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raymac Written by raymac
Aug. 8, 2009 | 5:20 PM

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An interview with Joseph Alexandre, writer and director of the short documentary, “Warriors of the Discotheque: The Starck Club Documentary.”

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What is your documentary about?

Warriors of the Discotheque: The Starck Club Documentary is about the notorious Starck Club (so called because it was the first major project designed by Philippe Starck, it put him on the map in the US.) The Starck Club opened in Dallas in 1984 and not long after hosted the 1984 national Republican Convention. Ironically, it was actually legal to buy MDMA aka ecstasy there, people would put it on their credit cards. The DEA stepped in and made it a category 1 drug on July 1, 1985… The club was essentially ground zero for what would become the ecstasy/rave scene….

But, this is too obvious, aside from being ground zero for the popularization of the designer drug, the club was so much more.  Philippe Starck is now a world renowned designer, but until his foray in Dallas he was only an up and coming Parisien designer virtually unknown outside of France. In addition, the mid ‘80’s brought about a new second British invasion and the birth of new wave music: Dead or Alive, Book of Love, Depeche Mode, Grace Jones, Edie Brickell, Red Hot Chili peppers and a whole slew of new bands and artists performed there. Dallas in the 80’s was fast becoming a world class city primarily due to an economic growth spurt and attracting people from all over the globe. This film explores the legacy and influence the club’s impact has had on designers, DJ’s, fashion, sex, and the seeds for the whole rave/techno scene. Simply put the Starck’s allure was the Building, the Music, The Drug! Think the roaring ‘20’s only transposed to the mid ‘80’s complete with financial crisis. In this case, the Savings & Loan crisis that hammered the entire Southwestern US and spelled the end of the club’s existence.

What was it about this particular project that made you want to make it?

The reason I wanted to do this project was because as a kid just out of high school and who’d just moved to Dallas I found myself going to this club every weekend. I was originally from NY and had been to Europe so it’s not like I just fell off the turnip truck, but this place was like nothing I’d ever seen before or since for that matter. I became a filmmaker years later and had heard rumblings from filmmakers in the Dallas area talking… talk, talk, talking about doing a film about the Starck club, but no one ever did anything about it. So I decided to fill the void and make it happen.

How did you go about raising the funding for the documentary?

I got the funding for the doc literally thru favors and so forth. I never really had a budget. I had written a script for Joe Carnahan to direct a few years earlier which got me into the WGA. I was paid however the company still owes me a great deal of money because they didn’t pay the guild minimums. So, I secured a DP as I was waiting for this to get settled, but it’s still going on as the company lost the arbitration and we’re getting confirmation of the award in federal court so it’s been a long process. In the meantime Taylor Wigton, the DP, suggested we start shooting people I knew in LA who’d been part of the club. then we could go to Dallas when we get the money. He secured a great HD camera package and sound gear, lighting almost gratis from a camera house he has a great relationship with. Once we started shooting it just kept rolling from there. I got Paul Forte the editor and we were set… at least for the time being…

What were some of the challenges you faced in making the documentary?

One of the main challenges was shooting this film about a club in Dallas while we were in LA. I wanted to put together a trailer first and then use it to raise more funds and get to Dallas. There wasn’t much stock footage available but there were tons of stills, thanks to people like Sherry Martin (she has a website called starck club revisited on myspace) as well as Producer David McDonald. Unfortunately, the club while still in existence is just a mere hollow shell of it’s former self. It looks so ghetto now. The people who last had the club a few years ago should be imprisoned for what atrocities they committed in redesigning Philippe Starck’s master work. It’s appalling the way it looks now. Also, thankfully we were able to get quite a few great characters in LA who were part of the Starck scene…

What do you hope your documentary achieves?

I hope and think the film will get us a deal to do a full length feature and/or scripted series. I’ve been in talks w/ some big players in town to make that happen. Holly shorts is the 3rd major fest we’ve been in. We opened at USA Dallas Film Festival (Academy accredited) as well as Palm Springs short fest,

What advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers?

I would advise aspiring filmmakers to check their motives as to why they wanna make films. If you have a real passion for filmmaking that would seem to imply you would immerse yourself in the medium, really study the great films and filmmakers. I’m shocked to see so many filmmakers who are just ignorant as to the history of cinema. Check out guys like Bergman and Tarkovsky and the films that influenced your favorite filmmakers. Then just go and start getting any kind of hands on experience you can get. grab a miniDv cam and play around, then work on anything that will get you further experience, network like crazy, and do your homework!!!

Which filmmakers inspire you?

I’m inspired by filmmakers like Kubrick, Scorsese, Michael Mann, Robert Frank, George Franju, Bob Fosse, Bergman, Fellini, Ozu, Tarkovsky, Fincher, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Godard.

What are your future projects?

8. My future projects are the aforementioned script, the Will Wright project which has shown new signs of life, this was the original article in Variety front page as well as synopsis.

Also, getting the Starck feature off the ground. Another project is WiseAcre which is loosely based on my award winning documentary Back Home Years Ago: The Real Casino (available on netflix, Amazon, etc.) which was about the real people who formed the basis for the Scorsese mob epic Casino.

Click to view the trailer.

“Warriors Of The Discotheque: The Starck Club Documentary” will be screening during Program 19 on Wednesday, August 12th at 5:00 PM. Click here to order tickets. Film Radar readers can receive $10.00 of the All-Access Festival Pass (regular price $50.00) or $5.00 off a daily pass (regular price: $25.00) by mentioning “FilmRadar” at the HollyShorts will call table.

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