Don't Stop Believing

At long last, David Chase achieves his rock & roll dreams

The Sopranos changed all that. It was TV still, but conceived in purely cinematic terms, by turns surreal and absurdist and wholly devoid of the audience hand-holding de rigueur at the networks. "I was trying to make a movie, and I couldn't, so I tried to make a movie on television," Chase says. "And that was the directive, that every episode would be a small movie." He takes a sip from his second orange juice of the day. "I didn't want to tell you what you were going to see, show it to you, and then tell you what you've seen," he says. "This was maybe the radical aspect of the show: I said, 'If they don't get it, that's too bad.'"

It was also, by Chase's own admission, a hard act to follow. When the series came to a close, he took a year off and lived mostly in France (where he owns a house in the countryside, near Dordogne), not writing, but thinking a lot about his next act. Not Fade Away was one of the ideas that began to stir during that time. He started writing in 2008, and "it just took a long time," including a lengthy postproduction period in which Chase realized he had more story than he needed. (The film was first announced as a fall 2011 release.)

"The thing about it is, now that I've been through this process, I feel like nothing is good enough," says Chase, who's eager to make more films but clearly remains his own harshest critic. "The target is so small that the editor in me—or the studio executive in me—has just taken over completely, saying, 'That's not right because . . .' Just getting up to the plate is so rare that when you get there, you've got to knock it out of the park. Hitting a single or a double? Forget it. Everybody has to hit a home run. And what kind of ideas can stand up to that kind of scrutiny? These are wisps. They're little notions."

Barry Wetcher/Paramount Vantage/Paramount Pictures

Not Fade Away is set to open in LA on Dec. 21.

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