What do you think would happen with material like this nowadays if you tried to get it made?
I don’t know. We couldn’t have gotten it made then except for certain mistakes that happened. IRS Media, they were a straight-to-video company. For some reason, they didn’t have a lot of faith in this film, and they weren’t paying a lot of attention. I think if they had really been paying attention, and they really had expectations for this movie, I don’t think I would’ve ever gotten away with shooting those opening scenes the way I did. I don’t think I ever would’ve gotten away with it. I think that it was because they weren’t really expecting much from it. I remember one of the executives said, when he saw it, he said, “Well, certainly it’s no ‘Shakes the Clown.'” [laughs]
[laughs] Well, that’s a comparison. They were contemporaneous releases.
Yeah, they were both at the same place. At any rate, they didn’t really have high hopes for this thing at all. We got no support. Now, I’m sure you probably know this, but the only way that we got in theaters was because Jesse Beaton — who’s my wife, she wasn’t at the time — got it to Anne Thompson, who at the time was a writer for L.A. Weekly. She liked it a lot. She got it to Seattle Film Festival, where John Hartl saw it from the Seattle Times, and he liked it a lot. She got it to Sheila Benson, who was a reviewer for the L.A. Times, and who took it aboard [the Floating Film Festival], which toured the Caribbean or whatever, and Roger Ebert saw it.
Because of that, she convinced the guys that, “Look, if you give it a token release in three cities in Seattle, Chicago, and L.A., you’ll get strong reviews from those three places and you can put those quotes on your box and you can sell more units. But the only way you’ll get those reviews is if you give it a little release.” Well, it went to those theaters and then it was the little movie that could. It played everywhere, man. It was a magical summer when that movie came out. It was magical, let me tell you.
“One False Move” is available now on director-approved 4K UHD and Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.