary? They weren’t targeting them, and were far far away. Only the sounds of detonations were heard because, well – they’re loud. Are you saying because a deal wasn’t done with the military of the country to stop what they’re doing because of a film that this somehow means Gilliam knowingly took his crew “to the brink of death”? No – safety measures are always in place for insurance to even let them get that far. It was a filming nightmare, not a conspiracy from some government to stop art. AGAIN I say – NO movie no matter how well planned is without it’s problems. You don’t breeze your way through a film – you adapt to problems as much as possible.

        Already 3 films away from the original La Mancha disaster…

        Again – no investors with balls.

      • Maybe Terry is pre-internet-thinking, or lacks technical advise in how the world of finance and politics has changed since the true postmodern existance started with the atmosphere of the internet to reflect on the edifices of the modern. And the film studio being one of these, alas…

        I figure between life of bryan, twelve monkeys and the meaning of life alone, terry has some of the finest film art in the gallery, and imagine how many hundred million people *know* that about your art, terry? Heck, my money is being stolen out of my bank account by bernanke, geithner and obama, i’d rather blow it on a retelling of the narrative of the man of la mancha, and how futile it is to joust with windfarm greed.

        Say he needs 100 million, he only needs 100 dollars from a million
        people, and easily on this planet terry gilliam has fame towards the
        billion number. The kind of voluntary scheme used by the young turks could work as well.

        The planet’s trashed, wankers and tossers abound; but great artists
        give me great hope in humankind. I hope Terry finds the money tree,
        if he had a bank, i’d rather have my account with terry gilliam bank, i wonder how many other of the unwashed masses trust a master filmmaker more than a fiat-money inflating fed.

        Terry has moved my heart with his great humour. I wish him only the best.

  6. I’m suprised someone like terry gilliam is having trouble raising funds – its quite simple, terry, set up a website, and sell the public “shares” – 1 share for 20 dollars gets you a share, 5 shares gets your name mentioned in a huge list in the credits… crowdsource the financing terry, and your fame with the public will gift you millions to complete any film.

  7. First off… dont let me lead you astray if this is your calling to pursue the project yourself with your time or to set up shop around the cold calls of bank making… For me the whole point is acknowledgingthe perception of people who might be willing to invest either their time or resources which is being sought out. This is the source.

    It is this specific perception, and not that of the fans who want a big name, which bears recollection of the details of Lost in La Mancha and even the reports of Parnassus in production which were clear indicators of the pendulum’s direction as it was swinging from conservation to extreme once more…

    Honestly… I’m not spoiling for an argument but rather outlining some of the ‘Why oh Why oh Why… oh Why? details begged post after post’ relative to this epic of a funding process for a film which is no being greeted with open pockets and optimistic revelations of resource…

    Do as you like and think what you will… Good luck with convincing plenty of folks who have shot plenty of reels in real time and ask them if they are down for daily mad dashes with expensive and delicate equipment hour after hour to be greeted in their sleep with bombs going off all night long and tents being ripped up from around them as a part of waking up day after day to endless revisions and notes to a book that gets bigger and more riddled with contradictory ambiguity with each day and then try to make sense of that. You cant say some of this could not have been prevented with more responsible and considerate planning.

    Danger or no danger the body does grow weary and so it goes….

  8. Just to put it out there… I actually really enjoy Gilliam’s work(s)and would like to see solutions which can accommodate his sort of vision and process. Having said this it would be my suggested to work with like minded communities and individuals who share his unique take on professionalism. My first instinct is to direct him and his camp to the Burning Man Community and other similar festival minded production groups who understand the level of unpredictability from which Gilliam draws his energy. This is the essence of the issue in my opinion.

    I view Gilliam deriving much of his momentum and humor from the discordian mindset which fluctuates, twists and even burns brightly when the chaos and psychological dimensions of relations/characterization are at their peak. Ultimately he needs to work with folks who revel in this as well. This might be the copacetic yield that works best for him.

    If he possibly finds that this is not actually what works for him then I would suggest that he begin to understand how much he willingly depends upon others strengths and find ways to ensure that they get equal power and consideration in production/profitable partnerships. Great expenditures need some sort of truly sustainable stand alone systemic value whether it be natural or contrived. Compassion is meant to be a two way street and at present, I personally live on the highway associated with it so I try to speak from a place of experience in such things.

    Hope this turns the conversation towards a proactive dialogue.

    • No looking for fights from here either! I just don’t think your assessment of Gilliam and his directorial style is complete, and were I to suggest the specifics of the investments both financially and personnel-wise involved, I would read “The Battle of Brazil” by Jack Matthews, “Losing the Light” by Andrew Yule, and “Gilliam on Gilliam” edited by Ian Christie.

      Of course, whether interested but wary people would take the time to have their perceptions changed by a complete look into the truth of the matter of Gilliam’s career is another question altogether.

      If it were easy for Gilliam, I don’t think his films would be as good as they are.

      Cheers!

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