Alan Smithee… The director of many films in cinema history. But in reality, such a person does not exist.
In the post-production process of a film, usually the editor first creates a rough cut of the film and then works with the director to finalize the film. In commercial cinema, especially in Hollywood, the process works like this: the editor still creates a rough cut of the film and then continues to work with the director.
This is the “director’s cut”.
In commercial cinema, after the editing stage, the producer intervenes. At this point, the producer intervenes in the film according to their own wishes. This intervention is actually an interference with the director’s style and vision. Because the producer is concerned with the box office, or money. Alan Smithee draws the attention of many people for this reason.
The most important factor that distinguishes the director from the producer in this conflict is the length of the film. While the director tries to convey the message they want to tell the audience correctly, the producer wants the film to be easily understood by everyone, as short as possible, and shown in multiple sessions throughout the day. Alan Smithee, on the other hand, opposes this “mercilessly cutting the film” as an intervention in the film he imagined.
The producer’s intervention in the film has led some directors to reject their own films in the final stage of production.
This producer intervention in the history of cinema has led directors to edit their films twice. These versions, known as “Director’s Cut” or “Extended Edition,” are released to audiences after the film has been shown in theaters. The biggest difference between these versions and the theatrical release is their longer running times.
Some of these versions have the same running time as the theatrical release, but the way the story is told in the film is different, with scenes in different places.
And a director is born… Alan Smithee…
Directors who were subjected to producer intervention used the name “Alan Smithee” between 1968 and 2000 to express that the films were not as they had envisioned them and to say “I didn’t imagine this film to be like this.”
As a result, many films are born in cinema history with the name ‘Alan Smithee’ mentioned as the director.
The famous director David Lynch applies this practice in the film “Dune”.
All these processes actually emphasize how important the editing stage is for a film. Even if a film is made for commercial purposes, it should not be released to the audience with only ‘box office’ concerns without the approval of the director.