STRAIGHT TIME: He Wrote It For Criminals

Director's Cut with bonus FotoMovie Now Available from Lucid Media

A documentary special about the making of DUSTIN HOFFMAN'S movie "Straight Time" and the author EDWARD BUNKER, the man behind it's creation.

RELEASED BY WARNER BROS. ON DVD as a behind the scenes bonus with the feature STRAIGHT TIME.

Click image for Trailer.



Director/D.P. - Marino Colmano, Producer/Editor/Second Camera - David Lent, Executive Producer/Writer - John Antonelli, Associate Producer - William P. Lear Jr., Music David Shire - Courtesy of Warner Bros., Production by ImageNation


First Prize - San Mateo Video Festival 1979




When the video team first met Eddie Bunker, he was being held at Terminal Island, California. Subsequently paroled, he became a regular fixture on the set as Hoffman's right hand man, consultant and bit player. With Bunker were several ex-convicts -- bank robbers -- upon whom Hoffman relied for verisimilitude during the movie's bank robbery sequences.

Documentary Director Colmano said the whole experience was like 'a school for criminals. The consensus among the bank robbers was that it should take no longer than one minute to get into the bank, get the money and get out,' he continued, explaining that the location was an actual bank on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. While shooting the scene the first time -- which took the required minute -- Hoffman removed some of the $50,000 in real money from the cash drawer incorrectly and triggered an actual alarm in a Los Angeles police station. It took four minutes for the cops to arrive, guns at the ready. Said Colmano, 'I expected those guys (the ex-cons) to be taking mental notes'.

THE REEL THING, by Peter Bozzo

Even with the success of his writing career, and his adoption by the film industry, the documentary raises the question, will Eddie Bunker survive on the outside? Interviews with Bunker, Hoffman, Director Grosbard and Joseph Wambaugh, the ex-cop who turned writer ("Police Story," The Choir Boys") leave the viewer wondering.

Although STRAIGHT TIME: He Wrote It For Criminals is actually a hard and serious documentary about a person, it still works as a film about a film. The Panavision cameras are there. Director Grosbard and Actor Hoffman are shown discussing production. And all the dynamics of making a film are portrayed. But Eddie Bunker's presence is everywhere. In prison, in his new apartment, playing handball, on the set. But ever present.


Between 1974 and 1977, David Lent and I teamed up on a documentary about San Quentin Prison. David and his co-producers were the first video crew and I was the first photographer allowed total access into one of the most notorious and violent institutions in America. Our maximum-security prison clearance for filming proved it's usefulness in the years to come.

David broke up with his partners over creative control issues and produced his own hour-long version of the documentary. Life Without which premiered in Mill Valley, CA. Dustin Hoffman's secretary, in town with the actor to research Hoffman's upcoming feature Straight Time, read about our screening in the S.F. Chronicle. Hoffman had spent a few weeks in San Quentin already and was naturally intrigued by the prospect of more research. He came to our screening and was so visibly moved by the material that he told David, "I'd like to be involved in your next project."

By this time, I was a partner with David and John Antonelli in ImageNation a production company based in Mill Valley. Within weeks the three of us were working with Dustin to help him create the character for what has been called Hoffman's greatest work. At Dustin's Los Angeles home over dinner, we told him everything we knew from our San Quentin experiences and shared video outtakes and still photographs. Out of gratitude he offered us exclusive access to the set of Straight Time to shoot a documentary about the making of the movie.

With seed money from a private investor, we produced a 12-minute demo featuring Edward Bunker, the author of No Beast So Fierce, the book on which Straight Time was based. We found Eddie doing hard time at Terminal Island Federal Penitentiary in San Pedro, California. We then interviewed Joseph Wambaugh, author of "The Onion Field" & "The Choir Boys." In the editing we juxtaposed the dialogue of these two diametrically opposed writers with animated still photos from San Quentin. Fortified by a Beverly Hills attorney, we leveraged our access to the movie set with the publicity department of Warner Brothers, who agreed to match funds to complete our featurette, He Wrote it for Criminals. In addition to shooting on the set, we interviewed Harry Dean Stanton, director Ulu Grossbard, and Dustin Hoffman.

Warner Brothers planned to sell our documentary into first-run syndication with a percentage going to us. But Hoffman, angered by Warner Brothers seizure of his creative control, sued the studio and First Artists. The studio responded by shelving Straight Time and our documentary. It's a shame but it happens. Especially in the high-stakes world of Hollywood!

While many questions had been raised about Eddie Bunker's ability to make it on the outside, thirty years later, Bunker was still a free man, remained an author and had accumulated numerous credits as an actor in movies. His book ANIMAL FACTORY was made into a movie directed by Stephen Buchemi and was released by Cinemax in the fall in 2000.

Unfortunately, Eddie Bunker passed away in the fall of 2005. In his remarkable life he rose above the all-too-common fate of the orphaned, state-raised, drug-addicted ex-con to fulfill much of his potential. He was an author, screenwriter, and actor whose influence continues to grow. In a scene from He Wrote it for Criminals he poignantly and succinctly defined his existence when he said: "... but people can change, you know... out of the mud grows the lotus."

And finally in Spring of 2007 Warner Brothers released the new DVD version of "Straight Time" which included our long overdue debut of "He Wrote It For Criminals."

Videos are available for broadcast licensing, universities, libraries and as home videos.
Running time 23 Minutes. DIRECTOR'S CUT DVD-$25.


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