The Hollywood Reporter reports the death of L. M. Kit Carson, a versatile man who maintained a Zelig-like presence in the American filmmaking scene for more than 30 years. Carson, who died at 73, first made his mark in front of the camera in Jim McBride’s David Holzman’s Diary (1967), a meta-fictional take on the cinema verite documentary movement that starred Carson as a young filmmaker who obsessively trains his camera on his own life. With SMU film professor Bill Jones, Carson founded the Dallas-based USA Film Festival partly so he’d have a place to show David Holzman’s Diary; it’s still going strong today.
Carson continued to dance on the line between filmed fiction and reality as the director of The American Dreamer (1971), a freeform documentary about the making of The Last Movie, Dennis Hopper’s career-crashing follow-up to Easy Rider.
In 1983, Carson reunited with Jim McBride when the two collaborated on the screenplay for McBride’s very ’80s remake of Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless, starring Richard Gere.
Carson was also involved as a writer on two very different film projects set in his native state: Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas (1984), where he stepped in to patch up the unfinished work of Sam Shepard, and which marked the film debut of 9-year-old Hunter Carson, his son with the actress Karen Black; and Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, starring Dennis Hopper, where Carson shared credit with the director for the script and also served as associate producer.
Carson also sometimes returned to acting, appearing in Sidney Lumet’s Running On Empty (1988) and Roman Coppola’s CQ (2001), as well as an episode of Miami Vice. He also founded
In 1994, Carson executive produced the Wes Anderson/Owen Wilson short film Bottle Rocket, and two years later, he served as co-producer on the feature version that launched the younger men’s careers. In a statement published at RogerEbert.com, Anderson and Wilson call Carson “a natural guru,” adding that Carson’s second wife, producer Cynthia Hargrave, told them that “of all the people who were lucky to have known Kit, we were the luckiest. It certainly feels that way to us. He introduced us to the rest of our lives.”