Talking Pictures #19: Hawk Koch, Assistant Director of CHINATOWN

Our third season starts with three interviews where we discuss the making of one of the most revered New Hollywood classics, Roman Polanski’s CHINATOWN, originally released in 1974 and now considered to be one of the best American movies of all time. Today’s episode features my conversation with Hawk Koch, who worked on CHINATOWN as an assistant director and had previously worked with Polanski as a dialogue coach on ROSEMARY’S BABY in 1968.

Hawk Koch is the son of Hollywood producer Howard Koch, best known as the producer of THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE and THE ODD COUPLE. Originally known as Howard Koch Jr., Hawk worked as a road manager for the Supreses and the Dave Clark Five before he entered the film business as an assistant director during the New Hollywood era, working with legends like John Schlesinger on THE MARATHON MAN, Sydney Pollack and Robert Redford on THE WAY WE WERE, Alan Pakula and Warren Beatty on THE PARALLAX VIEW and, again with Beatty, HEAVEN CAN WAIT. Hawk later became a producer who was responsible for terrific films like WAYNE’S WORLD, SLIVER, PRIMAL FEAR, KEEPING THE FAITH and SOURCE CODE. Like his father in the late 70’s, Hawk Koch served as the President of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences from 2012 and 2013.

Hawk Koch (left) with director Roman Polanski.


Hawk Koch with Mia Farrow on the set of Polanski’s ROSEMARY’S BABY.

In our interview, Hawk remembers the shooting of CHINATOWN and working with Roman Polanski. He also has vivid memories of working on films like THE PARALLAX VIEW, Richard Rush’s GETTING STRAIGHT or Peter Fonda’s THE HIRED HAND. We also discuss Hawk’s wonderful Hollywood memoir MAGIC TIME – if you want to know more about his adventures in Hollywood and learn more about the relationship with his famous father, make sure to read it as Hawk is a gifted storyteller.

Make sure to also check out my interview with Allan Warnick, the actor from the famous “Hall of Records” scene, in Talking Pictures episode #20. There will be another CHINATOWN interview online soon, a conversation with Bobbie O’Steen, the wife of late CHINATOWN editor Sam O’Steen. The CHINATOWN interviews were conducted in connection with our German-language podcast Lichtspielplatz – so if you speak German, please check out Lichtspielplatz episode #56, which features an in-depth discussion of Polanski’s film.So without any further ado, here’s Hawk Koch remembering the changes brought along by the New Hollywood movement.

The mp3 file can be downloaded HERE.

Photos courtesy of Hawk Koch.
Thanks to Dr. Wily, my Lichtspielplatz podcasting partner for audio editing. The music was created by Clark Kent.

Christian Genzel works as a filmmaker and journalist. He has written and directed the psychological thriller DIE MUSE/The Muse plus several music videos and short films. His mystery short CINEMA DELL' OSCURITÀ was nominated for the 13th Street Shocking Short Award in 2017. He is currently working on a documentary on cult filmmaker Howard Ziehm called FINDING PLANET PORNO. As a journalist, Genzel has been published in/at Film & TV Kamera, Celluloid, 35 Millimeter, GameStar, Neon Zombie, and the All-Music Guide. He has conducted in-depth interviews with numerous filmmakers, musicians, game designers, and others.