VFF ’12: John Landis in the House with Richard Crouse: A Retrospective

Article and Photography by Ed Sum The February 4th Victoria Film Festival event with producer/director/writer John Landis was speckled with plenty of laughs and a fond look of his career in film. CTV's Canada AM Film Critic Richard Crouse was the master of ceremonies and the meeting of these two led to a very interesting 45-minute chat about Landis’ career. He recounted some highlights while he worked through the studio system. That also included being “coffee boy;” while he joked about not realizing that he was meant to toss out the coffee that he was told to hang on to, he took everything as a learning experience. That was met with some great laughs from everyone in attendance. During this time, he also reminisced about his work abroad in Italy and Yugoslavia. Some of the information is common knowledge for those who know where to look, but in what made the night special is in how candid he was in recounting the relationships he had with various rising stars over the years. The night also included some thoughtful insights, like on piece of advice from his wife, Deborah, a costume designer. And in what he revealed, that his wife advised, he noted that if audiences can’t recognize the silhouette of a character you’ve created, you haven’t done your job right. She designed the look for Jake and Elwood Blues as well as Indiana Jones. And the fond memories he has of both Danny (Ackyrod) and Johnny (Belushi) are aplenty. He addressed nearly everything that was good and bad during the production, which also included new pieces of trivia that not many die-hard fans will necessarily know. The amount of cars destroyed actually was fewer; some were reconstructed and reused. There was a body shop running 24/7. But he also talked about Belushi’s growing drug problem that happened on set. The tales he told were filled with humourous overtones so that everyone could laugh along. After the interview, there was a thirty-minute break where attendees could play videogames, meet Mr. Landis, and schmooze. There was a costume contest, where a few fans even appeared as Jake and Elwood. Afterwards, the evening was spent in a gleeful quote-a-long and sing-a-long of the movie to make the starting weekend of the Victoria Film Festival 2012 a huge bang up event.

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