Tara Wood talks ‘QT8: The First Eight’

QT8: The First Eight
QT8: The First Eight

Filmmaker Tara Wood recently spoke with FF2 Media over the phone about her Quentin Tarantino documentary, QT8: The First Eight.

The film is currently available on Digital and VOD.

Tara Wood
Courtesy of Wood Entertainment.

QT8: The First Eight made its way to home video last week.  How did you go about approaching Quentin Tarantino in order to make the film?

Tara Wood: I had completed 21 Years: Richard Linklater, and Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, and Rick all spent a lot of time in Austin. I would hear things about Quentin. Obviously, he’s an amazing director and I always enjoyed his films, but I would hear that he was very humble and worked hard honestly, and it that really piqued my curiosity about how he presented a certain way in the press and then has this kind of real life way about him. I pursued it that way and I sent him the DVD of 21 Years: Richard Linklater. He liked that we concentrated on the filmography instead of it being an expose type documentary.

It’s my understanding that you only met him recently.?

Tara Wood: Yes, we met in person at Cannes in May this year.

How did that go?

Tara Wood: It was really amazing. I introduced myself and he said, “I’ve been waiting to meet.” We sat down for about a half hour just talked. He’s everything that everybody said he was. He’s a really amazing guy.

Having just met him last week, I would agree.

Tara Wood: When he stops and takes the time with you, it’s about you and he’s focused and very present. It’s very impressive.

Do you have a favorite Quentin Tarantino film?

Tara Wood: This is always hard but I tend to fall back to Reservoir Dogs. I just love the rawness and the fact that it was his directorial debut. You would never know it as it was such a well crafted film. But I do love the True Romance screenplay.

When it comes to QT8, how long was the initial cut?

Tara Wood: That’s a great question, Nobody’s asked me that! Probably four hours? It was really long. That was the toughest part of this project. The cruelty is going down to 90 or 100 minutes.

I can imagine that with 45 hours of interviews.

Tara Wood: Yeah, exactly. Great stuff.  You can listen to each one of those interviews as they stand and enjoy every second of them.

Is there enough material on the cutting room floor to make a sequel?

Tara Wood: I certainly hope that the audience demands that. I would love to bring it. We can follow up with some more and see what he does with his tenth.

How long into production did Harvey Weinstein’s downfall take place and what’s your mindset as all this is happening?

Tara Wood: We had completed most of the interviews when I sold the film to Harvey. There were a couple more that we were going to do. That included Leonardo DiCaprio and John Travolta. There were a couple more on the list but those were the two that I missed, to be honest. Working on the cover up until that point was like a dream. I mean, it was so much fun. Everybody showed up ready and willing to sit down for an hour plus to talk about their favorite director. I mean, it was just a blast. As soon as I sold to The Weinstein Company, the energy completely changed. It was difficult to get Harvey to finish the film. It’s difficult to even get anybody on the phone. It was just such a different vibe. It was within a year that the New York Times article on October 5th dropped and then that took on a whole new life. We were already fighting when that happened. I already wanted the back. When the scandal happened, I tried harder, obviously. Their reaction when I said, “Well, we’re already having trouble how about you give me the rights back now. I don’t think it’s appropriate for you to complete this film at this point.” The reaction was, “We’ve been here before and we’ll get through it.” It was shocking. Obviously, they didn’t get through it. Thankfully, TWC went out of business. But then I had to fight through bankruptcy court, through the estate—it was a year long battle to get the rights back. Thankfully, it’s a great story—we won and here we are.

I thought that Michael Madsen had some of the most powerful comments in the film in that he knew it happened but stayed silent and now regrets it.

Tara Wood: I think obviously that applies here. I think it applies to people in general when they ran into things like this. I think we’ve all learned that we shouldn’t stay quiet. I hope that we have learned that lesson and it’s fixed. But Michael was very brave to speak about it. A lot of other people were afraid to. I won’t get into who I reached out to but it was a very quiet time. People were very afraid to talk about this. Michael was brave to discuss it but also Michael in general was kind of the heart of the documentary. He really opened up and shared sentiments that went pretty deep.

Robert Forster passed away a few months ago. Do you have any particular memories from your conversation with him?

Tara Wood: Robert Forster was our first interview and we sat with him for three hours. Like I said earlier, every second was gripping. He’s such a lovely man. What stands out and I’ve learned that he does this quite often is he comes to set with gifts for everybody on the set and he brings a little package. It’s a little turquoise wrapped box with a silver letter opener. He handed it out to everybody in the crew. He was just such a lovely man.

Actually, he shared stories about it—this unfortunately did not make it into the documentary.  When he was on Jackie Brown, Quentin made a point of including paraphernalia from Robert Forster’s father’s garage. Robert Forster’s dad was with Ringling Brothers. You can see the Ringling Brothers poster behind Max Cherry’s desk in Jackie Brown. Quentin made a point of bringing those onto the set so that Robert can really tap into the character of Max Cherry. It was really heartwarming to hear Robert speak about how much time Quentin put into that kind of detail on set.

What’s so amazing about all this is Tarantino didn’t go to film school and he’s one of the most prolific filmmakers that we have working today.

Tara Wood: How does he say it? “I didn’t go to film school. I went to movies.” It definitely worked but it also created other people thinking they can do the same. It doesn’t work out quite well for them. I think he’s truly a genius. He is proficient in every aspect of filmmaking from script writing to casting to production to obviously putting the camera on the camera angles and all the way through distribution and marketing. He’s a genius.

Tags: QT8: The First Eight, Tara Wood

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Danielle Solzman is a Chicago-based film critic and an aspiring filmmaker if she can ever put enough time aside to work on her feature-length trans-led political comedy script. When not in Chicago, she attends various film festivals such as Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, and Toronto. She graduated from Northern Kentucky University with a BA in Public Relations while earning a Masters in Media Communications from Webster University after writing a thesis paper on comic books against the backdrop of the American political culture.
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