The Godfathers: Part Two
At long last, here it is. The final Danman Production.
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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.