Director Matt Porterfield Has to Reshoot Putty Hill’s Best Scene Because He Couldn’t Get the Rights to “Wild Horses”

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11/18/2010 2:10 PM |

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One of the best unreleased films of the year (but coming out in 2011 from Cinema Guild) is Matthew Porterfield’s Baltimore-set indie Putty Hill, made in twelve days for $20,000 with a cast of nonprofessionals, who act out the quiet griefs and dramas following an overdose death in outer Baltimore. (Maybe you saw it at BAMcinemaFEST?) It’s a poetic but clear-headed treatment of loss and the American hometown, and when I saw it at SXSW, I wrote that one of the final scenes, “a wake slash karaoke party, covers as much, as complicated emotional territory as any single set piece I’ve watched this year.”

Well, that scene’s in a bit of trouble, as it happens.

Yesterday (as I read on Twitter) director Matt Porterfield posted a message to the film’s Facebook page:

PUTTY HILL RE-SHOOT / A CRY FOR HELP!

Dear friends and fans of Putty Hill,

We have a day of re-shoots scheduled at Dimitri’s Bar in Hampden on Monday, Nov 29th. Sadly, despite our due diligence, we were unable to get the rights to “Wild Horses” as sung karaoke in the penultimate scene in the film.

Luckily, we’ve got some shit up our sleeve that will be even better.

But in order to pull this off, we need to ask for your help: specifically, we’re asking someone to provide lunch for our cast and crew on this day. In exchange, you’ll be given a special thanks in the credits and get to stay and watch the shoot, which is sure to be fun.

If interested and available, please reach out to me directly.

Thanks home team for your continued support!

Countdown to Official Release 2011!

Yours,

Matt

(For some background, Cinema Guild picked up Putty Hill in May and initially announced a theatrical release this fall. That’s not happening, obviously, and reading this one imagines it’s because music clearances took longer than anticipated.)

From the messages on the feed, they seem to have found someone to feed the cast and crew, so that’s nice, anyway.

Now, the penultimate scene in Putty Hill is, of course, the scene set a wake with a karaoke machine. As you’d imagine, the sequence is almost overpowering in its mix of humor and pathos, grounded in regional and personal specificity. I can’t imagine what they have up their sleeve that’s “even better,” though I have faith that if they did it once they can do it again (putting aside the difficulty of matching shots in this film’s very organic aesthetic).

Still, what we have here is a pointless hurdle put in front of an emerging American filmmaker for no real reason worth invoking. We should have seen Putty Hill in theaters by now, and Matt Porterfield shouldn’t have to expend the time and effort to reshoot his film’s best scene a year after he got it in the can.