Scope and Contents
|The Paul Schrader Papers contain screenplays, film production files, and personal
papers documenting Schrader's life and film career from 1943 to 2011. Included
early childhood materials, film reviews and essays published in his college
newspapers, materials reflecting his emergence as one of "The New Hollywood's" most successful filmmakers, and records of his film
projects. The papers are arranged in six series: I. Films and Television, circa
1960s-2010, undated; II. Plays, 1981-2011; III. Journalism and Other Writings,
1968-2007, undated; IV. Personal and Career-Related, 1943-2011, undated; V.
Correspondence, 1968-2008, undated; VI. Works by Others, 1966-2007, undated.
|The bulk of the material is located in the first series, Films and Television, and
contains screenplays and production files for twenty-nine films Schrader wrote
and/or directed, as well as for numerous unproduced films, television series,
other projects. The production files typically include screenplay drafts, film
outlines and treatments, notes, Writers Guild of America (WGA) registration, and
correspondence. In many cases, these files are extensive and may also include
research material, casting files, deal contracts, daily production logs, cast
crew lists, film schedules, audience surveys, budgets and invoices, legal and
arbitration documents, behind-the-scenes and film stills, publicity packets,
clippings and reviews, film festival screenings, novelizations, sound recordings,
moving images, and digital media.
|Series II. Plays includes various script drafts, research files, correspondence,
legal documents, and clippings for three theatrical projects initiated by Schrader:
Sabina (unproduced), Berlinale, and The Cleopatra Club.
|Schrader began his film career as a critic while attending University of California
at Los Angeles film school. Series III. Journalism and Other Writings contains
of his early film essays and reviews, issues of Los Angeles
Free Press and Cinema that Schrader
edited and contributed to, as well as later writings published in Film Comment, the New
Yorker, and similar publications. Schrader's original master's thesis, which
he revised and published as Transcendental Style in Film:
Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer (1972), is also included in this material.
|Series IV. Personal and Career is the second largest series in the collection and
contains a variety of material spanning Schrader's life. Beginning with his baby
book, Schrader's early childhood and schooling, time at university, and film career
are well documented. Also included are family photographs, writings belonging
brother, Leonard, and extensive personal publicity files.
|Though correspondence is located throughout Schrader's papers, Series V.
Correspondence contains incoming and outgoing letters he filed as a group. Many
these are originals or copies he sent and received from various family, friends,
professional associates, actors, directors, and producers, such as long-time
collaborator Martin Scorsese. A complete index of all correspondent names in this
collection is included at the end of the finding aid.
|The final series, VI. Works by Others, contains scripts and writings received,
reviewed, or considered by Schrader, including a 1966 film treatment for Jerusalem,
Jerusalem! by Martin Scorsese.
|Series I. Films and Television, circa 1960s-2023, undated (94.5
|Schrader has written and/or directed 29 films as of the Ransom Center's
acquisition of his papers in 2010, and all are represented to varying
degrees in the first series, Films and Television. This material documents
his film career, beginning with The Yakuza
(1974), his first produced screenplay, and Taxi
Driver (1976), the screenplay that launched him into the
spotlight; continuing through his directorial debut with Blue Collar (1978); and concluding with The Jesuit (expected 2012). Though uncredited,
Schrader wrote early drafts for films such as Close
Encounters of the Third Kind, and later in his career was hired
frequently as script consultant or for rewrites for screenplays such as
Black Rain, Falling Down, and The Quiet
American. He also wrote outlines, treatments, and/or scripts for
numerous unproduced films, including his first screenplay, The Pipeliner, as
well as television series and other projects.
|The amount and diversity of material associated with each project varies,
depending, in part, on whether the film was produced and if Schrader
directed it or wrote the script. In general, there is significantly less
material for his earlier films or films for which Schrader only wrote the
screenplay. Materials in this series are arranged in alphabetical order by
project title. Subsequent items for each produced film or program, if
present, are consistently arranged in the following order: screenplays and
teleplays; outlines and treatments, notes; production materials; publicity
materials; and research materials, followed by moving images, sound
recordings, and artifacts. For unproduced projects or for films with a small
number of items, materials in these categories may have been combined into
one or multiple folders.
|Schrader was involved in the development of several television series, short
films, and a music video. The Century Project was initiated by TBS cable
network and planned as a 10-hour documentary series focusing on
twentieth-century world events, with each episode produced by an
award-winning feature film director. Though the network abandoned this
project, Schrader was to write and co-direct with Alan Poul a one-hour
documentary about Japan. Schrader was also asked to write the pilot and
subsequent episodes for an unproduced multi-part series for HBO cable
network called The Distributor, based on stories by Richard Matheson. He
also wrote the television pilot for Zion Hill, an unproduced series for FX
cable network. Files for these programs include script drafts,
correspondence, and similar material.
|In the mid 1980s, Bob Dylan asked Schrader to direct a music video for his
song "Tight Connection to My Heart" as a
promotion for the Empire Burlesque album
produced by and broadcast on MTV cable network. The video was shot in Japan,
and this series includes script, photographs, and film documenting the video
production. Untitled: New Blue (1995) is a
short film directed by Schrader about his Manny Farber painting, Untitled (from the "New Blue series"), and made
for broadcast on BBC television. Files include correspondence, research
material, photographs, and film.
Screenplays and teleplays
|The number of screenplays present for each project varies from film to film,
but most are represented by multiple versions and copies. As exhibited in
this series, modern screenplays commonly have variant titles, multiple
writers, and numerous re-writes. Screenplays are arranged in chronological
order based on the date typed or written on the script. The 'Director's
copy' of shooting scripts contains additional production material (such as
story boards, contact and crew lists, shooting schedules, script revisions,
set sketches) inserted in the pages for the films Adam Resurrected, Affliction,
Auto Focus, and Forever Mine. The screenplay for Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters includes numerous versions
with translations written in Japanese and Romaji (Japanese written with
Latin characters). Filed with the screenplays for the film Patty Hearst is a letter from Hearst in which
she makes suggestions and clarifies the script's historical facts.
|Some screenplays of particular interest include Schrader's draft of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and the
multiple scripts related to Dominion: Prequel to the
Exorcist (2005). Schrader was asked by Steven Spielberg to write
an early script about UFOs for what would later become Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Scripts and
arbitration documents are included for this film. Dominion had three directors over the span of production.
Schrader was hired to replace the original director, John Frankenheimer, but
the producers fired him after an early screening of his version of the film,
claiming that it was too intellectual and not scary enough. The film was
re-scripted, re-cast, and remade by director Renny Harlin and released in
theaters as Exorcist: The Beginning (2004).
Schrader's version, titled Paul Schrader's Exorcist:
The Original Prequel, premiered at the Brussels International
Festival of Fantastic Film and was released as a bonus feature and later on
DVD as Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist.
Materials include different versions of the script as well as some limited
production material and a large amount of publicity material.
Outlines, treatments, notes
|Schrader often drafted film outlines on yellow legal pads while developing
and revising his screenplays. These outlines are consistent in layout and
style and reveal the evolution of many of his films. Frequently unproduced
and/or uncompleted film projects may contain only outlines and/or film
|The type of production files present for each project varies, but may
include: actors' deal contracts, budgets and invoices, cast and crew lists,
casting files, contracts, correspondence, daily production logs, filming
schedules, legal and arbitration documents, location lists and photographs,
memos, rights clearance, soundtrack, title credits drafts, and Writers Guild
of American (WGA) registration. There is little or no production material
for Schrader's earliest films, including the first film he directed, Blue Collar. Pre- through post-production is
particularly well documented for the films Affliction, Light of Day, Patty Hearst, and The
Walker. Folders containing cast contracts and crew deal memos
detail the arrangements and contract specifications for the primary cast and
for most of the below-line, production staff, reflecting the large amount of
varied craftspeople an independent film requires. Casting files for the film
Touch include early head shots and
résumés, as well as test shots, for many of Hollywood's
|The amount and type varies from film to film and may include: audience
surveys, clippings and reviews, correspondence and memos, behind-the-scenes
and film still photographs, film festival screenings, posters, press junket
itineraries, publicity packets, novelizations, sound recordings, moving
images, and digital media.
|In general, there is little research material associated with each film.
Often the only items may be some clippings and/or Schrader's personal copy
of a published novel he adapted into a screenplay, as evidenced by his
annotations and/or extensive underlined passages in Adam Resurrected, Affliction,
The Last Temptation of Christ, and The Mosquito Coast. These books have been
foldered and placed in document boxes along with the manuscript material. A
significant amount of research material exists for the biopics Auto Focus, about the actor Bob Crane, Doris
Duke (unproduced), and Blue Thunder, an unproduced film about Donald Aronow.
|Of particular interest are photographs and a map Schrader acquired when
riding with New York City ambulance drivers while researching Bringing Out the Dead. In addition, research
material for his unproduced film The Doors of Perception includes articles,
numerous bound volumes, films, and music for his research into shamanism,
psychedelics, and drug culture.
|Series II. Plays, 1981-2011 (3.5 boxes)
|Series II, Plays, includes script drafts, research files, correspondence,
legal documents, and clippings for three theatrical projects Schrader
initiated: Sabina, Berlinale (1987), and
The Cleopatra Club (1995). His first play
was Sabina, a biographical work about Sabina Spielrein, one of the first
female psychoanalysts, as well as a patient, lover, and student of Carl
Jung. Though Schrader completed extensive research and wrote an initial
script to be performed at the National Theatre in Britain, he ultimately
abandoned the project. There are numerous research files, outlines, a list
of possible themes, a research draft of the script, and correspondence with
Peter Hall that reflects Schrader's struggle to draft a script that was
satisfactory to him.
|Berlinale, Schrader's second play, is based on
the Berlin Film Festival. Materials related to it include scripts, research,
and a bound volume entitled Berlinale (1990)
by Wolfgange Jacobsen. Jacobsen's book, which details the history of the
Berlin Film Festival, also contains Schrader's Berlinale script. A work-in-progress reading of the play was
performed at the New York Shakespeare Festival in 1987.
|The Cleopatra Club premiered as part of the
New York Film and Stage Company's 1995 summer season at the Powerhouse
Theater at Vassar College. In 2011, it was staged at stadtTheater
walfischgasse in Germany. Materials related to the play include multiple
drafts and copies of the script, contracts, clippings, and programs.
|Series III. Journalism and Other Writings, 1968-2007, undated (2.5 boxes)
|This series contains published versions of many of Schrader's early film
essays and reviews published in Cinema,
Coast FM & Fine Arts, Los Angeles Free Press, and other publications.
Schrader was also the editor of Cinema and
frequently published articles about Japanese film written and/or translated
by his brother, Leonard; therefore, there are many issues that contain no
writings by Schrader but were edited by him. This series also includes many
published magazines and journals containing Schrader's later interviews with
other film-makers, historical essays, critical film commentary, and tributes
that appeared in publications such as DGA
News, Film Comment, and the New Yorker. Of particular significance is an
essay entitled "Canon Fodder," published
in Film Comment (September-October 2006),
which originally began as a book project about the film canon. Schrader
completed extensive research about the origin and usefulness of any artistic
"canon" and even took several university
courses in order to become more familiar with the concept of the Western
canon. The material accompanying this article includes lecture notebooks,
course notes and readings, email and correspondence, article drafts, and
copies of the final publication.
|Many of Schrader's early reviews and essays have been reprinted in film
anthologies; therefore, the series may contain the original published
magazine version, as well as the later version printed in various bound
volumes. Schrader on Schrader (1990) was
edited by Kevin Jackson and contains an extensive interview with Schrader,
in addition to reprints of Schrader's earliest and most notable film reviews
|Also in the collection is Schrader's original master's thesis in which he
analyzes the spiritual film style of three directors: Yasajiro Ozu, Robert
Bresson, and Carl Dreyer. He revised and published it as Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson,
|Series IV. Personal and Career-Related, 1943-2011, undated (19 boxes)
|This is the second largest series in the collection and it is arranged in
alphabetical order by topic. The material spans Schrader's life, beginning
with early childhood and all schools he attended, through family papers and
personal material associated with Schrader's extensive film career. Files
related to awards, film commentary, interviews, public appearances, and
retrospectives contain certificates, correspondence, lecture notes,
photographs, programs, and other materials.
|Schrader's early schooling, and in particular West Side Christian School,
Grand Rapids Christian High School and Hargrave Military Academy, is
documented in the Childhood segment. Materials associated with this period
include brochures, catalogs, diplomas, grade reports, photographs, school
awards, school newspapers, school projects, student handbooks, and
yearbooks. This material also reflects Schrader's childhood hobbies and
interests and includes copied handwritten Bible verses, a cigar band
collection and scrapbook, clippings, juvenilia, membership cards, patches,
programs, and other ephemera. Childhood toys and other artifacts have been
transferred to the Center's Personal Effects Collection. Issues of Calvin
College's student newspapers, the Calvin College
Chimes and The Spectacle, are of
interest because they document Schrader's rebellious tenure as assistant
editor and his subsequent ouster, as well as his early reviews for films
screened as part of his controversial film club.
|Schrader's publicity files span 1968 to 2009, and his original arrangement
has been maintained. There is at least one folder for each year, and these
files predominantly contain general clippings about Schrader (often
unrelated to a specific film title) but may also include awards,
correspondence, magazines, photographs, and printed material.
|The Photograph files are arranged in alphabetical order by genre or subject,
often using the title written on the original folder (denoted with single
quotation marks). Subjects include John Bailey (cinematographer for American Gigolo, Cat
People, Light of Day, and Mishima), Calvin College, family, Schrader's
first wedding, UCLA, and publicity headshots and portraits. There are
numerous color and black-and-white prints as well as negatives. Also included
is Schrader's collection of autographed photographic prints of directors, such as
Budd Boetticher, Robert Bresson, Charlie Chaplin, John Ford, Jean Renoir, Leni Reifenstahl,
and Billy Wilder. Many of the prints are inscribed to Paul Schrader, as well as third
parties, and are arranged in alphabetical order by director's last name.
|In addition, other personal files include an interview transcript and
photographs of Robert Bresson by Schrader, a small film poster collection,
genealogy material, identification cards, receipts, requests and
invitations, other projects, shopping files containing orders and receipts
for items (particularly rare and first-edition books purchased from online
auctions), subject files, travel files with receipts and itineraries, and a
baby book and early writings belonging to his brother, Leonard.
|Series V. Correspondence, 1968-2008, undated (2 boxes)
|Based on Schrader's own arrangement and often using the title written on the
original folder (denoted with single quotation marks), this series contains
incoming and outgoing letters and is arranged into four categories:
chronological, family letters, 'personal or special' correspondents, and
Linda Reisman's (Schrader Productions, assistant and producer)
correspondence. The chronological segment dates from 1968 to 2008 and, in
addition to letters, contains some writings and two computer disks which
were separated to the Ransom Center Electronic Records Collection. This
business and personal correspondence often relates to various projects,
collaborations, and film festivals.
|Family letters include correspondence from Schrader's mother and father and
are sometimes addressed to both Paul and his brother, Leonard. The early
letters Paul and Leonard wrote each other while Paul was editor of Cinema document both brothers' interest in film
and Paul's diligence in ensuring quality content for the magazine. The later
letters between Paul and Leonard reflect the drift in the brothers'
|'Personal and Special' correspondence
contains incoming and outgoing letters to and from prominent actors,
directors, producers, and other professional collaborators in the
entertainment industry. Correspondents include: Pedro Almodóvar,
Russell Banks, Bernardo Bertolucci, David Bowie, Robert Bresson, Francis
Ford Coppola, Robert De Niro, Eiko Ishioka, Pauline Kael, Spike Lee, George
Lucas, Helen Mirren, Jeannine Oppewall, Harold Pinter, Natasha Richardson,
Ferdinando Scarfiotti, Martin Scorsese, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Stoppard,
Paul Theroux, Beverly Walker, and Wim Wenders. A complete index of all
correspondent names in this collection is included at the end of the finding
|The final segment of this series contains letters sent and received by Linda
Reisman, Schrader's frequent producer.
|Series VI. Works by Others, 1966-2007, undated (1.5
|The final series, VI. Works by Others, contains scripts and writings
received, reviewed, or considered by Schrader. Materials include a 1966 film
treatment for Jerusalem, Jerusalem! by Martin Scorsese and an undated
screenplay, Funny Boy, written by Leonard and Chieko Schrader.