SDCC 2021: The Legacy of Del Close, Creator of DC’s Wasteland

by Joel Taylor
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The Legacy of DEL CLOSE came to San Diego this past weekend. Utopia was pleased to announce that FOR MADMEN ONLY, a feature documentary that places improv guru Del Close front and center, is set for release on Altavod & Apple TV in the USA and Canada on July 27th, 2021.

In the film, Comedy guru Del Close, mentor to everyone from Bill Murray to Tina Fey, sets out to write his autobiography for DC Comics. As he leads us through sewers, mental wards, and his peculiar talent for making everyone famous but himself, Close emerges as a personification of the creative impulse itself. He’s a muse with BO and dirty needles, offering transcendence despite (or because of) the trail of wreckage behind him.

In this hilarious and poignant look at the life of the godfather of improv comedy, Del Close, Festival alum Heather Ross (Girls on The Wall) tracks the trailblazer from “human torch” sideshow act, to his influential and contentious rise at The Second City, mentoring such greats as Bill Murray, John Candy, and Tina Fey, among many others.  Inspired by his semi-autobiographical DC Comics anthology, Wasteland, the film delves into the inner workings of Close’s wacky mind through inspired reenactments, archival clips, and interviews with such devotees as Bob Odenkirk, Tim Meadows, and Adam McKay. The result is a lively, multi-layered picture of a man and his mission, riding on the edges of genius and despair, creativity, and insanity.

Heather Ross said of her second feature documentary, “We knew that to make the definitive movie about this icon/unknown, we would need to take the same kind of creative risks that he was famous for. As someone known for breaking down genres and experimenting with form—not to mention playing fast and loose with the truth – we decided to apply the same ideas to our film and try to break new ground with the documentary genre.  This resulted in constructing a set of scenes imagining the creative process behind WASTELAND, Del’s comic book autobiography.”

Danielle DiGiacomo, Head of Content for Utopia, said, “For Madmen Only is a singular film reflecting a singular man – a creative and joyful exploration of one of the lesser sung heroes in all of comedy; we at Utopia can’t wait for viewers to be taken on a much needed escape into hilarity and genius.”

Founded in 2018, Utopia Media is a film distribution and sales company with a ‘filmmaker first’ approach, co-founded by filmmaker Robert Schwartzman.  Recent Utopia titles include official Sundance 2020 selection Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets; celebrated fashion documentary House of Cardin; Academy Award Winner Errol Morris’ American Dharma; Annabelle Attanasio’s Cannes breakout, Mickey and the Bear, starring Camila Morrone; Tim Heidecker’s Adult Swim comedy, Mister America; Liam Firmager’s portrait of trailblazing singer-songwriter Suzi Quatro in Suzi Q; and, the 4K restoration of Hal Needham’s 1986 cult-classic, RAD, among others. Upcoming releases include the official SXSW 2020 comedy Golden Arm; documentary on the improv legend Del Close: For Madmen Only; the TIFF breakout feature Shiva Baby; and more.

DEL CLOSE did many works with John Ostrander. You can find out more about the legacy of  DEL CLOSE’ and his book Wasteland on DC UNIVERSE INFINITE.


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