Michael Cimino is dead. There’s this famous story – I think from Peter Biskind’s Easy Riders, Raging Bulls – about Heaven’s Gate. They’re shooting a scene in which Kris Kristofferson walks into a bar. There’s men drinking. A cockfight in the corner (actual roosters died during filming!). Various hard-nosed immigrants are arguing and we listen in on their disputes. Kristofferson walks over to a table at the far end and has a long conversation with Isabella Huppert.
One of the producers went away for three weeks just as shooting started on the scene, and when they got back he was horrified to see that Cimino was ‘still shooting the cock fight’, and the entire rest of the scene was unshot. I love that phrase and use it as mental shorthand all the time, when something I assumed was working well is actually, catastrophically behind schedule but I can’t go around using it in conversation in,say, a professional context because the phrase is problematic on a number of levels. I wish we lived in a world where everyone knew about Heaven’s Gate, and shooting the cock fight.