Quentin Tarantino remembers Reservoir Dogs: ‘I counted the walkouts’

Director tells Tribeca Festival first public screening of his debut was a fucking disaster but revels in memory of dancing when Harvey Keitel came onboard

When Reservoir Dogs hit theaters in 1992, it rocketed a young filmmaker from obscurity and reinvented independent film. On Friday night, to mark the 25th anniversary of Quentin Tarantinos gritty, violent and groundbreaking tale of crime and betrayal, the director and cast members Steve Buscemi, Michael Madsen, Tim Roth and Harvey Keitel reunited for a screening at the Tribeca Film Festival.

There are so many things about this movie where I didnt know anything, Tarantino said, onstage at the Beacon Theatre in New York. If I could do it all again, Id do it slightly differently.

The screening was a jewel of this years Tribeca line-up. In contrast, Tarantino said of the films premiere at Sundance in 1992, the first time we screened it was a disaster.

It was our very first public screening. They didnt have a scope lens for the projector and its a scope movie and I let them show it anyway. That would have been bad enough.

The problems only escalated from there, he said. It gets to the final climax and all of the sudden the lights come up. They go back down, and then almost as if on purpose as far as suspense is concerned, right at the height of the movie theres a power outage and all the power goes out.

So, [I thought] OK, thats what its like to watch your movie in public. It was a fucking disaster.

According to Tarantino, things didnt get much better when he went on the film festival circuit.

It was great because [at the time] I had barely left Los Angeles county, let alone visiting other continents. The thing is, at a film festival screening sometimes people dont know what theyre about to see. They read the program and hear a synopsis and thats it, so its understandable that at a film festival that maybe this is not what they want to see and they have to leave.

Tim Roth and Harvey Keitel in Reservoir Dogs. Photograph: Allstar/RANK FILM

So I started counting the walkouts.

At one such screening, Tarantino said, he counted 33 people leaving the theater.

Perceptions quickly shifted, the movie becoming a breakout hit at Sundance, being picked up for distribution by Miramax and quickly growing into a genuine cult hit. It also attracted its fair share of controversy thanks to its brutal violence. Until 1995, the film was barred from release on home video in the UK.

The shock value seemed to work. Tribeca co-founder Jane Rosenthal, in attendance on Friday, said Reservoir Dogs was the first time audiences noticed Tarantino.

Weve been noticing him and have been thrilled by him ever since, she said.

The film is also known for making stars out if its cast, with early roles for Buscemi, Madsen and Roth, the last of whom called the film a complete shift in my life.

Keitel, however, was already a star. Tarantino was a fan of the actor and managed to get his now-legendary script into his hands. The movies producer, Lawrence Bender, had an acting teacher whose wife knew Keitel.

It worked, said Tarantino, who still gets excited talking about how his debut coalesced. The next thing we knew, Harvey was leaving a message saying, I read the script, I love it, Id even love to produce it to get it going. Give me a call back.

It was an amazing experience and I think we danced around. That was the beginning of the beginning.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

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