Or Is He Just Plain Nuts?
by Mark Rabinowitz
Gill Holland is broke. Well, nearly broke. "I think I have one more
month before something has to start popping. I almost started typing up
my resume yesterday." Gill is, if not the busiest producer in indie
film, then certainly among the top two or three, and last week he took
some time to chat on the phone with indieWIRE about his current slate of
projects -- welcome to the world of low-budget, independent film
By his own count, he has three films in release (Morgan J. Freeman's
"Hurricane Streets," Tim Kirkman's "Dear Jesse" and Rob
Tregenza's "Inside/Out"), four in post-production (Freeman's "Desert
Blue," Jamie Yerkes' "Spin the Bottle," Julie Lynch's "Remembering Sex"
and "Bobby G Can't Swim"), five in production (Tom Gilroy's "Spring
Forward," "Kill By Inches" by Diane Doniol-Valcroze and Arthur Flamm,
"All Shook Up," "Depraved" and "Snow Days") and two in pre-production,
including Elizabeth Schub's follow-up to "Cuba 15" entitled "American
Girls", and Ryan Deussing's documentary about the confederate flag, which
is tentatively titled "Confederate Theory."
His title on all of these films varies from co-producer, to producer, to
associate producer to executive producer -- but the line tends to be
blurred, especially in independent films. "'Dear Jesse' we've worked on
for three years," says Holland. "I'm the only executive producer,
there's a producer who's down in North Carolina, so a lot of the
day-to-day stuff I ended up doing, but (director) Tim Kirkman is
probably the real producer." However, even defining what a producer
does, is difficult. "A lot of things come down to delegating and
surrounding yourself with wonderfully talented people," he remarks,
continuing, "and having the confidence to know that they're wonderfully
talented and letting them do their jobs."
Sometimes, even when films are done, they aren't really done, as is the
case with "Remembering Sex." "We played three fests and did really well
and got a ton of press," says Holland, "and even got an offer, but we
wanted to change the ending a little bit and we wanted to kind of recut
the first act. So we're back in post-production."
If the pedigrees of cast and crew count for anything, Holland should be
(financially) fine by this time next year. For example, "Kill By Inches"
co-director Doniol-Valcroze is the daughter of French New Wave actress
Francoise Brion ("Rosebud," "Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud") and director and
Cahiers du Cinema co-founder, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze ("A Question of Rape").
Additionally, according to Holland, the swing grip's mother produced
"Breaking the Waves," and the production coordinator's grandfather was
three-time Best Director Oscar Winner, William Wyler ("Ben Hur," "Mrs.
The major pitfall of independent film production is, of course, lack of
funds. "Spring Forward," which Holland is producing with Jim McKay
("Girls Town") and Michael Stipe, had a shoot over the summer, will
re-convene for a three-day shoot in the fall (Holland says that the
fall shoot "is color of leaves contingent."), and again for a week in
the winter. "We can't afford to create fake seasons which a Hollywood
film might be able to do." Holland added that director Gilroy "wanted
the actors to have a chance to inhabit their characters for an entire
year." The film stars Liev Schreiber ("Scream 2," "The Daytrippers"),
Ned Beatty ("Deliverence," "All the President's Men"), Campbell Scott
("Big Night"), Lili Taylor ("I Shot Andy Warhol," "Girls Town"), Peri
Gilpin (TV's "Fraser" - in her first film role) and Ian Hart ("Backbeat,"
"Land and Freedom").
"I am insane. To work in independent film, you have to be insane,"
Holland said bluntly. For example, his salary for "Desert Blue" was
$5,000 up front with the rest deferred. His salary on his other films
is also deferred. "Which is insane," he explains. In addition, having
so many projects going at once means 19 hour days for days on end.
When I mentioned that most people work their salaries into the
budget of their films, Holland is typically magnanimous. "Their
budgets are so small, it just seems so silly when I have some more
credit cards I can live on for like one more month."
Now....where's that damn resume?