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RISK TAKERS - Embracing Obsession: When It Comes To Working With Producers, There's No Substitute For Passion

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 9, 2017




Every producer has at least one “movie that changed my life.”  What’s yours, and why? 

I’ve always loved movies within movies. The Bad and the Beautiful, with Kirk Douglas, made a real impression on me when I saw it in college. I was watching about two movies a day on Turner Classic Movies. 8 ½ was another one. Day For Night. Hearts of Darkness. I always knew I wanted to work in movies. I just didn’t know in what capacity, or how I could find my way in. Those movies gave me a direction I could go in.

What’s the most recent project you’ve backed?  What got you excited about it?

I just finished a film called Assassination Nation, written and directed by Sam Levinson. I think it’s just totally brilliant. It’s incredibly ambitious; it feels like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I’ve tried to come up with comps for it. Honestly, I couldn’t find any. 

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

I’m always looking for partners who have a strong point of view and an active inner life, who are working on things that they deeply care about. A good sign is if they’re available to talk about it at any time of day or night—they’re obsessed with telling the story as well as possible. I’ll take that passion over skills, experience, connections, all the rest.

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

When I made Arbitrage, I was at a real pivot point in my career. I had just left my job at an established company and all my eggs were in that basket. If it hadn’t worked out, I probably would have been out of the business. We had so many factors working against us, but the movie did really well critically and commercially, so I got to stick around and keep making movies.

Which artists working today are carrying the torch for the kind of storytelling that’s most important to you?

I did 99 Homes with Ramin Bahrani. His belief in and commitment to that story was inspiring. I loved Sean Baker’s Tangerine; I can’t wait to see his new movie. Moonlight was incredible. Those stories showed me something I hadn’t seen before. The key is that above all else, they’re entertaining first, and their “message” emerges out of that. Like Stanley Kramer said, the best films are the ones that do both.

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

I hate when people are chasing the marketplace. That never works. It never feels fresh—it just feels like you’re trying to imitate something that someone already else did more successfully. 

Tags:  risk takers 

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