It isn’t just actors and actresses who disappear from the public eye. Sometimes, directors do as well. Not just hacks, but really talented, inventive directors.
Savage Steve Holland is one name that comes to mind. He seems to have disappeared after a few great films.
Or did he???
Savage made his feature film debut with the still classic BETTER OF DEAD. While I wrote about this a couple weeks ago, I will just add that it is his direction of this, the out there, anything goes tone, that makes it what it is.
His follow up film was ONE CRAZY SUMMER in 1986. He once again had John Cusack as his leading man, as they seemed to have a good time making the first. In an interview, Savage called the making of BETTER OFF DEAD one of the best times of his life.
Early on in the production of ONE CRAZY SUMMER, Savage had a screening of BETTER OF DEAD. Since much of the cast and crew was the same, he thought it would be fun, since it hadn't come out yet.
This did not go over well.
I’ll let Savage Steve explain what happened next, from an interview on the blog “The Sneeze” (DS is Dan Schneider)
So we’re all watching the Better Off Dead screening that night, and John walked out of the movie. About 20 minutes into it, he walked out, and he never came back.
The next morning, he basically walked up to me and was like, “You know, you tricked me. Better Off Dead was the worst thing I have ever seen. I will never trust you as a director ever again, so don’t speak to me.”
DS: Are you kidding?!
SS: No, it was that bad. He was just really upset. And I said, “What happened?! What’s wrong?!” And he just said that I sucked, and it was the worst thing he had ever seen, and that I had used him, and made a fool out of him, and all this other stuff.
And I was just stunned, because it was as funny as shit. And he was great in it. And he was helping me edit it throughout the summer.
How did that affect you?
SS: It made me not care about movies anymore. And I didn’t even want to do One Crazy Summer at that point. I was just gone. It was sort of like the break-up that I made Better Off Dead about. It was so out of left field, that it just floored me.
And I told John, look, “I have this scene, you’re in it. Do what you want to do. But this is what it says and you can do whatever you want.” And then some reviews started coming out about Better Off Dead while we were still shooting One Crazy Summer. And people were writing giant stories about what a great, funny movie it was. It previewed in Rhode Island, and someone write a 3 page newspaper story about how funny it was, and one of the grips tacked it on John’s door. So he started to lighten up. And Bob Goldthwait is really funny, and he brought a lot of levity to all of it, too. And started to tease John for being so cranky. But, you know, John doesn’t want to be “foolish” I guess? He’s more serious than we think, I guess.
Despite all that, the resulting film of ONE CRAZY SUMMER turned out to be a lot of fun, if not up to BETTER OFF DEAD (few films are). Yet, it didn’t do much at the box office, but created a following on video and cable.
Savage went on to do a couple TV series (ADVENTURES OF BEANS BAXTER and ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN) before returning to the big screen with HOW I GOT INTO COLLEGE. COLLEGE also didn’t do well at the box office, but was once again a hit on cable and video.
Then, it seems that he disappeared. There were no more films from Savage Steve Holland.
So, where did he go?
Back to TV!
He directed the animated show EEK! THE CAT, along with episodes of shows as diverse as HONEY I SHRUNK THE KIDS as well as the Pamela Anderson series V.I.P (where he used his frequent star Curtis Armstrong).
But, he has spent most of his time on Disney channel shows such as EVEN STEVENS (that starred current superstar Shia LaBeouf) as well as THE LIZZIE MAGUIRE SHOW.
Recently, he has been working with his former star Dan Schneider. Schneider, unforgettable as Ricky in BETTER OFF DEAD, was just profiled in the New York Times magazine as being one of the big producers on Nickelodeon TV shows. Savage has directed several of these shows, such as ZOEY 101.
So, while to most of us over the age of 10, it may seem he has been out of the limelight, he has been very busy.
There is nothing official about any future films. On the IMDB he has a credit for his writing the screenplay for the Howard Stern remake of PORKYS. Since that has been rumored for years, I don’t know if it is true or not.
I do hope to see Savage Steve Holland make a film for the big screen some time in the future. If Cusack is still a jerk, maybe cast Dan Schneider, Curtis Armstrong, and bring Diane Franklin out of retirement. Maybe have it open with the death of Cusack’s character, having finally been caught by the paperboy, for not paying the $2.