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RISK TAKERS - Fighting Through: Producing A Movie, Start To Finish, Is A Sheer Act of Will

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, December 13, 2016

NICK MEYER
SIERRA/AFFINITY | BEVERLY HILLS, CA

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
HOTEL RWANDA
THE COLDEST CITY
SOVEREIGN
EVERYONE HAS THAT “MOVIE THAT CHANGED THEIR LIFE.” WHAT’S YOURS?
Ordinary People. Not any of the famous scenes, but the very start of the movie, when Donald Sutherland and Mary Tyler Moore are driving home. The shot stays in the car, it’s dark around them, you can’t tell where they are. Then they pull into their garage, and the light comes on and you can see, oh, it’s this well-appointed, middle-class garage … and you can see the license plate and you realize they’re in the Chicago suburbs. It seems like a minor thing, but that was the first moment I realized how you could tell a story visually. It might sound strange, but that moment really landed with me. I still think about it all the time.

WHAT IS IT THAT ATTRACTS YOU TO MOVIES AS A BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY?
It’s this weird confluence of what I am, what I love and what I turned out to be good at. Movies had a huge impact on me as a kid. I was the son of immigrants and a competitive athlete, so the competitive aspect of the business never deterred me. I don’t know what else I would do, honestly.

WHAT’S THE MOST RECENT PROJECT YOU’VE BACKED?
It’s one of the biggest and most exciting projects we’ve ever backed, The Coldest City. It’s an amazing piece of material, a great world to tell a story in—it’s set in Berlin during the fall of the Berlin Wall in ’89. The lead role is an incredible opportunity for a great actress, and Charlize Theron made the most of it. Our director, David Leitch, took what was on the page and made it sparkle. We’ve worked with the rights holders for a while now and developed it all the way through. It’s releasing through Focus Features next summer.

WHAT’S THE BIGGEST RISK YOU’VE TAKEN ON A PROJECT, EITHER CREATIVELY OR COMMERCIALLY?
I have to come back to The Coldest City. Now that it’s come together, it might not sound like much of a risk in retrospect, but it was a major gamble. It was not inexpensive. We fought resistance to the period, resistance to the setting, the foreign accents … it’s not a right-down-the-middle story by any means, and we had huge exposure on this project for a long time. As a producer, you have to will things into existence, and we’ve been pushing this rock up the hill for three-plus years—because everything has to be excellent, in every respect.

WHAT’S A STORY YOU’VE ENCOUNTERED RECENTLY THAT REALLY CONNECTED WITH OR INSPIRED YOU?
As a sales company, we represent Manchester by the Sea. I’ve seen the movie four times, and there are moments in the film that will stay with me the rest of my life. The way Casey [Affleck] handles the pictures of his kids—the way we never see the pictures, just the frames. I look at that scene, and it’s just amazing. That’s what inspires me … the challenge of capturing that honesty, that power, but quietly without hammering it home.

WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A PRODUCING PARTNER?
I’m old school. There are a lot of people who claim the title of “producer,” but we’re looking for someone who’s going to be a partner in the creation and fabrication of the movie, all the way through. A great producer is the most valuable collaborator we can have, and we want someone who’s going to take that ride with us through thick and thin, no matter what.

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