“My main hobby – as a child, teenager and finally young adult, from 1953 to 1969 -- was making amateur movies. I never really set out to be a filmmaker. But I loved monster, horror, science-fiction and fantasy movies and wanted to show them at home. Those were the days before companies like Castle Films included 'science fiction' movies in their catalogs and decades before videotape, laser discs and DVD made owning such movies possible and even practical. Luckily there happened to be a 16mm movie camera in our house. My Father and Mother had been taking movies of the family since about 1940, and so I'd become accustomed to filming and editing and projecting at a very early age. The problem seemed to be solved: I actually could show such films on our home-movie screen. The only ‘catch’ was that I had to make them myself!
"Of course, as a kid just nine years old, I knew nothing about movie production when I made my first – a dinosaur movie in 1953. So I had to invent things as I went along, figuring out the easiest, most logical and cost-effective ways of accomplishing special effects and even more mundane kinds of visuals.
"In all, I would make 41 of these movies, some of them only a few minutes in length, others considerably longer. Most of the movies can be relegated to one of four categories -- "Dinosaur," "Classic Monster" (Frankenstein, Wolf Man, etc.), "Teenage Horror" (Teenage Werewolf, etc.), and "Super-/Serial Heroes" (Superman, Rocket Man, etc.) -- with some crossover (e.g., The Teenage Frankenstein and The Adventures of the Spirit). All were shot 'silent,' although they all ended up eventually with music, effects and dialogue tracks. Almost none of them used actual ‘scripts,’ but were mostly improvised as we went along, and some were shot over just a few hours. Most of these films are hard to get through today. I had many jobs in the making of these movies -- writer, director, make-up artist, special effects person, stuntman, prop builder and cameraman (when I wasn’t doing something in front of the camera).
"Some of these movies were featured in the pages of such magazines as Famous Monsters of Filmland, Screen Thrills Illustrated, Spacemen, Castle of Frankenstein and Fantastic Monsters of the Films (more recently in magazines like Filmfax and Scary Monsters). As a result of all that free publicity, some of it also in fanzines, I became fairly well known as an amateur moviemaker. In fact, director John Carpenter, in a 1970s interview published in Fangoria magazine, stated that he was inspired to become a filmmaker after reading some of these articles about some guy named…”
Don has two websites I can highly recommend:
his professional movie site: www.frontlinefilms.com
Note: Clips from some of Don's movies can be viewed on his personal website: www.donaldfglut.com.
More clips can be seen in Don's video documentaries: Dinosaur Movies, Hollywood Goes Ape (hosted by Bob Burns), and The Sci-fi Boys (hosted by Peter Jackson), and also in the feature-length movie The Mummy's Kiss.
Click on the images above to order the DVD, CD or book
If you have any comments to make about his amateur movies.
"In 1995 I got to direct my first professional movie Dinosaur Valley Girls (see photo below). My first amateur movie Diplodocus at Large also happened to be about a dinosaur. In a way, then, I came 'full circle' from that initial effort of 1953."
Super-Heroes chapter 1 Super-Heroes chapter 2 Dinosaur Movies
Classic Monster Movies Teenage Horror Films Monster Rumble
Miscellaneous Movies Character Personal Appearances Filmography
Odds, Ends & Beginnings Guest Stars & Movie Props links sitemap
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