Geeks of Doom: You also wrote one of my favorite movies, a comedy called Detroit Rock City. How did that come about?
Carl Dupre: That was a lot of fun. I think every writer in Hollywood has a dream of writing a script and then having it get shot right away and having it get released right away and having almost every word in the script be stuck to. And you know what? I had that experience with Detroit Rock City and it was totally by accident. I moved out to Hollywood and I became an editor and I was working with this guy, a huge KISS fan…I mean he was like hardcore. I saw KISS on the Alive! II tour at the Providence Civic Center, I bought their records and all that but as far as lunchboxes and action figures and all that, I did not (collect them). To me they were a rock band…what a show, what an incredible concert.
There was nothing else like that. It was an experience, it was like great theater. And plus their songs were really good! [laughs] But anyway I was talking with this editor, we’re working on this movie, it was one of the first movies I worked on. It was a movie called Skinner and it had Traci Lords in it and it was directed by a guy named Ivan Nagy who later became famous for being Heidi Fleiss’ pimp! [laughs] Like a year later we’re like, ‘oh that’s what Ivan Nagy is doing now!’ It was on that movie I talked to this other guy and like I said huge KISS fan.
Geeks of Doom: Oh brilliant film!
Carl Dupre: Yeah! Peter and I worked on that one also in the editing room. (James) loved the retro thing in the ‘70s and all that…I started putting sort of pen to paper and nothing was really sticking, I was writing this like bad Pulp Fiction rip off…and it was kind of a mess and I didn’t like it at all so I just threw in the towel. And then I go out to lunch one day with Peter Schink and this other guy James Melkonian, the director. I hadn’t seen him in a while and so Peter Schink goes [laughs] ‘oh yeah, Carl’s been working on this script about these kids going to see a KISS concert in 1978!’ and this guys eyes lit up. He’s like, ‘ooh that sounds awesome! When are you going to be done with it?’ [laughs] Peter goes, ‘he’s been working on it for about 6 months now, right Carl?’ [laughs] I was like, ‘oh I should be done with it inside 3 more months.’ So now I had this sort of absurd deadline and I just said to hell it with it. I just went for it. I read a whole bunch of books on screenwriting, I read a lot of screenplays. That’s the main thing that helped me just reading screenplays of movies that I liked a lot.
I showed it to this guy James Melkonian, he liked it a lot, and he goes, ‘what does KISS think of this?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, I don’t have any connection to KISS!’ [laughs]…and I realized I had written a script with a known entity in it without their permission. I immediately thought, ‘wow, what a big mistake that was!’ [laughs] So anyway the script sat in my drawer for about it was probably about a year or so. Finally I’m working on yet another movie. Again Peter Schink was in the editing room on this one with this other kid named David Feldman…(who) showed it to his friend Kevin Corrigan and then this chain of events happened that was just incredible. Kevin Corrigan showed it to his manager who showed it to an old partner of hers that was going to become a movie producer named Barry Levine who was the photographer for KISS back in the late ‘70s. So the coincidences were starting to pile up here…KISS was getting back in the make up and were doing their comeback, this was like 1996, they were actually in London so Barry Levine took this script with him on the plane from L.A. to London and he read it on the plane. When he got off the plane the first person he saw was KISS’ manager, he gave it to KISS’ manager and he said, ‘you have got to read this! This is the next movie I want to make and KISS is going to be a part of it.’
From my point of view what happened was I showed this script to this buddy of mine in the editing room of Barb Wire, you know that Pamela Anderson movie, and 10 days later I get a call from this producer Barry Levine. He goes, ‘Gene really loves the script.’ And I’m thinking ‘Gene who?’ He goes, ‘Gene Simmons!’ [laughs] I was like, ‘oh my god! You gotta be kidding me!’ It was absurd. The script went from becoming something that was collecting dust in my desk drawer to having been read by Gene Simmons…the script got greenlit very quickly and then they had this release date of the following year which meant they couldn’t tamper with it, they couldn’t rewrite it.
I’m just very grateful to have had that Detroit Rock City experience. It was a screenwriters dream come true and I was very happy.
Geeks of Doom: Was that your first screenplay?
Carl Dupre: Well technically I had written two other screenplays before that. Can’t remember the first one I wrote. Oh, yeah, I wrote a pirate movie long before pirate movies became fashionable!
I took the comments I had gotten for my first two scripts I kept them in mind quite a bit on Detroit Rock City and tried to keep things simple.
Detroit Rock City is about the rites of adulthood I guess you can say. A rites of passage that happen when you’re growing up and leaving childhood behind. Specifically I really did think of them as being on these quests and, yeah, ostensibly KISS is the Holy Grail but the Holy Grail is manhood. It’s becoming a big person, a big boy, you’re not a kid anymore! [laughs]
Geeks of Doom: So get in the car with Shannon Tweed! [laughs] What was it like on the set there?
Carl Dupre: It was very heady for me specifically because I was looking at sets, I was meeting actors, I was talking to the director and the director of photography, wardrobe people and props people who were bringing to life something that I wrote on a page and now they’re like real things.
It was like this Being John Malkovich moment or something where I was seeing what was inside my head!
Geeks of Doom: Did you get to meet KISS?
Carl Dupre: Yes I met KISS. I had actually met KISS a few years earlier on a photo shoot. Very cool guys. Gene Simmons the ultimate professional, consummate professional. Very, very polished guy which is always surprising because the guy’s standing there he’s almost seven-feet tall, he’s wearing this dragon make up and you feel like you’re almost talking to a college professor. Paul Stanley was really cool and Ace was very curious actually about the writing of the script. I thought that was really cool. I found myself having this conversation with him about how I came up (with the idea for Detroit Rock City). I was listening to their music when I was a kid and Ace Frehley (was now) picking my brain about how I wrote the script! Peter Criss…I grew up in an Italian neighborhood in Providence, Rhode Island and he reminded me of the kids that I grew up with. It was really cool.
Read the entire intervew here at geeks of doom
Friday, October 21, 2011
Carl Dupre: "Detroit Rock City" Screenwriter Interviewed
Interview: ‘Inkubus’ and ‘Detroit Rock City’ Screenwriter Carl Dupre