God Save The King (1977)

GOD SAVE THE KING was my first sync sound film when I was in NYU film school. Back in 1977 student films were shot on real film and the move from silent to sound was considered a huge step. The original 16 mm print was recently discovered in a box under a bed in the basement of a female juvenile correctional institution near Miami.

I wrote and directed the film in my 2nd year at NYU. It was loosely based on an incident that had happened to me one steamy August night a few months earlier. The punk movement was in full spasm. I cast two actor friends of mine, Joe d’Angerio and Jay McCormack in the leads. For some ‘real’ performance photos needed for the film we went to CBGB’s one afternoon and Hilly Kristal let me shoot Joe and Jay on the stage for 20 minutes just before The Ramones were going to start their sound check.

After graduation I scraped some cash together and finished the film. I added titles, did a sound mix and made something that was almost unheard of for an ex NYU student with no money and no job–a completed 16mm optical print.

Eight years later when I submitted my first screenplay Johnny Suede to the National Endowment for the Arts, I sent the print of God Save The King as an example of my work. They gave me $25,000 toward the financing of Johnny Suede. A year later I still only had the 25 grand. So, I submitted the Johnny Suede screenplay to the Sundance Feature Director’s Lab. Once again, I sent this only print of God Save The King as a directing sample. I got accepted.

Some visiting producers at the Lab became excited about Johnny Suede. They led me to some people who led me to some other people who led me to a friend who knew somebody who had a rich cousin who was thinking about investing in an independent film. The cousin turned out to be a flake. I eventually got the money to make Johnny Suede but in some ways you could say this little student film started my career.