Mel Brooks

From Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein to Spaceballs and The Producers, legendary filmmaker Mel Brooks has been responsible for some of the most beloved movies ever made. And unsurprisingly, at various points in his career, he has discussed the making of almost all his films. Except for one—the lone dud in his canon—a film so bad The New York Times declared it “an embarrassment,” and which Brooks has never publicly discussed: Solarbabies. Well, at least not until now. Because last week, on behalf of the How Did This Get Made? podcast, I spoke with Brooks at length to try and figure out how (the hell) did this get made?

Going into the interview, I expected to hear tales of unforeseen calamity and production run amok. But what I didn’t expect—and what became the prevailing thread of our conversation—was the enormous personal toll that Solarbabies had on Brooks.

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solarbabies oral history

In 1970, an L.A.-born artist who went by the name “Metrov” moved to New York City. He began the decade working as a designer for the famed Push Pin Studios and then eventually made a name for himself as a fine arts painter, working out of a loft studio across the street from Andy Warhol’s Factory. 

In 1979, inspired by a friend and guerilla filmmaker, Metrov came up with an idea for a low-budget, high-concept movie he wanted to direct: Solarbabies. This is a story about what happened next—how it was sold to Mel Brooks, how it was directed by a choreographer—and why, by the time Solarbabies was finally shot, its creator was no longer involved in his creation. 

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