Cox, Alexander 1954
Alexander "Alex" Cox is a British film director, screenwriter, nonfiction author, broadcaster and sometime actor. He was born on 15th December 1954 in Bebington, Cheshire.
Cox began reading law as an undergraduate at Oxford University, but left to study Radio, Film and TV at Bristol University, graduating in 1977. Cox then travelled to Los Angeles to attend film school at UCLA in 1977. Here he produced his first film, Edge City/Sleep is for Sissies, a 40-minute surreal short about an artist struggling against society. After graduation, he formed Edge City Productions with two friends with the intention of producing low-budget feature films.
In 1977 Cox wrote a screenplay for Repo Man, which he hoped to produce for a budget of $70,000, and began seeking funding. Michael Nesmith agreed to produce Repo Man, and convinced Universal Studios to back the project with a budget of over a million dollars. After an initial limited release, the film went on to earn $4,000,000.
Cox's next film was initially titled Love Kills and later renamed Sid and Nancy. The film was made between Los Angeles and London and followed the career and death of bassist Sid Vicious and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen. It was released in 1986.
Cox had long been interested in Nicaragua and the Sandinistas, and visited in 1984. The following year, he hoped to shoot a concert film there featuring the Clash, the Pogues and Elvis Costello. When he could not get backing, he decided instead to write a film that they would all act in. The film became Straight to Hell, and was released in 1987.
Cox's next project was Walker - a film which followed the life of William Walker, set against a back drop of anachronisms that drew parallels between the story and modern American intervention in the area. The $6,000,000 production was backed by Universal, but the completed film was too political and too violent for the studio's tastes, and the film went without promotion. When Walker failed to perform at the box office, it ended the director's involvement with Hollywood studios, and led to a period of several years in which Cox would not direct a single film.
Following the commercial failure of Walker, Alex Cox struggled to find feature work. He next got funding for a feature from investors in Japan. Cox had scouted locations in Mexico during the pre-production of Walker and decided he wanted to shoot a film there, with a local cast and crew, in Spanish. Producer Lorenzo O'Brien penned the script. El Patrullero was completed and released in 1991.
Shortly after this, Cox was invited to adapt a Jorge Luis Borges story of his choice for the BBC. He chose Death and the Compass. Despite being a British production and an English language film, he convinced his producers to let him shoot in Mexico City. The completed 55-minute film aired on the BBC in 1992. Cox had hoped to expand this into a feature-length film, but the BBC was uninterested. Japanese investors gave him $100,000 to expand the film in 1993, but the production ran over-budget, allowing no funds for post-production. To secure funds, Cox directed a "work for hire" project called The Winner. The film was edited extensively without Cox's knowledge, and he had his name removed from the credits as a result, but the money was enough for Cox to fund the completion of Death and the Compass. The finished, 82-minute feature received a limited cinema release in the US, where the TV version had not aired, in 1996.
In 1996, producer Stephen Nemeth employed Alex Cox to write and direct an adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. After creative disagreements with the producer and Thompson, he was sacked from the project, and his script rewritten when Terry Gilliam took over the film (Cox later sued successfully for a writing credit, as it was ruled that there were enough similarities between the drafts to suggest that Gilliam's was derivative of Cox's. Gilliam countered that both screenplays were based directly on the source book, and any similarities between the two screenplays were a direct consequence of this).
In 1997, Alex Cox made a deal with Dutch producer Wim Kayzer to produce another dual TV/feature production, Three Businessmen. Initially, Cox had hoped to shoot in Mexico, but later decided to set his story in Liverpool, Rotterdam, Tokyo and Almería. The film was completed for a small budget of $250,000, and did not receive a cinema release in America. Following this, Cox moved back to Liverpool and became interested in creating films there.
Cox had long been interested in the Jacobean play, The Revenger's Tragedy, and upon moving back to Britain, decided to pursue adapting it to a film. This adaptation, titled Revengers Tragedy, consisted primarily of the original play's dialogue, with some additional bits written in a more modern tone.
Following this, Cox directed a short film set in Liverpool for the BBC called I'm a Juvenile Delinquent - Jail Me!. The 30-minute film satirised reality television as well as the high volume of petty crime in Liverpool.
In 2006, Alex Cox tried to get funding for a series of eight very low budget features set in Liverpool and produced by local talent. The project was not completed, but the director grew interested in pursuing the idea of a film made for less than £100,000.
Searchers 2.0—named for, but in no way based on The Searchers— became Cox's first film for which he has sole writing credit since Repo Man, and marked his return to the comedy genre. A road movie and a revenge story, it tells of two actors, loosely based on and played by Del Zamora and Ed Pansullo, who travel from Los Angeles to a desert film screening in Monument Valley in the hopes of avenging abuse inflicted on them by a cruel screenwriter, Fritz Frobisher (Sy Richardson). It was scored by longtime collaborator Dan Wool aka Pray for Rain (Sid & Nancy, Straight to Hell, Death & the Compass, The Winner, Three Businessmen, Repo Chick among others). Although the film was unable to achieve a cinema release in America or Europe, Cox claimed the experience of making a film with a smaller crew and less restrictions was energising.
Alex Cox had attempted to get a Repo Man sequel, titled Waldo's Hawaiian Holiday, produced in the mid-'90s, but the project fell apart, with the script adapted into a graphic novel of the same name. For his next micro-feature, he wrote a fresh attempt at a sequel to Repo Man, although it contained no recurring characters, so as to preserve Universal's rights to the original. It premiered at the Venice Film Festival on 9 September 2009.