Goldblatt ’05 shows us how Wasson ’03 became Fosse

[Sam Wasson ’03]

By A.N. Kini '13 

Best-selling author and visiting professor at Wesleyan Sam Wasson '03 has written Fosse, a biography about the entertainment icon. This book is ushered into the world with a riveting book trailer, directed by Max Goldblatt '05, and shot by Dan Adlerstein '03, on how Sam becomes Fosse.

In this Q&A with Wesconnect, Max Goldblatt discusses comedic shorthand, absorbing Fosse's style and leaving shoe-prints on the ceiling:

WESCONNECT: How did you and Sam decide to collaborate? What was that like?

MAX GOLDBLATT: Much to my delight, Sam passed my name on to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's marketing team and they contacted me. This was a real creative reunion for the two of us, as we were both in the improv group Desperate Measures during our time at Wes, and collaborated on student films and various other strange & funny things. So we have a real comedic shorthand, which we were overjoyed to put to use for the first time since... 2003?!

Making this really did feel like we were back on campus, playing around to create something that would make our friends laugh. Dan Adlerstein '03 shot it, and we knew, just as we did back then, that if Dan was laughing we were doing something right. He has a very specific laugh.

WC: We *love* the video. A book trailer--who does that? How did you come up with it?

MAX: Yeah, apparently this is a big thing now. I was aware of the book trailer as a concept, and had seen a few I liked, but this was the first time I was tasked with making one. The first thing I did was read an advance of the book, to immerse myself in the world of Bob Fosse.

That was the most important part of the process. The book is so rich that once you've read it, you yourself feel like a Fosse expert. Then it was important to re-watch Fosse's films and dance numbers, in order to absorb their style. And then, just, countless conversations with Sam. We watched a number of book trailers to see what worked and what was boring.

Non-fiction book trailers are pretty dry, as a rule. Talking head inteviews, Ken Burns effect on still photos... And that was just not an option for ours. The book and its subject matter are so juicy, that to do a buttoned-up promo for it would misrepresent the book. So we decided on a concept that would capture the spirit and energy of the book, and hopefully give you an overview of Fosse without being didactic or boring.

And we wanted to involve as many people who were close to Fosse as possible. Eric Roberts actually brought some pie and Alan Heim actually brought a pastrami sandwich.

WC: What are your plans for the future?

MAX: A number of author friends immediately inquired about me doing their forthcoming book trailers, which is hilarious and exciting. I'd love to be pigeonholed as "the book trailer guy," at least for a little while. It's a new medium, which means theres' room to experiment and play around. In the less pigeon-holey realm, I have some feature film projects in the works, and am going to be in New Orleans in December working on one of them with the great folks of Court 13.

WC: Have you ever collaborated with other Wesleyan alumni?

MAX: So many. I'm in constant communication with Dan Janvey '06 and Michael Gottwald '06 about a new project. I wrote some movies with Ray Tintori '06 and worked on some of the music videos he directed. My Nic 7 hallmate Katie Goldschmidt '05 shoots stuff for me quite often. I've directed music videos for the wonderful Snowblink (Daniela Gesundheit '05), Keepaway (Frank Lyon '05, Nicholas Nauman '07) , and The Echo Friendly (Shannon Esper '05, and Jake Rabinbach '04 who was there for a couple years) . I also think it's important for the world to know that I directed the world's very first MGMT music video, back in the mini-DV days. Kellen Quinn, '05 shot it. The list goes on...

WC: What is your favorite memory of Wes?

It's one big favorite memory, really. But if I had to divide it up into smaller sub-moments... The early days of the Boogie Club. Rolling around on the ground in front of the screen with a bunch of people during the film series showing of Stop Making Sense. The first Desperate Measures 24 Hour Show (and the second, and the third...). This other totally insane evening of comedy that started with a standup routine or two and devolved into a living nightmare of alienating conceptual art, all masterminded by Wasson at his most provocative. Leaving shoeprints on the ceiling at drunken danceparties. The time Dan Janvey and I threw ourselves a surprise party and I found two people I shall not name making out on the floor of my room. That time The Walkmen played at Eclectic. Shooting my senior thesis film over Thanksgiving break with a small but dedicated crew. Oh yeah, I guess there were these things called classes too. Fond memories of learning from Jeanine Basinger, Priscilla Meyer, Richard Slotkin, Scott Higgins, Lisa Dombrowski, Noah Isenberg, Claudia Nascimento, Anthony Braxton... And did I mention those drunken danceparties? Man oh man. They were the best.

Image thumb: by Gary Copeland

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