Academy Award-winning filmmaker Steven Soderbergh—he of Erin Brockovich, Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen, and Out of Sight fame—has famously stepped back from making motion pictures (his last big picture, Behind the Candelabra, started airing on HBO this month). But Soderbergh’s not sucking down rum-and-tonics and working on his short game (as far as we can tell). He’s been tweeting a novella, giving speeches on the state of cinema, working on painting and photography, and, perhaps most surprisingly, he’s set up an e-commerce site selling movie-themed T-shirts, memorabilia from his film shoots, and photographs taken by Soderbergh himself.
The site, Extension 765, shares a name with Soderbergh’s production company and went live Wednesday. Most likely, the most popular section will be the “threads” page, which offers various T-shirts that feature the logos of fictional businesses and other details from films Soderbergh clearly loves. He explains the shirts here:
There are some very cool sites that sell film-related T-shirts—and I’ve bought stuff from them—but I feel like in general the design work is kind of inconsistent, and more importantly, the references tend toward the obvious. So this is our attempt to address these issues, and while some of the references are obvious, I think a few are going to be very, very hard to figure out. One especially. I mean, there’s one that if you figure it out . . . man, you’re REALLY good.
How obscure are we talking about? Well, one of the shirts is a fan shirt for Sybil the Soothsayer, an ancillary character on Howard Beale’s news program in the 1976 film Network. A T-shirt with “18 LU 13″? The license plate of the car Gene Hackman chases in The French Connection. A shirt emblazoned with “Sam Loomis Hardware” refers to Janet Leigh’s boyfriend in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.
That’s pretty deep in the weeds as far as film geekery is concerned. But Soderbergh’s always been a man of many talents (he often directs, produces, writes, shoots, and edits his films), and his site is an equal reflection of varied interests. One part of Extension 765 promotes a Bolivian liquor, singani, that is distilled from muscatel grapes. Soderbergh can’t sell the liquor on the site, but he has an intricate plan for getting it into the hands of customers: “I’ve got the stuff in a warehouse in Florida. I’m in the process of obtaining a distributor, and I think you’ll be able to either buy it from them or they can tell you where to buy it, or something,” he writes.
And since no celebrity is a real celebrity without a signature line of headphones, Soderbergh is working on that as well. His limited-edition pairs (only 1,000 will be made) are being designed in partnership with the makers of the RED digital movie camera (a camera that Soderbergh uses extensively and which is beloved by many filmmakers). Prices have yet to be announced, but as RED cameras start at around $8,000 (body only, no lens), these headphones will presumably cost more than most.