- The Creation
- The Script
- The Film
- The Distribution
Two books read at this time were important in the creation of the film. The Psychopathic God, by Robert G.L. Waite, had an impact on the content of these notes. A second book, The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti, a Buddhist text translated by Robert Thurman, was a factor in this creative flow, but more importantly, informed many of the aesthetic decisions made throughout the filmmaking process.
As the flow subsided, these thousands of sheets of paper were organized by category into more than one hundred folders to facilitate the scriptwriting process. These ideas formed the core and the structure of the script.
During the writing process, the ideas in these folders were supplemented by research (see Bibliography) undertaken to explore certain points and to enhance the material already in hand. For example, the director made a trip to Munich to view two exhibits. One focused on the work of Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitler's photographer from the early 1920's through the end of his life. The other focused on the history of the Nazi Party in Munich in the 1920's. These two exhibits proved to be rich sources of imagery and ideas.
The scriptwriting process took several years as the director and his co-writer broke away, from time to time, to work on other projects. More than twenty drafts were written before the script was completed (see Script). Once the script was finalized, pre-production began. This process took nearly nine months, largely due to the complexity of creating two film projectors - one to appear on the set; the other to project film images onto the set - as well as developing the material for the projection sequences seen throughout the film (see Projection Sequences).
Principal photography took place on a sound stage in Burbank, California over a period of sixty-six days. There was also a four-day shoot midway through the editing process. The editing process took more than a year, although this was artificially lengthened by the fact that the film was accepted for screening at the Cannes International Film Festival prior to its completion.
As it turned out, the first time the film was shown to an audience was at Cannes, and then in a form that had been rapidly pieced together for the purpose of that event.
After the screenings at Cannes, four more months of editing were needed to complete the film. Moreover, at the director's initiative, an additional six weeks of editing took place prior to the release of the film.