Ho Chi Minh City. I awoke early due to jet lag. The smog is thick, much like the mood of this city. Damien arrived at my hotel room before 7am and seemed eager to show us around. He was mistakenly under the impression that we were there to film just him exclusively. He is an interesting subject though. He seems vain, preening, and is by turns both extremely arrogant and overly optimistic. We set out around 10am for the ‘battlefield’ location. Once there, he showed me and my small crew around the hulking sets and walked us through how he envisioned the movie. However, after a few minutes he insisted we begin to film him. It was only after shooting this piece of footage, that I began to see the scope and the challenges that awaited him in the very near future.
I am German born filmmaker Jan Jürgen. I am writing to you from Vietnam, after documenting the making of a Hollywood classic called, Tropic Thunder.” While the actors and filmmakers try to tell their story of heroism set in the chaos of the Vietnam War, I too will be telling a story. One that has never, until now, been told. A story that I have wanted to tell since I was a child.
Like all of you, I have for many year been fascinated by that most magicalest of all places; "Hollywood." As a boy, I would go to the cinema, and marvel at the people on the silver screen. But even as a boy I remember thinking; "Is there a more forbidding, more sinister side than the glittering facade held up by the powerful arms of the Studio System?”
Of course, this is the question of a child, but that question still follows me today. Imagine my surprise when Damien Cockburn, my former classmate from University, called me on the telephone and asked me to travel to Vietnam and aim my camera at him as he directed his first Hollywood movie. He claimed it will be “the greatest war movie ever” in which many movie stars, including Tugg Speedman, would appear. Could he really be talking about the Tugg Speedman? Could Damien, the awkward theater student I once knew, now be the speak of the town?
This blog, and the documentary I am working on, will address not just these questions, but more. What will follow is a raw, unedited, look behind the fetid flesh curtain known to you and me as simply "Hollywood."
Danke you for taking this journey with me.
Ho Chi Minh 2008.