Dan Frank [Interview]
April 4, 2014 3 Comments
Each and every day I become more and more intrigued by the immense creativity and talent that exists, even in places I would never expect to find. For example: I am searching the YouTube universe for instructions on how to make some cocktails, as I often do. And what should I stumble upon but some promotional videos for something called Bikini Kitchen, which features adult film stars instructing the viewer on how to make delicious cocktails, smoothies, etc. The first thing I could think of was simply, what the hell? How did this become a thing? And my inquisitive spirit took hold and I completely forgot about the cocktails I was looking to make. Instead, I moved on over to IMDB and looked into the series. What, or should say Who, I discovered was definitely not what I was expecting.
Bikini Kitchen was developed and directed by a man named Dan Frank. And before you start to think that Mr. Frank is some sort of exploitive mastermind (which he sort of is I guess), hold that thought. I began to look into Dan’s career a bit further and found him to be a truly fascinating filmmaker who has worked in so many different realms in the world of filmmaking. As a music lover, I became fascinated with a project he has in development entitled Coachella Massacre (please let Arcade Fire be the headliner and first to go!!!) and an adorable and intriguing documentary entitled Frank & Chip: The Olympic Experience. And then there is yet another documentary about medical marijuana. All of these things, and more, from a guy I thought had his world revolve around scantly clad women making him dirty martinis. It just goes to show that you never know somebody until you really get to know them and what they are about.
So I decided I would love to get to know Dan Frank a little bit more. And I will be a son of a bastard priest if I didn’t find out even more intriguing details about this extremely talented filmmaker when he was so kind to answer a few questions for us. So ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce the illustrious Dan Frank.
Your work as a director for the series Bikini Kitchen is a bit of a stray from some of your other work. How did you become involved with this series?
In the spring of 2008, my documentary Medicinal was screening at Festival de Cannes in the market. Someone hypothetically asked me what I would make for the Food Network for a young male demographic… so jokingly, I came up with Bikini Kitchen. Next thing I knew, Tom Hillery from Starlights Productions had invested enough money for us to make 26 episodes. I had already worked with Mimi Miyagi in both Devil’s Canyon and Little Bruno. I thought the idea of an adult star making drinks was very sexy, and it would attract a younger demographic. Stormy Daniels was awesome and great to work with.
You have worked hand in hand with writer Daniel Calestina on several different projects. What is it that you enjoy about working with Mr. Calestina? What makes things work for you two?
My real name is Daniel Frank Celestina. In 1996, I was DJing at raves and clubs in San Francisco under the name Dan Frank. When I decided to become a director, the name just stuck with me. After I made my first movie, It’s All In A Night’s Work, I decided to put my real name on anything that had to do with ownership, like writing and executive producing.
How did you come across the stars of Frank & Chip: The Olympic Experience? And what intrigued you enough to make a film about them?
Frank & Chip: the Olympic Experience is about my grandparents, who lived during The Great Depression and went on to do great things. Other than wanting to honor my grandparents for being one of the first married couples to participate in the same Olympics, I was in the middle of my own “Great Depression.” I hit rock bottom on a bad investment at the wrong time. I had to completely start over. So just as my grandparents utilized their talents during the Great Depression to achieve greater things, I needed to do the same. Something I said over and over to myself was, “Why can’t I?” In 1983, my sister made a scrapbook about my grandparents, so I grew up thinking about making that movie from the age of 8. This was the movie that made me truly want to become a filmmaker. I started putting Frank & Chip together in 2009, and I finished it in April of 2012.
If you could create the biopic for any famous individual in American history, who would it be?
Well, it’s funny you ask that. I just finished Speed Dragon, starring Bai Ling, which is a rock ‘n’ roll drama. I really love music, history and anything that has to do with counter-culture… and so I am currently in the very early stages of development of my next biopic. It is a rock ‘n’ roll love story. At AFM in November of 2013, I met Ashley Cordelia, an actress and writer who came to me with the idea of a love story about a famous rock and roll couple from the 1960s. Instantly, I knew it was a brilliant idea. A love story about one of the most influential counter-culture couples of all time was absolutely the next thing I wanted to tackle… and after two months, we finished the screenplay. We are just waiting for the copyright to go through before we move forward. I’ve always been into counter-culture, and I’ve always made sure to express it in everything one of my movies. Long live classic rock!
I have come to understand that you have a project in pre-production entitled Coachella Massacre. Can you give us any details about this project?
On January 1st, 2013, we lost a major contributor to the Coachella Massacre producing team. Matt Calonica, one of my best friends and producer-mate, died suddenly of a heart attack. It was the most devastating loss of my life. I miss him everyday. Matt helped produce all my movies from 2005 and on. Things started to spiral out of control a little bit, so I decided to put everything on hold. Over the past year, I decided to not direct Coachella Massacre and rather to find the perfect director to do so. While I was at the Texas Film Awards, I met the agent of an actor who wants to direct it, and we are currently discussing and working out the details. So it will be on it’s way again very soon.
Anything else we should be on the lookout for in the near future? Anything you would like to promote?
In 2013, Speed Dragon, a rock n roll drama starring Bai Ling premiered at Festival de Cannes, and also screened at the American Film Market. This was my most favorite screening yet. It won Best Feature at the New York International Film Festival, and is now being represented by ITN Distribution. While living in Paris in July 2013, I started making The Green Fairy, a fantasy-documentary about the history of Absinthe from 1730 to 1915. The interesting part about this one is that I filmed all over the world. I started in Switzerland, then France, then England, and then finally back in the USA. I filmed in New Orleans and Los Angeles. I have a fantastic cast and I plan to premiere it before Mardi Gras 2016 with the help of many local businesses in New Orleans, since that is where Absinthe was first exported to from France. And then The Green Fairy will go to Cannes.
What was the last thing that made you smile?
Answering these questions. It’s nice sometimes to sit back and look at what you’ve accomplished. I know I am far from where I want to be, but I couldn’t be happier doing anything else, meeting and working with the people that I do. I wouldn’t have been able to have done any of this without my family and my very close friends. I love them all.