‘I Know Catherine, The Log Lady’: An Interview with Richard Green

Those of you who have followed my writing on 25 Years Later, know that I have an extreme fondness of The Log Lady, brilliantly played by Catherine Coulson.  Where people saw a quirky character who carried a log, I saw a kindred soul who had much to teach us and the citizens of Twin Peaks.  When I heard there was someone making an authorized documentary about her life, I knew this was something I wanted to support and bring to all of you 25 Years Later readers.

Richard Green is the director of I Know Catherine, The Log Lady; and was gracious enough to answer all of my questions and give you more of an inside look at what we will be seeing if the film is fully backed on its Kickstarter campaign.  If you have not visited the campaign page yet, see the link below.  I want to thank Richard for taking the time in his busy schedule to speak to us.


J.C. Hotchkiss : What is about The Log Lady, and Catherine herself that made you want to take on this project?

Richard Green: I was intrigued when I heard Catherine died 4 days after filming her final performance as The Log Lady, her iconic character who was also dying.  When I was told in secret (everyone there signed a non-disclosure agreement with huge penalties) how Catherine was too sick to get to Washington to film and that David couldn’t leave the set long enough to travel to Oregon, and that Catherine was running out of time I became fascinated.  And then I got the details…  Wow. The show must go on…

J.C: I knew that Catherine was involved in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, but I was not aware how involved until recently.  Can you elaborate more on her involvement and what the festival meant to her? 

RG:  OSF meant the world to Catherine. She was a principle performer there for 22 seasons.  OSF is the largest rep company in the US.  It employs more actors than any other company and has the longest season.  Catherine was a favorite of the audiences and the company.  When she passed they dedicated the next season to her, established the Catherine Coulson Welcome Fund to assist new people coming to Ashland to work and gave us 22 seasons of video to help tell her story.

Speaking of our film project Bill Rauch, OSF Artistic Director said:

“The concept of telling Catherine’s extraordinary story through a combination of interviews with those she left behind and excerpts from her stage work here at Ashland, is both unique and exciting.  We enthusiastically encourage the making of this project and will provide access to all photography, video, audio, press materials, graphics and reviews in our archives.”

J.C: I can see that Theater meant a lot to Catherine. Is there another aspect to Catherine, or another interest that she had a passion for that we will learn about in this documentary?

RG:  Catherine’s work behind the camera is legendary.  She first began as right hand to David Lynch on Eraserhead and learned about the boom mic and the dolly and eventually the camera.  The camera department has always been a male bastion, but Catherine forged her way in and shined – just like in everything else she did.

J.C:  Her credits on IMDB show a large portion of her behind-the-camera contributions as a camera assistant, 17 documented there. There must be a lot of respect for her work by her colleagues. Can you speak to that aspect of the documentary? 

RG:  We have only done preliminary interviews in this arena but it is promises to tell us a lot about her.  Fred Elmes who began with her on Eraserhead stayed very close to her throughout the years.  We are hoping to speak with George Takei and William Shatner about her work on Star Trek – Wrath of Khan, where rumor has it she made contributions above the call of duty.

J.C:  Can you tell us about your team that you have in place for the project?

RG:  Donna DuBain our producer on David Lynch presents, I Don’t Know Jack and 7 Year ZigZag is one of our Executive Producers along with Academy nominee Bill Haugse and filmmaker Marlin Sandlin.  Jenny Sullivan, a brilliant theater director and one of Catherine’s oldest friends is producing.  Cameron Holly Dexter is co-producing with Pieter Dom of Welcome to Twin Peaks and associate producers include Anne Lundgren, Christopher Liam Moore, Amanda McHugh, Logan Heftel and some new folks from Kickstarter.  We have had some wonderful DPs working with us as well including: Reuben Aaronson, Eric Zimmerman, Patrick Neary, and Kent Romney.

J.C:  I read that you’ve already shot some of the interviews, including David Lynch.  I know that you worked with him on Mulholland Drive as well.  How was it sitting with him and discussing his longtime friendship with Catherine?

RG:  The greatest experience I ever had as an actor was performing my scene in Mulholland Drive for David Lynch.  He came over to me after the first run through and I knew from looking in his eyes that he had totally gotten it.  That he loved it made me supremely happy.  During the interview about Catherine, I felt like I was giving him back the emotional response, attention, care and understanding he gave me on the set of Mulholland Drive.  It was a great interview.

J.C:  Do you have any memories or anecdotes from working with David on Mulholland Drive you can share with our audience?

RG:  He had written it.  I had it translated in to French and Spanish and then created the arrangement of the words the and choreography.  I was completely comfortable in the character and the environment because they were already in my world.

J.C:  What is one thing you want to tell the fan community of Twin Peaks and fans of Catherine about the film and why they should support it?

RG:  I knew Catherine, yet I didn’t know half of what she had accomplished.  We together will learn why David Lynch and so many respected artists and leaders think Catherine was so very special.

JC:  Catherine clearly adored her fans. So many got to “know” her or at least meet her at festivals and conventions. How do you see the fandom and her involvement with it playing into her legacy?

RG:  The fans are what kept Twin Peaks alive and are responsible for its return. No one was closer to the fans nor appreciated them more than Catherine.  Did the Log Lady bring Twin Peaks back?  Interesting idea…

J.C:  Her performance in Twin Peaks: The Return was nothing short of spectacular and heartbreaking.  I myself have a pure love of Catherine’s performance as Margaret.  Did you watch the Return?  What did you think of her arc and the way in which David and Mark honored her?   

RG:  I think Catherine was very much honored by the way Log Lady was part of The Return.  I think there has perhaps always been a dialog between Catherine and David within the Log Lady’s words.  I think that honored her greatly and I imagine she felt the same.

J.C: You were a close friend of Catherine’s.  What is the biggest thing you hope the audience and fans will take with them about Catherine and her story?   Are there any anecdotes you’d be willing to share about your friendship and what Catherine meant to you?

RG:  The most important impact I think our film may have is that it will inspire people, especially women, to do everything possible to use their talents and time to celebrate life.  She is so much more important to people than I knew when I started.   I also hope to be able to shed some light on the Log Lady and what made her presence and her perspective so appealing to audiences.  I suspect and want to explore the idea that the wisdom and humanity of the Log Lady emanates from who Catherine truly was and how deeply David appreciated her as person.

We were like cousins in a big theater family that started in San Francisco in the late 1960’s and thrives to this day, though more as family than theater. We were not close, but Catherine was instrumental in getting our film David Lynch presents ‘I Don’t Know Jack’ made and in helping David find me again years later for Mulholland Drive.  On my birthday in 2001, I got a call from Catherine.  Not to wish me happy birthday but to find my producing partner, her old friend, Donna DuBain. David Lynch’s office in Hollywood had called Catherine in Ashland, Oregon, who called Donna back in Hollywood, to find an old friend of theirs who was good with words and used to be a magician.

We were sitting in my office with Frankie Phipps Wilson (who was in Eraserhead) trying to figure out who David was looking for and I recall that during the Eraserhead days, David used to come watch me perform improvised verse on the opening bill of the Mayfair Music Hall.  Also, at Jack Nance’s memorial the year before, I’d told David the story of how playing an evil magician in a fair near SF a few years before that and how it got me introduced to Catherine in the first place.  I mentioned this to Donna and Frankie.  They freaked out.  They call Catherine in Oregon, who calls David’s office in Hollywood and three hours later, the phone rings it’s David with the greatest role I’ve ever been offered.

 J.C:  What made you go to Kickstarter to help fund this film as opposed to seeing if an independent studio would pick it up for distribution? 

RG:  I am a bit of a Hollywood outsider.  I make my living by vending my voice for companies like Call of Duty, Sony and many others.  I made some calls thinking we could get funded and have our picture out in time for the Twin Peaks – The Return.  Nobody bit and being outside the mainstream I didn’t connect to anyone with a greenlight switch.  I am glad actually, because interacting with the fans on this campaign has been illuminating.  Shooting on a low budget, financed by me, has been expensive and risky, yet truly satisfying.  Since the interview with David, it seems like we are on a raft in the rapids.  No guarantee we will make it to calm waters but one hell of a thrilling ride with tons of momentum.

I am hope that interviews like this will reach lots and lots of Catherine’s fans and that they fund this film because Catherine’s story is bigger, more important and more human than any of us had imagined.  As David says in the interview “she is one who really should be appreciated”.

J.C:  Can you touch on all the wonderful “extras” if one contributes to the Kickstarter campaign?

RG: The campaign team has been amazingly enthusiastic, creative and smart.  Pieter Dom, Cameron Holly Dexter, Amanda McHugh, Justin Giddings, Logan Heftel all have contributed to some very, very cool rewards and special events.

My favorites include: 

— Dedicating a tree in The Log Lady Grove through TreePeople a great organization that keeps L.A.’s landscape healthy. Backers get to help the environment and get a beautiful hand signed and numbered certificate.

— The Answer Log –  a real log, with the ability to answer questions with quotes that would have made the Log Lady proud.

— Editorial Consultant Credit and real input – I believe this is a crowdfunding first.  Backers will get to see an early cut of the film and give their notes and ideas right to the director and editor.  Then they will see a near final cut of the film and have the same opportunity.  Truly a chance to be part of the magic of moviemaking.  And I should add, post production is when the magic does truly happen. There are magic moments on the set.  “Happy accidents” on set are golden, but it all comes together in post.  That is when we take away everything that isn’t magic and we really start to see the magic’s possibilities.  I look forward to their input.

Lastly there are some really cool digital goodies that come with rewards including the film…

Pledge $35 or more

WATCH THE FILM + MYSTERY REWARD #1

All that jazz is great, but you want to WATCH THE FILM, right? This level (and up) lets you enjoy the DIGITAL VERSION of I KNOW CATHERINE, THE LOG LADY from the comfort of your log cabin as soon as it’s available to own.

To hold you over until we finish the new film, we will already give you streaming access to the hard-to-find DAVID LYNCH PRESENTS: I DON’T KNOW JACK along with its RARE bonus features.

But that’s not all! Also included is our first MYSTERY REWARD which will be revealed if we raise $50,000. A clue? Let’s just say you might become more involved than you think…

INCLUDES:

  • Digital version of I KNOW CATHERINE, THE LOG LADY
  • Digital version of DAVID LYNCH PRESENTS: I DON’T KNOW JACK
  • MYSTERY REWARD #1 revealed when 20% funded
  • Digital 5-track JOHNNY JEWEL EP in honor of the Log Lady
  • Digital treasure trove with LOG EMOJI, WALLPAPERS & MYSTERY ITEMS
  • HI-RES download of the OFFICIAL FILM POSTER when it’s ready
  • Unreleased Twin Peaks inspired JAZZ NOIR song by SILENCIO
  • Insider updates straight from the I KNOW CATHERINE team
  • Your name in the LOGROLL section of the film’s website

 Thank you so much Richard, for taking the time to discuss this wonderful project with us. So what are you waiting for Peakies?!? Click on the link below to contribute to I KNOW CATHERINE, THE LOG LADY‘s campaign. You have only until Saturday, June 16th at 5:53pm to contribute. Send Catherine and her log a message of how much we love her. 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/historyofcool/i-know-catherine-the-log-lady


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