It’s safe to say no living filmmaker has done more with less than Roger Corman, the king of the B-movie who has produced or directed some 400 films over the last six decades. Now, with the coronavirus pandemic bringing the film industry to a standstill, Corman is challenging others to follow his example.
On Wednesday, the 94-year-old Corman issued a call on social media to A-list directors and wannabe filmmakers alike to make short movies for what he’s calling “the first (and hopefully last) Corman Quarantine Film Festival.”
“We’re looking for the next great film director,” Corman explained in a video filmed in his backyard in Los Angeles, noting that “a surprising number of Academy Award-winning film directors have started with me.”
Indeed, Corman, who earned an honorary Oscar in 2009, is credited with helping launch the careers of such directors as Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Jonathan Demme and John Sayles. They all cut their teeth working on low-budget sci-fi and horror films, biker movies and other cult fare — from “Caged Heat” and “Boxcar Bertha” to “Battle Beyond the Stars” and “Piranha” — for Corman’s production company.
The criteria for submissions, as outlined by Corman, are simple. The films, which can be about “anything you can imagine,” must be less than two minutes. They must be shot in or around your home. (“The cast can be your family or whoever is in your house with you.”) And the only equipment allowed is “your cellphone and the lights and lamps you have at your house.”
Corman will accept submissions via social media for the next two weeks with the hashtag CormanChallenge. Once a winner is selected, Corman will make a trailer for the film and its director will receive “a signed certificate from me as well as a best picture award for the first and last Corman Quarantine Film Festival.”
To kick things off, Corman nominated a series of filmmakers to take on the challenge, including horror directors Eli Roth, Andy Muschietti, Leigh Whannell and Guillermo del Toro, as well as Peter Bogdanovich and Ron Howard, who got their start working with him in the 1970s.
It remains to be seen how many people will answer Corman’s call, which comes as film festivals around the world have been canceled or moved online.
But lest anyone question his particular bona fides for judging films in the midst of a pandemic, movie fans might recall that among Corman’s more famous directorial efforts is 1964’s “The Masque of the Red Death,” starring Vincent Price as a malevolent prince who terrorizes his subjects while living the high life in his castle during a deadly plague.