Friday, 10 October 2014

"The Writer With No Hands" - An Interview With Matthew Alford

Local university lecturer Dr. Matthew Alford has spent the last few years investigating the death of Hollywood screenwriter Gary Devore, and now the documentary feature film "The Writer With No Hands", based on his extensive research is being shown at festivals across the world. We caught up with Matthew for an interview about the documentary and the impact his findings could have on the Hollywood movie industry.

Tell us about The Writer with No Hands
Dr Matthew Alfrod
It is a documentary feature film about the mysterious death of a Hollywood screenwriter in 1997. His name was Gary Devore.  

Body of lies: The CIA's involvement with Hollywood film-making.

What are the circumstances surrounding his death?
Gary vanished into thin air whilst driving home to his wife near Los Angeles. There was a huge, fruitless search. A year later, an ‘amateur detective’ found a hand-less corpse in a ditch. The police called it a freak accident and a freak discovery but they never looked into Gary’s equally freakish links to the US government's intelligence services. So I did. I found that Gary had just written what he called "the hardest hitting movie Hollywood will ever see ". Of course, no one ever saw it.  

CBS news article on Gary Devore

What do you think may have happened to Gary?
It might be a case of ‘enforced disappearance’, perpetrated by a group tied to US security services. It is hard to be sure, though, without full access to documentation, such as the 600 pages of case notes that the Police are withholding from myself and Gary’s family. They tell me this file is marked "confidential".

What is your interest in the subject?
 I've always been fascinated by propaganda and the abuse of power, and it’s particularly intriguing when it occurs through entertainment. Pentagon and CIA manipulation of Hollywood scripts is fairly commonplace, including on major franchises like Transformers. Much of this is done secretly by supposedly ‘public’ bodies. But Gary's death is, potentially, the most dramatic illustration of corruption in this area I've ever come across. 

Reel Power - Matthew's first book

How is the film doing?
The Writer with No Hands premiered this year at Hot Docs festival in Toronto, which is pretty major, and has gone on to festivals in Seattle, New Jersey, and Dallas. More to come. I was told that less than 1% of films get into big festivals without an established name or sales agent attached, so that's an excellent sign.  

Cine In Style article on The Writer With No Hands

How has Hollywood reacted to a film that essentially criticises the Hollywood system?
Early days. I have had some celebrities and corporations initiate contact asking to see the film. Team Downey (Robert Downey Jnr’s company) was one of them, so obviously I sent them a copy, especially as they'd have the power to get it sold through Disney. Unfortunately, I had a bit of a mind-blank, since the film raises all these questions about Pentagon interference in Hollywood and Iron Man is mentioned on the list. Bang goes Disney. Ironically, even as we speak, I am wearing my favourite Marvel t-shirt, which has a picture of Iron Man plastered all over it.

Why did you make the film? 
I hired a director because I wanted some extra protection. I figured the CIA would be less likely to hassle me if I was recording everything. That was a decision I often regretted deeply.

What is the next step? 
Looking to sell it worldwide. I have also just finished writing the book-of-the-film, which I'm equally excited about. Of course, acclaimed obscurity is a nagging possibility, so I'd like to keep building public support for the project.

Who is the writer with no hands? 
Me, for a while. Gary, forever.

How do you think The Writer with no Hands will affect the film industry?
If people get behind it, The Writer with No Hands can put significant pressure on the CIA and Pentagon to end their interference in the screen entertainment industries. With real momentum, we might even find something unprecedented: proof of a Western state-sanctioned murder and cover-up of a whistle-blower.

How was your relationship with director William Westaway?
Will has all the depth of a flat-screen television. His agenda was to make me out to be a kooky conspiracy theorist, who had abandoned his family for the sake of an obsession. None of this was true, as he well knows.

What messages do you think people should take away from the film?
I’m not keen on messages in movies. I just want people to be entertained by the movie and, until it is out properly, click ‘like’ on Facebook so I can keep them posted.  

The Writer With No Hands Facebook page

Dr. Matt Alford is a lecturer at the University of Bath. In 2010 Pluto Press published his first book, Reel Power: Hollywood Cinema and American Supremacy.  

The Writer With No Hands - Official Website 

The Writer With No Hands Facebook page

1 comment:

  1. Power corrupts. Absolute power in combination with ultimate technology spells doom for individual freedom. President Dwight D. Eisenhower's warning concerning the military industrial complex is now a reality. Evil in high places now rules the world.