The Entire Career Of Gremlins' Director Started On A Bet With Roger Corman
Joe Dante (Gremlins, The 'Burbs, Innerspace) is one of those directors to blame for the fact that everyone who grew up in the '80s won't shut up about their childhood. So while his name isn't bandied about like the Spielbergs and the Lucases, he's had a fine career -- which almost didn't happen, and was actually born out of a bet.
In the '70s, Dante was working as a lowly trailer editor. One day, B-movie producer and secret architect of modern Hollywood Roger Corman was having lunch with a colleague, Joe Davison, when a wager was proposed. Davison claimed he could produce a movie for as little as $90,000 -- an unheard-of amount even for people used to passing off chunks of plastic as outer space monsters. Corman accepted the bet, knowing that you couldn't even get Burt Reynolds to put on a shirt for that pitiful sum of money. Since he couldn't afford, say, Francis Ford Coppola for that amount (back then), Davison entrusted the making of the movie to two of his trailer editors ... one of whom happened to be Dante. In interviews, Dante has said that it was more like $60,000, so someone must have pocketed a third of the cash along the way.
Anyway, this is where Dante's film-chopping talent came in handy. He knew that filming action scenes for this movie would be financially impossible, so he was stuck filming scenes of actors talking. However, by setting the movie itself in the seedy world of low budget movie-making, Dante had the perfect excuse to throw in parts of other movies made by Corman's company. Free use of stock footage led to them splicing all kinds of shit that didn't make sense, but they fudged the details after the fact by filming scenes that were similar to the stock scenes. With ten whole days to make the movie, Dante and pals somehow pulled it off. For a cool $80,000.