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Nick Ray, Hollywood legend & iconoclast, director and teacher, shares the secrets of his craft and film as a way of life
Nick Ray, Hollywood legend & iconoclast, director and teacher, shares the secrets of his craft and film as a way of life
142 backers pledged $17,567 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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ACTION! a documentary to run 90 to 100 minutes, will be the last film of three produced by The Nicholas Ray Foundation in honor of Nick Ray's 100th birthday. 

On any list of the 100 Best Movies of the 20th Century you’re likely to find at least one directed by Nick. Rebel Without A Cause, In A Lonely Place, Johnny Guitar, Bitter Victory, Savage Innocents, Lusty Men—these are classics. 

In the three films of the Nicholas Ray Centenary Project, We Can't Go Home Again, Don't Expect Too Much, and ACTION!, we introduce you to the equally brilliant but less well known work of the last ten years of this filmmaker's life, after he left Hollywood and became a teacher. In ACTION! you'll encounter Nick's bigger-than-life presence as he shares his knowledge of what he called "the cathedral of the arts." He'll offer you, in his own words and voice, behind-the-scenes accounts from the sets of his classic films and insights as to how and why he did what he did in the scenes you remember—at the Planetarium in Rebel, for example. He'll share his knowledge of the crafts of filmmaking and acting—how to move with the camera; how to direct the non-actor; how to handle props; how to work with sense memory—along with his often prophetic insights on a range of subjects from the psychology of color to technology and sexuality.

Nick's way of teaching belongs to the tradition going back to the guilds of the Middle Ages by which a craftsman, having mastered his craft, passes it on to his apprentices. He transmits in his teaching a wisdom acquired through hard living, working, loving, and the willingness to own his mistakes; and the vision of someone with an uncanny grasp of the big picture and how it will unfold over future decades.

Once completed, ACTION! will join the other two films of the Centenary Project, creating a unique film triptych that is at once a portrait of the artist, a narrative, a document of the times, and a teaching tool. We believe ACTION! will become a standard for films about filmmaking.

Approach: 

ACTION! will be edited mostly from Nick’s film, video, and audio archive—tens of thousands of feet of picture, and hundreds of hours of audio recordings of interviews, classes, lectures, private conversations, journal entries, and an oral history—with supplementary footage licensed from the studios or acquired through research. 

We're seeking $12,500 to cover the costs of digitizing and transcribing about 45 hours of audio recordings from Nick's classes at NYU and the Strasberg Institute and a 30-hour oral history created through interviews with British film historian James Leahy. 

Along with the audio, there remains about half the picture in the Ray Archive yet to digitize. Any contributions above the $12,500 needed for digitizing and transcribing audio will go towards digitizing the picture.

Rewards:

These are one-of-a-kind items that once belonged to Nick, that he gave to me, and that I now offer to you as thanks for your support of our film. These have collector's value.

Risks and challenges

Among the risks related to digitizing the audio include the possibility that audio cassettes and reel-to-reel tapes recorded 40 years ago are now too compromised to run through the digitizing equipment; or that, once digitized, the sound itself not be of adequate quality to use in the film.

However, we've assembled a highly skilled restoration crew, one we worked with previously on WE CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN. We've seen how, in the majority of cases, they know exactly how to handle fragile materials to digitize them successfully and maximize their quality to a level sufficient for use. And if a few of our materials cannot be salvaged, we have enough other materials from which to draw.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    You will receive a color reproduction, 81/2" x 11", of Nick's watercolor illustrating his vision of multiple image, and our gratitude.

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    Pledge $12 or more About $12

    You will receive a one-time digital download of ACTION! and our gratitude.

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    You will receive three 4" x 6" postcards of each of the three Ray Foundation postcards, and our gratitude

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    You will receive a limited edition 24" x 36" poster, your choice of one of three Ray Foundation posters, and our gratitude.

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    You will receive the DVD of ACTION! and our gratitude.

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    You will receive one Blue-Ray Collector's Edition two-disc DVD of WE CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN and DON'T EXPECT TOO MUCH, your choice of one of three 24" x 36" limited edition Ray Foundation posters, and our gratitude.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    You will receive all three limited edition 24" x 36" Ray Foundation posters and a THANK YOU in the film's credits.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    "PARTY GIRL PACKAGE": You will receive a copy of the book I WAS INTERRUPTED: NICHOLAS RAY ON MAKING MOVIES and the blue-ray DVD of ACTION!, both autographed by Susan Ray; all three Foundation 4" x 6" postcards; and a THANK YOU in the film's credits.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    You will receive the "PARTY GIRL PACKAGE," complete, and a DVD or Blue-ray of the Criterion edition of BIGGER THAN LIFE.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    "REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE PACKAGE": You will receive the Collector's Edition 2-disk DVD of WE CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN and DON'T EXPECT TOO MUCH, the DVD of ACTION!, and a copy of the book I WAS INTERRUPTED: NICHOLAS RAY ON MAKING MOVIES, all autographed by Susan Ray; and a THANK YOU in the film's credits.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    You will be our guest at the private pre-release screening of ACTION! at Cineric's screening room in New York and at a fine dinner with Susan Ray and the film's producers, and will receive a THANK YOU in the film's credits. (Sorry, we can't cover your transportation to New York City.)

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    Pledge $350 or more About $350

    You and a companion will be our guests at a private screening of ACTION! in Tokyo, accompanied by a talk about Nicholas Ray by director Amir Naderi, and at a fine dinner hosted by one of our producers; and you will receive a THANK YOU in the film's credits. (Sorry, we can't cover your travel to Tokyo!)

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    You will receive a rare Spanish poster, 24" x 36", for JOHNNY GUITAR and the "REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE PACKAGE," complete.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    You will receive a copy of the hardcover limited edition book to LIGHTNING OVER WATER (NICK'S MOVIE), illustrated throughout with screen shots and autographed by Susan Ray; and the "PARTY GIRL PACKAGE," complete.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    You and a companion will be our guests at the New York premiere screening of ACTION! and the private after-party with Susan Ray and the ACTION! team; and you will receive two "REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE PACKAGES," complete. (Sorry, we can't cover your travel to New York.)

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    You will receive Nick's leather-bound script of BED OF ROSES (a.k.a. BORN TO BE BAD) and the "REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE PACKAGE," complete.

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    Pledge $1,250 or more About $1,250

    You will receive Nick's leather-bound script of THE LONG DENIAL (a.k.a. A WOMAN'S SECRET) and the "REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE PACKAGE," complete.

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    Pledge $2,000 or more About $2,000

    You will receive Nick's leather-bound script of KNOCK ON ANY DOOR, signed by many of the cast and crew (including John Derek) and the "REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE PACKAGE," complete. This reward has collector's value!

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    Pledge $3,250 or more About $3,250

    You will receive Nick's red jacket, the one he wore in WE CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN, and the "REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE PACKAGE," complete. This reward has collector's value!

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    Pledge $4,000 or more About $4,000

    You will receive a framed original poem, written, typed, and hand-signed by Nick, and the "REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE PACKAGE," complete. This reward has collector's value!

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    Pledge $5,500 or more About $5,500

    You will receive the Shirt of Many Colors, custom designed and made for Nick by Phyllis Santis of EXPRESSMORE! and worn by the director in WE CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN; and the "REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE PACKAGE," complete.

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    Pledge $7,500 or more About $7,500

    You will receive a rare mounted poster, 24" x 36", for REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE--this is a studio poster, but NOT one of its standard issues--and the "REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE PACKAGE," complete; and you and a guest will be our guests at a special dinner in New York with Susan Ray and the film's producers. (Sorry, we cannot cover your travel to New York.)

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Funding period

- (23 days)