WILLIAM SACHS is an award winning director, writer and producer. His feature films have received critical acclaim, cult status and commercial success. They have appeared on various top ten lists as well as Variety's chart of all time box office champions. His action/drama "HITZ" has been used to show juveniles at risk the horrors of joining street gangs and has been endorsed by well-known LA anti-gang activist, FATHER GREG BOYLE. His science fiction spoof "Galaxina" shot to the #1 slot within days of its release and became an instant cult classic. "Concrete War" (HBO), became a major foreign hit. In Japan alone it sold over 22 thousand units when it went to video, the average for a studio picture being only seven thousand. His "Van Nuys Blvd." was so popular among the young adult audience that LAPD had to close down the famous Southern California cruising street. His "The Incredible Melting Man," featuring makeup by the multiple Academy Award winning RICK BAKER, is also a high grossing cult classic and plays in many midnight shows.
SACHS has also earned a unique reputation as one of only a few Hollywood film doctors. Retained by both producers and completion bond companies, some of the films he has saved have become major grossers and launched stars' and directors' careers. His first doctoring assignment was on an unreleasable film called "The Gap." SACHS remade the entire picture and retitled it "Joe." It went on to become one of the highest grossing independent pictures ever, launching the careers of SUSAN SARANDON and PETER BOYLE. The success of "Joe" put Cannon Films on the map.
SACHS was later recruited by Cannon to save "Exterminator 2," and in the process the film made more money for Cannon and launched the career of MARIO VAN PEEBLES. More recently, he salvaged two pictures for Trimark: the first, a film from the DEAN KOONTZ novel "Servants of Twilight," which was immediately sold to Showtime; the second, an unreleasable horror film originally intended for straight-to-video and starring the then unknown JENNIFER ANISTON. SACHS remade the picture, added a little humor, and created an unexpectedly entertaining picture titled "Leprechaun" which became an immediate box office hit, spurring five sequels. "Leprechaun" helped raise Trimark's quarterly profits 200% in the first quarter of its release and enabled the company to raise public money in the hundreds of millions of dollars, igniting its rise toward becoming a leading independent motion picture company.
SACHS has just completed the forthcoming "Spooky House," a charmingly entertaining family film starring Academy Award winners BEN KINGSLEY and MERCEDES RUEHL.
SACHS' video and television credits include a special effects film used by Pink Floyd during concerts, a series of public service announcements, commercials, and music videos narrated by the Ambassador to the United Nations from Bosnia Herzegovina as part of an international campaign to raise money for transporting injured Bosnian children to foreign hospitals, and "They Slew the Dreamer," a screenplay he wrote for TNT.
SACHS' films have received more than 25 festival awards including the top three awards at the Paris Film Festival of Science Fiction and the Fantastic for "Galaxina" ("Grand Jury," "Critics' Prize," and "The People's Choice Award") and the Stuntman' s Association Award for "Exterminator 2." His professional activities include membership on the Director's Guild Creative Rights Committee, serving as a screen credits arbitrator for the Writer's Guild, and guest lecturer at the UCLA Film School.
I was welcomed warmly at William Sachs home in Granada Hills California. His house is filled with movie posters, pictures and props from his many films. His wife and partner Margaret and his son Brandon were also present and were equally warm and down to earth. Bill and Brandon helped me bring in my computer and scanning equipment from my car and set me up on a very long medieval style dining table. After I had set up and tested all my equipment Bill led me to his office where I saw hanging on the wall many pictures of Dorothy as Galaxina. Some were up about 10 to 15 feet high and had been there for years. Bill said, "I'll get a ladder." and trucked off to the garage. In a moment he came back with a ladder and soon I was climbing for those pictures!
As I started to get into the scanning adventure Bill said he would look around to see if he could find anything else. Brandon sat with me and watched me work. He is a very accomplished computer operator and we talked shop as I worked. After awhile I saw Bill come into the house looking dusty but excited. "Look what I found!" he exclaimed. What he had found where a collection of slides of Dorothy as Galaxina. They were in perfect shape. Some of them were the slides the pictures on his wall had been printed from. Scanning from these slides allowed the highest quality possible.
Once I had finished my scanning (Which took many hours) I spent some time with Bill's 18 year old son Brandon. We sat in his room and he showed me his computer setup. He showed me many interesting programs and games, and talk about a busy desktop! He had about 100 icons splashed all over it! It was great. Bill poked his head in after awhile and said, "Hungry yet?" I was starved, I had not eaten all day. I had left my house at 10am and arrived around 1pm. It was now about 6pm. Brandon and I both wanted pizza and Bill and Margaret agreed that would be good. Margaret made a salad to go with it and when the pizza arrived we all sat down in front of their 80 inch, yes 80 inch projection TV and watched some DVDs.
When we were finished Margaret left to work on some of her projects while I set up and began the interview with Bill. Brandon looked on as I began to ask the questions. Bill was comfortably stretched out on his couch with his feet up on the table. Later, after the interview, I asked Margaret to let me record some sound bytes of her remembering Dorothy. I must say I had a really wonderful time with the Sachs family. It was such a blessing for the Dorothy Stratten Website to have been able obtain everything I did. Bill told me he had never allowed himself to be officially interviewed about Dorothy before. He told me that it was only because he saw my site and what I was trying to do with it that he decided to help me.
Thank you Bill for your kindness and insight. And now fans, please enjoy this exclusive interview with a wise and funny man, William Sachs. Let us wish him and his family the greatest success in all their endeavors.
DSW: I'd just like to start at the very beginning, how did the idea of Galaxina first come about, to make a movie of this type?
SACHS: I had just finished a movie called "Van Nuys Blvd" for the same company and they said "Well let's do another movie." And Mark Tenser who is head of the company said "I've always wanted to do a comedy/western." And so I started writing a comedy/western. And we started looking for places to shoot it and there was so much we had to find and build and get, I said "You know, we might as well make this a sci-fi picture if we have to build all these sets and do that", so actually we did that. The scene in the western town where we have a shoot out with laser beams, at the Paramount ranch, it's kind of a leftover from when it was a western. I felt the sci-fi would be more fun instead of spoofing westerns since they weren't really happening.
DSW: Right, so the idea originally started as a Western but then just because of what they were doing you said let's make it a Sci Fi, did you have a specific budget given to you in the beginning?
SACHS: Yeah nothing (laughing), to make a movie with no money.
DSW: Was this the type of movie that you had a lot of time on? Did they say "you have a year, take your time, do the best job you can?"
SACHS: No, I wrote it in a month or two and we had eighteen, well we had twenty days to shoot it in but it was during some really bad rain storms and we couldn't get to some locations and houses were falling off the hills and floods and we had a set at Raleigh studios which is across from Paramount, and it was an old stage and now they've rebuilt it and it was leaking all over the place and our fiberglass set wouldn't set, (laughs) it wouldn't dry and there were fumes and we're dealing with fiberglass that's still wet because there was so much dampness in the air. We kinda lost 3 to 4 days shooting so instead of spending the money for the extra days they just ripped pages out of the script. So actually there were a lot of scenes that weren't shot that I would have liked to have shot and I had to cut it slower. I would have liked it to be paced faster but we didn't have time to shoot all the scenes.
DSW: So you just had to make due with what you had?