The actress (Jenny Powell) playing the character of Mary Ann Mathews was originally a stripper hired to act as a stand-in. Joel Schumacher gave her the part of the victim on the 8mm film as she had a suitably "haunted" look about her.
The film's production encountered concerns regarding the dark subject matter, and the studio asked Andrew Kevin Walker to lighten the film's tone. With Joel Schumacher as director, Walker felt a rewrite would no longer be needed. As it turned out, Schumacher supported the studio and made changes of his own, leading to a much-publicized fallout between the two, with Walker virtually disowning the film and walking away from the set. He refused to even watch it.
The plot is extremely similar to that of Hardcore (1979) in which a man (George C. Scott) hires a private detective to track down his daughter after she runs away and he sees her in an 8mm porno movie. The plot is also very similar to a book called "The Cutting Room" by Louise Welsh, in which an estate auctioneer finds disturbing photos among a client's porno collection and endeavors to find out if the girl in the pictures was actually killed.
The car belonging to Eddie Poole is a Stutz Blackhawk, a very rare high-status car of the 1970s and 1980s, owned by such luminaries as Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra (Elvis scooped Sinatra by offering almost double what Sinatra had deposited on a Stutz).
The Aphex Twin song, "Come to Daddy", is played twice. The first time it is the theme song to a hardcore porn flick, and the second time it is actually played as the background music to this film, upon Nicolas Cage's entering of the "bad guy's" house. Also, the music video for "Come to Daddy" is being played on a small TV in Dino Velvet's office.
Russell Crowe agreed to do the film with Joel Schumacher when the film was slated to be a "dirty, handheld gritty thriller". Crowe had one stipulation to all this and it was the scene where his character is looking at the kiddie porn and throws it in the trash he throws a cigarette so it would start burning inside the trash can. Schumacher agreed. Then out of the blue, Nicolas Cage's agent called Schumacher and told him that he wanted to do the film as well. Schumacher then contacted John Calley at Sony and told him that we can do the film with Crowe as a "low budget, dirty handheld camera thriller" or a much bigger film with Cage. Calley then agreed to do the film with Cage as the lead which eventually lead to a much bigger budget.
The scene where Tom stalks Machine at his house in Queens, New York was actually found by Joel Schumacher himself as they were driving one day to the location where the Christian Mansion was supposed to take place in Long Island. Schumacher spotted the house on a dead end street next to a cemetery next to the Long Island Expressway and thought it was the perfect location for Machine's house.
During the filming of the final confrontation between Tom and Machine was a great location to shoot according to Joel Schumacher because the neighbors and owners of the house were very hospitable and in turn, Schumacher gave them signed posters of his Batman movies and T-Shirts and other assorted gifts for their hospitality.
After finishing Batman and Robin, Joel Schumacher was supposed to do a third John Grisham adaptation in "Runaway Jury" when the film was at Warner Bros. and was supposed to star Edward Norton, Gwyneth Paltrow and Sir Sean Connery. Schumacher was completely burnt out and took a sabbatical to Mexico and when he returned he contacted his agency about working again but not doing anything that was a Summer blockbuster movie. Sony's Amy Pascal and John Calley contacted him about this film in which they described as "dangerous" and immediately said he'd do it. As soon as that happend, the film was green lit.
The scene where Amy Morton who plays Mary Anne Mathews; mother in the film breaks-down and cries on the phone as Nicolas Cage is talking to her was filmed in a small room in the same house from earlier in the film and was done in two takes. This was one of the final scenes to be shot in the film. Cage was wired to a phone in the other room talking to her the whole time. After the second take, Morton was so unnerved by the experience that she asked Director Joel Schumacher to tell her "that this would never happen to me in my life". Schumacher said that she had a basket case momentarily and gently carried her soon after. He also stated that she gave a riveting performance during the scene.
Before working on the score, Composer Mychael Danna traveled to Morocco to record different sounds and instruments that would be very useful for his final score. He recorded some eighty tracks of music from his travels and used them to form the seedy underworld of porn.
The studio did not like the film at all. The content was too dark and felt the film was a money loser despite some good reviews and also the fact that it made money at the box office. Amy Pascal took alot of heat for green-lighting it at the time despite it's now cult status.
One of three films in which Writer Andrew Kevin Walker wrote or worked as a script doctor in 1999. The others were Fight Club, who rewrote alot of material at Brad Pitt and Director David Fincher's urging and Sleepy Hollow directed by Tim Burton. Both films would be released within weeks of one another in October and November 1999 respectively.
The scene where Tom has his final confrontation with Machine in the cemetery was shot in two locations. Half of the scene was filmed in a Catholic graveyard on a dead end street in Queens, New York and the remainder was filmed in a cemetery in Los Angeles.
The scene where Tom and Machine fight took several nights to film in cold frigid weather in New York. It got so cold to the point that the rain machines and the water that was soaking both Nicolas Cage and Chris Bauer were turning into icicles.
The film was originally rated NC-17 and took around four or five edits to get it down to an R rated film. Joel Schumacher learned that he could not go forward with four consecutive scenes of simulated or graphic images. After several edits, the film satisfied the MPAA after making the drastic cuts.
Director Joel Schumacher's favorite scene and piece of music is where Nicolas Cage is driving through the streets of Hollywood with Oscar Winner Mychael Danna's score sounding as if they were in a "Kasbah" which was perfect for the montage.
The red light district in Hollywood where Nicolas Cage drives around and sees all types of different people was actually created by production designer Gary Wissner according to Director Joel Schumacher since those areas were cleaned up and non-existent at the time like in cities like New York.
Composer Mychael Danna's original score was recorded at the Manhattan Center in New York City which was not far from many of the films' New York locations such as the Christian Mansion in Long Island, Machine's house in Queens, Dino Velvet's offices in Manhattan, and the Wherehouse in Brooklyn.
The film was originally scheduled by Sony for a Christmas 1998 release. However, due to the films' necessity for cutting the more graphic material to secure an R-rating, the film was pushed back to February 1999.
Writer Andrew Kevin Walker did not visit the set or was not interested in the production after his script was "toned" down to make it film-able. Director Joel Schumacher simply stated that "he was in a bubble and in demand with other projects" as a polite way of saying he disowned the film.
Writer Nicholas Kazan rewrote the script with Director Joel Schumacher to lighten the films' tone somewhat and also cut down on the graphic material that scared off the studio. This is the reason why Writer Andrew Kevin Walker walked away from the film and disowns it despite its' popularity over the past two decades.
The second film starring Oscar Winner Nicolas Cage to be released in 1999. The other was the adaptation of "Bringing Out The Dead" Directed by Oscar Winner Martin Scorsese and the screenplay written by Paul Schrader. Schrader and Cage would eventually work together in the thriller "Dying Before The Light" in 2015.
The first of two films Directed by Joel Schumacher released in 1999. The other was the comedy, Flawless, starring Oscar Winners Robert DeNiro and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman released later in the year.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Director Joel Schumacher stated that the biggest surprise in the film was the revelation of who the character of Machine played by Chris Bauer really was. He wasn't like the characters of Dino Velvet and Eddie Poole. He was just an ordinary guy that lives with his mother and that is what was scary about him.
One of the villains played by Peter Stormare is called Dino Velvet. A nod to Blue Velvet (1986): Both films are disturbing mystery thrillers about men's investigation of gruesome discoveries leads them to enter dark sinister underworlds which they meet and they get beaten up by the villains responsible and both films end with the antagonists seeking justice by killing the villains.