The EIN Rick Schmidlin Interview -
EIN: The original TTWII contained some very odd footage (of some rather bizarre Elvis fans) and had the continuity of "The performance" disappointingly broken up between every song. Do you think this is what the original Director Dennis Sanders envisaged, or do you think he was compromised by MGM?
At the time it seemed to be edited so as to have fans show that Elvis was still "cool". It was propaganda by Colonel Parker to sell Elvis and his "new persona". Now everybody knows
Elvis is cool and so we can show more of his dynamic performance. In the original movie they had a mono sound-mix, that I also hated because it was recorded with a 16 track recorder.
EIN: Your work is very varied - you also produced two highly rated documentaries on "The Doors" - Is music a first love of yours?
EIN: As a matter of interest have you always been an Elvis fan and do you see similarities to his work and Jim Morrison's?
RS: Morrison, Sinatra and Elvis are all tunesmiths but Elvis did what Sinatra couldn't, Morrison loved Elvis and learned a lot from him, but Elvis is the one who changed, wrote and set the rules for everybody.
EIN: If you weren't an Elvis fan before your involvement with 'Elvis That's The Way It Is' what is your view on Elvis now?
RS: I was a Elvis fan since I first saw Roustabout at The Orentani Theater in Hackensack New Jersey with my boyhood friend Bruce Manning when it first came out. What this special edition did for others and me is show the most honest portrait of Elvis ever. Saunders directed the camera and Elvis directed the action and let us know who he really was. I really felt like I got to know Elvis.
EIN: 'Patch It Up. The Restoration of Elvis That's The Way It Is' ? EIN would have loved to have seen a much longer behind-the-scenes documentary, one with in-depth coverage of the restoration process and decision making process on why certain tracks made it in and others were left out. Do you have a personal view on this and how it could have been added to?
RS: I had no say on Patch It Up, sorry.
EIN: In the Patch It Up feature, it says that missing film was searched for and found in the film Vaults in old mines 3 kms underground - Was this film footage discovered before you started the project ?
RS: Roger Mayer was responsible for this find. What I did find was the original 16 track masters.
EIN: Was it you who initiated the search of the vaults and did you have a big crew working with you ?
RS: I had two assistant editors who pestered everybody until we felt we found everything there was to find.
EIN: Turner Entertainment released the video "The Lost Performances" in 1992 with some TTWII outtakes; had the new footage been discovered as far back as then?
RS: Some but not all, Turner found a lot more of the original negative two miles underground in there Kansas storage facility and I found the original 16 tracks on the Warner Brothers lot in the archives un labelled.
EIN: Is there now enough extra new footage for The Lost Performances Vol 2?
RS: We will see.
EIN: What visual and audio quality is the rest of the material, and would you be involved or like to be involved in its production?
RS: Everything I have seen is fantastic and YES, I would love to continue working for the fans of Elvis.
EIN: We asked the previous question as prior to the release of Elvis That's The Way It Is (2000 edition) on video and DVD there was a suggestion that an additional 60 minutes of new footage would be included. Many fans were very disappointed when this didn't happen. Were you under pressure to keep the film shorter?
RS: I and some of those involved at Turner are as sad about this as you. The people at Turner had nothing but good intentions.
EIN: How painstaking was the restoration and what were the primary technical processes/tools you used?
RS: Well I didn't sleep right for six months. The film was edited on a light works by Michael Salomon who happens to married to a woman from down under.
RS: You bet it was different we mixed it on a big stage in the state of the art. Same stage that Spielberg uses. I wanted the theatre audience to hear and feel the full concert experience with balls out sound.
EIN: We would love you to clarify something for fans. We have read about your frustration in not being able to get the rights for "Are You Lonesome Tonight" for the film - which surprisingly was OK'd for "Elvis The Concert". EIN would have thought that MGM/Turner would have the rights to the film footage and surely the rights to song itself has been OK'd 1000 times before for every Elvis release? How can they say "no" to you using the footage for the video? After all isn't it just more money in their pocket for the same song ?
RS: The owner of that song is not Elvis friendly, film rights are different than "The Concert"
EIN: What did it feel like for you to see "Suspicious Minds" back in the charts in England, and to realize that you helped put Elvis high in the Top Twenty again - personally helping put his hits singles across into the new Millennium and in front of a new generation?
RS: I'm ‘All Shook Up’ !
EIN: Fans really miss the classic songs such as 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' and 'Just Can't Help Believing' that were in the first version. Was there a specific rationale between the tracks that you chose for the new version - for instance, was there no newly discovered footage of those particular two songs, or was it just a matter of film duration?
EIN: We understand you were present at the special screening of That's The Way It Is for Priscilla and Lisa Marie. What were their reactions to seeing the new Edition?
RS: Priscilla could not sit still she rocked in her seat. Elvis' grandchildren loved the film and Lisa really loved the rehearsal footage and her father's sense of humor.
EIN: Are you involved in the restoration of Elvis On Tour?
RS: I have seen all the footage, but that’s all so far.
EIN: What does Rick Schmidlin do in his spare time?
RS: What spare time? I love movies, music "Elvis, Elvis, Elvis" ski, boogie boarding, riding my bike by the sea.
EIN: Do you feel that your film restoration, discovering 'lost material' and making sense of Cinematic history is where your true achievements are?
RS: Yes, I want to find out what the great master's intended. On "Touch of Evil" we see Welles was still at the top of his form at 42, On "Greed" we learn the Von Stroheim was right with his vision and with "Elvis, That's The Way It Is" we show the world what his fans already knew, he was is the king!. I think this film gives you the most personal look of Elvis ever. I call it Elvis on his own terms.
EIN: What major goals do you want to achieve in the future?
RS: To continue producing Elvis projects and to continue giving Elvis fans the quality they deserve.
EIN: Rick, once again many thanks for taking the time to talk to EIN. We know thousands of fans will appreciate your insights into the making of That's The Way It Is (2000 Edition)
Rick Schmidlin was interviewed by Piers Beagley & Nigel Patterson for EIN. Copyright Elvis Information Network, 2000.
"Elvis Presley is the supreme socio-cultural icon in the history of pop culture"
(Dr. Gary Enders)
" Elvis is the 'glue' which holds our society together....which subconciously gives our world meaning"
"Eventually everybody has to die, except Elvis"
(humorist Dave Barry)
"He is the "Big Bang", and the universe he detonated is still expanding, the pieces are still flying"
(Greil Marcus, "Dead Elvis")
"I think Elvis Presley will never be solved"
"He was the most popular man that ever walked on this planet since Christ himself was here"
"When I first heard Elvis' voice I just knew I wasn't going to work for anybody...hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail"
"When we were kids growing up in Liverpool, all we ever wanted was to be Elvis Presley"
(Sir Paul McCartney)