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IDYLLOPUS PRESS : BIG SOFA : The Urlybird Times : An interview with Dottie Faux, textwriter of cult classic film SAL, directed by Te Rue

the urlybird times

Special to the UrlyBird Times:
An interview with Dottie Faux, textwriter of cult classic film SAL, directed by Te Rue

None of us ever knew her name. She'd say, "Chi-chi, don't you hurt them now unless I tell you to."
Dottie Faux

URLYBIRD: Te Rue's SAL is becoming known as one of the most important short underground films of the 70's and yet it has never been released. Here and there, you find it mentioned as being influential, here and there you find a reference to Te Rue's significant body of work and its impact, but any individual you stop on the street would say they have never heard of her and certainly not of you, Dottie. This seems impossible to believe for you've produced over 120 films together.

FAUX: More than that now, I believe.

URLYBIRD: Despite your cult status, none of your films are out on video. I've never even come across a pirated copy.

FAUX: We're too busy to waste time getting them out to the public. We shot "Tell AL" yesterday and are in the process of editing "MZerable." That'll be two films in one week. If anything we are becoming more prolific.

URLYBIRD: And in a month devoted fans will have the film scenarios up at their websites, which is the only venue your work seems to have.

FAUX: That's why Te and I agreed we should do this interview. These sites are very disturbing to me and to Te. When we're almost done with a film, I write the text version because we like to read through what we've got and mull it over, but also for easy reference. Though it's never taken us more than a day to shoot a film, the material has to incubate for several years before we determine what direction the final edit might go in. Back in the 70's we didn't have a projector, didn't even have a tripod, all we had was the camera. Some films we edited in the camera and the more complex ones we did by hand on a cassette tape splicer, which was tedious and a strain using a magnifying glass on 8mm, but tedium comes with devotion to your craft. Then while things were still fresh in our minds I'd type up the text version so we could easily later look over what we had. I got the idea from those filmscripts that Black Cat books used to put out.

URLYBIRD: Ingenious.

FAUX: I'm not done. The film scenarios on the web are unauthorized copies of our text versions which we always send to an acquaintance named Phillip who travels all over the world somehow in connection with shooting films. We always made sure to make it clear these were works in progress that we were hoping he'd pass on to any big movie guys he knew--and how they began to be circulated we don't know. We asked Phillip and he says it just happens. But it's disturbing to us because once the text version is out people think the film is done, when the way we approach our work is that only after we're dead will it be done and then our complete catalogue will be the work itself. Of course, if someone big develops an interest in the meanwhile we'd consider letting the films be released as long as we could do rereleases as the work changed, if it did change. We haven't changed anything yet because we've never gone back and looked at anything we've done.

URLYBIRD: I've read the movie SAL. I found it more disturbing than moving.

FAUX: What was it about?

URLYBIRD: A large, drunk, hunchbacked woman approaches a group of people with her dog. She keeps telling the dog to stay away from them, to not bother those people, but keeps shoving the small dog toward them with her foot.

FAUX: I remember now. That was Maddog Sallie. It got so all the neighbors were afraid to go outside because when anyone did Maddog Sallie would always appear. Those of us who had mobile phones would always carry them and call a friend right before we went out to walk our dogs and tell them to give us a call in around five minutes so we could get away from Maddog.

URLYBIRD: Mobile phones in the 70's?

FAUX: Oh, right. We did MADDOG SAL in 98. That's what I'm thinking about. Funny, isn't it, that twenty years apart we'd have two almost identical situations. I'd forgotten about SAL. I guess that's where we got the name for Maddog Sallie. None of us ever knew her name. She'd say, "Chi-chi, don't you hurt them now unless I tell you to." You didn't want to invite conversation.

URLYBIRD: Your finished opus then can be expected to exhibit a certain circularity in which we might expect an evolution of content, meaning that nature may recycle but we always have room for growth and change.

FAUX: As long as no one else changes the films but us. I've seen these websites that have up the unauthorized copies of our text versions and another thing we don't like is they often put up pictures to accompany the text that have nothing to do with the film. Because we've never gotten permission from any actor to use their image, we've always shot so we never see the person's full face, you only see the eyes or the mouth. It's a very individual technique. But because our text versions are becoming so popular, we're thinking about releasing authorized text versions with stills from the films.

URLYBIRD: I understand Idyllopus Press has approached you about carrying them, and that you're close to signing a deal.

FAUX: Only because we're too busy to waste our time looking for anyone better.

Read the text version of SAL, now at Idyllopus Press

Interview conducted April 1st, 2000

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