In Conversation with Joe Dante

Saturday 11 July 2020, 12.00 – 13.00

Celebrated genre director Joe Dante (in conversation with Aislinn Clarke) talks about deconstructing films from their trailers, keeping your personality in the picture, political allegories in genre cinema, and childhood influences including the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Joe Dante

Joe Dante began his filmmaking apprenticeship as trailer editor for Roger Corman’s New World Pictures. He made his solo debut as a film director with Piranha (1978), which went on to become one of the company’s biggest hits and was distributed throughout the rest of the world by United Artists. During his tenure at New World, Dante edited Ron Howard’s directorial debut Grand Theft Auto (1977) and co-wrote the original story for Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (1979).

For Avco-Embassy Dante next directed the highly praised werewolf thriller The Howling (1981), followed by the It’s a Good Life segment of the episodic Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983).

Having worked with Steven Spielberg on Twilight Zone, Dante was chosen to helm one of the first Amblin Productions for Warner Bros. Gremlins (1984) became a runaway hit and grossed more than $200 million worldwide.

Dante followed up with Explorers (1985) for Paramount, a sci-fi fantasy about three kids who build their own spaceship, and then Innerspace (1987) for Guber/Peters, Amblin and Warner Bros., an action comedy in which miniaturized test pilot Dennis Quaid is injected into the body of supermarket clerk Martin Short.

Tom Hanks starred in Dante’s next film for Imagine/Universal, The ‘Burbs (1989), which was followed by Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) for Warner Bros. in 1990. Matinee (1993) featuring John Goodman as a huckster showman premiering his new horror film during the Cuban Missile Crisis, was a production of Dante and partner Michael Finnell’s Renfield Productions for Universal in 1993.

Dreamworks/Universal’s Small Soldiers was released in 1998, followed in 2003 by Warner Bros. Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003) featuring one of Dante’s favorite actors, Bugs Bunny.

Dante’s Masters of Horror: Homecoming (2005), debuted in December 2005. The Sitges and Brussels International Film Festivals both honored Homecoming with Special Jury Recognition Awards, and the New Yorker called it the best political film of 2005. More recent work includes Masters of Horror: The Screwfly Solution (2006), and CSI: NY: Boo (2007). His 3D thriller, The Hole (2009), premiered at the Venice Film Festival where it garnered the first-ever award for Best 3D Feature.

In 2014, Dante made Burying the Ex, a horror comedy screened out of competition at the 71st Venice International Film Festival. In 2019, Dante released Nightmare Cinema, a horror anthology film starring Mickey Rourke and featuring shorts directed by Dante, Alejandro Brugués, Mick Garris, Ryūhei Kitamura, and David Slade.
In 2020, Dante returned to the world of Gremlins serving as a consultant on the HBO Max prequel series Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai.

Aislinn Clarke

Aislinn Clarke is an award-winning writer/Director and lecturer from Northern Ireland. Her debut feature film THE DEVIL’S DOORWAY was released in theatres and VOD in 2018 by IFC Midnight. It has so far been released in Canada, Germany, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Japan, the Middle East, as well as the U.K. and Ireland. It was one of the top grossing genre films in Brazil in 2019. The film premiered in the Official Competition at the Seattle International Film Festival and had its European premiere at the Galway Film Fleadh, where Aislinn was nominated for the Bingham Ray New Talent Award. She was also nominated for Screen International’s Rising Genre Star Award at Frightfest, and has been described as a “real genre talent” by Kim Newman and as “one of the most brilliant directors ever” by Lexi Alexander. Aislinn was awarded the AMPAS Gold Fellowship for women 2019/2020. She currently works between LA, London, and Ireland and lectures in film and Screenwriting at Queens University Belfast.

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