LOADED GUN: Life, and Death, and Dickinson

Filmmaker Q&A

Producer/Director/Writer Jim Wolpaw's take on avocados, sherry and taking 15 years to make LOADED GUN.

Why do you think Emily Dickinson is so fascinating to so many people?

She wrote like no one else before or since, and her life is shrouded in mystery.

Where did you get the idea to make this film?

I was reading a passage from Polly Longsworth's book Austin and Mabel in which Mabel Loomis Todd describes coming to Emily Dickinson's home to play the piano. The poet listens from the hallway, never showing herself. After the concert, the maid comes in and presents Mabel with a glass of sherry and a short poem. This struck me as a great scene for a movie, and I started thinking about making a Dickinson film. So I got right on it and 15 years later, LOADED GUN hit the screen - sans the piano scene.

Why do you think Dickinson's poetry is important to American literature?

The power and originality of her work places her in the ranks of the great poets of the world.

What do you hope to achieve with this film?

We wanted to attract a new audience to Dickinson's work.

The independent film business is a difficult one. What keeps you motivated?

It is very difficult, but I get to work on subjects that interest me and that's motivation enough.

Why did you choose to present your film on public television?

It seemed like a perfect place for Dickinson. And they gave us money.

What do you think is the most inspirational food for making independent film?

Avocados.

What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers?

Learn how to accept criticism, especially from yourself.

Which filmmakers have most influenced your work?

Robert Altman, Les Blank, the Marx Brothers.

What are your three favorite films?

Dr. Strangelove, Tom Jones (the version with Albert Finney), Henry Miller Omnibus... and many more.

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