Tony Kaye (director)

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This article is about the British film director. For the British musician formerly in Yes, see Tony Kaye (musician). For other uses, see Tony Kaye (disambiguation).
Tony Kaye
Tony Kaye 2011 Shankbone.JPG
Kaye at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Detachment
Born (1952-07-08) 8 July 1952 (age 64)
London, England, UK.
Occupation Director, cinematographer, producer, screenwriter, actor, writer, poet, singer/songwriter, painter
Years active 1995–present
Spouse(s) Yan Lin Kaye

Tony Kaye (born 8 July 1952) is a British director of films, music videos, advertisements, and documentaries.

Life and career[edit]

Kaye was born in London, United Kingdom. He has made several well-known music videos, including the video for "Runaway Train" by Soul Asylum, which won a Grammy Award, "Dani California" by Red Hot Chili Peppers, "What God Wants" by Roger Waters, and "Help Me" and "God's Gonna Cut You Down" by Johnny Cash. Kaye is a six time Grammy nominated music video director.

His feature film debut was American History X (1998), a drama about racism starring Edward Norton and Edward Furlong. Kaye disowned the final cut of the film, as he did not approve of its quality.[1] He unsuccessfully attempted to have his name removed from the credits.[2][3] The final cut was critically lauded and Norton was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in the film.

The battle over artistic control of the film, which has become part of Hollywood folklore, all but destroyed Kaye's career. He delivered his original cut on time and within budget - but when the producer, New Line Cinema, insisted on changes, the arguments began.

The debate quickly escalated. Kaye spent $100,000 of his own money to take out 35 full-page ads in the Hollywood trade press denouncing Norton and the producer, using quotations from a variety of people from John Lennon to Abraham Lincoln. He attended a meeting at New Line to which (to ease negotiations) he brought a Catholic priest, a rabbi and a Tibetan monk. When the company offered him an additional eight weeks to re-cut the film, he said he'd discovered a new vision and needed a year to remake it, and flew to the Caribbean to have the script rewritten by the poet Derek Walcott. Finally, when the Directors Guild refused to let him remove his name from the New Line version, he demanded it be credited to 'Humpty Dumpty' instead and filed a $200 million lawsuit when it refused.

Kaye's second feature, a documentary called Lake of Fire, was about the abortion debate in the United States. It opened in Toronto in September 2006. The movie was shortlisted for an Oscar, nominated for Best Documentary Film at the Independent Spirit Awards, the Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, and the Satellite Awards. Lake of Fire took Kaye 18 years to make.

Kaye's third feature film, Black Water Transit (2010), starred Laurence Fishburne, Karl Urban, Evan Ross, Brittany Snow, and Stephen Dorff. The film is unfinished as the production company went bankrupt during the making.

Kaye's fourth feature film, Detachment (2011), starring his daughter Betty Kaye is a drama about the decline of the education system in American high schools.

On January 24, 2016, Kaye announced on his Facebook that he will be directing Joe Vinciguerra's screenplay, "Stranger Than The Wheel." The upcoming film features Shia LaBeouf and potentially Alec Baldwin about a young man who revisits his past, and his relationship with this abusive father.[4][5]

Kaye also began filming a documentary in 2016 called Humpty Dumpty, which he is making about the struggle over American History X, composed chiefly of video he shot of himself at the time. It's a personal portrait of the process and the trauma that he encountered in his first experience as a Hollywood film-maker.

Perhaps surprisingly, Kaye has found a theatrical distributor for Humpty Dumpty. More surprising, it is New Line Cinema. After a theatrical release, the company will include the film on next year's 10th anniversary DVD re-release of American History X.

He is adding a tour of the Ivy League colleges in 2016, which will be the basis of a documentary entitled "Tony Kaye's Humpty Dumpty Talk Tour" produced by Victorino Noval.



  1. ^ Maurer, Monika (September 1998). "A Quick Chat with Tony Kaye by Monika Maurer". 
  2. ^ McCarthy, Todd (October 22, 1998). "American History X". Variety. Archived from the original on July 23, 2009. Retrieved July 23, 2009. It is possible that some otherwise well-disposed critics may restrain their praise, even unwittingly, in knee-jerk sympathy with director Kaye, who disowns this cut and lost his bid to take his name off the picture. 
  3. ^ Kaye, Tony (October 25, 2002). "Losing it". The Guardian. Retrieved March 20, 2009. 
  4. ^ "Tony Kaye - You know something I just saw made my heart... - Facebook". 
  5. ^ Kevin Jagernauth (24 January 2016). "Tony Kaye Returns With 'Stranger Than The Wheel' Starring - The Playlist". The Playlist. 

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