Barry Levinson (“Wag the Dog”), Wes Craven (“Scream 2”) and Kevin Smith (“Chasing Amy”) are three top directors who demand creative control on the movie set. And now they’re directing their thoughts to the Internet, where they (and a few of their Web-friendly peers) have built their own official sites — allowing them to have the last word about their films.
Smith has loaded his site (www.viewaskew.com — named after his production company) with enough extras and insights to keep a fan busy for hours. There are video clips of scenes cut from “Clerks,” photos of Smith hanging out with such indie stars as Quentin Tarantino and Miramax chief Harvey Weinstein, and bulletin boards where Amy chasers can share movie trivia. What’s more, Smithophiles can get info on the director’s next film, “Dogma,” now in pre-production and tentatively starring Linda Fiorentino and Chris Rock.
Like Smith, horror master Wes Craven uses his site (www.wescraven.com) to connect with fans. Although the site lists Frequently Asked Questions that he will no longer answer, Craven reads his mail and often responds personally. He’ll also post insider updates. Last October, for example, Craven warned fans that a widely-circulated Internet script for “Scream 2” was old and differed markedly from the upcoming film.
Sometimes, Craven can be found lurking around the chat room, anonymously. “Wes will go in with a new name so he won’t get deluged with questions,” says Bill Perry, who designed and maintains the site for Craven. “He’ll pretend he was a grip on one of Wes’s films and say, ‘You know what I heard,’ and throw out inside information that way.”
Not all directors’ sites, however, offer such first-run material. Levinson’s web home (www.levinson.com) is filled largely with film summaries that seem clipped from the studio promotional packets. Michael Moore (“Roger and Me”) offers even less info on his in-progress site (www.michaelmoore.com). The pages don’t seem to be updated often, judging from the lack of detail about his next corporate-bashing documentary, “The Big One,” due out this spring. But Moore manages to add a personal touch by suggesting message board topics straight from his activist heart: “Are Unions on the rise again? What should be our strategy as workers as we deal with management?”
Although their quality varies, these sites provide a steady bonus for the directors: adulation. “Wes doesn’t think of himself as a celebrity,” says Perry. “So when he’s treated that way [with all the fan mail to the site], it’s kind of a guilty pleasure.”