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RISK TAKERS: Don't Look Back. It's Never Been Done Before? Sounds Good.

Posted By Administration, Thursday, January 28, 2016

Every producer has at least one "movie that changed my life.” What are yours?

John Sayles’s City of Hope. It was the first project that involved my transition from "more passive” lawyering to actually committing to assemble financing, and it was my first executive producer credit. It started me on a path.

Likewise, I’m Not There and Boyhood, my first full producer credits. Both involved long-time collaborators (Christine Vachon and Richard Linklater, respectively). I’m Not There took years of daily activity to assemble financing, and Boyhood was simply a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

By all means, there are easier ways to make a living than by financing films. What draws you to film as a business opportunity?

As I fondly say to the 50-some people who work at our companies, each one of you, including myself, could make more money doing something else. In a word, it’s the passion that draws me, a love of storytelling and respect for great storytellers.

What’s it been like to transition from lawyer, to financier, to producer?

Being a lawyer is more of a volume business. You jump from project to project. But as I’ve gotten older, it’s become more rewarding to be deeply immersed in what I’m working on. It’s nice not to feel like I’m spread so thin.

What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken on a project?

I was told I was crazy for committing to put together I’m Not There. Six different actors playing different incarnations of Bob Dylan? And at the budget we were seeking? Let’s just say there were many skeptics. And Boyhood broke every rule about how you were supposed to put together and shoot a film.

What’s the quickest way to make sure you will NEVER back the script I’m pitching you?

For me, the most reliable genre is "the new.” Characterizing a project as reminescient of a certain film or group of films ("It’s like X meets Y!”) is a formula for being derivative.

What are the essential qualities you look for in a producing partner?

Someone who both complements my strengths AND values quality craft service.

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