Posted on Saturday, October 25th, 2008 by Peter Sciretta
In this week’s Big Directors Small Films, we take a look at Paul Thomas Anderson‘s first film, a 1988 short fictional documentary titled The Dirk Diggler Story. You might recognize the name in the title as the character that Mark Wahlberg played nine years later in Boogie Nights. The Dirk Diggler Story was very much like a first draft of that film. Some of the major characters in Anderson’s later second feature make appearances, including Reed Rothchild, Dirks best friend and sidekick, and director Jack Horner.
The film was shot on video and edited from tape to tape using two VCRs. Paul’s father, a professional announcer and “The Voice of ABC” in the 1970’s and 1980’s, provided the deadpan narration. This is clearly the work of a teenage PTA. I’m more impressed at the performances Anderson was able to get out of the non professional cast, and the amount of story Paul crammed into 30 minutes.
Michael Stein, who played Dirk in the documentary short, was given a cameo in Boogie Nights at a stereo customer. Robert Ridgley, who was Jack Horner in the short, also appeared in Boogie Nights, as the Colonel.