Monday, February 1, 2010

The Godfathers: Part Two

At long last, here it is. The final Danman Production.

(Watch or embed the full YouTube playlist.)

Originally, this epic sequel clocked in at 2 hours and 40 minutes. Neither you, I, nor the internet had any interest in uploading that much crap, much less watching it. So I decided to recreate the so-called “Director’s Cut” that vanished circa 1998. By simply tightening, trimming, and reordering, I have eliminated 90 minutes.

You read that right. The version here is 70 minutes long and it breaks my heart. When I set out to shoot a feature-length film at the age of 18, this was how it was supposed to look. When I screened it for my stupefied friends, this was the movie I saw. It’s been 16 years, but The Godfathers: Part Two is finally done.

Although the first 30 minutes are too concerned with which gangsters are on which team, the rest of it is somewhat of a revelation. The torture scene, the seduction scene, the Russian Roulette scene, that blood-soaked finale—I’ll just say it. The kid behind the camera was starting to get it.

But it was too late: college had arrived. Like most of my friends, I packed my bags and a day later found myself sitting alone in an unfamiliar dorm room. I could sense it in the frat-house screams coming from across the street and the laughter booming through the wall: I was no longer the big fish. I was something much, much smaller.

The Godfathers: Part Two was my attempt to hold on. If I could keep Danman Productions together, then I still had a tether on my old life. I organized the script around which friends I had access to at college and which friends I could meet back in my hometown on holidays and weekends. It was massively complicated and I threw myself into it. The more elaborate the task, the less time I had to recognize that something big was ending.

The shoot concluded over Christmas break of 1993, during which my new college pal (and begrudging co-star) Tony hauled his ass to Fairfield to film the climax in Ben’s garage during one of the coldest winters in Iowa history. When I yelled “cut” after the final shot, everyone shouted in relief and ran for their coats and cars. And that was that. Danman Productions was finished.

Even tyrannical teenage directors have to let go, and eventually I did. Sure, there were college movies, but they were largely humorless affairs that stir within me almost none of the joy of Danman Productions. After graduation I became a legit filmmaker and author, but as much fondness as I have for my films and books, sitting in my house and partaking of them is not my idea of a good time. Watching Danman Productions, though—well, it’s been 16 years and I’m still not sick of it.

Back then, these movies allowed me to revel in my friendships by just hitting “rewind.” I dare say they are even more important to me now. Today my former superstars are spread all across the country, making a living in so many different ways it makes my head spin. Some of us are still close; others I’ve lost all touch with. But when I watch these movies it feels like I could call up any one of them and five minutes later we’ll be cruising around the square, windows rolled down.

I did add one thing to The Godfathers: Part Two. As an homage to the best friends I ever had, I created special end credits to replace the illegible originals. If you find yourself tearing up a little at the final fade out, you’re not alone. This is dedicated to the tireless cast and crew of Danman Productions. This may not be the movie I originally made, but it's the one I had in my heart.

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At February 1, 2010 at 12:38 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

well shit, an epic....and a feature for the festival circuit.

i'll have to watch it.

nice epic writing about it to.

these movies make my high school movies look like...well, high school movies. :)

good job kraus.

At February 1, 2010 at 12:40 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my god! Just finished G2. Underneath that ridic is a good goddamn story! I kept explaining it to kate. I'm real proud. -shad

At February 2, 2010 at 9:44 AM , Anonymous Amanda said...

I think it should be said that we watched G2:Redux on Christmas Day 2009...and enjoyed it.

At February 2, 2010 at 9:48 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My friend Dan Kraus, published author, cinematographer, future Miss America adjudicator, has been publishing his old teen movies on his blog. There are quite a few, and I haven’t watched nearly all of them (though I particularly enjoyed The Blob). Dan has just posted the last one, the culmination of Danman Productions: The Godfathers: Part Two. It’s now 70 minutes long, cut down from its original length of over two and a half hours. Dan took his expertise at film editing and cut it down to what he originally envisioned, and posted it. His writing about the movie is elegant, and I’m pretty sure I can’t wait to watch it.

At February 2, 2010 at 10:15 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I need to find the scene where Craig's accent changes about three times. Classic!

At February 2, 2010 at 10:16 AM , Blogger DK said...

That's pretty much every scene he's in, so you can't lose. You have to watch his Russian Roulette scene, though. Possibly the best Danman scene ever.

At February 2, 2010 at 10:17 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

off the charts tenderness here

At February 2, 2010 at 10:17 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't wait to watch it!

At February 2, 2010 at 10:54 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just have to say, the famous milk jug shot is still arguably THE best shot in cinematic history. Glad (albeit not surprised) to see that it remains in the final edit. -mk

At February 2, 2010 at 10:58 AM , Blogger DK said...

MK, I believe that the milk jug shot is given a full analysis in "Sex, Drugs & Film: the Rise and Fall of Danman Productions - Part Two," which I'm still hoping to be able to pull together for this blog's finale.

At February 2, 2010 at 11:48 AM , Blogger DK said...

Tony, you have to watch this. Your performance makes it clear that you were acting in a much better movie than the rest of us.

At February 2, 2010 at 11:49 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just watched most of it (skipping to a few parts I was in). Aside from the parts where I speak or attempted to emote with my face, I am happy with my performance. I seemed to nail the silent stare in one direction as evidenced by the finale and final scene.

Thanks for finally posting this. I've had this movie in my mind for many years and it was fun to see how my memories matched reality. There are entire scenes I have no recollection of even being in.

Now, wasn't there one last Danman production after this one though? I seem to remember an epic all nighter secretly locked in Studio Video Productions after it was closed and you doing your first real editing using the decks as opposed to the all video camera method of the past. Also, I remember us messing up the audio the first time around rendering the previous four hours a waste. I can't remember what the movie was, but I remember a line "The sun is hot and the moon is blue." -tony

At February 2, 2010 at 11:50 AM , Blogger DK said...

Your best moment is when you enter the kitchen (coffee cup in hand) to silently brood over the blood-spattered corpse that just happens to be on the counter.

You are thinking of a movie called "Circle," which, while certainly crappy, was not officially a Danman Production. But your memory of our editing foibles is accurate.

At February 3, 2010 at 6:09 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

what about chicks dig cameras? is that going up?

At February 3, 2010 at 6:11 AM , Blogger DK said...

High school movies only. This one just barely qualifies and is the last of the bunch. Believe me, it's for the best.

At February 3, 2010 at 6:15 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

really? nothing good in college? that seems hard to believe

At February 3, 2010 at 6:16 AM , Blogger DK said...

This blog has strict parameters. I'm a stickler.

At February 3, 2010 at 6:19 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

make a new blog with new parameters

At February 3, 2010 at 6:20 AM , Blogger DK said...

so demanding!

At February 22, 2010 at 2:59 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Holy cow! Look at all the hair I used to have. I'm gonna go off in a corner and cry now. -sean

At February 22, 2010 at 3:00 PM , Blogger DK said...

Crying is pretty much the standard response after watching this movie.

At February 22, 2010 at 4:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I showed a friend at work my death scene. He laughed his ass off then said, "wait, where were you?" -sean

At April 21, 2011 at 12:57 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finally. I just watched it and have comments. I actually enjoyed it much more than I expected I would (as you surely knew I would) largely because of the second half. And to watch each video and see how they progressed from the first through GF2 has been amusing and interesting. It's such a bizarre mix of non-sequiturs, actors all acting like they are in different films with different styles, a carbon copy of some aspects of FFC's first two Godfathers, while veering radically toward fantasy ridiculousness, star wars, terminator and reservoir doggishness.

Your Brando is the real joy here. You started to do him well, and I need to hear it in person in July.

The "soap on a dog" line came out of nowhere and I laughed pretty hard.

The gunfight with the guns everywhere then the rubber band. Beautiful.

Where did you come up with the idea of doing the huge towel on the head post-shower?

I loved seeing that old Apple printer.

The framing of the shots toward the end with the gun barrels in focus was a big leap. Good eye for that sort of thing starting to develop.

And the last shot of them all dead in the shed/warehouse was great. You backed out taking your time. Same with the final shot of the film.

What makes it so epic is that you're dealing with two different cities. Too bad you didn't make more of Iowa City with establishing shots and such, but wow, you're filming a hitman in a mall with other people, in parking garages and you make it work. And incorporating the Christmas crowds. That was a moment that for all the ridiculousness actually really seemed real and to transcend the "teens with a video camera" vibe.

We've seen that American Gothic painting throughout the FFI movies. yet here it's a funny contrast to the Italian-American gangster milieu. Of course you did have he families named Kraus/Nelson. Not exactly right out of Little Italy.

Sorry it took me so long.


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