The untold story of a lost classic: What happened to Gram Parsons’ sci-fi film “Saturation 70”?

The untold story of a lost classic: What happened to Gram Parsons' sci-fi film

In the late 1960s, Parsons, after leaving the Byrds and becoming close friends with the Rolling Stones, fell in love with starring in a science fiction film, Saturation 70.

The film was directed by Anthony Foutz, who worked with the likes of Orson Welles and Richard Lyford and was the son of one of Walt Disney’s first executives, and was shot in Joshua Tree and Los Angeles.

but Saturation 70which also included the work of Douglas Trumbull, the pioneering special effects wizard behind it 2001: A space journey And Blade Runnerit never ended, and the footage disappeared after that.

Wolf + salmon

But a new book tells the wild story of a potential lost classic.

Chris Campion, who rediscovered the film while working on a book about The Mamas & The Papas, is assembling the film Saturation 70: Past vision of the predicted futureis raising funds via Kickstarter for the project with the goal of publishing it next spring via Wolf + Salmon.

Foutz spoke with Deadline about the film, how he signed on with Parsons and Stones, why the film fell apart and what happened with the footage.


Foutz was living in Italy in the 1960s, working briefly with Willis and more extensively with Marco Ferreri, when he was introduced to Sam Shepard. Around this time, he also became friends with Anita Pallenberg, who began dating Keith Richards. Foutz and Shepherd set to work on it Orgasma science fiction Western film set starring Richards, Mick Jagger, and Brian Jones.

Orgasm, considered one of the most important unproduced scripts of the late 1960s and early 1970s, was written at Redlands, Richards’ home in West Sussex, after Foutz met Parsons at Jagger’s flat in London. Foutz’s agent, Michael Grosskopf, who was working at Creative Management Associates (where he also represented the likes of Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, Robert Redford and Steve McQueen), recommended that he and Trumbull head to Giant Rock, near Joshua Tree, where a big UFO convention was taking place. It is happening. With $5,000 in financing from Universal Studios, which was on board OrgasmFoutz got the gang out into the desert to shoot some test footage on a variety of cameras.

Orgasm It collapsed because Universal wanted all the rights to the music from the Stones, “which wasn’t going to happen,” Foutz said. But the trip in turn inspired a different story: Saturation 70.

(LR) Anthony Foutz, Michael Phillips, and Gram Parsons at the 1969 Giant Rock Space Conference

Tom Wilkes

“It was a spontaneous combustion moment,” Foutz told Deadline. “I’ve always said that Orgasm She was a mother Saturation 70“.

Fouts, who had been living with Parsons at Chateau Marmont, returned to Los Angeles and spent the next three weeks writing Saturation 70.

The film has been described as counter-culture Wizard of Oz And dope Alice in Wonderlandfollows a Victorian child star played by Julian Jones-Leach, the son of Brian Jones, who falls through a wormhole into the smog-filled city of present-day Los Angeles and is forced to embark on a perilous mission to reunite with his mother.

He was aided in this task by a nude suit wearing Fairy Godmother, played by Ida Random, who later became an Oscar-nominated production designer on films such as Rain Man And The greatest joy; Nodie Cohen, who designed Parsons’s infamous suit on the cover of the Flying Burrito Brothers Palace of Sin Gilded; and a group of aliens wearing Hazmat suits known as the Kosmic Kiddies, who have landed on Earth on a mission to rid it of toxic toxins and pollution. Parsons played The Kosmic Kiddies. Michelle Phillips from The Mamas & The Papas; Photographer Andy Nathanson; and Stash Klossowski de Rola, a Stones confidant.

“It was a movie about all the problems in the world,” Foutz said.

The film was set to feature effects designed by Trumbull using an early computer, including black-and-white footage never before shown on screen that would include news about the latest environmental and social issues. “That was the saturation we were talking about,” Foutz said.

It’s a message that was incredibly insightful.

“We were talking about the environment, guns, privacy, and all of these social issues are issues of the day,” he said. “That was the driving force for me to do this [book] Because it’s not just about nostalgia for the past and the good old days.

Ida Random and Julian Jones Leach in Saturation 70

Anthony Foutz Archive

The film, which had a budget of just under $1 million, was to be produced by Dimension V, a new Perry Leff shingle from CMA. However, the company was backed by mutual funds and soon collapsed due to financial problems.

When the plug was suddenly pulled, Votz said, he felt like he “must have been Attila the Hun in my last incarnation.”

“You’ll never have a movie until you get the answer in print,” he added.

The film footage was later lost and all that remains is a short reel of scenes shot for the film and a promotional reel, shot largely at Trumbull’s studio for Trumbull’s film effects. Stills from those are included in the book along with photos taken at the 1969 Space Conference filmed at Giant Rock by A&M artistic director Tom Wilkes, and black-and-white production stills. And some Polaroids taken by cinematographer Bruce Logan, who later continued to work on it Star Wars: A New Hope And You see.

“Perry took it all in. He paid for it and owned it,” Foutz said. “I actually forgot Saturation 70 Even Chris [Campion] I discovered that. Perry found Liv and asked him what happened to all that footage, Perry had just moved from Beverly Hills to Bel Air a year or two before Chris met him and when he moved they deleted everything.

Campion told Deadline that he believes there is a chance there is more footage in Trumbull’s archives and hopes to try to find it if it still exists.

Foutz was relatively optimistic around that time Saturation 70 Instead she went on a trip around the world to film a film inspired by a Long Beach drag boat racer.

“There was a lot going on in music and everything else, and there were other things we were thinking about,” he said. “I moved; you can’t sit there at the stop sign.”

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