Get An Inside Look At the Restoration For Dennis Hopper’s Out of the Blue – SXSW Filmmaker In Focus

The 2020 SXSW Film Festival is almost here! We can’t wait to have you here to celebrate another year filled with movies, high-caliber talent, and unique performances. In the mean time, take a look at the films in our lineup a little bit better with our Filmmaker In Focus series.

Check out our Q&A with Restoration producer John Alan Simon as he tells us about his experience with Out of the Blue (1980) 4K Restoration (2019), which will screen in Special Events.

"We’re grateful for the exposure and endorsement by SXSW to bring back the movie for its die-hard fans and to introduce Out of the Blue to a whole new audience of indie film-lovers." – Restoration Producer John Alan Simon

In your own words, what does this film mean to you?

John Alan Simon: We undertook the mission to produce and spearhead the 40th anniversary release of this new 4K restoration of Out of the Blue to honor Dennis Hopper’s legacy and to preserve this amazing, yet under seen 1980 punk rock epic of rebellion. Many including Dennis Hopper himself (at times), considered this his best film.

After restoring the 35mm negative in 2009, we were able to screen Out of the Blue in a very limited fashion at festivals and special events. A year ago the the single 35mm film print in the U.S. lost a few frames in a screening mishap. With Technicolor Labs definitively out of the "film business", we realized that the time had come to preserve the film digitally from the original 35mm negative materials. This film is too important to lose. On a personal level, I also wanted to repay a debt of gratitude for Dennis Hopper’s friendship and lessons in both cinema and life, especially in the period of 1982-1983 when we journeyed together to promote Out of the Blue in arthouse cinemas.

After stints as a reporter and film critic, I initially founded Discovery Films to uncover neglected/shelved movies like The Wicker Man and The Haunting of Julia. After the success of those efforts - and gaining some notoriety due to a full-page TIME Magazine article - I was deluged with abandoned, and unloved movies to wade through. One of them was Out of the Blue. I couldn’t believe this movie had slipped through the cracks. We’re grateful for the exposure and endorsement by SXSW to bring back the movie for its die-hard fans and to introduce Out of the Blue to a whole new audience of indie film-lovers.

What do you want the audience to take away?

JAS: Bleak, yet beautifully compelling. I want larger audiences to recognize the importance of Dennis Hopper as a director. Out of the Blue was influential to so many filmmakers including Richard Linklater, Harmony Korine, Jack Nicholson, the Safdie Brothers, Natasha Lyonne, and Chloë Sevigny.

What were you doing when you found out you were coming to SXSW?

JAS: Working on script notes from a director on my screenplay adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s mind-bending Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, when my producing partner, Elizabeth Karr and I got the official SXSW invite and we were thrilled. It validated all the hard work of the last year on the restoration and plans for a 40th anniversary re-release.

What made you choose SXSW to showcase your film to the world?

JAS: Can’t imagine a better venue than SXSW to showcase the new 4K digital restoration of Out of the Blue - a movie in which music plays such an important role. Dennis Hopper revolutionized the use of music in film with his directorial debut Easy Rider. Few films use music so integrally, and so powerfully depict the influence of music as Out of the Blue. To put it simply, I believe Dennis Hopper’s film and persona embody the independent spirit of SXSW.

Add Out of the Blue (1980) 4K Restoration (2019) to your SXSW Schedule. Stay tuned as we share more interviews with our SXSW 2020 filmmakers!

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Dive into 2019 Music Tracks

Out of the Blue (1980) 4K Restoration (2019) - Photo by Discovery Productions, Inc.

By Neha Aziz