Monday, February 7, 2011

Interview with Chip Rives

So, thanks to Twitter, we were sent the link to a documentary on the Astrodome, fittingly called, The Dome (which is still in production). So we sent some questions to Director Chip Rives, and he was kind enough to answer.

AC: When did your work on "The Dome" begin, and how did it come about?

CR: We began working on the Dome about 2 years ago. The first step - and most difficult - was securing the location, and getting access into the building. We got a chance to do a series of shoots and interviews in the Dome, in the summer of 2009. About 1 month after shooting, the Dome was shut down...failing to meet certain fire code standards. Who knows, we might be the last film crew in the building...sad, but true.

Back to the genesis of the project....I've lived everywhere (New York, Connecticut, Tulsa, San Francisco) in addition to Houston and Austin, and for the life of me, never understood why THE DOME lacked the national acclaim it deserves. I've produced lots of documentaries and thought "The Dome" was a good idea. Fortunately, David Karabinas and his partners at Texas Crew agreed, we formed an LLC, and began shooting.

We are still in production, and still raising money to finish this project...which has been challenging. We didn't want to cheapen the film by rushing to completion, so we're moving a bit slower than we'd anticipated, but that's ok. It will get done. We are also putting an open call out there for funding...and we've partnered with a non-profit...so if you're looking for a tax write-off, let us know!!

AC: For many of us Astros fans (or, any reader over the age of ten), the Astrodome was an integral part of our youth. How did the Astrodome sum up the 1960s, and Houston, in particular?

CR: The Dome personifies Houston of the '60s...it embodies growth, vision, aggressiveness, confidence, charisma, flash. Houston was evolving from the old stereotypes of the West, was flush with oil money, and wanted to be recognized - not for what it was - but for what it was becoming.

People like the Judge, RE Bob Smith, Welcome Wilson...these guys were the pioneers that puffed out their chest, and basically said, "check us out." Of course, the Dome brought the eyes of the world to Houston, and in some ways, legitimized the city.

AC: To you, what is the most compelling story of the Astrodome?

CR: The Judge. He really is the Dome. He lived it, breathed it, personified it. There were others who were less visible, that were certainly influential in its creation, but not like the Judge. In order for the building to have success it needed a front-man. We've all heard the PT Barnum comparisons...and they're legitimate. Roy Hofheinz was a showman and THE DOME was his show.

AC: How do you feel about the state the Astrodome is in, currently? Do you have any suggestions for what can be done with it?

Of course I'm saddened to watch it decay like it has, but it's interesting...in the wake of Ike, the Dome stood tall, solid, almost 50 years later...didn't flinch at Ike's winds and rain, while the new version of itself got dinged pretty hard. Kind of ironic, isn't it?

Regarding the politics...that's really not my place.

AC: What's your earliest, and favorite, Astrodome memory?

CR: Earliest memory is a double header in the 70s - not sure who was even playing - and I was probably about 7 years old. I just remember going to the game with my dad and some friends, and bringing sandwiches inside, and being told that we were gonna be there for several hours. I thought that was so cool...getting to hang in the Dome for that long.

Favorite memory is probably being in the Dome when the Oilers returned from Pittsburgh after losing the AFC Championship. I begged my dad to take me, and he did. Pretty amazing to see those players, and the passion the fans had for that team. It was a special time...and a special place.
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Big thanks to Chip for taking the time to answer these questions. Click the link above for more information, and for the trailer.

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