Starck Reality: Michael Cain's Making Two Movies About the Late Dallas Danceteria

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Maybe you saw something in the paper last week about two Starck Club docs in the works -- the one we mentioned that sneak-peeked at the USA Film Fest, and another being cooked up by AFI Dallas International Film Fest artistic director Michael Cain with club founder Blake Woodall. Turns out, that's not the end of the story: Cain told me last week that in addition to the doc, he's also prepping a narrative feature about the legendary danceteria -- a "project I've been working on for 12 years," he said.

He didn't want to announce anything till Joseph F. Alexandre's 17-minute work-in-progress had its bow. As a film fest'er and filmmaker, Cain didn't want to step on another director's toes. But today, he's made it official with a media release you can read in its entirety here.

Cain's been hinting at this for years -- at least since his TV Junkie made its Sundance Film Festival bow. As he told indieWIRE in January 2006, he was prepping two future projects, among them "one set in 1986 Dallas called Starck that chronicles the final days of Ecstasy being legal." But, as he says now, shortly after he registered his screenplay with the Writers Guild of America in 1997, "I realized there was something missing, which is when I reached out to Blake. Everyone said, 'You have to reach out to the guy who created it.' It was based on my interpretation of having been in the club."
Cain says he and Woodall met for an hour at the Mansion on Turtle Creek, after which Woodall left to fetch a book of photos from the club. And that, for the time being, was that: Cain went off to L.A., returned to Dallas when his father became ill, founded the Deep Ellum Film Festival, made TV Junkie, co-founded AFI and so on. Long story short, after TV Junkie -- which Cain and co-director Matt Radecki assembled from 3,000 hours of video footage captured by Rick Kirkham as he morphed from TV personality to drug addict -- Cain realized he was ready to tackle a project like a Starck Club doc.

So, much as he did for TV Junkie, he will take all of Woodall's old memories -- videos and photos and all the assorted remnants of the party-hearty 1980s -- and edit them down to a single doc. On May 12, on the steps of the club, Woodall, Starck general manager Greg McCone and its video artist, David Hynds, will ceremonially turn over to Cain all the scraps of Starck.

"That will be the starting point, add we'll start researching that," Cain says. "We've got a first investor coming in. That was lined up for a year, but we could never move on it, and with AFI Dallas, I refused to let anything pull me away. Chris Smith, who worked on TV Junkie, is coming in to help." So too are Cain's wife Melina McKinnon, who will serve as producer, and Wade Randolph Hampton, who will also produce and serve as music supervisor.

Says Woodall in the press release, "Many others have wanted to tell this story, and I have been judicious in my selection of these particular filmmakers. Michael, Wade and Melina are the right people, at the right time with personal ties to Dallas and The Club, as well as the professional experience to bring this story to life. The fruits of our labor and partnership will enhance and possibly transform Dallas' image, which was created in the late 1980's, all around the world."

After that, Cain will revamp his Starck screenplay. "Everything converged," he says.

He'd like to get the doc done quickly -- in time for Sundance in January, which means he'll have to get the movie done in some form come fall. And so he'll take take two months off from AFI come summer -- not a yearlong sabbatical, as The Dallas Morning News reported last week.

"But if the story's not there, we won't even try," Cain says of the collapsed time line. "We'll do a lot of interviews -- not only with Blake and Greg and Phillipe Starck and Stevie Nicks, but also the people who attended, because that's what made that scene work -- all the people who the club impacted, like me. We're looking for the magic we found back then, to see if we can get it in a piece that makes sense. Because it's bigger than a club. We're looking at Dallas, its history, Deep Ellum, fashion, the music, the bust -- all of it. It's a big story."
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