Dan Stone presents Shatner: The Motion Picture in Tempe this weekend
William Shatner is perhaps best known for starring as James T. Kirk in the huge star trek franchise, but local creator, video editor and performer Dan Stone argues that the iconic actor’s lesser-known roles are where he really delivers.
Stone, who grew up in the Maryvale neighborhood of Phoenix, presents his latest work — Shatner: the movie — as part of its ongoing series, the Worldwide Freakout, at the Majestic Neighborhood Cinema Grill in Tempe on Saturday, October 1. Episodes of the series will follow from December. The 8 p.m. show is sold out, but the venue has added an earlier showing at 5:10 p.m. to provide maximum satisfaction for Shatner.
Chat is Stone’s cinematic cutout, a collage beyond reflection of the work the actor produced in the 1970s and 1980s, richly highlighting his acting style which blends a characteristic measured vocal cadence with an equally labored physicality . And while Stone, the president and CEO of Worldwide Freakout, has shown versions of this movie before, this is its beefiest iteration.
“Shatner: The Lost Years was actually the first one where I took a bunch of Shatner movies and compiled them into one big movie,” Stone said in a recent Zoom interview with Phoenix New Times. Its original has been reworked to include 40 minutes of new material. Its current autonomy is 90 minutes.
“It looks so different from the original,” he points out. “The editing has gotten a lot tighter, and I keep finding rarer stuff that’s new to me. I focus on Shatner’s work from the ’70s – what I like to call his ‘lost years.’ that time because it was the decade between when the star trek The TV series ended and the first star trek the movie has arrived. It was the nadir of his career. He was living in a fifth wheel, going through a messy divorce, and doing lots of guest gigs on shows like Colombo and Five-O’s from Hawaii.”
The Canadian actor, now 91, has also starred in films like the 1977 one kingdom of spiders (filmed in and around Sedona) and 1974 Pray for wildcats (with Andy Griffith), which Stone considers Shatner’s leading roles. You can see a clip of them during the screening, but Stone likes to keep what’s included as much of a surprise as possible.
The Shatner Army has a legion of stans, and Stone explains the attraction, saying, “He’s got a unique form of acting, and that really comes through in that stuff in the movie — the non-star trek work that many people have not seen. He just over-emotes in every scene. Even her outfits are extravagant. He’s just kind of a walking ridiculous. He takes each role seriously but, at some point, developed a sense of humor about it, realizing there is a kitschy factor to his actions. He just has his own kitschy way of acting.
Whether it’s Shatner or another celebrity as the hot topic, Stone emphasizes that he’s making fun of Shatner, not Shatner, and that’s what he wants the public to do too.
“With every actor, actress or subject that we focus on, we laugh with them, not at them,” he asserts. “We don’t want to celebrate their low points. If it was a clip of Shatner caught doing something outrageous on TMZ, it’s not something I want to show. I wouldn’t be doing these shows if I legitimately didn’t like watching those movies. It’s always something I want to see and people see.
It takes Stone about three months, on average, to assemble one of these creations. Chat, of course, took even longer, as it changed into the gigantic Shatner showcase it is now. Along with poring over content to find what he deems the best material and weaving it into a devilishly entertaining film, Stone threads it with twists and special effects.
“I’m adding a few gags,” Stone offers.
“Some are pretty obvious, but as an editor my philosophy is to make those things invisible. The biggest compliment I can get is when someone comes up to me after a show and asks me, ‘ Hey, when this thing happened, was it actually in the movie, or did you do this? I’m trying to make it hard to tell – to make it as transparent as possible.”
The World Freakout started almost a decade ago. Stone reached out to Majestic programming director Andrea Canales, who previously held the same position at FilmBar. The sadly defunct downtown Phoenix theater closed earlier this year.
“I just wanted to rent the movie for a night and show off one of my favorite movies, rock waterfall, to my friends. She interpreted it as if I wanted to start a normal evening and invited me to come and talk about it,” Stone said.
He knew Canales from his many local film events and had done posters and graphics, as well as cut trailers, for some of his shows. “That’s how the Freakout started,” Stone says. “Just showing weird, low-key films that are great for watching with a crowd.”
In addition to presenting a fun or weird movie that people can enjoy in groups, Stone is down with audience participation — “It makes movies a little bit more fun.” After a few years, he started creating collages of music videos to play before the main attraction, featuring slices of some of his favorite genres, including concert movies and movies with daring action.
One of his pre-Freakout shorts was A kind of Hulkstermixing scenes from the 2004 Metallica documentary some kind of monster with images of legendary wrestler Hulk Hogan. These efforts were so appreciated that his event evolved to have his cuts feature.
“The clips became more popular than the show itself, and they were made for a live audience,” Stone proclaims. “All shows are built around a live audience – a larger group of people who interact with the screen.”
COVID-19 may have suspended the Worldwide Freakout for a few years, but now that Stone has moved the event to the Majestic to work with Canales again, he has a few things up his sleeve. He continues to get help with promotional efforts from his friend – and sometimes co-host – Danny Duoshade.
At some point during the pre-pandemic years of his event, Stone added a performance element that continued to help elevate the magic and fun of the Freakout. One such event involved the construction of a jetpack to fly over Roosevelt Avenue.
With the event back in greenlight mode, expect to see more of Stone’s shenanigans accompany its showings. December will be the next opportunity to catch a Worldwide Freakout show, and January is the 10th anniversary of the Freakout; expect surprises – but Stone is keeping those close to the vest for now.
For now, he’s just happy to be back. “I think we’re going to have a combination of people who were regulars at FilmBar and a lot of new faces. I’m excited to grow up and see where it’s going.
Where: Majestic Cinema Grill, 1140 East Baseline Road, Tempe
When: Saturday October 1
Tickets: $10.81 for the 5:10 p.m. screening; The 8 p.m. show is sold out.