Does art imitate life, or is it the other way around? When it comes to fiction, there really is no answer — some of the best stories have been rooted in reality.
One such book, Master of Disaster, by Ira Teller, falls under that category.
Marina del Rey author Teller has many tales to tell about his years in the film industry. After 33 years in motion picture marketing, Teller has been involved in various facets of the industry.
But it’s his recollection of the last interview actor Brandon Lee gave before his death on the set of The Crow that kept drawing questions.
“I was involved in behind-the-scenes documentaries around 1993, right when it was starting to become popular,” Teller says. “The picture was The Crow — and I was the last person to interview Brandon Lee before he was killed on the set.”
The production was full of accidents, Teller remembers, mishaps involving crew members, actors and equipment. It was while filming a scene with gunshots that a blank shot misfired and the velocity of the shell fatally injured the actor.
Teller had finished interviewing Lee shortly before the accident, and used the footage he captured of the actor in the behind-the-scenes documentary he was making. It was in showing this documentary while teaching a class at UCLA that Teller began to speculate about the circumstances of the film.
“Early in 2002 I started teaching a class at UCLA tied in to Sundance, where I would take films that had made it into the festival but were having distribution problems, and have students create advertising campaigns for them,” Teller says. “I would show them the documentary on The Crow and it brought back questions I had.”
Master of Disaster is the result of his questions, an examination of the film industry and the story of the characters behind the scenes. Full of commentary on studio politics and an insider’s insight, the novel tells the story of Teller’s alter ego, Irv North, as he discovers the sabotage of a movie production.
“It’s the story of a documentary maker, but his world is the behind-the-scenes world,” Teller says. “If you really love movies and mysteries you’ll get a kick out of the book.”
Bookmates reading group of the California Yacht Club of Marina del Rey has chosen the novel for its November selection.
Teller will be signing copies of his book at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5th, at Barnes and Noble, 13400 Maxella Ave., Marina del Rey.
Information, www.myspace .com/behindthescenesauthor/.