Harvey Weinsten is known for taking chances on first-time filmmakers, having helped launch the careers of Quentin Tarantino (“Reservoir Dogs”), Steven Soderbergh (“Sex, Lies and Videotape”), Baz Luhrmann (“Strictly Ballroom”) and Alexander Payne (“Citizen Ruth”) during his time at Miramax and now The Weinstein Company.
Naturally then, Weinstein was an honoree at this year’s third annual First Time Fest, a festival designed to showcase and discover first-time feature filmmakers.
During the closing night discussion and throughout the festivities, The Hollywood Reporter was able to nab a few details about what Weinstein looks for from collaborators and first-time directors.
Want to work with Harvey Weinstein one day? Here are the four tips Indiewire was able to cull from the piece.
Write Your Own Script
When asked what gives him the confidence to take chances on first-time filmmakers, Weinstein said that often time it’s a writer’s passion that inspires him. “Usually it’s a writer, in my case, like I’ll take a chance on someone who wrote the script and let them direct it because they’re so passionate about it,” he added. “But sometimes you feel it in the room. You just feel it.”
Weinstein told THR, “I think writing wins. I mean, Steve Soderbergh, ‘Sex, Lies’; Quentin, ‘Reservoir Dogs.’ The great directors have always been the ones who wrote the first script.”
Be An Actor Wanting to Direct
Weinstein said that he’s able to tell when an actor is ready to take a leap behind the camera.”They have tremendous rapport with other actors, and if they’re smart they hang around the DP and the director,” he said. “You can just talk to them for two minutes and you can tell that they know what they’re doing.”
Weinstein noted that with first-time filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, a life-long relationship was built, one in which loyalty becomes important. “It’s been a family business. He’s a brother,” Weinstein said of Tarantino. “He helped to build my company. He is the most ethical and has the most integrity. In an industry where there’s no such thing as loyalty, Quentin Tarantino is loyal…He’s loyal to us in good times and bad times and subsequently we’ve been loyal back in good times and bad.”
Put Your Time In
One of the filmmakers whose work was chosen for this year’s First Time Fest, Jeremy Carr, used to work for Miramax. He spent time as a script reader and worked in post-production. “[Reservoir Dogs] is a movie that I saw when I was in film school and it really inspired me and some of the friends I was making films with. The writing is so incredible and the way it was done on a lower budget, mostly because of the amazing casting, amazing writing and also the visionary behind it and the fact that Miramax would take a chance on a movie like that that would lead to such an amazing film career with Tarantino is fantastic,” Carr said.