The Hollywood Reporter’s round table series continues on, today with their Producers panel. Included are Mark Wahlberg (“Lone Survivor”), Pam Williams (“The Butler”), Dede Gardner (“12 Years a Slave”), Charles Roven (“American Hustle”), Michael De Luca (“Captain Phillips”) and David Heyman (“Gravity”). Interview highlights below, plus full video.
On misconceptions about producers:
MARK WAHLBERG: For me, it’s like, “Oh, you’re starring
in a movie, so you demanded a vanity credit.” You can damn well be sure
that I’m involved in every single aspect of it.
ROVEN: …No two films are the same. Even if you’re making a
sequel, it’s different because it’s like alchemy: One different ingredient will
change the whole thing. There could be more problems in the marketing or the
casting, and there’s always that one guy on the crew that’s not exactly right,
or budgets are spiraling out of control. What are you going to do? How are you
going to make sure you don’t hurt the process? And that’s when you’re actually
making it; getting it to the point to where you’re making it, that’s a whole
other skill set. On American Hustle, [director] David O. Russell made
significant changes [to the script], and he was also in the middle of an Oscar
campaign for Silver Linings Playbook, and it was a struggle to get his
attention while he was still focused on the movie that he had made. And yet we
had a release date, in December, and so the period of shooting [in Boston] and
postproduction was really, really compressed.
WAHLBERG: How long was it before you guys were able to shoot
[Hustle outside Boston] after the bombings at the Boston Marathon [in April]?
ROVEN: We actually shot the day of the bombings, and that
wasn’t a problem, but when they found the brother who was alive in the boat,
they shut us down on that day, and then the next day, we were back shooting
DAVID HEYMAN: For Gravity, it was exactly the opposite
problem. It took us four years to make the movie, and for us, the big issue was
figuring out the technology with which to achieve zero gravity. It was a year
and a half of R&D, where the studio was putting in money on blind faith
because we didn’t have a clue what we could do.
PAM WILLIAMS: Well, on The Butler… our biggest problem was getting the movie set up. We had
originally set up at Sony, but when it came to making the movie, they opted not
to move forward. [The late] Laura Ziskin, my producing partner, and I had never
produced an independent film before, and we thought, “Oh, no problem, we
can raise $25 million in equity. …”
MICHAEL DE LUCA: At least you weren’t daunted.
DEDE GARDNER: One of the illusions is that it’s easy. An
illusion is that it’s fun. An illusion is that producers are made of Teflon and
don’t take it personally in the way actors and directors do.