The Hitcher turned out fine; good script, good cast, good crew.
I quickly grew to love storyboarding. It was like making movies on paper.
I intentionally channeled the clean, well-designed storytelling skills of Alex Toth in my boards for The Hitcher.
The Hitcher was a box office success. Robert Harmon called me to board his next feature, Eyes of an Angel. I passed. It was a dark, nasty script with a dog fighting background. I’m really glad I didn’t take that gig. The dog fighting subject matter was incredibly distasteful. I heard later that the set on that film had the ugliest of vibes. I was told there were fights on set, as many of the crew tapped into and were affected by the set’s and story’s mean atmosphere. The film was released direct to video, making The Hitcher Robert Harmon’s first and only theatrically released feature film.
I recalled the sage advice of director George Pan Cosmatos when he told me, “Getting your first film to direct is easy — it’s the second one that’s hard. With your first film, you could be the next Steven Spielberg. After you’ve made it, there is now visual proof that you either are or are not the next Spielberg. If you did well, your second film comes relatively easily. If you did not, you probably will never get another chance to direct.”
Tomorrow (Saturday, September 11) and Sunday I’ll be guesting at Power-Con, the convention devoted to Masters of the Universe. Come by my booth!
It’s at the Anaheim Hilton. I’ll have MOTU original art on display and will be selling my German Masters of the Universe book with a translation of my long MOTU interview.
Cos-Play expert Rebekah Cox will be appearing dressed as She-Ra — wearing MY She-Ra costume design. Sadly, She-Ra was cut from the film.
I hope to see you there!
Here are more of my storyboards for The Hitcher:
The similarity between my storytelling style and Robert Harmon’s caused a bit of embarrassment.
There are a lot of folks in France who are fans of my film work. The French pop culture magazine StarFix ran an article on The Hitcher. They printed some of my storyboards next to shots from the film and (wrongly) concluded that I had secretly directed The Hitcher!
Understandably, director Robert Harmon was not real happy about this.
Dennis Gassner quickly became a top production designer. He received Academy Award nominations for his work on Barton Fink, Road to Perdition, The Golden Compass, Into the Woods, Bladerunner 2049 and 1917. He won for Bugsy.
I have been selected by Dragon Con as their Artist Guest of Honor for this year. I’ll be doing lots of panels and sharing a multitude of fascinating stories, many about the 75 film projects in which I have been involved. I had more than twenty pieces of original art shipped to the show, including a new Dragon Con poster and a new poster for Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I hope to see as many of my friends and fans as possible — and safely. Instead of my usual location at AmericasMart, I’ll be set up in the Art Show room. Please follow my lead and take all necessary precautions. I take COVID very seriously. Do not approach me if you have not been double vaxxed. Even though I’ve been double-vaxxed, my grandchildren aren’t. I do not want to bring this terrible disease back to them, nor do I want this to be my last Dragon Con.
Let’s make this a Dragon Con to remember for all the right reasons!
Dennis Gassner was The Hitcher‘s production designer. I don’t think I’ve ever met a production designer with so much class and taste. He had hired a smart, terrific and incredibly dedicated and talented crew, a few of which (myself included) who had worked as production designers on some of their previous films. The crew contained much more than enough knowledge to make this film.
The members of the art department that Dennis had assembled all had fast, sharp, wicked senses of humor. That skill atrophies without use; I was glad to be constantly upping my game in that arena with them around.
In addition to storyboarding the movie, Dennis asked me to design the County Sheriff’s station exterior and interior.