An Recent Interview with Julian Senior

by Faisal A. Qureshi

Julian Senior is Vice President of Advertising & Publicity for Warner Brothers/Europe.
This interview was conducted over the phone from Leeds University, December 18th, 1996;
what follows is an edited transcript.

Faisal A. Qureshi: When did your relationship with Kubrick begin?

Julian Senior: 1970, on A Clockwork Orange. He finished his film, turned it over to Warner Brothers. At that stage I was head of publicity.

FAQ: I believe you taught him how publicity operates?

JS: No, he taught me -- how publicity, advertising, and marketing operates. The most pragmatic, logical human being in the world, and of course advertising and publicity is essentially logical common sense. You produce a product, you define the audience and then you tell them what the product's like.

FAQ: Was there any difficulties in communication between Warner Brother's and Kubrick over the poster of Full Metal Jacket?

JS: Not at all. The poster for Full Metal Jacket was prepared and designed by Stanley Kubrick using the same artist who did the Clockwork Orange, Philip Carson, who lives in Fulham.

FAQ: The reason I ask was due to a story that Warner Brother's apparently misinterpreted what a 'full metal jacket' is?

JS: I know what a full metal jacket is. You've seen the film of course and a full metal jacket is simply a military ballistic...a hideous, military ballistic term to describe the coating around a bullet. That's all it means. It would be difficult -- nigh, impossible -- The Saatchi's would disagree with me -- to design a poster around a bullet, for goodness sake. The helmet which contains the "Born To Kill" etching on it and the bog side with the peace symbol adds a nice ironic touch.

FAQ: When does Warner's get to see a Kubrick film?

JS: When the film is finished and Mr Kubrick's happy with it. Much the same in the way very few painters or sculptors or musicians show anybody a work half-finished, I would think. Any artist would complete it and say "that's what I've done" and I think it works.

FAQ: That's quite a unusual deal for a studio?

JS: No, it's not unusual. Steven Spielberg has the same sort of deal, Martin Scorsese has, Woody Allen has. There's a small handful of particulary talented people you notice -- not that only they should....

The director in the European sense is the auteur, he is the man who concieves and executes. How can any group of suits, even such friendly suits at Warner Brothers, say "well wouldn't it be interesting if the camera was up there" and "I'm not sure you cut where you should, you could run it a little bit longer. The musicÉ" -- and so on.

FAQ: Could he choose any material he wanted to shoot without Warner Brothers knowing?

JS: No. There's a point at which -- I mean, he clearly sorts out all his own product out. Theres a point at which he talks to certain people and says "This is what I would like to do and heres how I conceive it."

The days of movies being made for $4 to 5 million is over and done with. The studios churned out a hundred films a year. Nowadays, the average film is budgeted at around $52 million, I think. That's for a committee movie, everybody has them. I don't know how Stanley specifically works with them, it's beyond my remit.

FAQ: What is the situation of AI?

JS: It is still in the back of Mr Kubrick's mind and in development. He'll get back to it in some point.

FAQ: Theres a rumour floating around the internet that AI began prouction in 1992 with Jospeh Mazzelo.

JS: Not true. The net rumour is just that, a rumour on a net. A net should be used to catch fish. There apparently used to catch gullible people. There was a debate at one point when Stanley was consiidering a movie called"Wartime Lies" based on Louis Begley's novel. Jospeh Mazzelo was going to be in that, and there was a debate, a rumour that spread from "Wartime Lies", the Second World War story, to A.I.-- and that's what happens on the net: it's called a virus....

FAQ: What's the story of AI?

JS: There was a press release at the time. At some unspecified point in the future, civilisation as we know it is not quite where it is. Computers run everything. I mean, I haven't seen the script, I'm just telling you what's already been said.

FAQ: Are the Press Releases for Eyes Wide Shut being controlled by Kubrick? For example, Harvey Keitel's role has been publicised in the US, but the only Press Release here was the Jennifer Jason Leigh one.

JS: No -- The first press release described it, and talked about Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. The second talked about Jennifer Jason Leigh being signed and a third one said that Harvey Keitel's been signed. I mean that's all press releases are, they simply say which actors are in it....With so little information at the moment, what would we say? That Stanley Kubrick is working on a film? Yes he is, and that's it. Its a kind of mystique I find a little odd, because when Stanley's film is finished and released, we'll all see it.

FAQ: Do you think he develops this mystique on purpose?

JS: No. It's created outside of him and around him. I don't know how you develop a mystique. If what you say is: "My film's finished, have a look at it," that's more than enough; why should I do a interview to tell you what the film's about?. If you call that creating a mystique, then yes, he has created a mystique, but not intentionally. He goes ahead and makes his films, releases them lots of brouhaha and then he goes back and develops another project. That's the auteur way of filmmaking.