Home   >   Movie Stars   >   W   >   David Weisman
David Weisman
  • Biography

David Weisman

Born in upstate New York, after one viewing of La Dolce Vita David Weisman dropped out of Syracuse U's School of Fine Arts in the early 1960s to design film-posters in Rome -- where, by learning fluent Italian, he managed to meet Fellini, create the poster for Otto e mezzo (8 1/2) and work for Pasolini. The teenager's linguistic skill also enabled him to freely work as an artist in Québec, France, Holland, Israel, Germany, and Brazil. Back in New York, Weisman was discovered by Otto Preminger who hired him to replace Saul Bass to create the titles for Hurry Sundown. Having interned as Preminger's assistant on the Paramount movie, Weisman turned to experimental film-making with a splinter-group from Andy Warhol's Factory and in 1967, he began the five-year-long production of underground cult classic Ciao! Manhattan (1972), a chronicle-à-clef about and starring sixties-icon Edie Sedgwick (featuring Isabel Jewell, Roger Vadim, plus Factory luminaries Brigid Berlin, Viva, and Paul America) which Weisman co-wrote and co-directed with Warhol alumnus John Palmer.

Weisman then worked as associate director on avant-garde film The Telephone Book, and created an English-language film edited from a series of Japanese samurai-movies which was successfully released as Shogun Assassin by Roger Corman's New World Pictures. In 1981, after producing Growing Pains (a comedy with Martin Mull and Karen Black), Weisman's collaboration with Leonard Schrader began on The Killing of America, a feature documentary created for Japanese theatrical release about the evolution of U.S. violence. Schrader's background in Latin American literature and Weisman's familiarity with Brazil prompted them to look for a film project they could make below the equator. In 1982, when Ciao! Manhattan was re-released (breaking boxoffice records at The Quad Cinema in New York upon publication of bestseller Edie: An American Biography by Jean Stein & George Plimpton), Weisman used the proceeds to acquire the Kiss of the Spider Woman screen rights from Manuel Puig, then develop the screenplay with Schrader and commence pre-production on the film with Burt Lancaster and Raul Julia in the lead roles.

In October of 1983, with William Hurt replacing the ailing Lancaster, Weisman began Kiss of the Spider Woman in São Paulo Brazil with director Hector Babenco -- financed only by private investors on two continents who believed in the project. After Babenco's health crisis in mid-1984, Weisman completed the film's problematic editing with Schrader. Post-production took 14 arduous months, much of it (for lack of funds) done in Weisman's home. He was obliged to re-dub most of the film's dialogue, re-cut the negative and mix the soundtrack twice, before Kiss of the Spider Woman was accepted in Official Competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 1985, where William Hurt won the Best Actor award.

Weisman subsequently collaborated with novelist Manuel Puig on two original screenplays (Seven Tropical Sins, Chica Boom); They were working on Madrid '37 for Milena Canonero to direct, at the time of Puig's death in 1990.

After the international success of Kiss of the Spider Woman, in 1986 Weisman was recipient of an Academy Award Nomination for Best Picture -- a first for an independent film made for little more than a million dollars. Weisman began producing the $40-million Ironweed for Taft-Barish but left the production in early 1987 over creative differences with director Babenco. Weisman then produced the indie film Spike of Bensonhurst (1988) with Sasha Mitchell and Ernest Borgnine, directed by ex-Warhol associate Paul Morrissey. Continuing his Latin American-themed collaboration with Leonard Schrader, Weisman produced Schrader's directorial debut Naked Tango (1991), a mythic love-story set in the bordellos of 1920s Buenos Aires, starring Vincent D'Onofrio, Mathilda May, Esai Morales, and the late Fernando Rey.

Working with Schrader, Weisman adapted Spirit Break (1997) from the novel The Long Walk, and most recently co-wrote Girl On Fire (2001), an original screenplay based on Weisman's experiences with Edie Sedgwick during the making of Ciao! Manhattan.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2002.

David Weisman Facts


Selected Filmography

Not available.