Sunday, May 19, 2013
Director Alan Smithee has enjoyed a long and varied career, which has seen him make everything from feature films to television pilots, cartoons, and music videos. He’d be one of Hollywood’s most prolific filmmakers if not for one key fact: he doesn’t exist. Since 1968, directors who wish to have their name removed from the credits of their films have used the name “Alan Smithee” as a pseudonym. Alan Smithee was first employed by Don Siegel on the film Death of a Gunfighter, and it’s since been used whenever a director feels that their creative control over a film project has been compromised to the extent that the final product is no longer their work. With this in mind, Alan Smithee now has 73 directorial credits on the website Internet Movie Database, including such lamentable productions as Hellraiser: Bloodline and Solar Crisis, along with TV projects including episodes of The Cosby Show and MacGyver. Mainstream directors like Michael Mann and Paul Verhoeven have also used the credit in instances where movies like Heat or Showgirls are significantly edited for exhibition on television. The Director’s Guild of America officially abandoned Alan Smithee in the late nineties, after the release of a film called An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn drew unwanted attention to the name. Since then, unhappy filmmakers have chosen their own pseudonyms, but others continue to use Alan Smithee as a sort of tribute. In fact, since 2000, the phantom director has racked up a further 18 film credits.