Easy Rider 50th

A Celebration of Director Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider

December 10, 2019 An Independent Directors Committee Event

On December 10, DGA members and guests gathered in the Guild’s Los Angeles Theater for a special celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the release of Director Dennis Hopper’s seminal film, Easy Rider. Hosted by the DGA Independent Directors Committee (IDC), the event also featured a welcome by IDC Co-Chairs Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, and an introduction by Director Scott Cooper.

Easy Rider tells the story of two drug dealers (Hopper and Peter Fonda) who decide to retire and travel across the country. Upon its release, the film struck a nerve with young people disillusioned by Vietnam and government mendacity and it became not only an enormous hit, but a cultural touchstone. The film also made a star of Jack Nicholson, who co-starred as a Southern lawyer who tags along for part of the journey.  Easy Rider ultimately turned Hollywood on its head, ending once and for all the vaunted “Studio System,” and bringing to the fore the concept of the low-budget “indie” film.

In their welcome to the audience, Dayton and Faris spoke briefly about the work of the Committee.

“The IDC was established in 1998 to develop policies, programs and activities that serve the needs of DGA members in the indie film arena, including new member organizing, film festival sponsorships and educating the indie film community on the flexibility of the DGA’s Low Budget Agreement,” said Faris.

“The IDC along with other groups within the DGA are working to respond to the seismic changes happening in our business and to protect the rights and interests of DGA members,” added Dayton. “Five decades ago, the film we are celebrating tonight sent its own shockwaves through the feature film industry and helped to usher in ‘the New Hollywood.’"

The Co-Chairs then turned things over to Cooper who spoke about the film’s impact and influence.

“On a cinematic level, Easy Rider has always represented a monumental, revolutionary road-trip film that heralded a new era of filmmaking,” said Cooper. “On a personal level, it motivated me to follow its independent, free-spirited attitude -- an ethos that all bets were off, that one could make a film that represented a specific zeitgeist and explored a disillusioned view of the state of America.”

Easy Rider earned Hopper a DGA Award nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, and the film was nominated for two Academy Awards including Best Actor in a Supporting Role and Best Writing, Story and Screenplay Based on Material Not Previously Published or Produced. In 1998, Easy Rider was deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

About the Committee

The Independent Directors Committee (IDC) is composed of directors actively working in independent film. The IDC seeks to help the Guild develop policies, programs and activities that better serve the needs of DGA members who work in the independent and low budget film arenas, reach out to independent film directors who are not yet members of the Guild to raise their awareness of the benefits of DGA membership, and educate independent film producers about the DGA’s Low Budget Agreement and encourage them to make use of those agreements.


Event photos by Trixie Textor - Print Courtesy of Sony Pictures

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