Thursday, June 30, 2016

MEET THE PRODUCERS: Interview With Keith Calder. Bunraku, You're Next, Anomalisa, The Guest, The Wackness

This is the third installment in the ongoing series Meet the Producers of Midnight Madness 2010.

Let me introduce you to Keith Calder. Mr. Calder arrived on the film scene as an executive producer for the Midnight Madness film All The Boys Love Mandy Lane. In subsequent years he has also produced such films as Battle For Terra and The Wackness and is executive producing Walter Hill's next film St. Vincent. Bunraku marks Mr. Calder's return to the Midnight Madness program.

It has been five years since you produced All The Boys Loved Mandy Lane. What changes have you seen in the business side of the film industry in those five years?

In all honesty, it's hard for me to separate my own personal experience from the overall business. When we shot ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE, I was a year out of film school. I thought I knew how to make movies, and I thought I knew how the film business worked. Here I am five years later, and I realize that I'm only just starting to learn how to make movies and how the film business works. It's hard for me to tell how much the film business has changed, and how much of the perceived "change" is just me understanding the film business better. But with my current understanding of the film business, I'll try to answer as best I can. The biggest change I've seen in the film business over the last five years is that it's now easier to get talented people to want to work on your independent film, but it's harder to sell your finished film.

Bunraku was financed outside the studio system yet attracted top name talent,. How did so many name actors sign onto the project?

We had a pretty hefty package of material that we presented to actors when we approached them to be in BUNRAKU. We had the screenplay, and a DVD of concept art, previz, and style clips. On top of that, Guy Moshe is obviously a talented and compelling director and the actors were drawn to the idea of working with him on the film. I think that a lot of the actors were taking a big risk coming a board an independent film like this, but their doubts were answered after a couple days working with Guy, the rest of the cast, and our incredible crew.

There is always pressure for a film to perform well in the box office and I'm sure this pressure has increased ten-fold in recent years. Does this pressure ever affect the vision of a film? Is there ever a temptation to make a film more mainstream and more accessible?

The short answer is easy: Yes, there is always a temptation to make a film more mainstream and more accessible.

The long answer is more complicated. With every film I produce, I try to make a classic of the genre. It may sound egotistical to say that, but I think there's no other way to be successful in this business. You aim for greatness, so if you fall short you still have a good film. If you aim for "good-enough", you'll end up landing at "piece-of-crap". So with a big independent film like BUNRAKU we took on a huge risk, but we only did so because we believed it had the potential to be a classic of the genre. It's too soon to say if we landed close to our mark, but when your goals are that lofty you start to worry less about "accessible" and "mainstream". "Accessible" and "mainstream" are really sub-goals of "awesome" and "great". If it's great enough, then it becomes accessible. If it's awesome enough, then it becomes mainstream. So yes, I always try to make my films mainstream and accessible, just not by dumbing them down or sacrificing the craft.

This interview first appeared 09/10/10 on the TIFF Midnight Madness Blog 

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