12 Monkeys is one of my favorite sci-fi movie and yet, it took me a long time to watch The Hamster Factor after @LaFamiliaFilm pointed out its existence.
The Hamster Factor is both a full-length documentary and 12 Monkeys’ official behind-the-scene, ordered by Terry Gilliam himself to protect his back, in case his Hollywood experience would turn wrong. Gilliam was considered an unreliable ‘european/artsy’ filmmaker, going over budget and being difficult, and he had struggled with studios while making Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and The Fisher King. To ensure he could have it ‘his way’ if needed, he gave Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe full access to the full process of the movie, from pre-production to shooting, editing to test screening and finally the release.
The Hamster Factor is available on Youtube, broken down into 10 parts (not 12, not 12) and can be watched below. It is fascinating to see a movie that had such a strong impact on many people and still remain on the top of Willis and Pitt’s resumes, from the inside.
Gilliam goes through ups and downs, doubting himself, losing himself, following his guts and fighting with whoever he needs to fight with in order to get what he wants. (whether that serves the movie or not)
There is much more to say about it, but The Hamster Factor is almost built as a thriller and I don’t want to spoil the fun of going back to a time that seems both very very far away from us (shooting on film! pioneering viral marketing campaign via newspapers and buses! landlines!) and very very close to us (test screenings! lack of coordination at the most illogical moments! self-doubt!) by mentioning it all.
I’ll you discover and enjoy it instead: