When I first saw Rushmore, I identified closely with the protagonist, Max Fischer, a kid who attempts to enact adult-sized dreams in a playground-sized world. And his stagings of feature films under the proscenium arch evoked something I can only call the shock of recognition: my own sixth-grade magnum opus was a five-reel Super-8 movie called “A Day to Die,” in which I directed myself as an Indiana Jones-type hero called “Rick Hawk.” I even wore a bandolier.
As I’ve gotten to know Daniel Kraus, I’ve found that we have some similar touchstones. And I’m guessing that if, for me, Rushmore was startling, for him, it must have been mind-blowing. As part of the lead-up to the release of his first novel, The Monster Variations, he’s digging up video of movies he made with his friends while growing up in Iowa and screening them at Francis Ford Iowa. And, yes, some of them were remakes of movies that he really liked.
Unlike me, Daniel grew up to be an honest-to-god talented filmmaker. But, as you’ll see from the apologetic annotations that accompany his clips, it wasn’t always obvious that things would turn out that way.