Charlie Tyrell


by Joanna Orland

Filmmaker Charlie Tyrell’s short documentary I Thought I Told You To Shut Up!! tells the story of cartoonist David Boswell and the comic book anti-hero he created – Reid Fleming, the World’s Toughest Milkman. Nearly thirty years after Boswell created Fleming, the Hollywood movie adaptation still remains in contractual limbo as I Thought I Told You To Shut Up!! comes to London for this year’s Raindance Film Festival.  Charlie was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about his film, and the legendary Reid Fleming:


What inspired you to make this film about David Boswell and Reid Fleming?

I’ve known about Reid Fleming for a long time and as a filmmaker I naturally asked myself the question, “where’s the movie?” So I reached out to David and after learning how unlikely a big screen adaptation was, I did what I figured was the next best thing and made a doc about it.


How closely was David involved in making this documentary?

David was very respectful and trusting. He handed off a bunch of great material and let us run wild with it.


The animation element is a lovely touch to telling the story.  How did you get the idea to incorporate it into the film?

I didn’t want to show archival material in the standard documentary form. So Brett Long (the stop motion animator) and myself decided to turn David’s workspace into a world of its own. A kind of “where the magic happens” diorama. Then Freddy and Gyimah (The Funk Fuzz) added another layer by bringing David’s sketchbooks to life. It was all about creating our own version of David’s world for viewers to get absorbed into.


How did you yourself discover Reid Fleming?

The comics were always around my house growing up. That big square nose can make an impression on a kid.


What makes Reid Fleming an enduring character?

As a testament to David – the material really hasn’t aged or become dated. Fans from 30 years ago are still fans today because it’s the type of thing that you can pick up years later and still laugh.


For someone who isn’t aware of Reid Fleming or David’s work, what would you recommend seeking out first?

You can’t go wrong with the comics! If you can get your hands on them…


How did you choose your interview subjects such as Matt Groening, Ed Asner, etc?

Lots of cold calling. Matt was a fan from back when he was in college and probably the biggest Reid Fleming fan out of all of the subjects we interviewed. Ed Asner was involved in a 1994 table read of Boswell’s screenplay with Jon Lovitz slated as the lead. The Reid Fleming name opened a lot of doors for us and we found that most people were happy to talk about him and support David’s work.


Do you think there will ever be a Reid Fleming movie?

The possibility of a Reid Fleming movie has as good a chance now more than ever.


If there were a Reid Fleming movie made today, who would you cast as Reid?  Who do you see directing it?

My personal choice: John C Reilly. He’s a great actor that can nail any role. It also doesn’t hurt that he has the look. And to direct, I’d love to see our pal (and narrator) Jonathan Demme. The guy knows how to do comedy and his enthusiasm for the property makes it an actual possibility that it could get made. Apart from that, I’ve heard that Paul Thomas Anderson is also a big fan.


If there were only one word to sum up Reid Fleming, what would that one word be?



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