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Punk Princes, Nordic Kings, Fisher Queens
Only seven months after 17-year-old Amy Fisher shot Mary Jo Buttafuoco in the head in Massapequa, the sordid saga of the so-called Long Island Lolita and her affair with body-shop owner Joey Buttafuoco, the victim’s husband, became a made-for-TV movie. “Amy Fisher: My Story” was broadcast by NBC on Dec. 28, 1992. It starred Noëlle Parker as the teenager and former “Hill Street Blues” star Ed Marinaro as her middle-aged lover. Six days later, ABC followed with “The Amy Fisher Story” (with Drew Barrymore in the title role), which ran in the same time slot as “Casualties of Love: The ‘Long Island Lolita’ Story” (with Alyssa Milano) on CBS. This had never happened in television history. Two decades later, filmmaker Dan Kapelovitz has created a “Rashomon”-like remix of the three movies, a subversive mash-up that, promises Videology curator Andrew Miller, “unspools like a Lifetime movie fever dream, with its labyrinth of duplicating lurid set-pieces taking on the tone of a noirish nightmare, reaching a frenzied schizo climax that would make Brian De Palma proud.” — Steve Dollar, Wall Street Journal
Your Weekend 90′s Nostalgia: Amy Fisher Film Extravaganza at Videology
You know that old chestnut they have in Hollywood? The one that goes something like, “Why make one TV movie about Amy Fisher, when you could just as easily make three?” It’s definitely out there, I think. Hence, when Fisher’s affair with Joey Buttafuoco exploded in the news in 1992, all three major networks saw fit to make their own movie about it, giving Alyssa Milano, Drew Barrymore, and Nöelle Parker each a chance to try their hand at playing America’s favorite gun-wielding teenager.
The natural thing to do, then, is splice all this archival footage together into one Amy Fisher 20th anniversary super-movie, which is exactly what director Dan Kapelovitz has done with Triple Fisher: Lethal Lolitas of Long Island, screening tonight at Videology. We caught up with him before the East Coast Premiere of what is being billed by some as “the Rashomon of found footage cinema” to find out why now, why Amy.
“I had the idea about 20 years ago, when the made-for-TV movies first aired,” Kapelovitz said via email. “It would have been a nightmare to edit the film back then because I wouldn’t have had access to a digital editing system, and would have had to edit the film using VCRs.” “There have been stories that have received more coverage with today’s 24-hour news cycle, basically anything that’s on Nancy Grace’s show,” he went on, “but the Amy Fisher saga was the first tabloid story — and I’m pretty sure the last — to have all three major networks air their own made-for-TV movie.”
Which leads us to the most obvious, important question here: which Amy is the best? “Noëlle Parker is the most realistic,” he says. “She is also the most likeable, but that’s partly because she stars in the movie that is based on the real Amy Fisher’s version of events. In that one Joey is this evil manipulator who convinces Amy to become a prostitute, and Amy’s father is a total creep, so you kind of feel sorry for her.” Milano is also serviceable as “stalker” Amy, as is Barrymore as “middle” Amy.
Now that his Fisher opus has finally come to fruition, Kapelovitz may focus his efforts on a similar mashup of Fisher and Buttafuoco’s respective “celebrity” sex tapes (“I’d have to show it in a theater that is equipped like the one in A Clockwork Orange,” he notes), but isn’t grasping too hard for an overarching moral to the saga. “I guess for Joey, I’d say that when a cop says, ‘I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure they took the statutory sex laws off the books,’ he’s probably lying.” Solid advice if ever there was. — Virginia K. Smith, The L Magazine
Triple Fisher melds three Amy Fisher made-for-TV movies into one epic melodrama
Twenty years ago, Long Island teenager Amy Fisher became famous for shooting Mary Jo Buttafuoco — wife of her much older lover, Joey Buttafuoco — in the face. She served time in prison for the crime and has since attempted several media-attracting life reinventions as an author, porn star, Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew actress/patient and general tabloid-seeking rabblerouser. Through all of that, filmmaker Dan Kapelovitz never let go of his own dream: to take three made-for-TV movies about Fisher’s sensational public introduction as the “Long Island Lolita” and make them into one triple-layer saga. Tomorrow night Kapelovitz’s fully realized vision, Triple Fisher, makes its Denver debut at the Sie FilmCenter, and the director will be on hand to introduce his masterpiece.
“It was kind of like with Avatar, where James Cameron had to wait for the technology to catch up — I had to wait for the editing to catch up to the concept,” says Kapelovitz, explaining why the film-triptych finally came to fruition more than two decades after the scandal.
In the fledgling internet, pre-YouTube days of the early ’90s, it was a struggle to even get copies of all three films, he says. Now that this kind of media is at anyone’s fingertips, Kapelovitz and editor Noel Lawrence have been able to make Triple Fisher come to life.
As for Amy Fisher as a main subject, the director says his interest in making the three-way film had little to do with the teenage star or even the story itself. “I had the idea pretty soon after they aired — which was in ’93. It was the first time in television history that every major network made a made-for-TV movie based on the same story,” says Kapelovitz.
The fact that three networks invested in the making of a movie so soon after the crime was intrinsic to Triple Fisher’s creative birth, and the director says the public outcry over the story was similar to that around the O.J. Simpson case — which would play out less than three years after the Fisher shooting. Kapelovitz’s 85-minute work stars two Hollywood darlings of the time — Drew Barrymore and Alyssa Milano — and the much lesser-known Noelle Parker as Amy Fisher. ButTriple Fisher’s real success is in its tone; there is something unmistakably similar about all made-for-TV movies, and this mash-up nails it. All three plot lines are driven by the same “true” story, but Triple Fisher highlights their differences. “Each (separate film) is from a different perspective: one is from Amy Fisher’s perspective, one is from the Buttafuocos’ perspective and one is trying to be objective, and it’s kind of from a journalist’s perspective,” says Kapelovitz. “I combine them to get the truth out of all of these perspectives.”
But that’s for the audience to decide. — Bree Davies, Westword
On March 2, A Movie I’ve Been Waiting My Whole Life to See Screens at the Grand Illusion
As every fan of trash TV knows, the Amy Fisher saga spawned three different made-for-TV movies, not one of which is as much fun as it should be. But on March 2, the Grand Illusion aims to right this wrong by screening TRIPLE FISHER: THE LETHAL LOLITAS OF LONG ISLAND, a feature-length mashup of all three Amy Fisher films. — David Schmader, The Stranger
Triple Fisher: The Lethal Lolitas of Long Island
Maybe this mash-up of three (!) different fact-based TV movies about spurned lover/would-be murderess Amy Fisher is a cogent examination of how little the American public’s appetite for titillation has changed in the last 20 years. Then again, it could be a fascinating glimpse at a couple of former child stars (Drew Barrymore and Alyssa Milano) attempting to find their thespian voices. Or maybe it’s just a wallow in the greasy potato-chip bag of tabloid culture. One thing’s for sure: It ain’t gonna be dull. — City Arts
How A Porn Magazine Editor Became A Criminal Law Attorney
Dan Kapelovitz left Hustler for law.
When I met Dan Kapelovitz years ago, he was an editor for Hustler magazine. Recently, he reached out to me on LinkedIn, and I noticed he’d become a criminal law attorney. How does one go from editing an adult magazine to practicing law?
How did you get into the adult magazine business?
A friend of mine from college was the Features Editor of Hustler Magazine. He bought a few articles from me, and when he resigned, I was offered the job. Interestingly, we sent him to Afghanistan for six months to cover the war when Larry Flynt was suing the Pentagon for the right to embed reporters with the military.
What was the job like?
The job was great. Because the magazine’s readers are primarily interested in the pictorials, we could write about whatever interested us. We wrote about alien sex cults, politics, music, the porn industry, the Barbi Twins, and much more. Two of the highlights were winning the Project Censored Award for a story on depleted uranium, and getting to interview Anna Nicole Smith right after she directed a photo shoot for the magazine. That gives you a pretty good idea of the diverse subject matter we covered. People are surprised to learn that the atmosphere at the Hustler headquarters is very corporate. There’s a strict dress code, and we were only allowed to dress casually on pay-day Fridays, so only one day every two weeks.
What was working for Flynt like?
Larry Flynt is much more hands-on than most people might imagine. He comes to work every day, and approves all of the pictorials, all of the covers, and even all of the cartoons. The articles were the only part of the magazine that we didn’t have to run by Larry. I only met Larry a couple of times. I interviewed him once for the magazine. He held a meeting with all of the editors to explain why he fired Allan MacDonell, the Editorial Director. Soon after, Allan — who is a comic genius — wrote an instant classic on his experiences at the magazine called Prisoner of X: 20 Years in the Hole at Hustler Magazine.
I was surprised to find you’ve since become a criminal law attorney. Why did you become a lawyer?
When I left Hustler, I worked as a freelance journalist for a year. As a freelancer, you spend more time pitching ideas to editors and trying to collect money from deadbeat publishers than actually researching and writing articles, so it was time to move on. At Hustler, I wrote a lot about criminal law, and each month, I would speak to our attorneys about any legal issues raised by that month’s magazine, which I always enjoyed. I have always been interested in law, but I swore I’d never go back to school. It turned out that I loved law school. And the writing and editing training I received at Hustler was extremely helpful. However, having Hustler on my résumé wasn’t always appreciated by legal employers.
What sort of work do you do?
I do criminal trials now, which is a million times more exciting than working at a law firm sitting behind a computer all day or reviewing a room full of documents. I spent my first summer during law school working for two legal legends on the opposite sides of criminal law. Half of the summer, I did criminal defense work for Art Goldberg of the Working People’s Law Center. He was one of the leaders of the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley in the 1960s. He was denied his law license at first because he had been arrested so many times during protests. And for the other half of the summer, I worked for Bob Ferber who created and ran the Animal Protection Unit, the first of its kind in the nation.
Then, my second summer in law school, I made the worst decision of my legal career. I turned down a job with the Public Defender, and took a job with a corporate law firm. After law school, I went back to work for the corporate law firm, and it was by far the worst year of my life. If any law student out there is thinking of working for a big law firm, please contact me so I can try to talk you out of it. Fortunately, I was able to land a job as a judicial law clerk to a federal judge, which is probably the best job one can get at the beginning of a legal career. I’m probably the only person on Earth who has worked for both Larry Flynt and a federal judge.
During my clerkship, I took a trial advocacy program at night, which qualified me to try misdemeanor cases for the Los Angeles City Attorney, an incredible experience. Now, I’m doing criminal defense work, which is why I went to law school in the first place. It’s a great feeling to fight for people who may have never had anyone fight for them before. These people are often either completely innocent or are facing prison sentences that are greatly disproportionate to the crimes alleged. I’m in the process of opening my own law firm called the Radical Law Center, which focuses on criminal defense. I also plan on doing some animal rights legal work. I’d also love to defend appropriation artists and filmmakers who are falsely accused of copyright infringement. In fact, I recently completed a film called “Triple Fisher: The Lethal Lolitas of Long Island,” in which I splice together the three made-for-TV movies based on the Amy Fisher story. The film is basically a cinematic law review article on copyright law’s Fair Use doctrine.
What’s the difference between being a porn magazine editor and being a criminal law attorney?
Not much. As I noted before, the dress code is pretty much the same. And in both jobs, you spend hours and hours researching and writing something that very few people are going to actually read. I guess one difference is that, in our society, lawyers are treated with a little bit more respect than porn magazine editors — but only a little. — Susannah Breslin, Forbes
“Triple Fisher” Screening and Q&A w/ Director Dan Kapelovitz
Back in the early 1990s, 17-year-old Amy Fisher found herself in a bizarre love triangle with her lover Joey Buttafuoco and his wife, Mary Jo, in a case that would redefine post-Reagan-Era tabloid culture. A barely-legal teen, Fisher found infamy after she shot poor Mary in the face, catapulting her to a dubious form of stardom when the media quickly dubbed her the “Long Island Lolita.” Long before her stint on “Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew” (along with a few adult films), Amy Fisher was the inspiration behind three network specials; “Beyond Control: The Amy Fisher Story” on ABC starred Drew Barrymore, while Alyssa Milano took the reins in “Casualty of Love” on CBS. Meanwhile, Fisher’s own account was adapted for the small screen in “Treachery in the Suburbs: The Amy Fisher Story” on NBC. Now, director Dan Kapelovitz (“Threee Geniuses”) tackles another triad when he mashes up all three of the crazy made-for-TV movies in “Triple Fisher.” Join the director for a Q&A following the world-premiere screening of the director’s cut of “Triple Fisher” at the Downtown Independent Theater. — Tanja M. Laden, Flavorpill
“Only at the Alamo: Triple Fisher: The Lethal Lolitas of Long Island”
Three made-for-TV movies have been inspired by the Amy Fisher love-and-crime story. In this film, the director borrows from all three sagas to create a fuller portrait of the underage siren and all the sordid goings-on. – Austin Chronicle
A 1990s tabloid princess rides again in ‘Triple Fisher’
FILM Before Nancy Grace and 24-hour news channels turned every vaguely salacious story into a screaming headline — and before TMZ.com and Twitter captured and exploded every dark urge in the American heart — there was a more innocently lurid time. Proudly sordid news shows like Hard Copy and A Current Affair zeroed in on names like “Menendez” and “Bobbitt.” Sally Jessy Raphael investigated “Satanic baby breeders.” A white supremacist threw a chair into Geraldo Rivera’s face. In 1999, Vanity Fair dubbed the 1990s “the Tabloid Decade” — and one of the era’s most memorable crimes had to be the one involving Long Island teenager Amy Fisher.
Quick recap: Fisher was a 16-year-old temptress (or victim, depending on whom you believe) who hooked up with auto-body shop owner Joey Buttafuoco, 20 years older than her and inconveniently married. Their relationship grabbed national attention when Fisher strolled up to Buttafuoco’s front door and shot his wife, Mary Jo, in the face. (She survived, though they later divorced; in 2009, she penned Getting It Through My Thick Skull, a tell-all about being “married to a sociopath.”)
Naturally, pop culture couldn’t resist sinking its fangs into this deliciously trashy tale, and three made-for-TV films quickly went into production: Lethal Lolita — Amy Fisher: My Story, which aired Dec. 28, 1992, and starred Noelle Parker; The Amy Fisher Story, with Drew Barrymore; and Casualties of Love: The Long Island Lolita Story, with Alyssa Milano. (The latter two aired opposite each other on Jan. 3, 1993.) Two decades later, the Roxie hosts Triple Fisher: The Lethal Lolitas of Long Island, a campy, crazy-quilt film that mashes up the best (and worst) moments of all three docu-dramas. Obviously, I had to speak to the man behind the madness: Los Angeles filmmaker Dan Kapelovitz.
SF Bay Guardian It’s been years since l’affiare Buttafuoco. What made you want to revisit the story with Triple Fisher?
Dan Kapelovitz I actually had the idea [to edit the films together] right when they came out — so, over 20 years ago. I had some time off [recently] between jobs and I said, “Now’s the time to do it!” I called a friend of mine who was an editor, and we worked on it together. I mainly did it just as a fun thing. It’s gotten a lot bigger than I thought it was going to get. I’ve been showing it all over the country and people seem to really like it.
SFBG Did you watch all three when they originally aired?
DK I actually did. Two of them aired at the exact same time, so I had to tape one of them. It was a big media event at the time.
SFBG What did you find fascinating about the story, and why does it hold up today?
DK It was the first time in TV history that they made three films all about the same event. I think now the story’s almost kind of quaint, given 9/11 and everything that’s happened since. I don’t know, today, if that story would even get as much play as it did back then. I talk to young people, and they have no idea who Amy Fisher is, or Joey Buttafuoco. Some people say, “Oh, wasn’t that the guy whose wife cut off his penis?” They think it’s John Wayne Bobbitt.
I think people like Triple Fisher because it’s funny even if you know nothing about the story. And there are still tons of these made-for-TV movies. I just watched the Jodi Arias story. I watched the Anna Nicole Smith one. HBO now does these kind of high-profile ones, on people like Liberace and Phil Spector. I love ‘em all. Some are better than others, obviously, but it’s a good genre. And they crank them out pretty quickly. These Amy Fisher ones, the trials went through September or so, and the movies came out late December, early January. So they’re almost in real time. Considering how quickly they were made, they’re actually pretty good.
SFBG How did you decide which segments to take from each film?
DK Some things I wanted because they were so hilarious on their own. Sometimes, the three movies would depict the same thing, but they’d be slightly different, so I’d want to put those together. Or sometimes I might want to repeat something that I thought was funny, like Lawrence Tierney saying “Shut up!” [in a scene from the Alyssa Milano version]. I went through it millions of times and kept improving the jokes, re-editing it.
SFBG Did you have a favorite among the three movies?
DK At first, my favorite Amy Fisher was Noelle Parker, the least-known one. I thought she was the most realistic, and the most sympathetic. That film came from Amy Fisher’s story. The one with Alyssa Milano comes from the Buttafuoco point of view. And the Drew Barrymore one is from a journalist’s perspective, so it’s supposed to be more objective.
But now I think I like the Alyssa Milano one the best. I think it’s purposely funny, and then it’s also really dramatic. And I love the [sidekick] character played by Nicky Corello, who [has the line] “Way to go, Joey!” He has all the funniest lines in the movie. I actually called him up and he came to a screening. It was really cool because he had the original script and he let me have a copy, and he was telling all these crazy stories. He’d never even seen the original movie.
We’re doing another screening in LA [Aug. 15 at the Cinefamily], actually, and Joey’s going to come. I wonder what he’s going to think of it! It should be pretty wild. — Cheryl Eddy, San Francisco Bay Guardian
Triple Fisher: The Lethal Lolitas of Long Island
Cultural critics never fail to insist that this is the worst that it’s ever gotten, that the media have never been more sensationalistic or depraved; right now, there are plenty of people who will tell you that TV shows such as Here Comes Honey Boo Boo or Jersey Shore represent a heretofore unimaginable cultural nadir. But the morally outraged tend to have a short memory, which is why they don’t remember mid-1992, when the nation was entranced by the media coverage of Amy Fisher, a 17-year-old who shot her 36-year-old lover’s wife in the head. How entranced were we by this story? Seven months later, ABC, CBS, and NBC each broadcast a made-for-TV Amy Fisher movie within the span of a week, and the versions starring a slumming Drew Barrymore and Alyssa Milano went head-to-head on the same night in a statutory rape-’n’-ratings showdown. But director Dan Kapelovitz has not forgotten those dumb days, and his fascinating Triple Fisher: The Lethal Loliltas of Long Island (playing tonight at the Roxie) is a mash-up of the three pictures, resulting in a Rashomon-like retelling of a story which didn’t really need to be told in the first place. Kapelovitz’s audacious video remix of the worst of the ’90s even makes it worth hearing the word “Buttafuoco” again. — Sherilyn Connelly, SF Weekly
Our Picks For This Year’s Cinedelphia Film Festival Include Amy Fisher, Amy Fisher, And Amy Fisher
After braving a long, cold winter, these nice-weather days make us want to do nothing more than spend every waking minute outdoors. You probably feel the same way. However, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you followed through on that, because the place to be for the next two-and-a-half weeks is crammed in PhilaMOCA with a few dozen like-minded people watching some of the weirdest and most unique films you’ll see all year. It’s the 2014 Cinedelphia Film Festival, presented by Video Pirates, and from today until the 27th it will be bringing you forgotten gems, historical retrospectives, unearthed slashers, mash-ups, and a whole bunch more.
Really, while looking through all the programming, we couldn’t believe how many of these insane things we want to be a part of. You can see the whole schedule of events here, and meet us after the jump for a handful of recommended events.
In 1992, America was so fascinated with the story of Amy Fisher and Joey Buttafuoco, that three separate made-for-TV movies were produced to tell their tale. There was The Amy Fisher Story (starring Drew Barrymore as Fisher), Casualties of Love: The “Long Island Lolita” Story (with Alyssa Milano as Fisher), and Lethal Lolita Amy Fisher: My Story (with Noelle Parker as Fisher). Director Dan Kapelovitz decided that those three films, combined, could tell a much better story, so he mished and mashed them up into Triple Fisher, which was been described as “a subversive mash-up that unspools like a Lifetime movie fever dream, with its labyrinth of duplicating lurid set-pieces taking on the tone of a noirish nightmare, reaching a frenzied schizo climax that would make Brian De Palma proud,” in perhaps the world’s greatest write-up of anything. — Philebrity.com
What to see at the Cinedelphia Film Festival
In 1993, Amy Fisher’s notorious story of fatal attraction broadcast on three major television networks as separate made-for-TV movies, a first in the industry’s history. Shortly after watching the movies, director Dan Kapelovitz conceived of a metadrama mash-up, which would put the three Long Island Lolitas — Drew Barrymore, Alyssa Milano and Noelle Parker — on the same screen, but the required editing technology didn’t exist then. Now, over 20 years later, Kapelovitz’s singular vision makes its Philadelphia premiere. Known for his work onThreee Geniuses, an L.A.-based public-access TV show with a cult following (think rapid cuts and colors so bright they sometimes exceeded FCC standards), Kapelovitz wove together the three films, each of which is told from a different perspective, to reach some approximation of the truth. — City Paper
CFF: A CHAT WITH DAN KAPELOVITZ, DIRECTOR OF TRIPLE FISHER
For a story that “never needed to be told” in the first place, the saga of Amy Fisher, Joey Buttafuoco, and Mary Jo Buttafuoco captured the rapt attention of a nation. So much so, that three major networks, not to be outdone by the other, produced three separate made-for-TV movies about the subject, each prepared to tell a different side of the non-story.
Triple Fisher, is director Dan Kapelovitz’s critique of the whole bloody affair, a three-way mashup of the films that seeks to paint, what is most likely, the clearest picture we’ll ever hope to get of the scandal – and the media beast that sought to portray it.
Cinedelphia spoke with Dan Kapelovitz’s about this project (20 years in the making!), its production, and another conceptual film currently in the works that aims to stretch the 1982 action comedy 48 Hours, into just that. Literally.
Cinedelphia: What influenced you to pursue the subject matter that forms Triple Fisher?
Dan Kapelovitz: In 1992, the Amy Fisher-Joey Buttafuoco-Mary Jo Buttafuoco love triangle was the major tabloid story of the year. All three major networks – ABC, CBS, and NBC – made their own made-for-TV movie based on the story. This was a first (and a last) in television history. Like millions of other Americans, I watched all of them when they aired. Two of the shows aired against each other, so I had to use a VCR to tape one of them. I also remember switching back and forth between those two during commercial breaks.
Each film is told from a different perspective. The one starring Noelle Parker is based on Amy’s version, so Amy is the sympathetic victim of the manipulative Joey. The Alyssa Milano one was based on the Buttafuocos’ story, where Amy is a delusional stalker, and Joey doesn’t even have sex with her. The Drew Barrymore version is supposed to be the “objective” version told from the viewpoint of a journalist, but it’s really just the journalist trying to show what a great person she is compared to all of the sleazy tabloid journalists that were also covering the story.
So cinematically, for example, if you take the shooting sequences, in Amy Fisher’s version, Amy backhands Mary Jo with the gun and it accidentally goes off, and then Mary Jo falls on top of Amy and they struggle, with Amy also being a “victim” (which she claims to be in the film). Then Mary Jo calls Amy a “lying little bitch” before getting shot. With the Buttafuoco version, a much-prettier and nicer Mary Jo is deliberately shot by the evil Amy who then physically throws Mary Jo to the ground after shooting her. And the shoot-out in the so-called objective version is sort of half-way between the two extremes.
At the time, I had the idea to combine the three films into a meta-movie, but back then, it was difficult to even track down all three versions on video. Also, I didn’t have access to a digital editing system, so it would have been a nightmare to edit, and it would have lost at least a couple of generations of video quality.
I had two weeks off between jobs, so I enlisted my editor friend Noel Lawrence (who also helped me put together the “Threee Geniuses: Re-Death of Psychedelia” DVD) and we started working on it.
C: How did you decide on a structure with three different films?
DK: We watched the three films dozens of times, then put together a rough version that was basically the story in chronological order. The rough edit took a couple of weeks, but then I spent a couple of years improving the film. At each screening I would see what worked and what didn’t work, and I also came up with new ideas on how to make it better.
C: How did the production of this film shape your vision as a filmmaker?
DK: I really have an appreciation for the original films. Given that these filmmakers had to crank out these movies in a few months, they are really good. I would love to make a traditional made-for-TV drama one day. It’s a real underappreciated genre.
C: How do you want Triple Fisher to be remembered by audiences?
DK: I want Triple Fisher to be remembered as a cutting-edge experimental film that also happens to be a crowd-pleaser. Most conceptual films aren’t very entertaining, but audiences seem to enjoy this one.
C: What does the production of Triple Fisher teach other filmmakers pursuing a similar project?
DK: I would say that if you have a good idea for a film, don’t wait 20 years to make it. If I knew how well this film was going to do, I would have completed it a long time ago. I thought it was just going to be a little project that I could hopefully get screened in a local theater, but I’ve shown it all over the country and even in Australia. It won an award at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. I got invited to this awesome Cinedelphia Film Festival.
I also got to meet Nicky Corello, who is my favorite actor from all of the movies (besides the late Lawrence Tierney). He has a lot of the great lines like “Way to go, Joey!” He never even saw the original film, and I think he actually has more screen time in my film than in the original because I used every shot he is in and use the “Way to go, Joey!” line a few times, which I think is up there with the great lines in movie history like, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” and “Go ahead make my day.” He lent me his original script from the film with his original notes written in the margins. He plays Joey’s best friend, which is a pretty minor character, but he created this whole backstory for the character where he was in the Vietnam War and he kind of lost his mind, and that’s why he treats Joey as a commanding officer type to whom he was extremely loyal.
The real Joey Buttafuoco even came to a screening at the Everything Is Terrible Festival, after which he and I did a Q&A. I never imagined that Joey Buttafuoco would even hear of this film, much less talk at a screening.
C: What do you value most, character, conflict, or premise, when constructing a story?
DK: For this project, I wasn’t really that interested in the story. I was more interested in the concept and how the three different versions could interact. The film is simultaneously a celebration and a scathing critique of the other films and of the made-for-TV genre in general. The films are edited so they comment on each other and on themselves. I also constructed it to be a comedy, so I would use the characters and the conflicts as a way to tell the jokes. Almost every cut in the film is a joke. But I usually tried to make the editing between the films relatively smooth so that audiences can follow the story as three sets of actors portray the characters.
C: Why did Triple Fisher need to be made?
DK: It probably didn’t. One of my favorite descriptions of Triple Fisher that I have seen in the media is “a Rashomon-like retelling of a story which didn’t really need to be told in the first place.” Even though the original story didn’t need to be told, once it was told by all three major networks, maybe Triple Fisher did need to be made to right the wrongs and get to the ultimate truth behind the Amy Fisher saga.
C: What is the next step for Dan Kapelovitz?
DK: The film I am currently working on is called 48 Hrs. Literally. It takes the footage of the 1982 action comedy starring Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte and expands it so that the final running time will be literally 48 hours. UnlikeTriple Fisher, this will be more on the side of the unwatchable conceptual films. In fact, there is an eight-hour sequence that is an homage to Warhol’s “Sleep,” where it is just a shot of Nick Nolte sleeping looped so that it lasts eight hours. And I am working on another sleep sequence, which will also be eight hours, but will include a bunch of dream sequences. Once Nick Nolte’s character meets Eddie Murphy’s character, his entire psyche opens up and he starts to have all of these psychedelic dreams.
I’m also trying to make a rock opera documentary starring David Nkrumah Unger Liebe Hart and some other top-secret projects, and I continue my criminal defense law practice in Hollywood, called the Radical Law Center.
Triple Fisher is screening tonight at the Cinedelphia Film Festival. For more information on the film, and to buy tickets, click here. — Kyle Harter, Cinedelphia.com