Earth Girls Are Easy, may be one of my retro favourite’s but it’s not exactly one of those go-to 80s movies people know and love, it remains a cult musical oddity.
I first heard your name when I watched EGAE in a cinema upon original 1990 Australian release.
Father to impressive, accomplished actress Juno Temple,
Julien is a legend in the music industry having conducted MTV rotation classics with artists such as Bowie, The Clash, Janet Jackson, Rolling Stones and Culture Club, just to name a few.
A documentary maker aficionado, his latest project concerns the intriguing life and times of Shane McGowan, lead singer of The Pogues.
Hello Julien, I’ll say up front I’ve always been a fan of your work.
JT – Very intriguing name Shane (referring to the subject of his latest movie CROCK OF GOLD a few rounds with Shane McGowan) I’m Julien with an ‘E’ because my mother smoked a pipe with St. Julien tobacco. Cool, sweet and fragrant, was the ad line to that and it makes sense for me (laughs).
During filming were you surprised Shane remembered so many memories.
JT – He has a fantastic long-term memory, his mind is intact, not his body.
What drew you to his band and life for this full-blown project.
JT – We had a moment early during the punk era, I did the first interview ever with him which is in the film when he had the peroxide blonde hair. Every punk got the bottle out and shake it like Marlon Brando in Julius Caeser over their head. I was filming that scene with Sid Vicious at The Clash, so when Sid left the jostling crowd to join the band there was a vacancy which Shane stepped up into the breach.
Do you remember the first meeting, what he was like.
JT – Well he was banging me out of the way in the mosh pit as I was trying to film, story of my life (laughs).
Where did you locate the retro footage, VHS or 8mm.
JT – Half inch reel to reel video, which is like an old over the shoulder tape recorder, which acted as protection in a pogoing crowd.
Anything off limits to discuss.
JT – He didn’t want to discuss anything he said NO Interviews. But we got around that by just having conversations, random things would come up. Johnny Depp (producer who also appears in the film) would talk with Shane about Kris Kristofferson for hours but I’d wring my hands because he was not the subject of this movie. Out of eight hours of Johnny & Shane we got three and a half minutes (laughs).
How did Johnny get involved, are you guys mates or Shane knew him.
JT – Oh I’ve known Johnny a long time he used to babysit my daughter Juno. I used to spend all my money on Japanese laser disc movies for them to watch (laughs) I’ve still got them., they have beautiful album cover like quality but the actual movie is not a crisp format like 4K now. Johnny used to watch movies like ‘Performance’ (1970) which he had never seen at the time. He produced, he knew Shane well, he helped progress to continue.
What attracts you to Punk Rock.
JT – Unpredictability, honesty and ambition of overthrowing the establishment or cultural way of doing things.
Are there any bands or singers now that remind you of Shane, in general.
JT – It’s a dying art Shane isn’t it, we have been waiting forty years with little standing out. It’s ironic as it’s needed more than ever, maybe not as shocking but unpredictable thought-provoking music would be really good right now. The world has changed since Sex Pistols hit and took the whole of Great Britain in one go! That kind of impact is too hard now.
Was CROCK OF GOLD always going to be the title.
JT – We went through loads. WTF was one (laughs) A Skinfull with Shane McGowan. But Crock of Gold, fir in with his fairy-tale life of survival reaching back into the mists of Irish legend. You think Crock of S**t as well (laughs). A few rounds, was also an important part of the title to remind people of a boxing match, of life.
You have done a few celebrated documentaries; do you think they remain significant or relevant into the future with so much information online.
JT – I don’t see them as documentaries really, I see it as cinema, it’s made up of many acted scenes or fictional elements. Streaming has opened up a more level playing field, future looks good as you don’t have to convince an exhibitor to screen some wacky art film, it’s just a click of a button.
Is it getting harder to find funding or producer money for documentaries.
JT – Always been hard to make any movie unless it’s a superhero thing! Technology makes it potentially cheaper to make films. I prefer to make movies with friends, five people like a rock band, not over a hundred like a medieval army.
Did you ever turn down a movie or regret not making if offered.
JT – I turned down Waynes World (1992) probably a good job too, it may have been a disaster if I’d done it (laughs).
As a big fan of Earth Girls are Easy, how did you land that project & cast it.
JT – I did a film ‘Absolute Beginners’ which became an albatross around my neck. I had to get out of England, I was accused of destroying the British film industry after that film, it was really bad actually. People viewed it before it was finished, there was cartoons in the national press about how bad it was going to be. We got better reviews in other parts of the world, so I was offered, EGAE. Going to America I missed the last part of Mrs Thatcher (Margaret Thatcher PM) but got Ronald Regan instead. I landed in the valley, like the aliens (in the film) I wanted to do a Hollywood musical so I required three strip Technicolor aliens. Then I got lost in the valley while making it, probably the most plastic bland place in the world.
Why should people watch Crock of Gold even if one has no idea of The Pogues or Shane McGowan.
JT – Quite a few who didn’t know Shane, watched and learned about creativity or how far you can go in search of it. I would hope people may learn about history of England and Ireland through Shane, above all its access to this great reservoir of music, rightly should be celebrated by more people who know more than just ‘Fairytale of New York’.
Do you miss MTV or Top of the Pops, that kind of showcase for music.
JT – I miss the sense that a random song can rock a nation. It was exciting you could have a song or video on heavy rotation all around the world. I don’t miss what MTV became and I always did worry that videos could kill the mystery of music if done in the wrong way. The beginning of MTV you could get away with murder, then they clamped down on censorship. My ambition was always to get a video banned. That’s the punk rocker in me.
Tell me about Juno. I’ve highlighted her in many film reviews, did you encourage her acting or was it something she fell into.
JT – I tried to stop her as she fell into it. She was quite good in one school play, then she would put on plays for my wife and I plus her best mate. She tricked us by asking ‘can I go to London’, telling us she would stay with friends. But we knew eventually it was for auditions, going from the last 20 or the last 10 then we would say don’t get your hopes up, then it was down to the last 4.. A week later or something she told us she got the job and we go on set there is, Bill Nighy, JUdi Dench and Cate Blanchett, sitting with Juno. So immediately I knew it’s started and cannot stop it now. She’s done us proud.
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