search for something...

search for something you might like...

The Mighty Duck Part One of our Two Part interview with writer / director, Nic Bettauer, conducted on the eve of the release of her award-winning movie, DUCK.

The Mighty Duck

Part One of our Two Part interview with writer / director, Nic Bettauer, conducted on the eve of the release of her award-winning movie, DUCK.

by LamontPaul, Founder & Publisher
first published: May, 2007
If I had to have made one movie, then died - - it would have been Midnight Cowboy

When I meet Nic Bettauer, the director/writer/producer of the critically acclaimed movie, DUCK, on the boardwalk at Venice Beach, she is wearing a pair of gigantic rubber-soled platform shoes that she'd just bought for "less than $10." Even in the shoes, she remains the only movie auteur still shorter than Woody Allen. Far easier on the eye though.

"I love it here, " she says of Venice, "It's open-minded and open-ended, and when you look out over the ocean then head up the beach, then the world appears to be open and limitless."

Nic walks out onto the sand and kicks off her shoes. The sand is hot and we walk to waters' edge. From where we stand we can see Catalina burning off the coast, and inland too the flames over Griffith Park. We have good eyesight. What if the Hollywood sign burnt down I am thinking. She used to run every day in Griffith Park, and lived at MacArthur Park, the other park, in LA, she remarks darkly, that was 'lit-up' recently, she seems genuinely dismayed by it all.

Duck, after all, amongst other things, is a love-letter to Los Angeles akin to Quinceanera and Training Day... "I've briefly met the directors of 'Quinceanera' -- wonderful - - " she says, "and I'm the hugest fan of 'Training Day', 'Collateral', that ilk of L.A. based cop films, having grown up on the N.Y. ones of the 70's, still my favorites. I like character pieces and city/street films. I do love L.A. and N.Y. And, If I had to have made one movie, then died - - it would have been 'Midnight Cowboy'."

DUCK, starring Philip Baker Hall as Arthur, opens with the closing of the last public park in Los Angeles. A cautionary tale set only very slightly in the future, "So that there's enough time to make a change or a difference," Nic begins, "but not too much so as to make its observations irrelevant (to those living for themselves in the now)."

"I'm not really interested in solely bitching about the present," she says, "without holding forth options, nor living in the past, or for the future... DUCK is something of a survival story about what it takes to want to survive. For each, it is different, but quite a strong will."

duck the movie director nic bettauer Arthur (Philip Baker Hall) is a retired history professor who has outlived his time and place, friends and family, resources and reasons to live. In the park where his son and wife are buried, Arthur contemplates putting an end to his own life, when he is confronted by an orphaned duckling who has just escaped death. Arthur names this duckling Joe. What follows is their search meaningful survival in a world where they don't matter. It's tough and not so sentimental. It's provocative, funny and charming, an off-kilter story of hope. "It's too mainstream..." an industry publicist taking a pass on the film recently told Nic. "Hysterical. That's the last thing I thought I'd hear."

"Once when I was a struggling writer, as I am still... someone (unmentioned) took the liberty to ask me what I was going to do when I was alone, homeless, and penniless on a bench. And, I asked - - could I have a dog? Because well, I love dogs... and that's something, no? Possibly everything." Arthur gets a duck.

Duck is not Nic's first film to feature homeless characters... "I've spent a lot of time downtown and @ MacArthur Park. I'd never before experienced anything like the open-air asylum downtown became at night. I worked at a homeless shelter as well as for Legal Aid taking evidence photos in their anti-slumlord suits. Whence Hollywood turned that world of mine into 'The Super', I was making documentaries - - still my first love. The tiny, ragged, first, non-sync-sound ode-to-misery I made while in grad school 'Warm Place Tonight' is now resurrected on YouTube (do not miss this - L). Go Internet! At its best, the 6 min. film aspires to a Tom Waits song, and I did love those guys who speak through the film about the death of their friend, heretofore unnoticed.

In part 2: the sublime casting of Philip Baker Hall and the Aflac Duck, the Duck novella, her plans for the future and way more besides.

To learn more about DUCK go to the duckthemovie.com website

photos on this page by Mark Lampert

LamontPaul
Founder & Publisher

Publisher, Lamontpaul founded outsideleft with Alarcon in 2004 and is hanging on, saying, "I don't know how to stop this, exactly."

Lamontpaul portrait by John Kilduff painted during an episode of John's TV Show, Let's Paint TV


about LamontPaul »»

If I had to have made one movie, then died - - it would have been Midnight Cowboy
The OUTSIDELEFT Weekly Playlist listen on spotify

RECENT STORIES

RANDOM READS

All About and Contributors

HELP OUTSIDELEFT

Outsideleft exists on a precarious no budget budget. We are interested in hearing from deep and deeper pocket types willing to underwrite our cultural vulture activity. We're not so interested in plastering your product all over our stories, but something more subtle and dignified for all parties concerned. Contact us and let's talk. [HELP OUTSIDELEFT]

WRITE FOR OUTSIDELEFT

If Outsideleft had arms they would always be wide open and welcoming to new writers and new ideas. If you've got something to say, something a small dank corner of the world needs to know about, a poem to publish, a book review, a short story, if you love music or the arts or anything else, write something about it and send it along. Of course we don't have anything as conformist as a budget here. But we'd love to see what you can do. Write for Outsideleft, do. [SUBMISSIONS FORM HERE]

outsideleft content is not for everyone