After a longtime collaboration working as a second unit director alongside Kevin Reynolds, Mark Illsley made his feature debut with the 1999 Sundance Film Festival favorite "Happy, Texas". While atten...
Former Dire Straits rocker Alan Clark has joined forces with the band's one-time tour saxophonist to launch a new group called The Straits. British keyboardist Clark joined the Money For Nothing hitmakers in 1980 and remained a key member until frontman Mark Knopfler announced the band's split in 1995, and now he has called on fellow musician Chris White, who performed on the road with Dire Straits from 1985 to 1995, to play a series of live shows with him later this year (14).
Clark reveals the idea for the mini-reunion has been two years in the making as the two musicians first discussed their plans while in Rome, Italy.
He says, "Chris and I were having breakfast beside a pool one beautiful, sunny morning when I declared we were going to form The Straits."
The duo has also recruited Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' drummer Steve Ferrone, singer Terrence Reis, bassist Mickey Feat and pianist Jamie Squire.
Clark admits he and White almost formed the band exclusively from old Dire Straits members and associates.
He adds, "We'd briefly considered using a line-up of ex Dire Straits players - and believe me, there were plenty of offers - but we decided to go our own way, to hand-pick the absolute best."
The Straits will kick off a North American tour in Michigan on 28 February (14).
Dire Straits co-founders, including frontman Mark Knopfler and bassist John Illsley, have yet to comment on the news.
Served as second unit director on "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves", helmed by Reynolds
Assisted Reynolds on "Fandango", a feature based on "Proof"
Was second unit director on Reynolds' "The Beast"
Feature directorial debut, "Happy, Texas"; also co-wrote with Ed Stone and Phil Reeves and served as one of the producers; premiered at the Sundance Film Festival
Served as assistant director to Clay Borris on the thriller "Quiet Cool"
While at USC, met Kevin Reynolds; served as producer of Reynolds' 22-minute thesis film "Proof"
Signed to direct the comedy feature "Guam Goes to the Moon", described by Illsley as "'The Right Stuff' but the wrong guys"
Reteamed with Reynolds as 2nd unit director on "Rapa Nui"
Began making Super-8 movies as a teenager
Had a key production assistant credit on Alan Rudolph's romantic mystery "Love at Large"
Raised in Santa Rosa, California
After a longtime collaboration working as a second unit director alongside Kevin Reynolds, Mark Illsley made his feature debut with the 1999 Sundance Film Festival favorite "Happy, Texas". While attending film school at USC, Illsley first met up with Reynolds and served as producer of the director's thesis film "Proof", a 22-minute short later expanded into Reynolds' debut feature "Fandango" (1985), notable as an early starring vehicle for Kevin Costner. Illsley's first screen credit came in 1986 as assistant director of Clay Borris' thriller feature "Quiet Cool". He reteamed with Reynolds on "The Beast" (1988), again serving as second unit director of the compelling Soviet/Afghan war film starring Jason Patric. His name appeared onscreen again in 1990 as key production assistant on Alan Rudolph's "Love at Large" before he reteamed with Reynolds in the second unit director capacity on "Robin Hood: Price of Thieves" (1991). In this popular adventure film, Illsley was responsible for the striking shot of an arrow spinning through the air plucked for use in the trailer, television spots and music videos that promoted the film. Less successful was the 17th Century-set Easter Island civil war epic "Rapa Nui" (1994). Directed by Reynolds with Illsley once again heading up the second unit, the film proved a rough shoot, with scenes requiring scaling mountains and hanging off of cliffs to capture the remarkable scenery. Illsley ended his partnership with Reynolds after this feature and prior to the director's doomed "Waterworld" (1996), but found movie work hard to come by, and ended up at one point doing time as a telemarketer for a hair restorative company.
With a faltering career, Illsley grew more determined to helm a feature of his own, and teamed up with screenwriter Ed Stone who drafted the script that would become "Happy, Texas". Illsley and Stone privately funded the film, with major donations coming from Illsley's siblings and his Silicon Valley entrepreneur parents. The fledgling director excitedly undertook the tall task of making a film with little money, inspired by Robert Rodriguez's book "Rebel Without a Crew". In the end, "Happy, Texas" managed to land a $1.7 million budget (much more than the $50,000 he originally planned on) and an especially impressive cast of dedicated actors (Jeremy Northam, Steve Zahn, William H Macy, Illeana Douglas and Ally Walker). The decidedly good-natured romantic comedy (a purposeful turn from the often cynical or debased indie fare) was relentlessly championed by the director, and was screened to acclaim (and a bidding war) at Sundance in 1999. It follows the adventures of two escaped convicts who posing as child beauty pageant coordinators descend upon a small town to hide out and rob the local bank, only to bewitch and be bewitched by the titular community's quirky residents. A particularly engaging subplot involving a closeted gay sheriff (Macy) was handled well, steering clear of tired stereotypes. The charming and funny feature's theatrical release came in the fall of that year, and enjoyed glowing reviews and a relatively strong box office. In the midst of the success of "Happy, Texas", Illsley, determined to make the most of his debut acclaim, was busy developing his next feature, "Guam Goes to the Moon/To the Moon", a comedy about an upstart space program peopled with NASA rejects.
born on June 27, 1921; moved his technical glass company to Santa Rosa, California in the 1950s, paving the way for Silicon Valley, the name given to the region's booming high-tech industry
born on July 26, 1955
born on January 19, 1957
born on February 25, 1954
School of Cinema and Television, University of Southern California
On working as a second-unit director: "You work on other people's movies and at a certain point you go, 'OK, when was it that I said that I didn't want to follow my own dream?' --Mark Illsley quoted in BOSTON GLOBE, October 3, 1999
"A lot of independent comedies feel they need to add the adjective 'dark' or 'gross-out'. We intentionally decided that we weren't going to go in that direction. We wanted to make a sweet comedy. We like the vulnerability of our characters. It's a bunch of people trying to find love." --Illsley quoted in BOSTON GLOBE, October 3, 1999, on his and fellow "Happy, Texas" screenwriter Ed Stone's approach
Illsley on what inspired him to put aside his work as a second-unit director and helm his own feature: "The thing that started it all was the misperception of the term 'someday'. When you're in your 20s . . . you actually believe that 'someday' is a real thing, and that if you wait long enough 'someday' [i]s going to happen. But when you get into your 30s, you realize that 'someday' and 'never' are the same . . . And I was in my 30s. I realized that I had always wanted direct something--I had made little Super-8s when I was in high school and all that stuff--and my second-unit career was going really badly." --quoted in PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, October 10, 1999
Illsley on the collaborative effort of filmmaking: "I have an allegic reaction to auteurism. It implies that a movie is made by just one person. I want a movie that's not just about me. I want one that's bigger than me. It's really just good business sense, and it's also incredibly selfish. With the right approach, a film can be greater than the sum of its parts." --quoted in "Happy, Texas" press notes