DIRECTOR'S CUT / Great Expectations: Joel Schumacher on Great Expectations

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I GREW up in a very poor neighbourhood in New York. My father was dead, my mother was out at work all the time and I lived in this movie theatre right near our house. And when I was seven I saw Great Expectations. My father had died when I was four and so I'm sure I was haunted by that. And the opening of Great Expectations shows Pip skipping through a graveyard - which I had just been introduced to because of my father's death - and suddenly the convict who changes his life leaps out at him from behind a tombstone.

It so affected me that I couldn't sleep for months with the lights off totally in the small apartment where we lived. But more importantly, I knew that I wanted to do this to people some day. I didn't know what a director was, and I wasn't even sure I knew there was a director. But I wanted to make this happen; I never wanted to be an actor. I went to the library and got out books on marionettes; I started building a stage and marionettes.

It had such a profound effect on me. And the next movie I'm going to make, The Client, is about an 11-year-old boy. At the beginning he's in the woods and a terrifying thing happens to him; someone leaps out of nowhere and it affects the rest of his life. So I'm actually going to get to do this scene myself] I'm a very lucky fellow.

Joel Schumacher is the director of 'Falling Down'.

(Photograph omitted)