In 2010, I wrote and produced a two-hour documentary about the making of John Carpenter’s Halloween. It was an incredible experience in which I got to interview all the living players responsible for the film, visit the shooting locations and, perhaps most fatefully, work with genre authorities/soundbite maestros Devin Faraci and Brian Collins. The story of how Halloween was created had been told many times on countless bonus features, but it was my job to tell it for the first time to a mainstream, prime-time cable audience.
Simply put, I wouldn’t have been able to tell that story without Kim Gottlieb-Walker’s set photographs. For the duration of Carpenter’s three-week shoot, Ms. Gottlieb-Walker’s lens captured rehearsals, takes, offscreen playfulness and camaraderie. Poring over the contact sheets, I got a real sense of the energy and mood of that set. She wasn’t just recording; she was storytelling. It was, respectively, a privilege and a nightmare trying to choose which photos to include and and which to leave out. I still have a prized hard drive full of behind-the-scenes photos that have never seen the light of day.
Until this year: on October 21st, On Set with John Carpenter will be released. It’s a 176-page hardcover collection of Ms. Gottlieb-Walker’s work with Carpenter, covering Halloween, Halloween II, The Fog, Christine, and Escape From New York. A hard copy collection of stills might seem quaint in this age of the Cloud, but to me a book like this is valuable because the artist is curating the content. You can Google pics and maybe find some of the shots, but you most likely won’t see all of them, and you definitely won’t see them in the presentation the artist has devised. That’s exciting.
This is not some insider endorsement or shill. I met Kim Gottlieb-Walker exactly once, and she was a lovely interview, but I’m here today as nothing more than an excited fan with a leg up on what’s coming. Having seen every photo taken on the set of Halloween, I went to Amazon and pre-ordered the book this morning. If you’re a fan of Carpenter’s films, you should do the same using the link below. (Okay, that part was shilling a little.)
It was tempting to accompany this article with one of the stills I have from the doc, but without Ms. Gottlieb-Walker’s permission, I’m playing it safe. Here’s a shot from her Facebook page, though, probably from the first chapter I’ll be checking out when the book arrives: