Penn Jillette is the entertainer who has wowed millions with his subversive and violent magic as part of the duo Penn & Teller. He’s the guy who (rather sensationally) pulled the wool from over everyone’s eyes with the Showtime series Bullshit!. He’s the author of two atheism-themed nonfiction books as well as a buddy cop novel involving a sock monkey. He was on Celebrity Apprentice. Now he’s written a movie, and he’s asking for your help in getting it made, through a Fund Anything campaign, but he’s quick to make sure you know this isn’t some magic-themed movie like Now You See Me. Penn Jillette wants you to help make him a bad guy.
Jillette is teaming up with director Adam Rifkin, the creator of the dark and awesome Showtime mockumentary Reality Show, for the meta comedy thriller Director’s Cut, and they’re looking for $28 under $1 million to get it made. Why do they need anyone else’s help? Apparently the script is pretty out there, and isn’t an easy sell. On the Fund Anything page, Jillette says he tried selling the script all over the place, and while the reactions he got were highly positive, no one bought it. He says it’s because the “Fat Cats in Hollywood” think that the script is too smart for the average moviegoer, and that they’d rather he produce another documentary or something involving magic. But that’s not what Director’s Cut is at all, and I readily admit my interest is at a peak level here.
This is a movie-within-a-movie. Audiences will begin by watching a cop thriller called Knock Off, about a veteran FBI agent and his beautiful new partner who are investigating a case where a serial killer is copying famed serial killer murders from the past. Over what we think is the main narrative will be a director’s commentary, where information about the movie and anecdotes are shared. But the “director” spends a little too much time talking about the beautiful partner, and it’s revealed that the guy isn’t a director at all, but a crazy obsessive, played by Jillette, who is stalking the lead actress. Then the film turns into what sounds like a found footage film turned inside out, as the psychopath casts the actress in his own home movies. Weird, right?
There is of course the potential for this to be a real piece of shit, but Jillette is one of the most intelligent entertainers working, and Rifkin is an established director who isn’t known for making schlock. You might remember his work on Detroit Rock City, as well as 2007’s Look, the surveillance thriller that inspired Jillette to get Rifkin on board. While it’s said the film is in the same vein as Se7en and Silence of the Lambs, it probably won’t match up to either. But I’m really hoping this movie gets its funding, and I’ll definitely be watching and listening to Director’s Cut should it ever get released.
Below is the promo video for the campaign, which is one of the best ones I’ve ever seen, as Jillette truly makes a transition from nice guy to raging psycho over the course of 4 minutes. If they land an actress as good as the one they’re hoping for, this could be the cult thriller of 2014.
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Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper. Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.