T h e D i s r u p t o rs I s s u e + C a n n e s F i l m Fe s t i va l
M AY 8 , 2 0 1 8 | D E A D L I N E .C O M
Meet the women fighting to build a better industry
Prepares to shake up the small screen with Yellowstone
Reboots her classic sitcom to ratings triumph
MICHAEL B. JORDAN
Cements his place as a bona fide movie star
Saudi’s first female director on seismic shifts back home
On the resounding success of his inclusivity drive
Gears up to take his Black List finds into production
CANNES ONES TO WATCH PAUL DANO
From The Office to A Quiet Place, meet the artist with a voice that won’t be silenced
TOPHER GRACE DAVID ROBERT MITCHELL THIERRY FRÉMAUX THE YEAR CANNES COLLAPSED
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GENERAL MANAGER & CHIEF REVENUE OFFICER
Stacey Farish EDITOR
Joe Utichi CREATIVE DIRECTOR
Nellie Andreeva (TV) Mike Fleming Jr. (Film)
ONES TO WATCH
The five names to keep an eye on at this year’s Cannes
AWARDS EDITOR & COLUMNIST
Peter Bart Anita Busch Dawn Chmielewski Anthony D’Alessandro Greg Evans Lisa de Moraes Bruce Haring Dade Hayes Patrick Hipes Amanda N’Duka Dominic Patten Erik Pedersen Denise Petski Dino-Ray Ramos David Robb Nancy Tartaglione Peter White Andreas Wiseman
The actor turns director with first feature Wildlife
On double duty with BlacKkKlansman and Under the Silver Lake
David Janove Andrew Merrill SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER
VICE PRESIDENT, FILM & TV
DAVID ROBERT MITCHELL
VICE PRESIDENT, EVENTS & PARTNERSHIPS
An about-face for the diverse director with Under the Silver Lake
Brianna Corrado Tiffany Windju ACCOUNT MANAGER
AD SALES COORDINATORS
Kristina Mazzeo Malik Simmons
Cannes Film Festival’s director on keeping up with changing times
COLUMN: PETE HAMMOND
CHAIRMAN & CEO
Why premiere audiences deserve the first bite
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50 years since the protests of ’68
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ON THE COVER John Krasinksi photographed exclusively for Deadline Hollywood by Mark Mann
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Paul Dano p. 10
| Topher Grace p. 12 | David Robert Mitchell p. 14 | Thierry Frémaux p. 16 | Press Screening Shake-Up p. 18
Cannes Ones to Watch 2018
Deadline anoints the five names destined to rock this year’s Croisette Deadline’s annual group of Ones To Watch are actors and filmmakers who are all bringing something fresh to Cannes. The distinction isn’t always reserved for brand new faces; rather we’ve selected people who are branching out, or who find themselves in waters where they are liable to make waves. Cannes can be a place of reinvention, after all.
John David Washington THE STAR OF SPIKE LEE’S BLACKKKLANSMAN MAKES HIS INTERNATIONAL DEBUT
FORMER NFL HOPEFUL—he was signed by the then-St. Louis Rams as an undrafted free agent—John David Washington is breaking out on the big RE X /S H U T T E RSTO CK
screen in a major way this year. The co-star of HBO’s Ballers had two movies at Sundance and will be seen in Fox Searchlight’s upcoming crime-drama Old Man and the Gun. His biggest coup to date was landing the title role in Spike Lee’s Cannes competition entry BlacKkKlansman, the true story of Ron Stallworth, an African-American police officer from Colorado, who in the 1970s successfully infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan and became the head of the local chapter. Adam Driver and Topher Grace co-star in the Focus biopic whose producers include Jordan Peele and Jason Blum. We spoke to Washington about working with Lee, racial prejudice and what acting advice he gets from his dad Denzel.
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CANNES ONES TO WATCH Did you audition for the role? No. It was on trust. Spike sent me the book in the first place... I’m not sure if you’re familiar with how Spike works but it’s one sentence or a couple of words and then he hangs up. He was cryptic. But it was clear he wanted me even if my agent and I didn’t believe it at first. This movie has racial prejudice at its core. Is that something you’ve encountered? I have. While in sports, too. My mother is from a small town in South Carolina—I’ve seen it first-hand. I’ve met Caucasians who are racist but I’ve also heard black people say racist things. This movie is about what people say behind closed doors. It will spark conversation.
ON HIS GAME From top left: In BlacKkKlansman John David Washington plays real-life Colorado police officer Ron Stallworth, who infiltrated the Klan in the 1970s; with Dwayne Johnson in Ballers; BlacKkKlansman director Spike Lee.
This is the first film by an AfricanAmerican director in four years. You can count on one hand the number of black directors to have had films in competition in the last decade—more than 200 movies. What do you make of that? Wow. I have mixed feelings. That’s a tremendous honor. It’s exciting. Spike is a great filmmaker no matter
You were in Sundance, now you’re in Cannes. That’s pretty exciting. It feels like the international Super Bowl. It’s very exciting. I can’t believe it. I’m very proud. The pressure’s on. I worked very hard, and it was such a liberating experience given who was at the helm. It has instilled a confidence in me to be able to tell truth in these characters. It has been an amazing experience. The story behind BlacKkKlansman is remarkable. What attracted you to it? The fact that this happened, that somebody actually did it. It was unfathomable. And the director. I don’t know whether anybody else could have been trusted with this. It’s a very sensitive subject.
“IT WAS A TURBULENT TAKE-OFF BUT ONCE I GOT CONFIDENCE FROM SPIKE AND THE EXTREMELY TALENTED CAST, THAT MADE IT EASIER. YOU NEED TO BE ON YOUR GAME, WORKING WITH ALL THESE PEOPLE. IT WAS AN ENSEMBLE PIECE IN MANY WAYS.”
that it’s in your DNA and your spirit.
his color so it shouldn’t be the
It was a turbulent take-off but once
headline. But it also gives me pause.
I got confidence from Spike and the
Have we not been making great
extremely talented cast, that made it
films? People will be affected by the
easier. You need to be on your game,
movie either way.
working with all these people. It was an ensemble piece in many ways.
Has your dad given you any acting advice?
Has your background in sports
The kind of advice he gives me is, “Get
helped you with the acting
better, continue building your craft,
you ain’t done nothing yet.” But he
Without a doubt. The nature of a
phrases it differently.
football team means you’re relying on 10 other guys. Even then, that doesn’t
So he’s pretty hard?
guarantee a win. In football I learned
about trust, handling failure, embracing discomfort, and rejection, which
What’s next for you?
has helped with the auditions. NFL
I’m in talks about doing a play at the
stands for Not For Long, as we know.
Billie Holiday Theatre in Brooklyn. I’m
The other thing is about checking in
auditioning for some other things.
your ego. When players do that in the
I want to keep working with great
locker room or on the field, and actors
What were the main challenges
and crew do that on set, that’s when
you have success. It’s a beautiful thing
Is Ballers Season 5 a thing?
Spike said to me about Ron Stall-
when you serve the team. But one of
I hear it is. You never know until you
worth, “He’s not the Bible, you don’t
my great games, at whatever level,
get the call sheet. If they invite me
have to be so technical.” You do your
doesn’t compare to a great day on a
back I’ll be there. I hope so.
prep and then you let it go and trust
Spike Lee set. That’s the ultimate high.
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THE EGYPTIAN-AUSTRIAN FILMMAKER GOES STRAIGHT INTO THE CANNES COMPETITION WITH HIS DEBUT YOMEDDINE
IT’S BEEN A LONG ROAD to the Cannes Film Festival for Egyptian-Austrian filmmaker A.B. Shawky and his feature debut Yomeddine. The feel-good road movie was a passion project that he developed as his thesis out of NYU’s Tisch School for the Arts, shot in Egypt with his wife, first-time producer Dina Emam, and stars non-actors
with no reading or memorizing skills. The challenge landed
EIGHT YEARS AFTER WINTER’S BONE, THE FILMMAKER BRINGS HER
an Un Certain Regard slot—and then bumped him up to
SUNDANCE HIT LEAVE NO TRACE TO DIRECTORS’ FORTNIGHT
competition, a rare berth for a neophyte.
him rejections from some festivals before Cannes offered
Shawky, who moved to Cairo at 25, set up indie DEBRA GRANIK LIKES TO take her
They asked me and my producing
production company Desert Highway Pictures with Emam
time. Since her first, award-winning
partner—she’s someone I write with as
to make Yomeddine, but “didn’t know anybody in the
short, Snake Feed, debuted at the
well, and her name is Anne Rosellini—
industry. It was a huge endeavor and a risky project for a
Sundance Film Festival in 1998, the
whether we liked it and whether we
first-time filmmaker,” he says. He returned to New York for
55-year-old director has made
would want to be involved. And we
post and stopped when he ran out of money, taking a job
just three features and a doc in the
really responded very strongly. We liked
as a consultant on Hulu’s The Looming Tower in the interim.
intervening 20 years. Indeed, in the gap
both the characters very much, loved
It was when Egypt’s Film-Clinic boarded that things picked
between her latest movie and the last,
the setting, loved the intensity of the
Winter’s Bone, Granik has seen that
insularity of the story.”
film’s breakout star, Jennifer Lawrence,
But why did it take so long to follow
Yomeddine is the story of a Coptic leper and his orphaned apprentice who leave the leper colony and
win an Oscar and get nominated for
up Winter’s Bone? “The process of
embark on a journey to search for what is left of their fami-
starting up a new film is one of looking
lies. Shawky had previously made a documentary short
through a lot of material and trying
about the leper colony. Hearing stories of how families
in Directors’ Fortnight, the new film,
Making its international premiere
to find something you really like,” she
would abandon their children there and never return, he
Leave No Trace, stars Ben Foster as
says. “And it does sometimes take a
was inspired to make a feature.
an army veteran who lives a nomadic
minute. We’re always on the search
existence with his teenage daughter (a
for a novel, or a source, or an existing
colony Shawky had visited years earlier. He was “phenom-
terrific performance from newcomer
screenplay, or writing something our-
enal. This is his story in a way.” The subject matter is heavy,
Thomasin McKenzie). Unusually
selves that turns us on. But because
Shawky allows. “But films from the Middle East usually
for Granik, the project was not
films cost a lot of money to make, and
have to be political and make a statement. This is just a
a huge amount of effort to get the
feel good movie.”
“Two producers gave it to us,” she
people to rally, you have to really like
His lead actor Rady Gamal is a member of the real leper
He will continue to go where the stories take him. “This
says. “They had loved the story—the
it; you can’t just semi-like it. Getting
one is set in Egypt because it’s a good story. The bigger
novel My Abandonment by Peter
to ‘really like’ is the part that takes the
goal is to tell stories that get through to audiences regard-
Rock—and then passed it [to us].
minute.” —Damon Wise
less of background.” —Nancy Tartaglione
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CANNES ONES TO WATCH
FROM YOUTUBE TO CANNES FOR THE DEBUT DIRECTOR WHO BROUGHT ARCTIC BACK DOWN TO EARTH
JOE PENNA NEVER THOUGHT THAT seeing his debut feature in Cannes’ Official Selection was “a remote possibility”, but here he is with a primo spot as a Midnight Screening with a film starring Mads Mikkelsen. Arctic sees Mikkelsen’s character stranded after a plane crash. As he is finally about to receive a long-awaited rescue, the opportunity is lost, and he must decide whether to remain in the relative safety of his camp or embark on a deadly trek through the unknown for potential salvation. Initially written as a sci-fi film set on Mars, Penna reconfigured Arctic after Ridley Scott’s The Martian exhausted the potential of the red planet. “It was a bit of a shame,” Penna says, but once the setting
changed to the arctic it eliminated the need to be
THE FRENCH FIRST-TIMER ROLLS THE DIRECTORS’
can’t breathe,’ to, ‘You’re really cold,’ because people
FORTNIGHT DICE WITH JOUEURS
can understand that.”
over-expository. “It’s easier when it goes from, ‘You
Penna first moved to the US from Brazil when he MARIE MONGE TOOK inspiration
Their love story begins as a mere bet,
was 13, and saw the parallels with this story. “I didn’t
for Directors’ Fortnight selection
but turns into a devouring passion.
fit in. I might as well have been in the middle of the
Joueurs, her first feature, from her own
Monge did not attend film school
experiences in the world of gambling,
but studied theory at university in
with a desire to “write about a very
Paris. She made shorts and worked
ing “rudimentary” YouTube videos as a hobby while
masculine world from the point of
on the films of friends in order to
studying for the MCATs. But he knew going to medical
view of a woman.”
train. When it came to writing her
school wasn’t really what he wanted to do. So he
first feature, she called on her earlier
made a pact with his dad to give the videos a chance
experiences in the milieu.
and ultimately began a successful career making
At the age of 22, she had a friend who was a gambler and, with him, discovered Paris’s now mostly bygone
“I had met people who lived in this
He began his film career in a roundabout way, mak-
commercials, then music videos and short films—one
casino circuit. Joueurs stars Tahar
world and wanted to talk about it as
of which got into Tribeca. A screenplay he wrote was in
Rahim and Stacy Martin. The latter,
a metaphor for addiction,” she says.
the Top 50 for the Academy Nicholl Fellowship. “That
a breakout in Lars von Trier’s Nym-
The film is about “a young woman in
gave us enough interest for CAA to start sending me
phomaniac, plays Ella, whose life is
love who becomes addicted” to a man.
scripts.” That’s when he started work on Arctic which
turned upside down when she meets
Monge wrote the role with Martin in
shot in Iceland.
Abel (Rahim). Irresistibly drawn to this
mind and knew upon meeting Rahim
elusive lover, the young woman discov-
he was “someone who could have a
the term “acting” very lightly. “I would rather stay
ers the cosmopolitan underground
disarming charm and also a brutal
behind the camera. I often acted in my own thing just
world of Paris’s gaming circles, where
maliciousness. He lights up a room
in order to understand what it’s like to be on the other
adrenaline and money reign supreme.
when he enters.” —Nancy Tartaglione
side.” —Nancy Tartaglione
Penna has also toiled as an actor but says he uses
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After a standout career in front of the camera, the actor makes his writing and directing debut with Critics’ Week opener Wildlife BY J O E U T I C H I
BASED ON RICHARD FORD’S 1990 NOVEL, Wildlife marks Paul Dano’s first feature film as a writer and director. The call of Ford’s book was undeniable for Dano, who worked with Zoe Kazan to adapt it for the screen. Its tale of a family in turmoil in 1960s Montana is seen through the eyes of the 16-year-old son, Joe [Ed Oxenbould]. As his father [Jake Gyllenhaal] loses his job as a golf pro and sets out to fight a ceaseless wildfire encircling their town, his mother [Carey Mulligan] craves the attention of an older businessman [Bill Camp] with little regard for the effect her affair is having on her boy.
I think that’s true. Zoe is a proper writer,
talented actor and not just a kid using
and she helped me write this. This was
his own experience. He really had
my first time writing, but I do think that
thoughts and he was working with
acting is similar in that you’re adapting;
the material. But he could only be on
you’re putting your most personal self
camera for five hours a day, and he’s
through something else.
in almost all of the film.
Directing is totally different in terms
I did think, Oh, shit, why did I write
of technique and what you’re doing,
this fucking film? You so badly want
but I think my experience as an actor,
to get everything the way you see it,
working on characters and words,
and you spend years writing it, on and
was helpful to me. And I know it was
off, and developing it. I worked with
certainly helpful in trying to write for the
Diego [García, cinematographer] for
first time. You’re still searching for that
a long time on how we were going
special moment. Even as a director,
to shoot the film. And then you get
where you’re doing it through your
there and you’re not always going to
get everything you want to. I think you keep earning your stripes, and
You set the bar high with the
hopefully on the next one you’ll have
challenges here. Beyond profoundly
that one more day of shooting, or
emotional storytelling, the story is
whatever it is.
set in the 1960s and the Montana town it takes place in has an almost
Did you ever find the struggle
mythic feel, with this endless fire
made things better?
burning on the horizon.
That’s a great point. You don’t always
Capturing the feeling of the town
know what’s happening until it does.
and the fire—its mythic quality—was
You do struggle and then you find
Wildlife made its world premiere
kind of obsessed with it. Probably the
certainly a hope of mine. But I don’t
something even better. I think there’s
in Sundance and it will now open
first reason was actually the Jeanette
think I knew what the challenges would
people who thrive on that chaos.
Critics’ Week in Cannes. That’s got
[Carey Mulligan] character. The mystery
be in realizing that [laughs].
With this film, it wasn’t like we were
to be a good feeling.
of who our parents are was the first
I’m so excited for Cannes and to play
thing that I felt. That feeling of learning
period, one of the most fun things as
tons of different places. We were
at Critics’ Week. It’s definitely an honor
my parents were people and seeing
a filmmaker is that you get to control
trying to be as honest and sparing
and you always want to aim high and
them for that.
everything, but also one of the more
as possible, which was also a part of
challenging things about it is that
what I wanted. And that’s really what
that I saw the similarities with Joe.
you have to control everything. You
I respond to.
amount of anxiety around it because
Actually, my sister is a costumer and
can’t just point the camera anywhere.
nobody’s seen the film and you just
she worked on the film. She pointed out
You see things in your head, but then
What did you make of the expe-
don’t know. You think, Well, I did every-
that one of the jackets that we dressed
you have to figure out the practical,
rience of directing actors, rather
thing in my power to make the best
Joe in is exactly like a jacket I have. I
logistical or financially possible way of
than being directed?
film I could. You hope that it’s going
didn’t realize. I did start to go, “Fuck!”
doing them. Luckily, everybody showed
I was surprised how much fun I had
a lot of hustle, but that was really
working with the actors. It’s funny to
say that because I am an actor, but
hope for the best. Also, I think Sundance had a certain
to move somebody or connect with
It was a little later in the process
I didn’t realize this when we wrote it,
First of all, when you do something
running around pointing the camera
somebody out there in the audience,
but I didn’t decide to start writing the
that they’ll see a piece of themselves in
script until I thought of the ending, with
it or something. But you just don’t know,
the last scene and particularly the last
side of the process, it took me a while
I can’t wait to work on this scene
or you feel like you don’t.
image of the film. Then I thought, OK, I
to get my sea legs, because it was the
with Carey or Jake [Gyllenhaal]. I was
can do this. In retrospect, that’s also a
artistic side I was most excited for. I
thinking about the images.
allow myself to enjoy being there in
part of why I made the film in that it’s a
don’t feel compromised; I feel anything
Cannes and at Critics’ Week, and I
means of letting go. Maybe it’s too early
but that. I made the film I wanted to
realized these guys were so good and
know we’re super excited to meet up
to say that, but I think that’s something
make. But you have to figure certain
I was having so much fun nudging
there and share the film for the first
that character is maybe doing. They’re
things out; you just do. It’s amazing,
them, or throwing them pips to hit.
time outside of the States.
looking back at something and then
then, when things work out, because
The amount of surprises they give you
having to move forward. Capturing
they don’t always feel like they will.
as a writer and a director, that part
Now, I’m hoping that I can really
You might have played Joe earlier in
With that practical and logistical
something and then having to press on.
your career. Did you see that in it?
when I was writing it I wasn’t thinking,
Once we got into production, I
was really fun. They say you should never work
I understood what actors are for
Yeah, I think so. I have a little more per-
As an actor you’re charged with
with kids or animals, and here you
directors suddenly, because they
spective now. When you first get a hit
understanding the psychology of a
are with a 15-year-old actor who is
are you. They’re an extension of you.
on some piece of something creative,
single character. As a director, telling
the eyes of the audience.
All of those guys—Carey, Jake, Ed
usually it is just a little more primal
a story, there’s a more holistic view
Oh, the kids’ hours was one of the
and Bill Camp—I love them because
than intellectual. This book haunted
to take. But did you see the similari-
more challenging things. Ed is a brilliant
they were these characters. It’s really
me. I read it several times and was
ties between these two roles?
actor, and I got so lucky that he was a
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With two films in this year’s Cannes competition, the actor’s auteur-chasing bona fides are assured BY J O E U T I C H I
Truth with an amazing director and
my lead, and I found it hard to deal
writer, and then also that cast, was
with it because it was just so much
hate. My character was the lightning
The sitcom [That ’70s Show] was
rod for the hate; he was leading
great training, to do something in front
the people into doing it. I went to
of a live audience, but also it sets you
the monitors and sat down, and
up financially to put yourself in a place
Spike came up and said, “Hey man,
where you just don’t have to do some-
this is a movie. We’re doing this for
thing unless you love it. I’m tickled that
a reason. Ultimately, what you’re
these two things I loved happened to
feeling as a human being is what
both fall at the same time.
this movie is about.” I don’t know that there are many directors I’d be
IT’S RARE FOR A CANNES FIRST-TIMER to come to the festival with more than one project to promote, but that’s what Topher Grace will do thanks to his roles in Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman and David Robert Mitchell’s Under the Silver Lake, which both have competition berths this year. He has a key supporting role in the latter, alongside stars Andrew Garfield and Riley Keough, while in Lee’s film, Grace plays a high-ranking member of the Ku Klux Klan, espousing vitriolic hate-speech in front of a black police officer who infiltrated the Klan. Based on Ron Stallworth’s true-life tale, BlacKkKlansman releases in domestic theaters on August 10th, a year on from the Unite the Right rallies in Charlottesville. You have two films in Cannes this year. Our international editor, Nancy Tartaglione, says you’re this year’s Nicole Kidman, because Kidman had multiple projects last year. It’s crazy [laughs]. I woke up to texts from friends on the announcement day. So, of course, I called my agent and said, “But I told you to get me three movies in Cannes!” I’ve never been to Cannes before, never walked the red carpet. So I couldn’t believe it happened to me
“I DON’T JUST WANT TO TAKE A JOB, I WANT TO GO ON A JOURNEY WITH A FILMMAKER, AND SPIKE’S MOVIE AND DAVID’S MOVIE OFFERED THAT.”
In BlacKkKlansman you play
willing to go to a place like this with,
a deeply racist man, and a
but Spike’s the guy.
high-ranking member of the KKK. It’s a risky role to take on. Where
Describe the process of working
did you start?
The role was really risky in the sense
He moves really quickly, and he
that it’s not even a little close to
knows exactly what he wants.
anyone I’ve ever played or ever known.
When I was cast, that was very
He’s a guy who is full of hate. And
fast too. I don’t think actors love
worse, he’s really intelligent, which is
anything more than a leader that
what makes him really evil. You play
really knows exactly what they
bad guys, but you never really play
want, especially when you’re going
truly evil people on screen.
into such dark subject matter; you
The character I play is based on
don’t want to feel that your leader
a real person. The movie is adapted
is anything less than 100% sure
from a book by Ron Stallworth, and
what they’re saying.
the author really lived through this
Spike always knows exactly what
experience; he’s played by John David
he wants to say, and we spent a lot
Washington in the film. When I read for
of time rehearsing to get that across.
Spike, I had to tell him how uncomfort-
We rehearsed at NYU, where he does
able it made me, to say some of the
such great work, and his students
things this man says. He was wonder-
would come in to ask him questions
ful about it, and he was always great
while we were rehearsing. I always
about making you feel safe.
heard he taught at NYU, but you real-
When we did the table read, Ron
ize that’s why he stays so relevant,
was there, and he was there through
because he remains in touch with all
filming too, and there’s no such thing
as having too much information when
He really is a true artist, and I feel
you’re doing a movie like this. To have
that way about David Robert Mitchell
this guy who went through this come
too. It’s right that these guys have
twice in a year. The difference with
out and spend an hour and a half
their movies in Cannes.
Nicole Kidman, though, is it’s not a
talking to us about his experience,
coincidence with her.
it informs you more and makes you
You have a small part in Under
realize your responsibility. Not to this
the Silver Lake. What appealed
In the past few years you’ve worked
character, but to the audience, to be
with David Michôd and Christopher
honest about it.
As I said, I don’t just want to take a
Nolan, and now David Robert
job, I want to go on a journey with
Mitchell and Spike Lee. Has it been
Are you able to switch off from a
a filmmaker, and Spike’s movie and
a conscious effort to work with
character like this at the end of
David’s movie offered that. It is a
these kinds of directors?
very small part in Under the Silver
I think I’ve been trying to do stuff that
I hesitate to say yes, because I hate it
Lake, but as you can tell from It
is just really interesting to me, and to
when actors admit to being so taken
Follows, and from the trailer, David
work with directors who are my per-
in by their own process; I don’t have
is one of the coolest directors alive
sonal favorites. Obviously someone
that deep a process. But I would say
right now, so I was happy to be
like a Spike Lee is a no-brainer. I felt
this was the first time on a film where,
involved with him, whatever the
that way with David Michôd when I
in a specific scene, my character is
role. It Follows felt like the birth of
saw some of his stuff, so doing War
leading a very specific ritual to a room
a new great filmmaker. This film, I
Machine was great. And working on
of 100-200 people, who are following
think, confirms that. ★
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DIA LOGUE even more so. But of course, they also
The It Follows auteur makes his competition debut with Under the Silver Lake
increase in terms of scope and scale, so they’ve all been really hard. Myth doesn’t feel like a $30,000 movie. We tried very hard to do something we felt would appear to be a much more expensive film. We aimed for that with It Follows, too, which was only about $1 million. Neither of them
BY J O E U T I C H I
were really adequate budgets for the types of movie we were trying to make. It’s absolutely an unhealthy way of
IT’S PERHAPS APPROPRIATE THAT DEADLINE meets David Robert Mitchell in a bustling coffee shop in Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood. After all, his new film Under the Silver Lake promises to be as much of a love letter to this particularly quirky ’burb as it is a wholly new challenge for the filmmaker; a mystery detective story in which Andrew Garfield’s Sam investigates the sudden disappearance of the girl next door. His debut, The Myth of the American Sleepover, offered a fresh take on the teen coming-of-age drama, and his last, It Follows, injected new blood into the horror genre.
I’ve seen all these movies and learned
approaching your life, but I’ve always
about and studied this stuff, I’d never
had great teams around me. When
actually made one of these movies
you work with good people, and you
before. You go, “Shit,” and you have to
do a lot of preparation, you can figure
keep your mouth shut and go do it. It’s
out creative ways to pull it off and
a little bit scary and a little bit exciting.
make it work. It takes its toll—we get kicked in the ass along the way—but
What drives that?
we take it on because we think it’s
I don’t know, except I think I have an
worth it. We care enough.
incredible passion to create things that I feel might not be in the world if I don’t
We’ve all seen Hearts of Darkness.
There’s not much out there about
kinds of movies. I like the idea that
try to work to build them. I love film-
Right. I probably romanticize other
Under the Silver Lake. You’ve kept
someone might see something like The
making. I love writing. I love directing.
people’s hellish experiences, while
the details pretty closely guarded.
Myth of the American Sleepover and
I’m less interested in the idea of me as
simultaneously knowing that my own
There’s a synopsis out there and a
then be a little surprised when they see
a director in the sense that it’s not just
are just truly that: hellish experi-
trailer, but the truth is the film is about
It Follows. I like that someone who sees
about doing a job or filling a role. It’s a
ences that nobody really wants to go
a mystery. So to me, the film itself
It Follows might be a little surprised
job that I’ve wanted since I was young,
through. But we can all look to other
should be approached that way. I don’t
when they see Under the Silver Lake. I
but what it is for me is not so much
people’s and see the romance and
want to reveal too much. There are
want to continue to do that.
about the position but about what it
charm in them [laughs].
mysteries built into the fabric of the
That doesn’t mean I won’t go back.
allows me to try to do.
I want to revisit things too, but over
narrative are mysteries.
time. At some point, I might do another
work and it has also been years of just
lifespan in which you get to take
naturalistic drama. I might make
building to the point of even being able
that breath and let those stresses
This is your third film and your third
another horror film. I might do another
to do it. So I have to try to do some-
genre to play with. Is it important
mystery. I have a lot of stories that I
thing that’s a little different, because
Much later [than post-production].
for you to mix up the kinds of
want to try and tell.
I don’t want to do something that’s
It Follows is now a fully-processed
going to exist anyway.
experience. With Under the Silver
movies you make?
It’s a lot of work. It has been years of
What’s the point in a movie’s
film, but also the character and the
I enjoy trying different things. I like to
Is it also about giving yourself new
think that there is always some sort of
Does it get easier as you build on
with the world, and talk about it, to be
thread that connects them. They come
Yeah, it’s always scary and difficult,
able to process it all. It takes time. But
from me, and I think that someone
but that’s cool. When we were making
Sure. We shot Myth for $30,000, and it
I’m probably at the point now where I
watching each of these three films will
It Follows, I remember there was this
had a large cast with a ton of locations.
can enjoy it.
still see the connective tissue.
point where the script was written
I think that one nearly killed us. Adele
and Mike Gioulakis, the cinematog-
[Romanski] produced that one, and we
movies. I think it’s cool that films
genres and to experiment. The first
rapher, and I, we’d very-thoroughly
were really in it. And it was at a time in
mean different things to different
film was a very sweet coming-of-age
storyboarded the film and spent a lot
which I had another full-time job. My
people. I build them with that in mind,
film, and then It Follows, while it’s also
of time talking about how we planned
friend Julio [Perez IV], who has edited
and I do my best to not put my own
about young people, it’s a strange and
to put it together. We didn’t really have
all of my films, we were both working
thoughts out there strongly, because
disturbing horror film. I’m going to avoid
a lot of money. We didn’t have a ton
full-time jobs and working on the edit
I don’t want to say, “This is what this
even defining what this new movie is
of time. Resources were very limited
until the middle of the night.
means; this is what this film is about.”
exactly, but it’s a mystery.
and we felt we had to go into it with a
But it’s fun to play around with
Lake, we still have to share the film
By the time of It Follows, we’d had
I enjoy the different takes on my
I like the idea that they can be inter-
There are so many things that I
very strong plan. I remember having
the success of Myth, and that allowed
preted in multiple ways. And this new
write. I have many different scripts in
the thought, as we were just about
us some more money. Even so, it
film, probably there’s even more of
many different genres and I intend to
to start filming, that even though I’ve
probably wasn’t enough. Few things
that in the sense that it’s built specifi-
continue to explore and make different
been a horror fan since I was a kid, and
ever are, but it was better. And this one,
cally for multiple interpretations. ★
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DIA LOGUE We see studios participating less
and less with world premieres.
What do you think about that? It’s not entirely true. When the studios have films, they come— that’s the case with Disney and Universal this year. And recently with Pixar and Inside Out, with Sony and
The Cannes Film Festival’s director on keeping the world’s premiere film festival standing as the sands shift ever more forcefully
Money Monster and with Warner Bros., which is a studio that’s very faithful to Cannes and brings us Clint
BY NA N C Y TA RTAG L I O N E
Eastwood and Mad Max: Fury Road. What for you are the biggest chal-
WHILE IT CELEBRATED ITS 70 ANNIVERSARY last year, the Cannes Film Festival kicks off this year under the specter of 50 years since 1968’s event, which was derailed amid social unrest in France (see our feature on page 54). There’s plenty of unrest going on today too, but along with the social protests comes disruption in the film industry in general, and also specifically in Cannes. Non-conformist Thierry Frémaux, who is the final word on what gets in, has been making headlines since he took over in 2001. As the 71st Cannes Film Festival gets underway, he reflects on the past and looks to the future. TH
lenges and the greatest pleasures With so much disruption, how can
surrounding the festival?
Cannes adapt with the times?
The challenge remains the same: to
Must it be a pioneer?
put cinema at the heart of the world,
A festival must always adapt. It’s
in people’s hearts. Cinema, as with
what we do. I think a festival has to
art in general, says things that only it
go towards the impure, towards the
can show and suggest. It’s a strong
new, towards the never-before-seen,
poetic act. And festivals, which also
towards the bizarre. A festival has to
have media and economic responsi-
make attempts and experiments; it
bilities, are there to hold the fort. For
has to affirm; it has to question and it
example, to welcome Terry Gilliam is
has to make mistakes.
a great satisfaction. This man, at 80
It’s been 50 years since 1968,
a shock to see Cannes open to new
and things are changing in the
things and to transform in such a way.
2017/2018 is to take into account an
curse and he finally made his Don
industry; what parallels do you
But for animation, I found in Jeffrey
artistic, cultural and economic reality.
Quixote. He will be in Cannes. He is
see with 2018?
Katzenberg a wonderful big brother, a
America gave birth to two giants who
filled with joy and it’s wonderful.
1968 was the culmination point of a
lover of an audacious and ambitious
have come to trouble the game and
joyful and creative decade; that’s not
Cannes. I also greatly admired John
change models. Each has their convic-
With everything that’s happened
really the sentiment today. However,
Woo who had renewed the Hong Kong
tions and no one gives up. I think that’s
since last year and all the discus-
the Official Selection 2018, with
crime thriller genre and who is a great
good; America is definitely a great
sions surrounding the festival,
numerous new countries and many
director. So why wasn’t this sort of
country of cinema.
has the cinema been lost in all of
young female and male directors, is
cinema invited to Cannes?
reminiscent of the planetary creativity
Same for documentaries. Agnès
To welcome Amazon and Netflix in
years old, battled against a terrible
this? How can the festival turn When the lineup was initially
attention back to its raison d’etre?
of the ’60s which uncovered many
Varda, Fred Wiseman, Chris Marker,
unveiled, there were a number of
Its raison d’etre is even more
‘new waves’—Czech, American, Swiss,
Claude Lanzmann, Marcel Ophüls and
names expected that didn’t figure.
fundamental today than yesterday.
Japanese, Italian, Canadian, etc.
so many others had made great films.
You mentioned a “generational
Personally, I have never spoken so
Today, the world of the moving image
Then came Michael Moore; a gift for
renewal” among the selection.
much about cinema, which is the
is in permanent revolution, to use a
a festival. With genre films: Guillermo
What are you looking for in that?
thing I love to do more than anything
term from ’68. Cannes is the witness,
del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. Yes, our
The names that were predicted were
in the world. But the press talks
it has always been the witness, and it
audaciousness paid off and was
often in lists that were perfectly fantasti-
about it less. The media is interested
will continue to be.
well-accepted because all festivals
cal. With social networks, the entire
in the side issues, the scandals. It
[ultimately] have done the same thing.
world has become a journalist but no
heats up assumptions about this
It’s also almost 20 years since your
Same for Cannes Classics, which has
one is a specialist anymore. You have
or that strategy. I would like to have
first selection when you put Shrek
been followed everywhere. It all seems
to know that a selection doesn’t show
more questions about the selection.
into competition—something that
its definitive face until the last minute.
For example, on the fact of having
When we start, we have no specific proj-
selected a female Lebanese director
shocked the establishment at the time. For you, what are the biggest
Of course the arrival of Netflix,
ect in mind. In a way, it’s the films that
in competition for the first time, or
changes at the festival since, in
Amazon and others has upended
make the selection and not us. Some
a first Egyptian film, or a Kenyan
terms of genres which are more or
the situation recently. Do you see
films that were presented to us naturally
female director. Or that Jafar Panahi
this as a positive or a negative in
had their place. They showed something
is in competition for the first time.
When I was simply an audience
the evolution of cinema?
new or young, or they expressed a
member, it seemed evident to me
It’s a good thing that everyone is
certain change. Maybe after the 70
about selfies. It’s all so futile. Let’s talk
that the big festivals needed to open
interested in cinema: Netflix, Amazon,
anniversary, this change was natural; it
about film. Let’s celebrate the films
up to genre movies, to documen-
China, Saudi Arabia, Africa. Now more
had to exist. In any case, we welcomed it
and the auteurs. Let’s also celebrate
taries and to animation. For a lot of
than ever, cinema is at the heart of the
with enthusiasm. I hope that will always
the critics; those who nurture reflec-
people—some of the old world—it was
be the case in Cannes.
tion on the art form. ★
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but ultimately resulted in these kind of disappointments in the internet era. The Sea of Trees is far from the only victim. When Xavier Dolan came to the festival in 2016 with It’s Only the End of the World, the critical response was brutal, and bad headlines hit the press before the red carpet premiere. I actually didn’t disagree with the consensus, but the film went on to win the Grand Prix even as its director was bruised by his film’s initial ill-treatment. “The culture of trolling, bullying and unwanted hatred shouldn’t be an inextricable part of the cinematic or analytical adventure,” he later said. His latest film, The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, was accepted by Cannes this year. He told our sister site Indiewire that he wanted to go to the festival, but that his film wouldn’t be ready. Perhaps, but why take the chance? His is just another example of what seems to be motivating the HELLO DARKNESS Previous Palme winner Gus Van Sant appears less than pleased in 2015 after a press screening of The Sea of Trees received a deafening chorus of boos.
back of its morning press screening. At
Cannes decision to put its filmmakers
the official premiere later that evening,
ahead of the press.
there were no boos at all. Instead, the
Now, the press will see a film next
film was greeted by applause and the
door at the smaller Salle Debussy, at
usual ovation afforded directors (in
the same time as its gala premiere.
this case former Palme d’Or winner
For the later premiere of the night,
Gus Van Sant). But it didn’t matter to
that press screening will happen the
anyone outside the Palais that night.
following morning. This, in essence, will
The die had already been cast.
necessarily downgrade the importance
I HAVE TO CONFESS that as a Cannes Film Festival veteran, and a journalist who attends nearly all the competition screenings, I was hoping this day would come. I’m talking, of course, about the hand-slapping move that the Cannes Film Festival has pulled for its 2018 edition. The culprits reaching for the cookie jar, in the mind of festival director Thierry Frémaux, are the many journalists and critics from around the world who travel to the Côte d’Azur each May in the hopes of being the first to have their say on the movies in Frémaux’s selection.
I’d been at that morning press
and significance of Cannes critics’
screening, in which the boos were
reviews, affording the invited premiere
reported to be deafening. There were
audience as much of a chance to have
boos, mostly from one particular
their say on social media.
corner of the theater, and I found them
But I’m on board. I found it embar-
annoying; I liked the film (sue me) and
rassing to go to those screenings and
thought it was playing nicely until some
watch these films get mangled before
anonymous critics decided to poison
having a fair shot at glory. I have been
to many black tie premieres in Cannes
The mood at the premiere after-
as well, and never once did I hear any
party that evening was almost funereal.
booing. No one wants to do that with
the fate of their films may already
Van Sant didn’t stay long, and Frémaux
the cast and filmmakers present.
8:30AM morning screenings the day
have been sealed. Critics have not only
was frustrated. With the logistics and
Cannes is an amazing place to launch
of their splashy red carpet premiere in
seen the film, they’ve also tweeted it,
money it takes studios and distributors
a film, and certainly a special moment
the evening. Or perhaps even the night
reviewed it, and, in some cases, even
to bring their releases to the festival,
for anyone whose film is accepted.
before, since Cannes always does a
booed it, starting a stream of negative
why would they take the risk of those
Why ruin the party?
double world premiere feature, with
headlines and headaches for festival
movies being booed by members of
press screenings split up in order to
organizers. A far cry from the “very
accommodate the volume of features
pleasant festival” they often promise
It’s how things have always been:
But, as Frémaux says, by the time
This was the case for The Sea of
As Frémaux says, “It’s not about the press, it’s about the gala
That entire incident seemed
screenings.” This is a move that might
particularly unfair, and I wrote about
restore some luster to Cannes, as well
it at the time, criticizing Cannes for a
as the trust of the invited filmmakers.
the filmmakers make their way up
Trees in 2015, which the world’s press
press-first policy that might have made
As for my fellow critics, they can
those fabled steps in front of the Palais,
had declared dead-on-arrival off the
sense in the era of long print lead times,
boohoo all they want. ★
RE X /S H U T T ERSTOC K
Cannes’ press screening shake-up has thrown hungry hacks for a loop, but it’s the right move, says Pete Hammond
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After a year of huge upheaval and radical rebirth, Deadline's 2018 list of Disruptors runs the gamut from gutsy newcomers to pivoting industry heavyweights. This yearâ€™s class, in alphabetical order:
48 43 49 47 49 41 33 36 53 40 35 22 42 50 48 39 37 36 42 44 51 51 52 52 34
30WEST Bela Bajaria Bloom Brad Weston Chris Rice Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud Daniela Elstner Franklin Leonard French Theatrical Windows Haifaa al-Mansour Inclusion Riders John Krasinski Michael B. Jordan Moviepass NEON Roseanne Barr Ryan Murphy Shonda Rhimes Stuart Ford Taylor Sheridan Tencent Youku YouTube Zack Van Amburg & Jamie Erlicht Zelda Perkins DEADLINE.COM
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RS O PT RU IS
JOHN KRASINSKI may be best known as Jim from The Office, but with his third feature as a director, A Quiet Place, he forges a new identity as the high prince of horror. JOE UTICHI meets the filmmaker captivating critics and astounding audiences, and details the disruptive mastery of an artist who refused to be boxed in.
4/29/18 11:42 AM
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Krasinski and real-life wife Emily Blunt have barely any dialogue in their roles as Lee and Evelyn Abbott, as together with their children, played by Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds, they must remain silent in order to evade terrifying noise-sensitive creatures—an effort that doesn’t always prove successful.
D E A D L I N E .C O M / AWA R D S L I N E
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f it’s the job of a Hollywood filmmaker to realize imagined worlds where the bounds of everyday reality are cast aside, then John Krasinski has a claim for delivering aboveand-beyond his brief. Ever since A Quiet Place sailed to a surprise $50 million opening weekend, everyday realities are shifting, even off-screen. The munching of popcorn has ceased. Chattering cinemagoers have been silenced. Even bathroom breaks have been cautiously tiptoed. As Deadline inducts its 2018 class of Disruptors, there can be few candidates better suited to a place on our list than Krasinski. Seizing on a deliciously simple idea first drafted by Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, Krasinski crafted A Quiet Place into an instant horror hit, casting himself and his wife Emily Blunt as the heads of a small family in rural America whose lives are upended when otherworldly monsters invade the planet. As it becomes apparent that these blind beasts track their human quarry by sound, the family must live utterly silent lives in order to survive. Stripped of all but the most spartan dialogue, A Quiet Place is an extreme exercise in less is more. Krasinski’s disruptive influence on our industry, though, goes beyond his latest feature. When The Office wrapped in 2013, Krasinski stood at a fork in the road and made a resolute choice to take the path less traveled, pivoting back to directing with 2016’s The Hollars, and steering away from the light comedy that had launched his career. With Matt Damon, he came up with the original idea that resulted in Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea. He became an action star for director Michael Bay in 13 Hours; he will soon front Amazon’s adaptation of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. And his comedy takes a darker turn in Dream Corp LLC on Adult Swim, which he executive produces. Not bad for a kid who nearly gave up on his career in this industry before his Office breakthrough ever happened. Krasinski found acting at Brown University, and headed to theater school in Connecticut for his final semester. On the day his parents came to pick him up, he told his mom he was moving to New York to become an actor. “That’s great,” she told him. “We’ll support you, and good luck. You have to make me one promise, which is you give it two years and if nothing happens you will pull yourself out of this, because as your mother, I could never handle telling my son to give up on his dreams.” “It was so poignant and so amazingly wise, so I made her that promise,” Krasinski remembers. “I had, I think, nine different waiting and bartending jobs—I did everything I could to scrape it together—and I was auditioning. I booked a couple commercials and a couple little plays here and there, but it didn’t feel like I could make a living. Toward the end of those two years, I called her and I said, ‘This is it. You were right. I gave it a good shot, and I’m out.’ She said, ‘You know what? It’s September. Wait it out for the rest of the year, don’t quit now. I appreciate you calling.’ I said, ‘Oh, OK, great.’ Three weeks later, I got The Office.” Now that he’s ready to relax and reflect on the success of A Quiet Place, Krasinski recalls something Steve Carell once told him. “He said, ‘At the end of your career you could win 16 Oscars, you could do 500 movies, but they’re always going to know us from The Office.’ I said, ‘But isn’t that an honor?’ I really do believe that there’s something about The Office that is on the mantle in its own little box. It can never be touched; it can never be replicated, and I know I’ll never have as lucky an experience as that.” He smiles. “Though this is giving it a run for its money, for sure.”
“Three weeks before I read the script we had just had our second daughter, so I was actually holding my daughter, reading this script about a father who would do anything for his kids, and I just thought, I have to do this.” How do you react when you wake up on a Monday morning to the news that your movie has made $50 million in its opening weekend, way above everybody’s initial estimates? Dude, it’s insane. It’s completely insane. It’s one of those elemental things you feel like you did when you were in high school, where you thought you had something cool but you weren’t sure if other people would think it was cool, and then it just happens. Emily and I, honestly, wake up every morning and stare at each other for a good 15 minutes and say, ‘Is this real?’ We’re so blown away. Take me back to the start of your involvement with this script. Was it love at first sight? I had just signed on to Jack Ryan and we were going over scripts, in the early days of pre-production, DEADLINE.COM
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and Andrew Form and Brad Fuller at Platinum
she’d say, “Yes, I’ll do it for you.” I couldn’t have lived
So when you’re looking at your kids as you read
Dunes—who are also producers on Jack Ryan—called
with that. I have been witness to the incredible intel-
the script, and then you cast your wife in the
and said, “Would you ever act in a genre movie?” I
ligence, taste level, and dedication she has to movies.
movie, does pulling this together become an odd
said, “Oh man, I don’t do horror movies, so I’m prob-
I remember being next to her when she signed onto
form of self-therapy for you to process what you
ably not your guy. But if it’s a cool idea…” They said,
that movie Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, and then
would do if your family was in jeopardy?
“Well, it’s about a family that can’t make any noise,
they pushed it four months and she said, “I’m still
A million percent. If I’m really honest with you, this
and you have to figure out why.” That’s the best one-
in.” And then they pushed it another eight months
is, without a doubt, the most all-in I’ve ever gone on
liner you can get, really. I was so hooked.
or something and her agents called and said, “Well,
anything in my life. Truly, the amount of risk I knew I
they’re pushing it, so we’ll find you something else,”
was taking in doing this, this was sort of an all-or-
it, and it was so strong and had so much there to
and she said, “No, no, no, I’m doing that movie.” She’s
nothing thing. It’s a terrible sports analogy, but I’ve
begin with. Their script differed from mine in a bunch
such a dedicated artist, so I knew that I didn’t want
always said—to my wife, my parents, my family—I
of little ways, but the heart was all theirs. They really
her to just do it for me. I didn’t want to be the first
want to be put in the game to try new things. If
had this thing that I wanted to be a part of. And then,
person she told, “Fine, I’ll do it, but I don’t really want
you put me in the game and I suck, don’t ever put
three weeks before I read the script we had just
to.” I didn’t even ask her; I was too scared to talk to
me back into the game. And that’s how I felt. The
had our second daughter, so I was actually holding
her about it.
personal aspect to this was the driving engine that I
They sent me the Beck and Woods script, I read
my daughter, reading this script about a father who
So I finished the whole script, and we flew to LA so
couldn’t stop. Obviously, it’s every parent’s greatest
would do anything for his kids, and I just thought, I
I could pitch to Paramount—not just on the script, and
fear; not creatures in the dark, but the idea that you
have to do this.
to hear their notes, but to pitch my vision for directing
can only protect your kids so much.
It was the most bizarre thing. I’ve never had
it. She read it on the plane. She said, “As long as you’re
All these big fears play into the idea of the movie,
this moment where I had a vision for something so
going to go pitch it to them, can I read it?” I said,
and it became a much bigger metaphor for me. I
quickly, so literally, within 10 to 12 hours. I was pitching
“Sure.” It was on the plane that she turned to me and
knew that if I could stick to that metaphor, I’d be
Emily what I would do with the rewrite, and she
she genuinely looked sick. I reached for a barf bag, and
OK. I remember the only other person, really, that
just kept saying, “This sounds really good. It’s really
as I was reaching for it she said, “You can’t let anyone
I had read it was Drew Goddard. Drew said, “If you
interesting.” It was her who said, “You know, you seem
else do this part.”
shoot exactly what you wrote on the page, you’ll be
so excited. I’ve never seen you like this. These ideas
It was truly like a weird romantic comedy, and she
fine because the metaphor is the thing. Don’t worry
that you’re having for the movie, you’ve got to direct
was proposing to me, and she just said, “It has to be
about scaring people, don’t worry about the creature,
it.” I said, “Oh no, I can’t. I can’t direct a horror movie.”
me. Will you let me do this part?” I just screamed,
everything is going to be answered and come organi-
But I didn’t have a good enough answer for why not.
“Yes,” right there, on a flight to LA.
cally from your deep connection to the metaphor.” I thought that was profound.
“It was on the plane that [Emily] turned to me and she genuinely looked sick. I reached for a barf bag, and as I was reaching for it she said, ‘You can’t let anyone else do this part.’ It was truly like a weird romantic comedy, and she was proposing to me. I just screamed, ‘Yes,’ right there, on a flight to LA.”
You said you were not the go-to horror guy. In fact, you had no grounding in horror before this movie, right? Even watching it? No, and when Emily recommended I direct it, it took me a while to decide to do it for that exact reason. I have the deepest respect for the genre and the deepest respect for horror fans. I know the lengths and the depths that horror
Emily’s version of events is that she had sug-
You pretty much incepted her into doing the movie.
fans go to, and I didn’t want to let anyone down, so
gested casting ideas for the mother and then,
I totally did. It was a big bet, because obviously some
I really had to think about, what was it that I could
when she finally read the script, she immediately
of the names she was giving me were going to be
do? What could I bring that would be the best for
insisted she wanted to work with you on it. But
fantastic in the movie, but there was something
the movie? But I think it was because this one just
given you started from a place that was deeply
elemental where I knew it would be her, and I knew
started coming out of me. The ideas flowed, from
rooted in family, didn’t you want her right away?
she could crush it.
the sand paths, to the lights, to the walk through the
Oh, of course; as soon as I started writing it, she was
The other thing is, we have been wanting to work
forest, to the pharmacy, they all came within an hour.
the only one I had in my head. If I’m really honest
together, but for all intents and purposes, we didn’t
with you, I’m a pretty confident person, but I wasn’t
want the story of us being married to supersede
confident that she would say yes. One, she was very
whatever story we were telling. What we discovered,
it about your favorite genre movies? I had obviously
busy. She was doing Mary Poppins, and we had just
as an added bonus, was that it was actually really
seen some genre movies. I was a huge fan of the
had our second child. I knew this wasn’t the best
beneficial that we were married. I think that the idea
more classic stuff like Jaws, Alien, and Hitchcock’s
time to say, “Hey, do you want to do another movie
of spouses having a secret language, it’s the only
movies, and they’re always about more than their
right after Mary Poppins?” The other thing was I
language we could use.
genre. I think Jaws is one of the best-written scripts
didn’t want her to say no, and I really felt it would be
I just wanted it to be her so badly, but it was
a no, and that would be a very difficult conversation.
purely by chance that she wound up reading the
A weird, awkward dinner.
script, and I genuinely don’t think I would ever have
But the thing that I was most afraid of was that
asked her to do it.
It felt like that had to be a good sign. The other thing was, at the end of the day, what is
I’ve ever known. And there’s a bigger theme of fear and addressing your biggest fears head on. I remembered something Greg Daniels had told me on The Office. This seems funny, but it’s
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absolutely one of the reasons why I ended up deciding to do this. He said, “Your job on this show is not to play these lines funny. Your job on this show is to play these lines truthfully, and if people find them funny, that’s up to them. If people find them emotional, that’s up to them, too. But if you play them for emotion and for laughs, we’re going to miss.” When I was about to decide to do this, I thought of that bit of advice, and I thought, that’s exactly what I need to do. I need to go into this and do what I think I know how to do best, which is this story about a family. I thought, just like The Office, if you love these characters, you’ll love where they go. And then I can make you scared. Then I can make you sad. I can make you all these different things, but my primary job is to ensure that you like the characters. Once I decided that, it was just a crash course school in the genre, and what was interesting about that was, I wasn’t going through to steal people’s very innovative, very brilliant techniques. I used what I thought was my weakness and made it my strength, and I looked instead at how I felt about what I was watching, and when. I started writing down when these things were affecting me, whether it was Get Out or The Witch or The Babadook. I started learning about tension, and when I got scared was really the barometer, because then you have things like Let the Right One In, which had these tiny, little glimpses of just beautiful filmmaking that were also somehow terrifying. And then, of course, the thing I learned when I went deep into the genre was how stupid I’d been to not be watching these movies. I think it was my 12-year-old self that said, “You shouldn’t watch scary movies.” I’d been adhering to some theory that a 12-year-old had because he was too scared to see Nightmare on Elm Street. But horror is where some of the best filmmaking has been done. The best writing, the best directing, the best cinematography. That’s true. Many of the greatest directors have done horror. Hitchcock, as you said. Kubrick… That’s the thing, and I’ve watched all those documentaries and learned from those guys. I remember the stories of The Shining. None of them are, “I wanted to scare the shit out of people.” It was all about true fear, true ambition, true anxiety, true insecurity. The idea of insecurity, the idea of going crazy because you’re not who you wish you could be. All that stuff is huge. Even in Alien, the idea that this thing is representative of the one thing you don’t want to have happen when you take a big chance in your life of any kind, which is to fall directly on your face. That’s what happens in Alien. It’s like, “Yeah, sending people off to discover new lands is pretty exciting except for the one thing, which is, oh my god, we’re all going to die.” It’s interesting to hear you describe this as the biggest risk you’ve taken, because your career has never struck me as wholly free of risk. After PHOTOGRAPH BY
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“I came off The Office with this enormous opportunity, and I felt like I hadn’t earned it, to be honest. I felt like I got so lucky, and there was such an enormous amount of success on that show that I didn’t deserve it, so I had to go out and do something that at least pushed the boundaries to start feeling like I deserved it.” The Office, the received wisdom would have
Was that the same drive that led you into acting
of the only places that would make up credits to give
been to lean heavily into starring in comedy, but
in the first place?
back to Brown, because I came in mid-year at Brown,
you didn’t do that. You moved into writing and
I started to become an actor at Brown because of
so I had to make up a semester at the end. I went in
directing, developing stories about grief and
the community, honestly. I just wanted to be a part
there lazily, just not wanting to be at a school where
politics. It feels like there’s a conscious push
of this community. The people that I was meeting
my friends weren’t anymore, because they had just
towards taking risk, that it’s by design.
that were in the acting community and the theater
graduated. It ended up being the most revolutionary
There is design, obviously, and in our business there’s
community, they were just the smartest, coolest,
place for me, because it tasted and smelled like those
also a good amount of chance. The Office was my
biggest thinkers out there.
stories of the old days, of people giving it everything.
life for a long while, and I owe it everything. It created
My education at Brown is obviously one of the
every opportunity I have. There is nothing about that
best I could have ever gotten, but the real education
to bed until two or three every night, because it was
show that I am running away from, at all. But I came
was asking all these people I met to recommend a
learning how to light, learning how to write, learning
off The Office with this enormous opportunity, and I
new movie and a new album. I wasn’t a kid who saw
how to direct, learning how to do set design. It was
felt like I hadn’t earned it, to be honest. I felt like I got
anything that wasn’t in a multiplex, and I wasn’t the
so immersive and so intense. And part of the reason
so lucky, and there was such an enormous amount
guy who listened to anything on the radio, and so I
for that was our incredible leader of the school was
of success on that show that I didn’t deserve it, so I
got all these people to give me new movies and new
David Jaffe, and he just said, “if you want to do this,
had to go out and do something that at least pushed
albums for four years. I was just immersed in this
you can’t have a romantic vision of it. You have to
the boundaries to start feeling like I deserved it. From
world of amazing, incredible stuff. I remember the
know how much hard work it is, and so we’re going to
doing my first play, which I was terrified to do, to
first album I was ever given was Nick Drake’s Way to
show you how much hard work it is.”
taking on 13 Hours, or whatever it is.
Blue. It just blew my mind. One of the first movies I
But at the same time, you need people to bet on you. For a long time after The Office, there was not a lot of opportunity coming that wasn’t very similar to
We woke up at seven in the morning, and we didn’t go
ever got was Noah Baumbach’s Kicking and Scream-
There can’t be a version of another life you’d
ing, which blew my mind.
have been happy with at this point.
And so maybe that’s where this risk taking came
Oh my god, no. At that point, all I wanted to be was
The Office, so my idea of wanting to do something
from, because the people I was surrounded by were
a schoolteacher at Brown; I wanted to be an English
different wasn’t very easily served. And that’s when
risk takers, with deep knowledge of everything. There
teacher. When I started this theater school, that’s all
I did The Hollars. I remember somebody said to me,
was no one lane that they loved; it was about taking
I wanted. Absolutely now, I totally understand when
“Oh man, when the show ends, the phone’s going
people say, “There’s nothing else I would know how
to be ringing off the hook.” I don’t know if there was
to do.” Basically what I’m saying is I’m pretty worth-
something wrong with my phone, but it wasn’t ringing
It seems like perhaps when you come to these
as much as I thought it would. So by going out and
kinds of revelations later in life, you lean into
doing The Hollars, and directing my own thing, it was
them harder, develop them more passionately.
Had you been writing and developing stuff, even
I’m glad you said it, because that’s exactly how I feel.
in those days? Your first film, Brief Interviews
It’s how I feel about genre now. I was late to the party,
with Hideous Men, based on David Foster
Sunday Night because when I first got to New York, I
but I don’t ever want to leave. That’s how I felt when
Wallace’s work, came together only a few years
was a waiter, and my friends were waiters, assistants,
people started taking me to Indie film. I remember
after you started on The Office.
yoga instructors, whatever we could do to pay the
feeling really embarrassed in my college days, that
It was actually the first thing I ever did. What hap-
bills. I remember someone saying the one thing you
I didn’t know this stuff. That I had to sit and watch
pened was, Chris Hayes from MSNBC, he directed
don’t get to do when you’re a working actor is actually
all of Martin Scorsese’s stuff in a week, because the
the stage version of Brief Interviews with Hideous
act. You have to pay the bills doing every other thing.
only one I had ever seen was Goodfellas. It was one
But we’d meet every Sunday night to talk about our
of those things where, “Oh my God, I’m so far behind
favorite plays, our favorite movies, our favorite books,
and I’ll never be as well versed as these people.”
and our favorite music. It was the only time we could
What they taught me very quickly is it’s not about
be creative. As corny as it sounds, because it sounds
being well versed, it’s about being in love, and I truly
like a scene from adult Goonies or something, we all
have never been more hungry and ambitious to stay
said, “If we get that chance, this is what we’ll do. We’ll
in something, and be a part of something, in my life.
It sounds really hokey, but I named my company
tear the doors down on this place, we’ll do something
I was at this amazing theater school, The National
different, we’ll push the limits.” So that’s exactly what
Theater Institute in the O’Neill Center in Connecticut.
I felt like I had to do.
It sounds lazy, but I went there because it was one
less if I can’t do this.
Krasinski’s resume includes (clockwise from top): the earnest Jim Halpert in The Office; soldier Jack Silva in 13 Hours; with Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson in rom-com Something Borrowed; with Anna Kendrick in his directorial debut The Hollars; and Leatherheads with George Clooney and Renée Zellweger.
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Men, and it was a big turning point in my life because at that point in my career at Brown, I had just been a part of the sketch comedy group. I had done a couple plays, but no one really took me seriously and I was always in the background. ‘Armed Guard Number Four’ or something like that. I had done one or two parts that were a little more interesting, and then Chris Hayes said, “Listen man. I’m doing this thing, and I think you’d be great.” It’s the part that Christopher Meloni plays in the movie, and I remember it was two nights. I think the theater had room for 99, maybe 150 people, and both nights were sold out. 250 people were turned away. It was huge; it was a massive deal. The reason why it was such a defining moment for me was because up until that point, I only ever saw acting as entertainment. I only saw it as, you be a goofball, people laugh, and it’s fine. What I saw in that moment was people giving performances like I had never seen before. It was just unbelievably moving. Multiplex kid was in depths way beyond anything he could fathom. People were crying in the theater. I remember walking across campus the next day and one of my teachers came up and said, “That was one of the best things I’ve ever seen at the student theater,” and I was blown away. Within an hour, another teacher came up to me and said, “Honestly, that’s not what this is about. It’s so offensive, what you guys did. That’s not what the student theater’s for.” I’m no Andy Kaufman in that any reaction is a good reaction, but it felt palpable in my head and in my heart that something was happening, and that all of a sudden I was starting to see acting as not being about entertainment anymore. You can really move people; you can really tell a story. Does that give you a sanguine perspective on the reads people have had on A Quiet Place? People have even debated whether it’s pro-life or pro-choice. Wow. I hadn’t seen that. But I embrace it because I was taught by these people who led me into this whole new world. At the same time that I was reading Brief Interviews I was reading Angels in America, and at the same time I was also watching Ghost. It was such a crash course, and I mean that because I should have been sponsored by Advil during college, with the headaches I was getting from trying to be as smart as everybody else. There’s a genuine appreciation for what art is and what art can expose. It sounds like a trite thing but it’s true—especially with a movie like this, I think I’m experiencing it more and more—that the greatest compliment you can have on any piece of work that you do is that it starts a conversation. I love the stuff where people say they can’t turn on the sink in the movie theater bathroom because they don’t want to make a sound, or a boyfriend getting punched by his girlfriend when he turned on the radio in the car; that stuff’s great. More than that, there is a conversation DEADLINE.COM
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where people have said, “Is this about the political
But one of the first questions we asked was, “Are you
climate? Is this about parenthood?” I’ve never heard
confused?” And the response was, “No.” And this was
the pro-choice and pro-life thing, but it is awesome
a version of the movie that people saw without one
that people are thinking about it.
creature effect in it. They still said, “The relationship between the girl and the creature is obvious. This is
How much work went in to fleshing out the
how they came to live like this. The creatures attack
world of the film? We’re given only touches of
by sound. The information you need is on the walls, in
information, but do you have a grander picture in
the newspaper reports.” You’re like, “Holy shit, that’s
your head of what is happening away from these
But the reason I made that conscious decision
It was an extremely conscious choice not to be
was not only because I thought audiences would be
explicit about everything, and that came from
smart enough to get it, but more than that, I thought
learning by experience. When we did Promised Land,
it’d be a really good way to connect them to this
we went into Focus and there was a guy named
family, because you don’t know anything they don’t
Jack Foley, who was the head of marketing there. I
know. If you knew more than them, I think it would be
turned to him at the end of a marketing meeting and
a weirder experience. The fact that you’re watching
I said, “For my own gratification, what is the biggest
the father figure trying to work things out; you’d think
misconception in Hollywood?” Without hesitating,
he was an idiot if you knew more than he did.
he said, “The biggest misconception in Hollywood is that people are stupid. People do not want to be
It calls to mind the classic six-word story—“For
spoon-fed, people want to be challenged.” The other
sale: baby shoes, never worn”—which paints an
thing that he said was this idea, when it comes to
entire narrative. But did you have fun diving into
audiences, of red state versus blue state does not
“When Emily recommended I direct it, it took me a while to decide to do it. I have the deepest respect for the genre and the horror fans, and I didn’t want to let anyone down, so I really had to think about, what was it that I could do? But I think it was because this one just started coming out of me. The ideas flowed, from the sand paths, to the lights, to the walk through the forest, to the pharmacy. They all came within an hour.“ exist. Everyone wants a good story; to be taken away,
That was a huge draw. I give a large amount of credit
and to be challenged.
to Jeffrey Beecroft, my production designer, because
there’s no room to think about that. They’re there,
Looking back over my experiences, you could see
In the extreme these characters are going through,
he got this movie on an emotional level. Everything
there’s an old man who’s about to scream, they just
that with The Office, where the first time people saw
he did, he connected it to that. All set design is an
have to deal with that. I think it would be interesting
it they would have been right to say, “What is this? A
absolute work of art, but ours was also a whodunnit
to see what’s going on elsewhere at this same time.
on the walls. You had to use all the sets as informa-
But they gave it a chance, even in the very early
tion-givers. It was so much fun to do that.
days of the television renaissance we’re living through
It’s only a short while since the movie came out, but already people are saying, “We want to live in this world more,” which is really interesting. I’m surprised
right now. Now you have Game of Thrones, where
The movie’s been such a tremendous hit that,
people aren’t like, “Nah, we know what this is, and we
every kid, every 50-year-old, and every 90-year-old
perhaps unsurprisingly, Paramount announced
just want to leave it as it is.”
is keeping track of 1,283 characters with ease. It’s
a sequel at CinemaCon. Is it something you’ve
unbelievable to think that would have been possible,
Perhaps some of that curiosity came originally
but it is.
To be perfectly honest, it was never really on my mind
from the stories that this was at some point
while we were making it. I never really thought of it
considered a potential Cloverfield project. Was
dous amount of backstory for this world. I know
as an expanded world; I always thought of it as a
there any truth there?
where everybody is, where everybody is coming from,
That was never the case. There was always a rumor
So I literally took Jack’s advice. I have a tremen-
and how it all happened. But I pulled it all back from
But the thing that I loved in the movie—where my
that was happening, but not only did it never come
the film. I didn’t want to piss anybody off, or frustrate
mind kept wandering as we were making it—was the
up with us, I don’t think it was ever seriously consid-
and confuse them. We only did one test screening
question of who was on the other end of those fires,
ered at Paramount. It was a rumor just because the
because that was all we had time for, and if, in that
when the father lights the fire and in the distance
movie was at Paramount.
test, people had said, “I have no idea what’s going
those other fires light up? How did those people
on and I hate this movie,” I would have reconsidered.
survive? How did that old man survive?
I actually auditioned for the one that just went out on Netflix, The Cloverfield Paradox, when it was still
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CHILDREN OF THE CORN
Krasinski crouches in a grain silo preparing to shoot one of the film’s most nail-biting sequences, as Jupe and Simmonds wait in silence for the creature’s approach.
called God Particle. So I knew that was going, and I
an idea that anything is possible. How can a show
to something that lets me know I have an in, just like
knew they were doing a World War II one, so it wasn’t
called Assy McGee, about a talking ass who’s a detec-
what happened with A Quiet Place.
ever brought to us as, “Do you want to mold them
tive, not be as disruptive as it gets? And then my spirit animal is Conan O’Brien. Long
We broke a story a few years ago that you were
I’m really glad we didn’t. I love Cloverfield and I
before I knew him, he became my definition of a dis-
developing something for television set around
love J.J. Abrams, but there was something about this
ruptor. I remember being in college and never missing
the history of the Chateau Marmont. Is that still
that felt different. The other thing that was really
a single episode, probably for four full years. There
cool about that was it made us the underdog. The
was something he was doing that was so unbeliev-
That is one of the projects that I’m very attached to,
movie was that thing where people could read it and
ably smart. It tied into how I felt at Brown, where I
and it’s coming back around. Aaron Sorkin and I were
decide that it was either going to be great or terrible,
was learning to push the limits, and sometimes it
going to do it at HBO. We were taking our time with
and there was no expectation. That’s why I say it
would work and sometimes it wouldn’t. All that was
it, and then Aaron got busy with everything Aaron’s
was the most I ever bet on a movie, because I knew
happening on Conan O’Brien’s show at 12:30 at night,
been busy with, and it just went slowly away. But
there was no middle ground here. Either we pull off a
and I found myself growing a lot by watching him.
recently, the incredible author of Paul Newman’s
into each other?”
movie with barely any dialogue, full of sign language, or we really don’t.
biography, Shawn Levy, is writing a biography on the It may still be too soon to say, but what are your
Chateau Marmont called The Castle on Sunset, so we
ambitions for where you want to go from here as
just bought the rights to that book and we’re going to
This is our third year celebrating disruption in our
a director? How do you continue to disrupt?
give it another shot.
industry; the people ripping up the rulebook and
My production company has always been the most
As I said, I need to connect to stories with my
rewriting the industry on their own terms. Who
fun I’ve ever had, and the people I work with—Alexa
heart, and so I wouldn’t want to make anything that
are those people, to you?
Ginsburg and Allyson Seeger—are incredible. We just
was glitzy or salacious or anything like that. My idea
I honestly always look for disruption, and I mean
sit, the three of us, and try to think about doing mov-
was to do a Gosford Park-style upstairs-downstairs
everywhere. I’ll never forget the day I saw There Will
ies that mean a lot to us. If you watch The Hollars,
version of not only a hotel, but a hotel with secrets,
Be Blood, and I couldn’t get my mind around the idea
whatever you feel about that movie, you can at least
with protection, with history. The history of the
that someone went from Punch Drunk Love to that
understand why I made it. There was something so
Chateau Marmont is the history of Hollywood, from
movie. It was the same brain—the same person who
emotional in that movie that I really wanted to tap
its inception. It was built as an apartment building
said, “I can switch from this to this.” So I have never
into. Obviously, this is a much bigger sandbox to play
in the 1930s, and then when the great crash hap-
been the same since that movie, because I saw in
in, but it’s the same zone. It’s also heartfelt, without
pened they turned it into a hotel to make money. In
Paul Thomas Anderson the potential of exactly what
being saccharine or sentimental. It’s the idea that it’s
the ’40s, during World War II, there was a Japanese
you’re talking about, which is basically somebody
OK to be emotional. And I’m an emotional dude. I cry
fighter plane seen around Santa Monica, and
saying, “There is no path. I just do.” That was a huge
at everything. It’s a wonder I haven’t cried since we
everyone ran into the basement of the Marmont,
lesson. Of course, Paul is so consistently a disruptor
because it was the only earthquake-proof base-
just by doing his own thing. Hilariously, I find that the
So for me, what I do next is really based on the
disruptors become the norm, so it’s easy to forget
question of, what’s out there that I could connect to
how disruptive they truly are.
like this? There are a couple original ideas that I’ve
On another level, Adult Swim is also, to me, a
ment at the time, so they thought it might also be bombproof. These are stories that go much further beyond
been toying with that are really fun, and I think there’s
just Hollywood. My take on it is Hollywood is the
disruptor. Those people push the limits on surrealism,
something out there, but I’d love for someone to say,
inside of a snow globe and the Chateau is the glass
and show a complete defiance of rules, and there’s
“Do you have a take on this?” And for me to respond
holding it all together. ★ DEADLINE.COM
Cover Story - Krasinski.indd 31
4/29/18 11:43 AM
The #MeToo and Timeâ€™s Up movements have been the year's biggest drivers of positive change for the industry. Meet some of the women at the heart of that change BY ANDREAS WISEMAN
From left: Rose McGowan, Frances McDormand, Alyssa Milano, Mira Sorvino, Ashley Judd, activist Tarana Burke, Salma Hayek and Reese Witherspoon.
4/29/18 12:05 PM
he movie industry finds itself in uncharted waters. The downfall of heavyweight figures such as Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Roy Price and the tireless work of equality campaigners and some tenacious journalists has afforded the business a rare opportunity for self-improvement. Calls for reform are reverberating across continents with hiring practices, workplace conditions, NDAs and pay all under the microscope like never before. Cannes Film Festival artistic director Thierry Frémaux described it as an “earthquake moment”, one which has even prompted the festival to “address” its own “practices" and launch a harassment hotline. If Heelgate was a bad dream for the festival, #MeToo and Time’s Up should be a wake-up call as they have been for the whole industry. In the following pages we speak to some of those at the heart of driving change, about how they are sustaining momentum without losing force, and how they are helping turn watershed moments into genuine cultural shifts.
the whole issue seems to be different. They don’t seem as concerned.
DOC & FILM CEO DANIELA ELSTNER is one of Europe’s most respected sales executives. Just a few
During my research into harassment in the Euro-
months ago she was on a high after her movie Touch
pean industry, French sellers had the most stories
Me Not scooped the Berlin Film Festival’s top prize, her
about wrongdoing. What does that say about the
second film to do so. The president of French sales
agent union ADEF is now in Cannes with Wang Bing’s
France surprises sometimes. There are a lot of things
Official Selection documentary Dead Souls.
that are said in France that couldn’t be said in the US
Elstner is an unassuming expert, however. For
or UK. But France is partly proud of that. The whole
example, few people know that in 2016 she received
Catherine Millet stuff made me cry. I was so angry.
the Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest civilian honor
Those discussions put the conversation out of focus.
for services to film. Until recently, many were unaware
Her comments, and those of Catherine Deneuve, make
that Elstner was once a victim herself. Twenty years
life easier for those men who don’t want to change.
ago while attending a festival for film promotion You mentioned targets earlier. How do you
agency UniFrance, Elstner was sexually assaulted by a well-known figure in the French film sector. After her
This has a particular focus on festivals and
think Cannes is doing when it comes to women
ordeal was ignored by the government-backed agency,
she kept it bottled up inside her for 20 years until this
After we spoke in November, I heard so many stories
I think the number of women here is similar to other
past November at AFM, when she became the first
from women about their own negative experiences
major festivals. We need to know more about the
sales executive in the industry to detail her own painful
during festivals and markets. At festivals you are often
composition of the selection committees. It should be
experience of sexual harassment. It proved a water-
not in your own country or your usual environment; you
50/50 and we need to have more women running fes-
shed moment for Elstner who consequently launched
don't go home in the evening. Meetings take place in a
tivals. Virtually no category-A festivals have women in
Speak Up, a European answer to Time’s Up.
hotel room, often into the evenings. There is hardly any
charge. That has to change, especially considering how
separation between private and professional life and
highly subsidized some of them are by public money.
How have things been since AFM?
all the while, you are sleeping little; you’re overworked;
AFM was difficult. I had to leave early. There was a real
you’re stressed. It’s a little similar to the atmosphere on
Are you in favor of introducing more gender-
physical reaction to me opening up after all that time. I
a movie set but it’s even more concentrated.
couldn’t sleep. But after a time it became liberating. It was the right time.
In the past, I would have said, “Bullshit, I don’t want Are you speaking to major festivals?
there to be one,” but now I do. Too much has happened
We’re in discussions with Cannes, Toronto and Rot-
and not enough has changed.
Do male buyers speak to you differently?
terdam among others, and industry site Cinando about
I think it’s about how at ease you are with the subject.
taking on our principles. Getting people verbally on
Berlin invited controversial filmmaker Kim Ki-duk
For those who are at ease, there’s no problem. As we
board is one thing, but getting people to sign some-
to the festival in February. Are you comfortable
know, the tone of the conversation has changed in just
thing is a different matter. That’s what I want. There are
with Cannes inviting controversial directors such
a few months. I’ve heard of women kicking guys out
a number of pressure groups out there at the moment
as Lars von Trier—who has denied harassing
of meetings for inappropriate things they’ve said, for
so maybe we team up with one for greater effect.
Björk—and Roman Polanski, who was convicted
Deuxième Regard, which wants 50/50 gender parity in
of sexual abuse?
key parts of the business by 2020, is one of the best.
Lars’s situation isn’t clear. It’s complicated. We’re
Tell me about Speak Up.
talking about allegations. If there was a way for Lars
Speak Up is a manifesto for change focusing on work-
There are tabs on your site with links to gender
to address his situation while he is there, maybe that
place conditions and behaviors. It’s also a seven-step
equality campaigns in different countries.
would make it clearer. As for Polanski, I thought they
best practice guide for businesses. It was conceived
Italy—where Asia Argento seems to have come
could have shown his movie without him at the festival.
with European sales organization Europa International
in for particularly rough treatment—and Eastern
It’s one solution. But it’s very difficult. We don’t have all
as a European answer to Time’s Up because in my view,
Europe were obvious omissions…
the answers straightaway.
Europe has yet to fully speak up. In the US, when a very
I’ve spoken to people from Eastern European countries
wealthy actor gets behind a campaign it can instantly
who would certainly welcome greater involvement.
You didn't want to name your attacker. Do you
change its profile. That’s harder in Europe. We need to
We launched the initiative in Berlin with Polish director
expect them to be at Cannes?
mobilize European funding agencies for support.
Malgorzata Szumowska. In Italy, the consciousness of
Probably. 80% chance. ★ DEADLINE.COM
4/29/18 11:53 AM
some lawyers expecting an opening of the floodgates. There’s still a lot of fear. It’s very upsetting. Part of the reason I stepped forward was to give others the courage to step forward. Harvey still holds people in thrall. I think that’s partly because he hasn’t been arrested, which is incomprehensible to those who have accused him of assault and rape. Whistleblowers are viewed with trepidation. I have friends who are former Miramax colleagues and who are now in very senior positions in the industry who have been afraid about coming forward because of the impact it might have on their careers. I lost my career at the time I signed my NDA and my life took a very different path. But I wasn’t ambitious. There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious, but it can mean you have an Achilles heel when it comes to making moral judgments.
Do you think Weinstein will make a comeback? I can guarantee you he will try with every fiber in his body. He
ZELDA PERKINS IS ONE OF THE FIRST women ever
is a total and utter sociopath, which is why he can manipulate
to lift the veil of secrecy regarding corporate non-disclosure
people so well. I can assure you he won’t feel like he has done
agreements. 20 years ago Perkins left her job as Harvey
anything wrong and he will feel like he has the ability to turn this
Weinstein’s assistant at Miramax after she said he sexually
around. I personally don’t think he will be able to. He can have
assaulted and attempted to rape one of her colleagues. She
forgiveness but he shouldn’t have power.
herself suffered harassment, she says. Miramax bought the duo’s silence via a crippling and “morally lacking” NDA, which
At one stage a potential buyer of TWC promised to launch
came with one-time payoffs and promises that Weinstein
a fund for his victims.
would reform his behavior. It was drawn up by UK magic
It’s a great flag to wave but it’s a slightly pacifying idea. I don’t
circle law firm Allen & Overy, working for Weinstein. The two
know the facts behind it. It would be more useful to have free
women’s careers were over before they had barely started.
legal help. I’m never going to be negative about a fund that’s
However, last December, after 20 years of fear and silence, Perkins had had enough. She became the first
there to help disadvantaged people, but its use and how you qualify victims is very complex.
Weinstein employee to break her NDA, and in the spring she testified before UK politicians about the need to eliminate
Do you ever regret taking the money you were given as
such contracts. She has also returned to producing.
part of the NDA? No. I was given no option: I was told that if I wanted to get into
How have the last few months been for you?
the ring to make any meaningful change, money would need
Somewhat exhausting. I think I’ve reached a saturation
to be involved. I regret that money had to be involved, but as
point. Up until the UK enquiry I was going flat out. It has
a 23-year-old I was given no choice. Without the money we
been distracting and discombobulating, but not painful.
wouldn’t have got the other clauses about Harvey put into the agreement.
Are you hopeful of changes to the law following your
Another thing I’m not sure people are aware of, and another
testimony to UK MPs?
reason my NDA should be unenforceable, is because I have been
I’m optimistic. For me this is a broad issue that crosses
criminalized by it. Ironically, I could go to jail for it. I have accepted
a number of industries. I’m trying to cut this at the root
money to obscure a criminal act. I imagine that is relevant to
rather than at the trunk. The thing that stands out for me
many NDAs and, again, it makes a mockery of the law.
The women behind the inclusion rider since 2016 (clockwise, from top left): producer, actress and advocate Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni, lawyer Kalpana Kotagal and USC academic Stacy L. Smith.
is that Harvey’s behavior was culturally allowed. There are always going to be people who behave badly—we’re human
Industry bullying still goes on. I’ve witnessed it in recent
beings—but in this instance money, power and the legal
months. It’s interesting how we indulge it.
system enabled crimes to be covered up. Before my agree-
Power is exciting. Domination and submission comes with that.
ment, as far as I’m aware, no-one signed unusual NDAs at
That’s part of the human psyche. There’s a form of security
the company [strict NDAs have been standard since].
we feel when someone takes control. Women are driving calls
One of the horrifying things for me in recent weeks has
for change but how much commitment has really been made
been the big announcement TWC made about signatories
by the most powerful studios, for example? That’s why it is
being released from their NDAs. That’s a fallacy. It was
important that laws change. The language of law is masculine.
just PR spin. I still can’t get a copy of my agreement. UK
It has historically been written by men for men. We’re now at a
parliament asked for a copy and didn’t get one. They put the
time when we can make a change to that. It’s not a sexy story,
company into liquidation, in part, because that defeats the
but ultimately it all comes back to the law, which still protects
possibility of women coming forward and claiming.
the powerful. ★
I’m not aware of new victims or TWC workers speaking
—Harvey Weinstein has denied all allegations
out since they supposedly scrapped the NDA, despite
of non-consensual sexual contact.
4/29/18 11:53 AM
INCLUSION RIDERS build a resumé through getting strong supporting roles. We need the attention of casting agents and studios in order to short-circuit bias because
if you’re a white male, you can’t get hired anymore. It brings to mind Clay Shirky: “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”
numbers around gender and race are not improving on screen. We have seen some improvement around
On the whole, how would you assess the
LGBTQ, but characters with disabilities are virtually
response to it?
non-existent. Girls Trip, Black Panther, A Wrinkle in
SLS: It has been exhilarating. The goal is to make
Time; these shouldn’t be anomalies.
hiring practices transparent to the extent that the inclusion rider isn’t necessary and we have stamped
mid the keen struggle for an industry
The template includes a reporting mechanism to
out nepotism. We would like to see many of the
yourself and Fanshen?
closed networks of hiring talent broken up. When
SLS: The template calls for partners to create some
only four percent of directors across the last 1,100
kind of reporting mechanism. It can potentially be
Hollywood movies are women and only eight of
a third party. There’s also a stipulation that non-
those are women of color, it’s fair to say that the
compliance should lead to a contribution being
deep bench of talent is not being recognized. It’s a
made to a scholarship fund for filmmakers from
broken talent pipeline.
under-represented backgrounds. How confident are you that this will be adopted
that better reflects the world we live in, Frances McDormand’s inclusion rider
Kalpana, how much work has gone into this from
by networks and studios?
mic-drop at the Oscars will live long
a legal perspective?
SLS: We haven’t seen anything like Time’s Up
in the memory. It was needed. While movies such
Kalpana Kotagal: It was a substantial amount. We
before. We haven’t seen a force like this with women
as Moonlight, Wonder Woman, Black Panther and
had to craft this without creating quotas or reverse
coming together in unison. We’re also in a season
A Quiet Place are pushing the envelope, research
discrimination suits. We started working on this in the
in which there’s a huge return on investment for
indicates that there was little year-on-year rise in
fall of 2016 and it took a year to come up with a solid
female-driven content and content with powerfully
inclusion in US films in the 10 years to 2016.
template. We’ve made the template public so that
diverse elements. Seeing the choices that Disney has
studios, A-listers and producers can find it. With the
made around its directing talent is encouraging. The
rider is a provision added to a contract of an actor
advice of counsel there’s no reason this can’t be used
early numbers from the broadcast networks around
to ensure that casting and production staff meet
widely by the industry. We’re on our way by virtue of
female directors are encouraging.
certain levels of diversity; for example, regarding the
WME taking this on. We understand discussions are
inclusion of women, people of color, LGBTQ people
underway at other agencies for them to take it on, too.
An inclusion rider is a concrete answer to that. The
or people with disabilities. Soon after the Oscars,
For true change to happen we need film schools to see women and people of color leading classes. We need schools to ensure that this talent is encouraged
filmmakers Michael B. Jordan, Brie Larson, Paul Feig,
I’ve spoken to lawyers who still have concerns
and fostered. We need film festivals to have program-
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck committed to adopting
about its legality.
mers and to have boards and lineups which reflect the
it on all their future productions, while WME called for
KK: The two areas that people get concerned about
world we live in. We need folks of VP and above to be
its adoption across its clients.
are quotas and reverse discrimination. We’ve created
hiring and fostering talent that doesn’t reflect narrow
a flexible framework whereby we have anticipated
parameters. All of that needs to happen.
The architects of the inclusion rider, USC academic Stacy L. Smith, lawyer Kalpana Kotagal
these concerns. The idea that advancing diversity
and actress, producer and advocate Fanshen Cox
and inclusion in the industry inherently brings us into
ferent to those they have made in the past. We often
DiGiovanni, have been working on it since 2016.
conflict with anti-discrimination laws is a straw man.
hear executives saying, “We need the best person
The employment law principles in the IR are best
for the job.” That misses the point. That concept
practice in many other industries.
is a narrowly constructed ideal in someone’s mind.
Stacy, you have been conducting research in this area for a number of years. What changed
This is about people making choices that are dif-
Why hasn’t a woman been considered to direct a
How did the concept come to Frances McDor-
Stacy L. Smith: We’re seeing a shift from individual
mand? Fanshen, I understand you were instru-
activist engagement to company leaders seeking
mental in that through your work with Matt
Festival heads say to me, “We deal with what we
change. In the post-Weinstein period, walls have
Damon and Ben Affleck’s Pearl Street.
get.” Is that enough? Again this year, Cannes has
been coming down and there’s a real hunger to get
Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni: Having two powerful
only a few women in competition and it is the
information about best practice.
white men [Affleck and Damon] agree early on to
first year in four that there’s a black director in
support our work made a difference. Having that
within a culture which values inclusion. There are many
support helped validate our work to others, and
Katherine Pieper [Stacy’s department colleague
problems facing hiring practices in Hollywood. One
helped in getting our phone calls answered and
at USC]: One of the interesting things to consider is
problem which doesn’t seem to change is the ecosys-
spreading the word around the industry.
how applications are solicited. There are moves that
The inclusion rider is one tool which must function
tem of the cast on screen. The inclusion rider protects
tentpole? It’s not that they’re not available.
can be made to encourage a diversity of applica-
story sovereignty; that is paramount. But the typical
What challenges have you encountered from the
tions. If you have a history of not being open to
film features around 40 characters with only around
industry when presenting the inclusion rider?
certain types of filmmakers, you may be missing out.
8-10 being relevant to the plot. The rest should look
FCG: A challenge I frequently face now is speaking to
It’s not about waiting to see what ends up in your
like the world we live in. Those actors should be able to
executives who hold the false notion that suddenly
inbox. That’s a fiction. ★ DEADLINE.COM
4/29/18 11:53 AM
Shonda Rhimes Television’s Grand Dame enters the “fearless space” of SVOD and introduces new podcasts BY PETER WHITE
etflix kicked off a content arms race last year when it secured an exclusive deal with Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes. Although subsequently topped by Ryan Murphy’s $300
million arrangement, Rhimes’ $100 million deal is potentially more disrup-
tive to the overall television ecosystem. Rhimes remains one of the brightest stars still shining in the broadcast network business as ABC’s matriarch of Thursday night primetime. Her production company Shondaland was one of the largest suppliers to the Disney-owned network. At the time of the deal, she called the SVOD service a “fearless space for creators” that had a “singular sense of innovation” and offered “instantaneous global reach”. She also produced Still Star-Crossed in Spain. “Working outside of the States is something I have always wanted to do,” Rhimes says. While best known for her soapy dramas, Rhimes has always had an interest in a wide variety of genres. Her first TV pilot for ABC was a story about four female war correspondents, and it’s likely that she will work across different genres during her multi-year deal with Netflix. She’s also a big sci-fi fan—British drama Doctor Who is her favorite show—and she’s interested in making a full-on action series. “I’d like to do something about girls with guns, a bit deeper than what’s been done before, with an overly hot girl kicking someone’s butt.” The lack of length requirements is also a major boon for such a disrup-
Franklin Leonard The founder of The Black List has struck a deal to turn his screenplay finds into feature films BY MIKE FLEMING JR.
fter spending five years advocating for the best unproduced screenplays with The Black List, Franklin Leonard has taken a leap to become a moneyed backer who can now turn those
gems-on-paper into feature films. In April, Leonard, a former development exec for companies including
tive force, who highlights the idea of producing episodes that range from 15
Appian Way and Overbrook, struck a multi-year partnership with China-
minutes to 90 minutes.
based Meridian Entertainment to turn three to five of his screenplay finds
And Rhimes also lays claim to a piece of the feature pie. She started
into English language films each year for budgets of $15 million and under.
her career as a screenwriter, penning Crossroads and The Princess Diaries
After watching more than 325 scripts that made The Black List go into
2: Royal Engagement. She would also like to direct and could helm When
production, he now has the chance to become a content creator. Leonard
Willows Touch, a project that’s been gestating with Will Smith and his wife
becomes part of the disruptive crowd, and has a perspective on how the
Jada Pinkett Smith.
changing landscape is affecting screenwriters.
Shondaland also looks to shake things up in other mediums. Earlier this
Three things, he says, are having the most dominant impact. First, the
month, the company launched a number of podcasts including Katie’s
consolidation of the core studio business into franchise-led filmmaking.
Crib, featuring Katie Lowes (Scandal) discussing motherhood, and Betsy
Which has led to the second: “That has empowered the independent
Beers’ generation gap show Geri & Milli.
business too, alongside the reduction in production costs and, increasingly,
It will be interesting to see what Rhimes, who is repped by ICM Partners and attorney Michael Gendler, disrupts next. ★
distribution costs.” Finally, the “welcoming arms” of the television industry are also embracing writers like never before. “It has shifted a lot of writers out of film and into television, where they have more authorship and control. They make more money in success, and the jobs last longer.” Leonard believes timing figured prominently in the early days of The Black List. “I am not sure it would have meant as much before the reliance on email and the sharing of information. It would have been a lot harder to call people, ask for their 10 favorite unproduced screenplays, and then find a way to distribute it.” And it’s timing again, he says, that made the deal with Meridian possible, where it might not have been five years ago. “One of the upsides of the shifting landscape is that content creation opportunities have become easier to monetize. It was nice after all these years to see Meridian make a commitment like this to quality screenplays, not only for English-language films but also Chinese-language films. It also coincides with the first quarter when Chinese box office exceeded US box office.” The world will keep changing. “But what has never changed is the reliance on quality writing for successful movies and television shows.” ★
4/30/18 1:00 PM
[D IS RU PT O RS
The prolific producer has been charging ahead to forge an inclusive industry for years BY MIKE FLEMING JR.
Ryan Murphy Y
OU COULD CALL RYAN MURPHY the prolific
How did this start?
creator of primetime series, a four-time Emmy
What used to happen when I started on television back in
winner, or even the $300 Million Man for the
the day, as a gay person, I would walk onto the set and it
megadeal he made to move his allegiance from Fox to
would be me and 99 straight guys over 40 who were white.
Netflix. But if you asked him for the accomplishment that
What I’m trying to do is have an experience where you walk
has made him most proud, he’d tell you it was becoming
onto a set and there’s absolute inclusion across the board.
an early proponent of a hiring system he launched in 2016
We’ve had great luck with it.
called Half. His goal: to give women, minorities and LGBTQ
But it started from a place of me feeling like I had failed.
people a foot in the door of a world that has been next to
This came out of a personal connection where I realized,
impossible to crack.
“You know what? I should be doing better here.” The initiative came from a personal place, and I always think
While the phrase ‘inclusion rider’ only really became
that helps. What I’m trying to do in my career right now is
industry parlance after Frances McDormand’s Oscar
sort of what my friend and idol Norman Lear was doing.
acceptance speech, it is something you have been
Now it’s about me finding people and empowering them to
doing for two years. What was your reaction to hearing
change an antiquated system.
her say that?
So for example, with Pose. Pose started off as a script
Anything that anybody says to demand equality is a great
written by Steven Canals, an Afro-Latino gay male who
thing. I was also thrilled with the result, where several
was having a lot of trouble breaking into the business. And
companies in the next two weeks came forward and
now he’s the co-creator of Pose, making hiring and casting
said, “We’re going to start doing that.” I was already doing
decisions, and he is trying to create a workplace better for
that; my company and I started the Half Initiative two
the next generation. So it’s a very empowering thing that
years ago, so we’ve been doing it for two years and the
we’re trying to do here.
company is building and building. We started with the directing end of my company. We started with the hope
When you mentioned Norman Lear, do you mean from
of 50% or more. Now, actually, our average is running like
the standpoint of the diverse subject matter or hiring?
60% female. We have been branching out for the past
He was doing a version of it in his hiring and what he was
year on the crew side. Within my company, we’re looking
advocating for. If you look at Norman then and now: He
not only at 50% equality male to female, but beyond that
was doing The Jeffersons, and more recently the all-Latino
into all areas. We’re looking to add more minorities, more
version of One Day at a Time. Is Norman a member of those
communities? No. But he’s advocating for them, taking DEADLINE.COM
4/29/18 12:16 PM
people from those communities, and he’s saying,
You have statistical breakdowns of your
that. Fuck the system. Let’s change it. It doesn’t
“Expand people’s minds in the writing and in the
hiring. Some might fear a quota system. What
work. Why should we be afraid to speak up?” What
casting. And let’s turn a spotlight on different
would you say to them?
you’ve seen is a removal of fear, and people are
social areas that need attention.” That’s what I’m
That it’s not a quota system. I mean, if you look at
now speaking their truth. And that has led to a lot
interested in doing as well, not just in casting and
the Hollywood I came up in, it was 99.9% straight
of great changes as well.
in hiring practices, but also in terms of what the
white males. So talk about a quota. This is a break;
shows are about.
a much-needed correction of a system that for too
great parts for women. And two years ago, right
But in terms of my work, I’ve always written
long has been dominated by a single voice. I feel
during the middle of O.J. is when I started the
Many of your peers might want to do the right
if you look at the movies and the television shows
Half Initiative, and it was just because I realized I
thing, but they hire the same people over
that are breaking out, they are doing so because
didn’t have enough women directing Marcia Clark
and over because there’s a shorthand and
they have a new, different point of view. They offer
episodes on The People v. O.J. Simpson. I do think
a trust. What would you say to them about
a different worldview than we’ve had before. The
that any movement starts with a personal tipping
the results you’ve gotten, not just in chang-
world has changed so I think our process needs to
point, and that was mine. And I think other com-
ing the look of a set, but in executing your
change. It’s a much more multicultural world than
panies have different tipping points. The #MeToo
in the beginnings of the internet and social media.
movement being one of them.
I think the quality is actually higher. I feel like in
All I’m trying to do is reflect the world that we really
that period within my company, we’ve had more
actually live in. It doesn’t feel strange. It feels like
Is there an exceptional discovery you made
success across the board. A lot of times in the
the new normal to me. This is what life really is, and
after this commitment towards diversity? Or
television business, the idea is you hire somebody
not some fantasy of life or Hollywood. The idea is,
feedback from someone who got a break that
who’s already done the job because that way you
tell as many stories with as much passion as you
most touched you?
can protect the investment. But I feel like when
can and as many viewpoints as you can, and that’s
I hear it all the time from people. The thing I’m
you hire somebody new—when you give them a
what we’re trying to do now.
most proud of, that means the most to me, is being
chance—my experience is 10 out of 10 of those
Everybody across the business is changing
an employer who’ll say, “I’m going to give you your
people will work even harder because they know
and embracing this idea. You can feel it. I don’t
first shot.” The hardest thing in Hollywood is to
that this is a great opportunity; that they cannot
know anybody on any level who’s resistant to the
break into the business. It’s a Catch-22 paradigm
fail. And the work will be better. There is more
change that’s happening now; the idea of inclusion
because you can’t get a job unless you’ve had a
communication, because new people—who are
and equality. Hollywood is a very liberal place, and
job. So I hear that from women all the time, where they’re like, “We could not
“If you look at the Hollywood I came up in, it was 99.9% straight white males. So talk about a quota. This is a break, a much-needed correction of a system that for too long has been dominated by a single voice.”
break into directing because we couldn’t get an episode to direct. Those jobs went to men of a certain age who’ve already proven that they could do it.” So, for so many women, gay people and minorities, that has been the hardest thing to get past: “We can’t hire you because you’ve never done it before.” Once you give people that break and you believe in them,
not straight white guys in their 40s—ask ques-
it’s great that you don’t have to ask permission.
it changes their lives. I’ve given so many directing
tions. They’ll say, “Tell me about this.” “How could
Everybody is encouraging you to do it. Everybody I
jobs to first-time female directors and many of
this be better?” “Explain this to me.” I am more
work for on the higher level at FOX and at Netflix is
them are now having hugely successful careers.
deeply invested in the work because it’s like that.
always saying, “This is great. Keeping doing more
Because if they directed one of my shows, people
from other shows say, “OK, well they’re already
Also, it’s better to have more women on set. It just is. The environment’s better. It’s better to
broken in. They know the business. They know the
have a set that has 50% inclusion because you
Is that enthusiasm a byproduct of the Harvey
have more opinions, and with more opinions
Weinstein exposé stories, and the subsequent
comes better work because you have people
men who were shamed for their behavior?
come through the Half Initiative about just how
questioning more, and being harder on the mate-
Some feel there is a connection between a
hard this is. I didn’t really understand. As a person
rial and wanting to understand it and get inside it
lack of opportunities and bosses who prey on
of privilege, even though I consider myself to be a
in a different way. It feels much more exciting and
minority, I’ve always created shows and my own
expansive to me.
I guess. I started doing this a couple years before
opportunity. But that first opportunity is hard and
so for me, it has no connection. But I do think that
our job is to not just hire women and minorities,
what has happened in the past six months is, there
but also to hire a lot of first-timers so that you
There is no downside. I feel like the work has been
was a large group of people—women and minori-
can molecularly change the system from the
better. The sets have been better. Now, 10 years
ties—who, for a long time, accepted a certain kind
beginning. That’s what I’m trying to do. The big
ago I didn’t probably have the power within my
of behavior and status quo, myself as a gay man
mission statement for me is to add as many new
company to say, “Okay. I’m just doing this.” But
included. “Don’t rock the boat. Just feel lucky to
voices to the business as possible. Fresh voices,
now I do, and so that’s what I’m doing. I wish I
be in the room. Take whatever’s handed to you.”
different perspectives, people who otherwise
could have done it 10 years ago.
Now, everybody’s saying, “You know what? Fuck
could not get a break. ★
rules. This is great.” I have talked with some of the people who’ve
4/29/18 12:16 PM
IS RU PT O RS
ow’s this for a surprise—the biggest hit of the 2017-18
Goodman, are both 65, well outside of the 18-49 demo. It tapped into
broadcast season is a 30-year-old show headlined by
the zeitgeist of Middle America, tackling its economic problems—and
a polarizing star: Roseanne Barr, an outspoken Donald
political leanings—head-on. (The show addressed Trump in the very
A month after its return, Roseanne has climbed to the
“One of the reasons we felt the show needed to come back was
No.1 spot for the broadcast season in both total viewers and adults
that there were very few naturalistic shows dealing with working
aged 18-49. The previous time Roseanne held top spot as the most
class families,” Helford says. “There was a vacuum in that area that
watched program on television was 28 years ago, during the 1989-90
we felt we could fill, and also show how those families are dealing
TV season when there were only three fully-fledged networks, with
with the pace of life now and the complexities of American life in
FOX only programming two nights a week.
2018. Obviously a large portion of the TV audience felt they were
This is just one of the astonishing achievements for ABC’s revival, which has shaken up the TV landscape, exceeding expectations and
missing that, too.” That probably is the biggest game changer the success of the
The Trump-supporting star has rebooted her classic blue-collar sitcom into a surprise ratings hit BY NELLIE ANDREEVA
triggering soul-searching among network executives, stunned by the
Roseanne reboot could bring as it underscores the untapped potential
magnitude of the show’s success.
of comedies that provide realistic portrayals of blue-collar America
The Season 10 debut last month delivered a staggering 8.1 demo rating and 27.3 million viewers in Live+7, Roseanne’s largest overall audi-
and make a social commentary, something rarely seen since All in the Family. It will also likely bring on another wave of revivals of classic
She goes, ‘I’m Roseanne, I have things that I believe in. Other people might not believe in some of them, other people may love what I believe in, and we can’t worry about that. I just want to be sure we present all sides.’
sitcoms. And while Barr has been a lightning rod of controversy— flipping off Jimmy Kimmel while promoting the series, talking outspokenly about her political views and embracing wild conspiracy theories on social media—she didn’t want her personal opinions
ence since January 1995, outdrawing the sitcom’s last 90 telecasts.
to dominate the series, and that balance has helped draw wide
The ratings were so big, President Trump tried to take credit for them.
audiences for a show whose star has been dividing fans, Helford thinks.
“It was a surprise to all of us,” says Roseanne executive producer/
When the two first sat down to discuss the reboot, Helford recalls
showrunner Bruce Helford, who also briefly worked on the original
that Barr did not mince words. “She goes, ‘I’m Roseanne, I have things
series. “We knew there was a great love for the show back in the day
that I believe in. Other people might not believe in some of them; other
and that new generations grew up watching the show in reruns, so
people may love what I believe in, and we can’t worry about that. I
we expected a warm welcome. But this was beyond expectations,
just want to be sure we present all sides.’ That was her. [But] she’s
especially in the 18-49 ratings.”
like, ‘Whatever my character says, I want somebody balancing that,
While nostalgia was expected to bring in eyeballs, no one predicted such a huge turnout for the blue-collar family sitcom with a Trump-
whether it’s Darlene or Jackie or whoever.’” Additionally, “we took risks,” Helford says, pointing to the show
supporting protagonist, especially among the younger demographic.
tackling the opioid epidemic and illegal workers, and featuring a
(But then, few predicted that Trump would become the Republican
grandson who wears dresses. “We’re saying things that other people
nominee and would win the presidential election when he first
wouldn’t say, and we’re exploring things that other people wouldn’t
announced his candidacy.)
think would be [great] to explore. We wanted to encourage a
Somehow Roseanne transcended age, recruiting droves of young viewers for a show whose two leads, Roseanne Barr and John
dialogue. Roseanne says, ‘Maybe there’s a way to get people to stop hating each other.’ That’s a big thing for her.” ★
4/29/18 12:17 PM
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Saudi Arabia’s first female filmmaker continues to make waves BY ANDREAS WISEMAN
here aren’t many filmmakers who have overcome as much or
she says. “I want to make films. I want to move beyond that anger. I hope
impacted their local film industries as significantly as Saudi
that if we are able to show people versions of themselves on screen and
director Haifaa al-Mansour. Against all odds, in a country
they’re able to laugh or listen to music, then mentalities will change. That is
the World Economic forum ranked 141 out of 144 for gender
more effective in the long run than becoming angry. That will bring about
parity, where most women aren’t allowed to drive or even
deeper change in society.”
make important decisions alone, Mansour became her country’s first and only female filmmaker. The cultural barriers of a deeply conservative country couldn’t hold her
Mansour now calls Los Angeles home and has come a long way from the small town she grew up in outside of Riyadh in the 1970s and '80s. One of 12 children, her parents didn't speak English. “Listening to music was consid-
back: When she wanted to make an inspiring movie about one girl’s dream
ered a radical move, and evil by some, but my father encouraged it,” she
to ride a bicycle—Wadjda—she was prepared to film it surreptitiously from
recalls. Mansour and her family soon realized that a traditional upbringing
the back of a van in order to avoid public outrage. When she received death
wouldn’t be for her. She had a fire inside her that needed to be stoked. She
threats after making movies about female empowerment, she didn’t buckle
initially travelled to Egypt to study and then attended film school in Australia.
“I hope that if we are able to show people versions of themselves on screen and they’re able to laugh or listen to music, then mentalities will change. That is more effective in the long run than becoming angry. That will bring about deeper change in society.”
On her travels, things most of us take for granted proved magical. “Just being able to go outside at will and do normal everyday things was wonderful. It’s amazing to be in an environment where you can freely engage with your art.” Released in 2005, her first film was a little known but groundbreaking 45-minute documentary called Women Without
because she had an unquenchable thirst to tell the stories that matter
Shadows. The film, which uncovers the lack of agency afforded women in
to her. Now, as part of a radical political turnaround she has helped bring
Saudi society, revealed the themes that now dominate the director’s work.
about, Mansour is being tasked by Saudi Arabia’s new regime to shape the
Nine years later, despite myriad practical challenges, she completed Wadjda,
country’s artistic and cultural policies.
which became Saudi Arabia’s first ever Oscar entry and went on to score a
Given her remarkable journey, you’d think Mansour might be angry with the challenges that still exist in her homeland or the ignorance she has come up against. She isn’t. She is hopeful. “If you become consumed in anger it stops you from being productive,”
BAFTA nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. In Saudi Arabia, the film represented a watershed moment, not only because of its subject, but also because it was the first ever feature shot entirely in the Kingdom. Its breakout international success led to her first
4/29/18 12:20 PM
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud
English-language movie, the biopic Mary Shelley starring Elle Fanning, which debuted last year at the Toronto Film Festival. Mansour is currently in post-production on Netflix-backed comedy-romance Nappily Ever After starring Sanaa Lathan. She returns to Saudi Arabia later this year to make The Perfect Candidate and is in development with L.A. animation hub ShadowMachine on Miss Camel, which addresses female
After 35 years of darkness, Saudi Arabia is lifting its public theater ban and setting its sights on Hollywood, under the direction of the man they call “MBS”
empowerment. Despite her recent US relocation, Mansour maintains a strong bond with her homeland. She feels the well-publicized reforms spearheaded by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud offer opportunity for women across the Kingdom. “This is a society which doesn’t like change, but Saudi Arabia is looked to in many ways in the Arabic world. It sets the tone in many ways. There’s a lot more to be done, but you have to start somewhere.” Last month, the filmmaker’s arc from controversial rebel to cultural icon was solidified with her appointment by the Saudi government to the board of the General Authority for Culture, the country’s first committee on culture. This marks a significant statement from the country’s rulers and a remarkable achievement for Mansour. “I feel very honored to be a part of shaping the cultural landscape,” she says. “This is an important time for art and cinema. My passion is to make sure that Saudi filmmakers get seen and that we have
BY NANCY TARTAGLIONE n late 2017, a seismic shift began in Saudi Arabia, an ultraconservative and once-insular Kingdom, when it was announced a 35-year ban on public movie theaters would be lifted—and it wanted the world to know it was serious about entertainment. The bold initiative was sparked by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, heir to
the throne and a progressive looking to diversify the Kingdom’s economy. The Crown Prince, or MBS as he’s called, is known for his decisive business moves, ones
currently causing Hollywood to salivate over the prospect of another deep-pocketed player. Putting his money where his mouth is, in February 2018, the Kingdom announced a
international collaboration. We’re still shaping the project,
staggering $64 billion investment earmarked specifically for the entertainment sector
but I want to foster national filmmaking so we can enrich the
within Saudi Arabia. Though its citizens do have access to YouTube, Netflix and Amazon,
international industry. I don’t want to only see US movies in
they routinely cross over to the UAE or Bahrain seeking entertainment, and the Kingdom
the new cinemas. It’s important to give nationals a voice. We’ll
wants that money to stay within its borders.
need to protect the national industry.” Growing that industry is top of the agenda. There remains
The Kingdom is also making a $400 million investment in Endeavor, and industry watchers wouldn’t be surprised to see a slate deal here or a co-fi pact there. An additional
little in the way of film industry infrastructure or culture in
$10 billion content fund could see investment in Hollywood and around the Gulf region,
Saudi Arabia, and especially not for women. “Training voices
which is sure to yield announcements about production incentives and other enticements
is the next big step; voices who can potentially travel. There
this year in Cannes.
are some female filmmakers who have made shorts. We see
But MBS isn’t only looking to give; he wants to bring investment home. The exhibitors
each other at festivals such as Dubai, but there’s no com-
that are coming in are “putting up significant amounts of money” to get their multiplexes
munity as such. Having a place you can gather to watch a film
built, an observer says, along with more side deals that would bring other Hollywood brands
is how communities of artists start.” Will censorship hamper the industry’s organic growth, however? “I expect it to be like Dubai,” says Mansour.
and businesses to the Kingdom. “They’re not going to jump head-first into investing in Hollywood. I think they want Hollywood investing in them and building their infrastructure.” Either way, many are optimistic about future partnerships and cite a hangover from
“You won’t be seeing Eyes Wide Shut, that’s for sure, but
China, which has been a recalcitrant bedfellow. “We know this money is real,” said one exec.
complaining about censorship isn’t productive. Iran currently
Saudi Arabia’s 33 million population is dwarfed by China, but it is expected to become a $1
has more stringent censorship than Saudi Arabia when it
billion annual box office play once the build-out is complete. That would land it in the Top
comes to available film and TV content, and yet we’ve seen
10 territories worldwide.
superb cinema coming from Iran. Sometimes coming from a
Exhibition chains quickly jumped on the Saudi bandwagon once it was clear the ban
conservative place offers a different perspective. It is about
was being lifted. Among those moving in are Vue International, AMC, Cineopolis, iPic, Vox
understanding where you are and how you express your voice
and MAX. MBS recently toured the US, meeting with everyone from President Donald
in that context.”
Trump to Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, Rupert Murdoch, Oprah Winfrey, Bob Iger, Kevin Tsujihara
Mansour is part of a wave of successful women filmmakers from the region who have broken through despite
and Stacey Snider among many others. Overall, MBS has been seeking to change the perception of Saudi Arabia as an extrem-
highly challenging contexts. The likes of Nadine Labaki
ist state. To be sure, it carries some nasty political baggage and it has a poor track-record
from Lebanon and Annemarie Jacir from Palestine are all
on human rights. In a March interview, he told 60 Minutes that his goal was to take Saudi
well known on the international circuit now. There is still a way to go before Saudi Arabia develops filmmaking communities of its own but the green shoots of change are beginning to emerge.
Arabia back to a time before the Iranian Revolution. “We were living a very normal life like the rest of the Gulf countries. Women were driving cars. There were movie theaters in Saudi Arabia. Women worked everywhere. We were just normal people developing like any other country in the world.” ★
“It’s too early to talk about waves of Saudi filmmakers, but for the first time women feel like their voices count for something,” she continues. “I just heard about a young filmmaker looking to make her movie through Kickstarter in Saudi Arabia. We’ll see more like that. Something is beginning.” ★ DEADLINE.COM
4/29/18 12:20 PM
Michael B. Jordan From The Wire to Creed, Black Panther, and Fahrenheit 451, an actor proves his star power BY MIKE FLEMING JR.
n Michael B. Jordan’s first trip to Cannes for the Ryan Coogler-directed Fruitvale Station, the young actor walked wide-eyed down the Croisette, smiling when
fans shouted, “Where’s Wallace?” a signature line about his tragic character from the HBO series The Wire. Jordan is the first
The former IM Global chief is ready to plug his new company, AGC Studios, into the ever-expanding content arms race BY MIKE FLEMING JR.
to admit that, while growing up in front of the camera, he was lucky to be in the right place when cast in that seminal series, as well as Friday Night Lights. But he has shown remarkably good judgment in his transition to adulthood. He is emerging as a major star, not just because he's got the acting chops, but for his willingness to work harder than anyone else. He would confirm it with his second film for Coogler, the Rocky sequel Creed. Jordan trained hard, sure, but then Coogler headed to Philadelphia to scout gyms and watched the footwork
ong a charismatic wheeler-dealer on the Croisette as IM Global’s
of the fighters there. He told Jordan they weren’t ready. The actor
principal, Stuart Ford returns to Cannes with a new company and
didn’t bat an eyelid. He put in months of extra work, so much so
a different mindset on how to best use the shifting landscape.
that he looked more ring-ready than his onscreen opponent, the
Ford didn’t plan to build AGC Studios until he left IM Global in an
acrimonious exit last August. The dispute was with Donald Tang’s Tang
former WBC cruiserweight champ Tony Bellew. Fresh from his turn as a powerful nemesis in Coogler’s Black
Media Partners, who a year earlier bought IM Global for $200 million.
Panther, as he preps a return to the ring for Creed 2, Jordan is
But now, thanks to backing from Latin America’s MediaNet Partners,
reflective on how far he and Coogler have come, and how glad
Symantec CEO Greg Clark and Image Nation Abu Dhabi, Ford thinks
they are to travel the path together. “I was coming off Chronicle
AGC is a better mousetrap.
when I met him, right at the time where I started to really
He comes to Cannes with at least two $100 million budget pictures
question myself,” he remembers. “I wanted to know, can I carry a
and will continue to play that game. But he fully expects the growing
movie or not? I’d been in ensemble cast projects that did OK, but
demand for content from streaming services to become an increas-
I was never the guy. You see some of the most talented actors on
ingly large part of AGC’s focus in the coming years. It provides a better
the planet who can’t open a film. I needed to know.”
opportunity for his and other companies that relied on pre-sales. “It all comes down to versatility of content and in financing of
He saw the promise of an answer in Coogler’s Fruitvale Station script. “I was blown away. It was such a personal project that
that content,” he says. “Instead of being wed to a particular financing
verbalized some of the frustrations that I’ve felt at a time when
structure, which IM Global and most independent companies were in
police shootings were becoming more frequent and people were
the past, the better route is to have maximum flexibility as to how you
recording them. It checked all the boxes. I met with Ryan and we
finance your content from a development perspective—from a produc-
just clicked immediately.”
tion financing perspective—building in to your infrastructure and your capital structure that ability to pivot in all sorts of different directions.” If you’re overwhelmed by the content choice on offer now, Ford says,
Now it is clear we are watching a star bloom before our eyes. Jordan will be in Cannes for the Ramin Bahrani-directed HBO film Fahrenheit 451 he stars in with Michael Shannon. While he’s
you ain’t seen nothing yet. “My personal thesis is that in five years we’ll
shooting, with his sharp Outlier Society Productions chief Alana
have a look back and say, ‘Oh my God, can you believe that there were
Mayo, he is building a slate of film and TV projects that includes
only 400 TV series a year being produced five years ago? And only 800
his directing debut on the David Barclay Moore novel The Stars
feature films being financed?’ I think it’s going to go through the roof."
Beneath Our Feet. The company was also among the first to take
Studios, after all, are plugging into OTT platforms like never before.
the “inclusion rider” challenge leveled by Frances McDormand in
“Disney and Fox are already doing it and commissioning and producing
her Oscar victory speech. ★
original content,” he notes. “That’s the trend that’s going to cause the most excitement for this business. Studios are hampered by only having the infrastructure to release 12 to 15 feature films a year through the traditional theatrical model; those blocks come off as they get more into the digital streaming universe as Netflix has done. They’re going to be buying up huge amounts of content, and content companies, so that they have access to their pipeline and their talent.” Then there’s the emergence of Apple’s content strategy as well as new players from around the world, including the UK and Asia. “It seems inevitable they will all become top tier players. You look at the way kids view content, and it makes you feel that the independent film business—that was so reliant on stars and guaranteeing theatrical distribution in the US—is beginning to seem like a very dated notion now.” ★
4/30/18 2:57 PM
[D IS RU PT O RS
Bela Bajaria The former president of Universal TV is shepherding a new co-licensing model at Netflix to forge deeper studio ties BY NELLIE ANDREEVA
hen DVD-by-mail company Netflix reinvented itself as a video-on-demand service, broadcast studios quickly embraced
premiere. Deals for several other series are currently being negotiated. Under the co-licensing model, Netflix is collaborating with big US studios on
it. They used the streaming platform as an alternative to the
series that air on other linear or digital networks in the US Netflix takes first-run
off-network syndication market for the growing-in-popularity
global distribution in as many territories as available—ideally, everywhere outside
serialized drama series and quirky single-camera comedies that were of little
of Canada and the United States. Netflix comes in as a partner on projects that are
value to basic cable networks and local stations because they don’t repeat well.
going to series at a finished script or pilot stage and as early as script development.
The broadcast studios were soon joined by basic cable series producers, who
Netflix boarding a project as international distributor for a hefty fee that covers a
found a lucrative after-market for serialized dramas like Breaking Bad and Sons of
significant part—or even the entire series budget—could help it get a green light in
Anarchy that wouldn’t have gotten a second window.
a template that is somewhat similar to international pre-sales for indie films.
But as Netflix started growing exponentially and entered original programming, it began to be perceived as a threat. Studios’ love affair with the streaming giant—as a quick and easy revenue stream supplement, boosting the bottom line to offset the softening DVD and off-network syndication market—was over. Looking for new ways to do business with traditional studios and to forge closer relationships with them, Netflix recruited the former head of such a studio, ex-Universal TV president Bela Baja-
The model also applies to international series, including BBC2/Carnival Films’ The Last Kingdom.
“What I enjoy about my role at Netflix is the freedom to take swings on unconventional models.”
ria, in the fall of 2016. Over the past year as VP Content at Netflix, Bajaria spearheaded the introduction of a new co-licensing model. “What I enjoy about my role at Netflix is the freedom to take swings on uncon-
The type of outside series Netflix goes after includes shows based on globally recognizable IP, like Star Trek, Dynasty, the Archie Comics-themed Riverdale, hip-
ventional models,” Bajaria says. “This new co-licensing model helps us get the
hop icons Tupac and Biggie, and Game of Thrones author Martin. And then there
best TV series from every genre, from the best creators, to our global members.”
are shows like NBC’s well reviewed Good Girls, created by Jenna Bans, about three
The series co-licensed by Netflix as part of the model so far include the CW/ Warner Bros. TV’s Riverdale and Black Lightning, both produced by Greg Berlanti; the CW/CBS TV Studios’ Dynasty; NBC’s Good Girls; CBS All Access/CBS Studios’
“good girl” suburban moms who rob a grocery store. In addition to pre-sold titles, Netflix is buying into the vision and voice of the creator. “We partner with major studios—usually early in the traditional process—to help
Star Trek: Discovery; as well as Universal Cable Prods.’ Shooter, Damnation, The
creators enhance their productions and bring their stories to life,” Bajaria says. “And
Sinner, Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G. on USA; and
in that process, we get to work with talented writers, a quality studio and a great net-
Nightflyers, based on George R.R. Martin’s novella, on Syfy. Additionally, AMC/Sony
work, to support the vision of the show. And personally, I get to do one of my favorite
TV’s Better Call Saul airs internationally on Netflix a day after the episodes’ US
things, which is to help a writer bring his or her story to a truly worldwide audience.” ★ DEADLINE.COM
4/29/18 12:25 PM
4/29/18 12:30 PM
] RS O PT RU IS
The actor-turned-auteur comes to television with the expansive Yellowstone BY MIKE FLEMING JR. or two decades Taylor Sheridan made a living as a sixth-on-the-call-sheet actor, and his cowboy Marlboro Man look kept him busy, if not satisfied. But he quit cold turkey, determined to take charge of his own destiny, and reshape himself into a writer and director. His scripts for Sicario and Hell or High Water became highly regarded movies, directed by Denis Villeneuve and David Mackenzie respectively. And the third in that disconnected trilogy, Wind River, came together with Sheridan himself at the helm, earning him the Un Certain Regard Best Director prize at last year’s Cannes. He has spent the past 12 months working on the epic and disruptive Paramount Television series Yellowstone, which premieres June 20. Kevin Costner heads a stellar ensemble in a contemporary Western shot with the sweep of a feature film. The show is about the collision of an ambitious Native American
casino owner (Gil Birmingham) who grew up believing he was Mexican, a real estate developer (Danny Huston) carving up this mountain paradise into condos, and Costner’s patriarch rancher trying to preserve the land; unusual in that it was white people who historically displaced the Native American population. Sheridan, appropriately, spoke to Deadline while herding horses at a rodeo in Katy, Texas. Your scripts come from a personal place. What
Too much to fit into your usual feature film format?
understand that. But, as a storytelling vehicle, it’s effec-
informed the seeds of conflict in this story?
This long-form version has been an interesting way to
tive. It’s cinematic, and the fact now that everyone
Rainwater, the tribal chairman, 100% holds his
cover ground I’ve been exploring in my other films, in a
has 60- or 70-inch TVs at home with surround sound
people’s best interest in mind. What you have is the
way I think is very rich and entertaining. It’s also some-
systems, you can create a cinematic experience.
three versions of assimilation. I placed the white
thing I haven’t seen done in commercial television in a
rancher in the position that the Native Americans
really long time. The linear format of TV is almost dead
But it’s another rising movie voice gone to televi-
were in 100-plus years ago because that is accurate
and people binge-watch and it’s very hard for these
sion. The blurring of the lines between film and TV
to what’s taking place in what you can call the
commercial television channels to compete. And yet,
has created a most disruptive space. What most
gentrification of the West right now. It is the most
they have a lot of resources and they were kind of
concerns you about the traditional feature format?
American of us, the West, and land developers sell
going the way of the dinosaur, if they don’t evolve and
I just had this conversation the other day with the
that fantasy. And people who can afford the fantasy
change in the way that they do television. And this
head of the studio where I had an idea I can’t really
are very, very wealthy people from L.A. to New York,
was my answer to Game of Thrones.
talk about, but we have all this IP, and everyone wants
Dallas and Florida. They buy their slice of it and use
everything to be IP. And it’s not necessary. There is a
it for a weekend getaway. In the process, those land
renaissance in the independent film world right now
values and inheritance taxes are killing a way of life.
Not in sheer size, but in saying, “Hey, guys, you can do
with incredible work being done. You’re also seeing that
this too; a different version.” You can actually use com-
there’s enough independent money that you don’t
It does seem ironic to see the white rancher and
mercial breaks to your benefit, build tension with them.
have to work on a micro budget anymore. There are
his family on the other side of that.
It can be a more communal viewing experience. People
ways to make a $50-$60 million movie independently
Whether you call that some cycle of the manner
can get together to watch like they used to. I remember
and that is a real threat to the studio system. All they’re
in which humans treat each other, that area was
as a kid with Miami Vice, on Friday everyone went
trying to do is Marvel. The only game they’re playing is
settled in the 1870s, early 1880s, and some of
somewhere to watch it. That communal experience at
the $200 million budget film. At some point, people
these ranchers are eight-time generations. Their
home is gone; it’s dying in theaters, as well. I wanted to
will get tired of seeing Batman, no matter how many
great-grandfather doesn’t recall it being taken
see if we could do that kind of renaissance.
new circumstances they put him in. They just will.
it wasn’t. It just means that those people aren’t
But not as a feature.
What does that tell you?
directly responsible for it, and now it’s being taken
Structurally, I approached it like a movie. I wrote it
Original content is the future, just as it has always been
from them in a different manner. The manner is
like one and filmed it like one. I wanted it to look like a
the lifeblood of our medium. Whether it’s a television
now with money instead of through policy and
movie, and tried to get the network to trust that, which
network or a movie studio, this is about trusting that
government and military.
is obviously a terrifying proposition for them, and I
your artist will execute. If we do our job and tell a great
from someone else, which doesn’t mean that
4/29/18 12:30 PM
“We were renegotiating on Sons after the second season and I had one idea, and the studio had a different idea. I say, ‘Why is this all you’re offering me? It seems unfair.’ I’m told, ‘That’s all you’re worth and all you’ll ever be worth.’ I took that in. And I said, ‘OK. I guess I’ll tell my own stories.’ ”
on Wind River in the edit bay and had no loyalty to the screenplay that I wrote. My loyalty then was to the story that needed to come out. And over that trial by fire I’ve reached a place where I think I have the skills to go with a voice, and with Yellowstone, there’s not a wasted word on the page. That was my goal and hopefully I achieved it. What about your family, not knowing if you could make a living? What was the most desperate moment as you made that transition? There’s two things. First, I imagined jumping forward
story cinematically, people will come. They really will.
You were around 40 when you got your first writer
seven years when I found out my wife was pregnant,
You don’t actually have to have the marketing built into
credit. This doesn’t happen.
and living in some little two-bedroom apartment
the budget. This cost a tremendous amount of money
Sicario was the first feature I wrote. I had worked on
in West Hollywood. And telling my son he can be
and I’m very appreciative of Paramount to give me the
some really bad movies and really bad TV shows and
anything he ever wanted to be, but that I can’t make
freedom to do it.
that’s not counting the ones that I read for and I didn’t
his soccer game because I’m auditioning for a Windex
get. Or the ones I read and wouldn’t audition for. I sat
commercial. That’s not living by example. And that’s
Hard to expect studios to feel differently. Even
down and said, “I don’t know how to do to this. But I
where living through compromise had gotten me. A
bad superhero movies draw huge grosses.
sure know what not to do.” Like, all the shit that you’ve
two-bedroom apartment in West Hollywood. So for
Studios lose lots of money trying to create original
found yourself having to say and do in situations, for
me, not compromising was the best way to provide
content that wasn’t executed very well. You have to
lazy moments with writers who stick to the rules and
and hopefully live by an example.
recognize it’s a business and what you bring has to
know not to break them. Instead, write a movie you
be bulletproof. Do that and they’ll trust you. I’m not
want to see, that says something about the world.
talking about concepts. I’m basing this on a world,
The other thing was, I hadn’t ever done anything
In Sicario, Benicio del Toro’s protagonist character comes upon the drug kingpin who murdered
and a journey within that world that is reflective of us.
as an artist. No one gets into this going, “God I hope
his family. He executes the criminal’s family in
I don’t know that what I’m doing is original; I’m just
I can be sixth on the call sheet, and get a pretty nice
front of him. Talk about not compromising. What
doing what the people who I study did: Clint Eastwood,
Mercedes.” I wasn’t among those precious few actors
were those conversations like?
Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, going back to John
in the position to choose things, so I spent the first 20
Well, that was a collaborative moment. Remember, Ale-
Ford. Some of their bold original ideas paved this path.
years of my career compromising. I decided I would
jandro was not the protagonist; he was the antagonist
spend the next 20 never compromising. Not compro-
in every sense of the word. In the original screenplay,
You’re back on TV for the first time since you
mising visions, execution, edit and who I wanted to
Benicio executes the father in a rather brutal way in
went from actor to writer and then director, after
cast. That doesn’t mean not listening or being collabor-
front of the wife and the kids. And he gives the speech
your Sons of Anarchy character got killed off. That
ative. It just means never compromising my vision.
that basically says, “Take these kids away, go some-
show had a strong sense of authorship from Kurt Sutter. Was there frustration over not being heard
I have been ruthless on my own screenplays as far as what I omitted or trimmed down. I was merciless
where. Raise them to be a doctor or lawyer so I don’t have to kill them someday.” Why not just have him kill
or having input? How did that influence your
them now? He’s wise enough to know they’re not going
radical career pivot?
to become doctors and lawyers. This is what they were
I didn’t know I was going to write until I quit the show.
raised to be. And to make his brutal statement about
I had no idea. I did TV shows for 20 years. I don’t know
his state of affairs in the drug war and greed when he
if it’s through osmosis that you pick things up and you
just possibly could… So that’s how that evolved.
get a PhD in storytelling—what to do and not do, how
Denis Villeneuve was the director, and as screen-
to talk to actors and how not to—without being aware
writer I was there to serve his vision. You sort of
I was getting that education. As far as working on Sons,
surrender your vision as screenwriter, and so you have
it was very enjoyable; I never had any conflict or saw
two choices. Take a stand and argue it needs to be shot
any. It was a very well-cast show. The dialogue was
exactly the way that you wrote it. And then they will
great. It was fun to do. So there were no battles like
just hire someone else who doesn’t have your voice. Or
that. No battles over character; my character was quite
you can offer whatever assistance you can to help him
realize his vision. I may the build the ship but the director is the captain. Now, as the filmmaker, I’m building
There had to be something that happened that
the ship and steering it.
prompted you to quit and go off and write Sicario? 100%, yeah. We were renegotiating on Sons after the
Wind River won you Best Director in the Un
second season and I had one idea, and the studio had
Certain Regard category last Cannes. It was
a different idea. Everyone on the show was making
one of 2017’s top grossing prestige pictures,
twice what I’m making, the other series regulars. We’re
but didn’t register much in awards season, its
not talking about the stars. And I’m on the DVD [cover]
message about the undocumented rapes of
bro; only two people on it. I say, “Why is this all you’re
Native Americans on reservations getting skewed
offering me? It seems unfair.” I’m told, “That’s all you’re worth and all you’ll ever be worth.” I took that in. And I said, “OK. I guess I’ll tell my own stories.”
Scenes from Sheridan’s upcoming TV series Yellowstone, featuring Kevin Costner.
4/29/18 12:30 PM
in that its theatrical distributor was Harvey Weinstein. You stripped the Weinstein name off the DVD, but a worthy film got ignored. What happened and what was your takeaway? The campaign is a bizarre necessity if you want a film to be recognized. The Tunica-Biloxi tribe was going to finance that, and those things cost $5-8 million. I managed to get The Weinstein Company to agree to donate all their future proceeds of the film to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center. But the Tunica-Biloxi tribe needed to be reimbursed ahead of that because they were about to pump all this money into an awards campaign. And so it seems to me that now we were going to take money from the organization that I just compelled a company to give money to, to go try and win an award. That seemed counterproductive to what I was trying to achieve. So I said, “I’m not going to campaign. It’s a waste of money.” You pulled yourself out of the race? It felt like a good nice clean break, and the right thing to do. I didn’t want to have to go on an apology tour for something that none of us involved in the film did wrong. I didn’t want the legacy of the film to be that. The message of the film should be its legacy. There was a law passed in Washington State.
The chief of Makeready Pictures is making good on a diverse and allencompassing production strategy BY MIKE FLEMING JR.
fter a three year run as New Regency president and CEO that garnered two Best Picture winners—12 Years A Slave and Birdman—and nearly a third—The Revenant—Brad Weston left
There’s a law before Congress as a result of this film. I’ve given testimony to
to form Makeready Pictures with funding from eOne and distribution
Congress and there are bills now that will mandate the federal government to
through Universal Pictures. And the game plan, he says, was to go
document the number of missing murdered women on Indian reservations.
beyond the traditional platforms of film and television.
On top of the fact that I think it’s a good movie, it gave a little recognition to
One year in, and with Pam Abdy and Scott Nemes running film and
the Native American actors getting opportunities to play roles now that aren’t
TV, Makeready has already wrapped one feature, the Sam Taylor-
tethered to their heritage. So those are all, for me, tremendous accomplish-
Johnson-directed A Million Little Pieces, based on the book by James
ments that very small film was able to achieve.
Frey, and numerous others will go into production shortly, including in other platforms.
And many of the Native American actors from Wind River are part of
After growing up as a lot-based producer and production president
at Paramount and Dimension, Weston believes the current disruptive
That is fantastic, but I didn’t give them anything. Their work is splendid. But
climate has created more opportunities than ever for producers open
we make a lot of message movies in our business, and how often is the way
to different models, and who come to the table with the conviction to
that you put a movie or series together part of the message? In the end, it’s
take risks and the funding to make that possible.
somehow all message.
“Three years ago I was at a tech summit and heard Mark Zuckerberg talk about changing the world through connecting people,”
The press describing Yellowstone and your films often use the phrase
Weston says. “And two and-a-half years ago I sat at lunch with an
‘Red State appeal’ because of the geographical setting. It’s a phrase
award-winning European filmmaker friend who said to me, ‘I want to
used in assessing why the Roseanne reboot became an outsized
design boots for a Japanese fashion designer, I want to shoot commer-
success. We’re so polarized as a society, forced to choose sides
cials for a European fashion designer and I want to make movies. Can
on everything. Stars seem obliged to be pro- or anti-Trump and it
I do all of that at this new company you're putting together?’ These
overwhelms their promotional campaigns and alienates parts of a
conversations resonated really deeply with me as we were creating our
potential audience. What do you think?
business plan and raising our money.”
To be perfectly honest, it’s bullshit noise. I’m in Katy, Texas right now, moving
So, for example, Makeready Pictures is in business with a luxury
horses, and I just left this shopping center after getting an organic gluten-free
fashion brand in Paris. “We’re creating a TV series together that will
shake from a shake shop. It’s the same. People are not that much different.
have an ancillary marketing and communication strategy for them,
It’s very convenient for the media to invent controversy and it’s in their better
stemming from IP we are creating together.” In addition, he says,
interest to polarize and anger and scare so that we internally do this. We
“We’re doing a scripted premium short-form series and we’re making
watch it, and we have an identifiable enemy. To think that everyone from
traditional films with Universal and premium television.”
inside a barrier of the Eastern Seaport or on the West Coast thinks identically
The key, he insists, is doing all of that for a price. He said yes quickly
is ludicrous. It’s absurd and insulting that the media has proposed it that way.
to Taylor-Johnson’s take on A Million Little Pieces, and said that with
And the contrary news stations have embraced it as well.
a modest budget, he was able to give Sam and Aaron Taylor-Johnson
It’s damaging to our country. It’s preventing any meaningful change from taking place. You can’t get a law passed in Washington, because even if you believe in something, if it’s contrary to your side of the aisle, you can’t vote for it. So the extremists are running the country and that is not the way this government was designed.
wide creative freedom. “They had a great experience. They found answers and solutions without throwing money at problems, and everybody won.” These opportunities are only going to improve, he says, with the continued development of streaming services and short-form programming platforms. ★
I think that our news organizations, particularly the cable news organizations, have done a tremendous disservice to this country. They built all the puppets that we’re screaming at. I think that what we can do—and I can only speak for our industry—is really look for ways to explore these issues and try to find ways to bring people together. Because this is not sustainable. ★ DEADLINE.COM
4/29/18 12:30 PM
Tom Quinn’s indie outfit punches above its weight thanks to its creative strategies BY MIKE FLEMING JR.
fter Tom Quinn launched the indie distributor NEON before 2017’s Sundance Film Festival, it didn’t take long for the company to show its potential to become an important part of the landscape.
By the time TIFF rolled around, NEON was impressing the filmmakers of its
first big play, I, Tonya, with a well-drawn presentation right after the movie’s
The hero company injecting finance fuel into indies BY MIKE FLEMING JR.
festival premiere. They brought to their meeting the same Dove ice cream bars
COMING INTO ITS SECOND CANNES Film Festival since
without disregarding its depiction of serious abuse, which had made the movie
Micah Green left his post as CAA Film Finance and Sales
a hot potato. They also made it clear they saw Oscar potential, and pledged to
Group co-head to partner with Texas-based billionaire Dan
campaign for Margot Robbie and Allison Janney. Robbie went on to a nomina-
Friedkin in 30WEST, the company has lived up to its promise
tion and Janney a win, and the slow rollout of the film through the Winter
as a disruptive force in the indie film space.
Olympics led to a $30 million domestic gross.
that Jeff Gillooly stocked in Tonya Harding’s refrigerator, his awkward attempt to make her feel valued. The team had a clear idea how to exploit the black comedy of the film
If it was initially hard to figure out 30WEST’s place in the
The stakes on I, Tonya were made clear to Quinn and his publicity veep
ecosystem, the plan is now becoming clear: Simply put, the
Christina Zisa when they spent last Thanksgiving ice skating in Portland with
company is something of a gas station, fueling the tanks of
Harding herself, and allayed her fears that her six-year-old son not feel the same
progressive companies, film and TV projects. Their focus is
level of shame that the skater did when she became scarred by the scandal
split between three main disciplines: single picture financing,
that ended her skating career.
P&A funding with some direct investment, and some investment from third parties. The third concentration is in the corporate investments
They followed I, Tonya in short order with the biggest splash of Sundance this year. After NEON’s partner on that movie, 30WEST, acquired a majority stake in the distributor—buying out China-based Sparkle Roll—the new partners set
area, and the company’s first deal came with the acquisition
an eight-figure world rights acquisition of Sam Levinson’s Assassination Nation,
of a majority stake in NEON after teaming with Tom Quinn’s
along with Joe and Anthony Russo’s AGBO. Quinn knew he had to have the film
distribution company on the successful I, Tonya. Then the
within its first five minutes. He was so into the socially-aware, Heathers-meets-
companies teamed up again, this time with Joe and Anthony
A Clockwork Orange satire that he had to leave the theater for a moment to
Russo’s AGBO on Assassination Nation, the big Sundance deal
for the subversive Sam Levinson-directed film. Upcoming
While NEON did well with Colossal, Assassination Nation is really its second
investments could land anywhere from traditional film to
opportunity after I, Tonya to make a big splash as it evolves into a 10-release annual
technology or real estate. The company also has an affiliation
schedule. The company has impressed with its clever marketing and distribution
with Friedkin’s Imperative Entertainment—it brokered the
strategies, assembled by a brain-trust that includes Zisa, distribution executive
domestic deal with Sony, and the STX foreign deal on Ridley
veep Elissa Federoff, marketing and distribution senior veep Sumyi Antonson, and
Scott’s All the Money in the World—but 30WEST is freestand-
chief marketing officer Christian Parkes. As the industry shifts on its axis, NEON is
ing, and nimble enough to embrace different strategies to
proof that creative thinking and savvy decision-making remain the most solid of
make films happen.
After naming former CAA agent Dan Steinman as a partner running the New York office, along with CAA colleagues Tristen Tuckfield, Adam Paulsen and Katie Anderson, 30WEST is leaning into its third party sales, and introduced the Ed Sheeran film Songwriter in Berlin before a sale in Tribeca. It took another different strategy with the Karyn Kusama-
NEON's Tom Quinn (left) with I, Tonya star Margot Robbie.
directed Destroyer, which recently completed shooting with Nicole Kidman starring. The film had a tangled financing structure based on limited equity and pre-sales funding, but no clear path to greenlight. Then 30WEST came in and greenlit the stalled movie, cash-flowing the picture with an equity investment. That is one of three films creating buzz at Cannes; the Peter Hedges-directed Ben is Back with Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges, and the Nisha Ganatra-directed Late Night starring Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling are the others. Each picture has a different structure, and 30WEST works with numerous co-financiers and sales companies, as well as all the major agencies. Whatever it takes to get films made. ★
4/29/18 12:51 PM
Endeavor Content’s co-president in charge of television goes hunting and gathering BY PETER WHITE “WE DON’T WANT TO PRODUCE, that’s not our
and Hugh Laurie’s The Night Manager and Phoebe
le Carré adaptation The Little Drummer Girl, directed
goal,” says Chris Rice, co-president of Endeavor Con-
Waller-Bridge’s Sandra Oh-fronted Killing Eve.
by Park Chan-wook and starring Florence Pugh and
tent. The content division of talent agency WME-
“Our entire business is built around providing
IMG does, however, want to disrupt the mechanics
infrastructure and services—whether that’s support,
behind production as well as find business where it
sales, financing or business affairs—to some of the
to the business of sales and financing, which was
historically does not exist.
world’s most fantastic producers, to offer them
traditionally a studio or distributor-based business.”
Rice oversees the company’s global TV team
whatever they need to operate their business in
“We want to apply a little bit of an agent’s mindset
Finally, it provides basic business infrastructure
while co-president Graham Taylor looks after film. It is
the most effective way,” says Rice. “But we are not
and support to companies such as Chernin Entertain-
on the small screen that Endeavor Content has been
ment, producers of Apple’s forthcoming futuristic
making the most recent headlines, with a number of high-profile deals for series including Tom Hiddleston
Endeavor Content does this in a number of differ-
Steven Knight drama See and others. Rice said that
ent ways. For instance, the company acts as a North
signing a slew of new clients, with names such as
American sales partner for a number of high-end Brit-
Friday Night Lights creator Peter Berg and former HBO
ish drama businesses, helping to sell big-budget series
programming chief Michael Lombardo’s new venture,
such as Neal Street Productions and Vertigo Films’ epic
is a key goal.
fantasy thriller Britannia to Amazon in the U.S. and Jane
Endeavor Content and its rivals, including CAA,
Campion’s Elisabeth Moss-fronted Top of the Lake to
have faced claims of conflicts of interest as a result of
SundanceTV. It is currently working on a deal for Bad
their aggressive moves into the programming world.
Wolf’s His Dark Materials adaptation, which is thought
Rice is aware of this and hopes that a transparent
to have interested Apple.
and clear approach, as well as working with external
It also acts as a traditional international TV distribution business, largely based on its own IMG distri-
parties if conflict arises, will benefit rather than hurt its clients.
bution operation with 400 sales executives based in
“We’re always leaning towards projects that are
25 countries selling to linear and digital broadcasters
talent-driven, whether that’s the creator, the director,
around the world. So far they’ve notched shows such
an actor or all of those,” he says. “The overarching
as Beau Willimon’s Hulu/Channel 4 space drama The
goal of Endeavor Content on the TV side has been to
First, which was reportedly budgeted at around $8
try and connect these artists, creators, producers, IP
million per episode, and The Ink Factory’s next John
owners with audiences in the most effective way.” ★
films and needed Walton to cushion the risk by selling
sales company last fall when Endeavor Con-
overseas rights. The ambitions quickly grew larger.
tent acquired a majority stake from co-owners
Bloom works with all the agencies, Walton says. That
Alex Walton and Ken Kao. While agencies have held
includes a collaboration with CAA on Jean-Marc
cozy relationships with different sales agents in the
Vallée’s Crazyrose production company launch. Bloom
past, this was the first to be openly and directly con-
will co-finance the directing and producing projects
nected to a holding company that also owns a major
hatched by the director of Dallas Buyers Club, Wild and
agency. It didn’t take long to see the benefits for
Big Little Lies. The first picture Bloom secured to sell
Bloom: The company teamed with Endeavor Content
at Cannes 2018 was also a CAA package: the Julius
to make Sundance’s biggest eight-figure deal, as
Onah-directed thriller Luce, starring Naomi Watts, Tim
NEON, 30WEST & AGBO teamed on world rights for
Roth and Octavia Spencer.
Sam Levinson’s anarchic Assassination Nation. Bloom
PT RU IS
loom became more than the average foreign
The foreign sales company with a direct connection to Endeavor Content is taking on bold new deals BY MIKE FLEMING JR.
Bloom founder Alex Walton
What’s the benefit of the Endeavor Content
spent several years raising financing to put that film
relationship? “Whether in distribution or financing, we
together, and when 30WEST placed the domestic
are trying to maximize content creation opportunities
distribution with NEON, it retained Bloom to broker
for artists, and that affiliation gives us great resources
the overseas deals.
at a time when the business continues to shift,” Walton
Bloom was founded four years ago when Walton
says. “The collaboration with Endeavor Content allows
moved from Exclusive Media to join Kao as the pro-
access to materials and financing resources, and gives
ducer/financier stepped up his output of tastemaker
those artists greater access to distribution.”★ DEADLINE.COM
4/29/18 12:51 PM
The ticket subscription service fights for its seat at the Hollywood table BY ANTHONY D’ALESSANDRO
ring up MoviePass with a film distribution or exhibition executive and fur is likely to fly. For Hollywood, a service that charges its 3 million-
from Amazon Studios. If the subscription service succeeds, insiders say it will force exhibition and stu-
plus subscribers $9.95 a month for a month for up to one free movie
dios to cut into their theatrical revenues. But if MoviePass goes away, the industry
ticket each day isn’t so much genius as it is radical when it comes to
is worried that consumers will be left with the altered impression that movie-going
expanding the theatrical business. Many wonder how long the service will last, and you’ll also hear gripes over the service’s box office attendance numbers or
isn’t worth the price of a ticket over the low monthly cost. MoviePass says that carpet-bagging tendencies aren’t part of their business
their hardball negotiation tactics with exhibition and studios when it comes to
plan. “People who work for public companies are built on understandable annual
getting a slice of ticket sales.
metrics and they get terrified,” says Lowe. “Netflix had a great movie-by-mail
The bottom line is that MoviePass is an industry outsider, and that’s what
business, but they decided that wasn’t in their future, rolled out streaming and
has so many hot-and-bothered. “After you come up with an idea that’s the best
cannibalized their mail business. They were brave enough to do it. The incumbents
thing that has happened to the industry, [Hollywood’s] response is, ‘don’t save it,’
don’t have the foresight, or they’re just plain afraid of predictability.”
because it wasn’t made by them,” says MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe. “What we’re
MoviePass doesn’t have a plan to take millions of dollars out of studio and exhibition partners’ pockets. “We’re just looking to get the same bulk rate pricing
essentially doing is what everyone thought of way before us.” For decades the box office was built on the backs of teenage and twenty-
on the ticket that theater chains sell at Costco,” explains Lowe. Costco sells bulk
something audiences. The streaming and social media mobile age robbed this
movie tickets in packets of four for AMC at $36 and packets of 10 for Regal at $90.
demographic away and millennials pick their battles with what they’ll pay to see
(They also offered an e-voucher that bundled a full year of access to MoviePass
on the big screen. Marvel titles and the Star Wars franchise have no problem
and Fandor for $89.99, an offer that quietly disappeared in February.)
dynamiting the under-25 crowd away from the house; it’s the mid-budget studio
Industry sources tell us that, at most, the retailer walks away with a 10% share.
fare and edgy independent titles being challenged, a trend that MoviePass is look-
Previously MoviePass had been looking for a $3 price cut on AMC tickets and a
ing to reverse. While moviegoers shell out $13-$15 a ticket to see Black Panther,
cut of concessions. What MoviePass is asking in their working relationship with
they go cheap when it comes to seeing a raunchy R-rated comedy or a quirky title
theaters is to be given access to a theater’s point-of-sale system. In exchange they promise to spike business four-fold with a chain further promoting MoviePass to their customers and loyalty members, and MoviePass annexing the extra six million visitors they obtained via their spring acquisition of Moviefone. “The idea that we’ll have so much leverage that we’ll squeeze both studios and theaters of their profits, or that they’ll go out of business—both are illogical outcomes,” Lowe says. “We don’t want to squeeze the hosts we live off; we want to make theatergoing as healthy as possible.” In regards to MoviePass’s profitability, Lowe and parent company CEO Ted Farnsworth of Helios and Matheson Analytics predict that the health club subscription model will win out with most members seeing only a movie a month. Those in the industry believe that three opening weekends akin to Avengers: Infinity War will wipe out MoviePass for good. The company claims they have enough financing ($280 million, with a $375 million line of credit) to weather the summer blockbuster storm. MoviePass also reports that 88% of their current subs are profitable and that only 12% are heavy users. Lose the frequent fliers and MoviePass would be in the black overnight. They predict profitability by year’s end, when they reach 6 million subscribers. It’s all-change from two years ago, when MoviePass was losing an estimated $400,000 a month from $9 million revenues, and Lowe, a former Netflix VP and Redbox president, was brought in to take the company to another level. When Lowe met Farnsworth, Farnsworth pitched the concept of lowering the unlimited monthly ticket price from its high point of $50. “The night before we launched, I told Mitch, ‘I’m going to break every system you have,’” says Farnsworth. “We had 18 months to get to 150,000 subscribers and we hit that goal in two days, propelling us five years ahead of our business model.” Their ultimate goal is to control 20% to 25% of the weekend box office, a number which many in the studio-exhibitor community question. However some
distribution executives acknowledge that if MoviePass gets to a point where it
controls 10% or more of a film’s box office receipts, it would be in their best inter-
RU PT O
est to take them seriously as a marketing partner. ★
4/29/18 12:59 PM
Bucking the bold proclamations of other Middle Kingdom players, the Chinese mega-corporation is quietly and carefully setting its sights on Hollywood BY NANCY TARTAGLIONE TENCENT HOLDINGS, BASED IN SHENZHEN, China, is Asia’s most valuable corporation, and the world’s biggest and most valuable gaming and social media company. In 2017 it reported
The Chinese-backed digital platform ups the ante on its quality standards BY PETER WHITE
a net income of $11.5 billion off revenues of $38 billion, and more than two-thirds of the Chinese population use its messaging services WeChat and QQ. Honor of Kings, which it owns, is the top-grossing mobile game in the world. And yet most people would be hard pressed to give you the names of anyone in the executive suite. Despite the braggadocio of other Chinese CEOs, Tencent’s Pony Ma has kept a
libaba-owned SVOD service Youku is leading a content arms race in China
low profile. While its strategy as
and expects to spend billions of dollars on original programming and
it moves into Hollywood has yet
international co-productions over the next few years. The digital platform
to be firmly defined, Tencent
launched in 2006 has already disrupted the country’s staid programming market,
is disrupting the conventional
but its drive to create content at Hollywood standards should take it to a new level.
wisdom of corporations in the
The service already has over 500 million unique users, a mixture of paid-for
Middle Kingdom. Ask around
subscribers and free users, and some of its content is already starting to travel. Netflix
and observers will tell you: this is
picked up its critically acclaimed detective drama Day and Night in a landmark global
the one to watch.
deal last year, while entertainment format service Street Dance of China has attracted interest across Asia. However, Weidong Yang, President of Youku and Alibaba Digital Media & Entertain-
Tencent has its tendrils in several Hollywood plays. In January, it took a sizeable minority
ment Group, insists that this is only the start. “Ideally, we can put more than half of
stake in David Ellison’s Skydance,
our content budget into original production. For the last five or six years, we bought
whose Mission: Impossible and Terminator
finished programs, drama, comedy and animation from U.S. and European companies,
movies are catnip to Chinese audiences (it is
but now we think we can do international co-productions.”
co-financing a Terminator reboot). And the company is backing
The company partnered with the BBC on a documentary project, with Endemol
Bob Simonds’ STX Entertainment as well as Donald Tang’s Tang
Shine Group on a variety show and is in talks with Sony Pictures Television to develop a
Media Partners. The latter, through the acquisition of IM Global
Chinese drama series. Yang said that working with these companies, as well as striking
and Open Road Films, created Global Road Entertainment. With
joint ventures with the likes of Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners, will help improve the
Tencent it recently formed and funded a consortium to acquire
overall quality of content emerging from the Middle Kingdom.
Hollywood movies for distribution in China.
“In China, the scriptwriters and the [production] mechanism is not yet very profes-
As its nascent Hollywood ambitions develop, one source
sional so we want to learn how to improve this and maybe joint ventures is the way to
with knowledge of the company says it has been quietly talking
do this,” he says.
to further Hollywood players about deals, as it seeks a leg up on
Demographically, about 60% of its viewers are female and the average age is 25. Consequently, the company is looking at content that skews young. Around 60 million
content for its Chinese streaming services. The key difference between Tencent and the other Chinese
of its customers pay for content, a similar number to rivals Tencent and iQiyi. But Yang
firms we’ve seen come and go is that it’s so big at home that
points out that each of these companies come from a slightly different place, with iQiyi
it doesn’t really need Hollywood, some opine. But however it
backed by search giant Badou and Tencent strong in gaming and social media.
plays its hand, don’t expect Tencent to make the same mistakes
Given that it was acquired by Jack Ma’s e-commerce giant Alibaba, which
as the overeager, overextended Wanda did in 2017. Despite big
completed its $4 billion takeover of Youku in 2016, it sees merchandising as one of its
ambitions, and pronouncements from Wang Jianlin that he was
priorities. “Maybe we can learn from Amazon, although Youku didn’t grow up in the
going to buy one of the major Hollywood studios, his company
Alibaba system, Alibaba bought it,” he adds.
was ultimately handcuffed by the Chinese government amid a
The company is concentrating on its local market in China, and serving Chinese
crackdown on capital flight and so-called irrational investments.
audiences, rather than looking to roll out Youku globally or distributing its programming
By contrast, Tencent, with its low profile and great success
to broadcasters around the world. Yang also says that he has been discussing a sports
story, is a shining beacon for the Middle Kingdom. The govern-
strategy at Alibaba, including the acquisition of key sporting rights.
ment gives it more leeway, we’re told. And it’s traded on the
One of the challenges that all Chinese broadcasters face is regulation. For example,
Hong Kong and NY stock exchanges, meaning it has plenty of
when Yang spoke to Deadline at the MIPTV market in Cannes, there were three
freely-available offshore equity. Says one executive who has been
executives from the State Administration for Radio, Film and Television in attendance.
watching the developments: “They’re smartly quiet in regard to
That said, he is confident that regulators aren’t interested in forbidding Youku from
the way they approach investment and only talk when it properly
producing certain kinds of content, but rather are pleased that it is taking Chinese
serves the objective. That’s why they really have the wind at their
content to “another level”. ★
back. They’re on cruise control without controversy.” ★ DEADLINE.COM
4/30/18 3:01 PM
The user-generated streaming service is empowering homegrown creators by cutting out the industry middlemen BY DAWN CHMIELEWSKI
Jamie Erlicht + Zack Van Amburg
The Apple execs are looking to shake up the SVOD scripted space BY NELLIE ANDREEVA
hen YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim uploaded that first video of Me at the Zoo in 2005 it was hard to imagine what the video sharing site launched under the
slogan “broadcast yourself” might become. These days, A-list celebrities like Will Smith and professional athletes like Golden State Warriors standout Kevin Durant use YouTube to afford intimate if controlled glimpses of their private lives, even as not-ready-for-mainstream players like gamer Mark Fischbach (better known as Markiplier) or beauty guru Michelle Phan rake in millions. YouTube has fundamentally transformed the media landscape. It
pple, which helped revolutionize the digital distribution of music with
democratized video creation and distribution, providing a platform
iTunes, is a relatively late entrant into the digital video-on-demand
where anyone with a camera, an internet connection and a passion
space. But its foray had been a long time in the making. “There has
for storytelling can reach a global audience. It gave rise to a whole
always been a fascination at the company with movie and TV content,” says Tim
new creative class of influencers, who were able to bypass the
Bajarin, president of a marketing research consultancy Creative Strategies, who
entertainment industry’s gatekeepers and tastemakers.
has covered Apple since 1981. “We know that Steve Jobs was very supportive of it.
And its reach is, in a word, enormous. Some 1.5 billion users
In 2010 when the iPad launched, he talked about watching movies on it and how
around the world log in every month, binging on 1 billion hours of video
it was going to revolutionize Hollywood.”
a day. Their viewing choices are virtually endless. 400 hours of video is
For the past several years, Apple bigwigs Eddy Cue and Jimmy Iovine met with top TV executives, but nothing ever came out of that. While people in the
uploaded every minute, or about 100,000 years’ worth of content. But its rise as a global video powerhouse has not been without
industry had already started to think that Apple might opt not to become an
controvery. The site blocked an extremist American cleric’s mes-
original digital programming player itself but instead buy one (Apple is one of only
sages in 2017 following a spate of domestic terror attacks and faced
a couple of companies rich enough to consider acquiring Netflix), the tech giant
with mounting pressure from governments and counterterrorism
last June hired Sony Pictures Television’s Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg as
advocates to crack down on jihadist propaganda videos. And some of
heads of worldwide video programming.
YouTube’s self-made stars, like Felix ‘PewDiePie’ Kjellberg and Logan
For Erlicht and Van Amburg, this was an opportunity they couldn’t pass up. So, after lengthy tenures, they opted to depart Sony TV and leave traditional media behind in order to lead Apple’s effort to shake up the SVOD world. Nine months after they started at Apple, the duo is yet to publicly speak of their
Paul, have caused outrage with their unfiltered uploads. In an effort to assuage worried advertisers, YouTube updated its guidelines, tightening its policies about what content can appear on the site and applying stricter criteria to which channels and videos would
plans. Apple, too, has been mum, not even revealing the platform that will carry
be eligible for advertising. It also announced it was stepping up enforce-
its original scripted series. According to reports, Apple had earmarked $1 billion for
ment. CEO Susan Wojcicki said YouTube would invest in machine-
original programming, looking to launch up to 10 shows in the first year.
learning technology to train its algorithms to recognize and take down
While the network has not officially commented, Erlicht and Van Amburg’s moves over the past nine months have been indicative of big ambitions. After assembling a team of top TV executives, the pair have aggressively gone after
videos that violate its polices, and hire 10,000 people this year to work alongside the machines, to fine-tune the review process. YouTube’s more aggressive stance about policing the site has
the hot packages on the market, landing a slew of high-profile scripted shows.
translated to less money for some, provoking protests within the
That includes seven with straight-to-series orders at press time: a morning show
legions of amateur video bloggers and personalities who populate
drama exec-produced by and starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon,
the site. That dismay erupted in a tragic display in early April, when
with a two-season pickup; an Amazing Stories reboot from Steven Spielberg; a
a woman angered by what she viewed as censorship of her workout
Ronald D. Moore space drama; a Damien Chazelle series; a comedy starring Kris-
videos traveled to YouTube’s Northern California headquarters with a
ten Wiig; the world-building drama See from Steven Knight and Francis Lawrence;
gun and injured three people before killing herself.
and a psychological thriller from M. Night Shyamalan. More series orders are
Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s chief business officer says the last 12
pending, with other projects in development. The rapid expansion has not been
months have forced YouTube to focus on the “four freedoms” that
without growing pains—the first two series ordered by Apple, the morning show
are core to the platform: freedom of expression, freedom of informa-
drama and Amazing Stories, both underwent showrunner changes.
tion, freedom of opportunity and freedom to belong. “We know what
With vast resources, Apple has already dramatically changed the premium marketplace as a major buyer, we'll see if that will translate to a lion's share of streaming viewership. Bajarin cautions that “content is the biggest stretch the
we mean for the world because of those four freedoms, and we want to makes sure we uphold them—but uphold them responsibly.” Kyncl says YouTube has been gradually laying the infrastructure
company is making.” Still, size matters. “This is a company with nearly a trillion-
to manage the unprecedented scale, like a boomtown racing to prop
dollar market cap and $163 billion in the bank," he says. "At any given point, they
up its services to care for a rapidly growing population. “What you’ve
could do something as radical as buying Netflix or buying a movie or TV studio
seen over the last 12 months is, some things were ahead of us. We did
and changing the entire landscape.” ★
not have the infrastructure fully in place yet,” Kyncl says. “I think that today we are better prepared than anyone because we have spent so
–Additional reporting by Dade Hayes
much time on it and invested so much into it.” ★
4/29/18 1:05 PM
[D IS RU PT O RS
French Theatrical Windows A mandated three-year gap between theatrical and SVOD releases in France has been causing a rift BY NANCY TARTAGLIONE
very public controversy at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017 involving Netflix, the event’s organizers,
dropped independent cinema; because independent
and the French film industry continues to rage in 2018. On the eve of the festival revealing its main
distribution is dying.
lineup in April, Netflix said it was removing its titles from consideration. After last year’s flap, the festival said it would not accept Netflix movies in competition unless they were open to theatrical
distribution in France.
What’s scaring the exhibitors? Everything! Change, the future, losing their exorbitant
A regulation long on the books in France is the source of the upset. Under an arcane windowing system,
margins, which make it the only profitable sector in
films cannot play on SVOD services until 36 months after their theatrical release. Clearly the Netflix straight-to-
film. What a joke! What’s scaring them is to open
platform strategy is not built to fit that model. And while the industry largely supports updating the rules, the
their eyes to the fact that their theaters today only
exhibition sector—led by lobby La Fédération Nationale des Cinémas Français (FNCF)—is staunchly opposed.
bring in an aging public while in Asia or Latin America,
So now we have a Cannes Film Festival without Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, which had been offered a competition slot, and that won’t see the previously unfinished Orson Welles movie The Other Side of the Wind. And this is not a situation expected to blow over anytime soon. Proposals have been put forth to modify the
moviegoing is a young person’s leisure activity. Movie theaters prefer to put state protections in place rather than question why young people prefer to watch their
existing rules, but there’s been no agreement among the various industry groups as yet. We’re at a standstill, and
tablets over going to the movie theater—even though
it’s likely the government will become the ultimate decider of fates.
they go to concerts, restaurants, etc.
So contentious is the political situation that the FNCF declined to respond to the questions we put to them. On the pro-change side of the argument, Wild Bunch co-founder Vincent Maraval, whose company scandalized
If the windows system changed, how could the
the powers-that-be well before Netflix entered the market by releasing Abel Ferrara’s Welcome to New York on
exhibitors protect themselves?
its own SVOD service and bypassed theatrical to do so, was more willing to have his say.
By creating events, by modernizing their theaters in the same revolutionary way they did in the 1980s when
What’s your take on Netflix boycotting Cannes? I think it’s really stupid. It’s a schoolyard reaction.
the Netflix boycott is idiotic. They should instead help
already VHS, Canal+ and home cinemas were calling
Thierry show to what extent they are active in cin-
into question their attractiveness.
ematic creation. The fight is to denounce the archaism Can you elaborate on that? I get the sense there
of the narrow vision of [national cinema body] the
Is Netflix a scapegoat?
was a lot of pressure on the festival from outside.
CNC and the FNCF. The boycott won’t help that. There
Yes, Thierry [Frémaux] has the pressure of the FNCF,
are plenty of other solutions like, for example, negotiat-
which is an imbecilic lobby that doesn’t like cinema.
ing a special window for Netflix films that go to Cannes
Should Netflix have an obligation to invest in
They sell candy and prefer showing operas or the
on the condition they can be released in cinemas, and
French and European production like the other
Eurovision Song Contest than Cannes movies. [But]
where SVOD would be considered like pay-TV just as it
providers in France? Would that change some-
is everywhere else in the world.
thing in the argument? They already do it because Netflix is the number one
Why hasn’t the windows system advanced with
client of French cinema abroad.
the times? Because the lobbies of the old French families that
What defines a “film”?
control our economy are paralyzing all evolution of the
Today, French fancy has succeeded in defining a film
by its distribution method while it should be by the means of its creation and production. A film is the
Outside of some distributors and exhibitors,
creation of a unique and original work.
the industry in general seems quite in favor of change. Why?
Does politics have a place in this discussion?
Because the system is suffocating; because piracy
It shouldn’t, but it’s seated itself at the table to protect
profits from the situation while at our northern borders
a couple of big industrial groups in contempt of
it doesn’t exist; because Canal+ is in difficulty and has
creation. ★ DEADLINE.COM
4/29/18 1:05 PM
CURTAINS PULLED A 1968 screening of Peppermint Frappé at the Jean Cocteau Theater devolves into chaos, in response to widespread strikes and rioting in France.
TO THE BARRICADES
Forman—quickly began to pick up on the Committee’s message. “I want the
It’s been 50 years since the 1968 Cannes Film Festival ended in collapse after powerful protests led by directors like Godard and Truffaut. Damon Wise looks back
festival to stop,” said Truffaut flatly.
SATURDAY MAY 18. THE 1968 Cannes Film Festival was about to enter its second week when a press conference was called for 10AM in the Jean Cocteau Theater at the old Palais Croisette. Just a few yards down the road, a budding starlet was preparing to hold court on the beach, imagining she would make headlines with her saucy topless photo-call. No one came. Instead, on a bright, sunny day, the world’s media was crammed into a small, stuffy screening room, watching the festival implode.
10, when a march of up to 30,000
stop. I propose that we bring Cannes
students resulted in a pitched battle
to a halt to organize a debate about
between police and protestors in
the future of French cinema.” Not
the Latin Quarter in Paris. Dubbed
everyone agreed. Polanski, who had
“The Night of the Barricades”, the
arrived with his new bride Sharon Tate
evening’s events saw 367 people
in his specially imported red Fer-
injured and 461 arrested, with cars
rari—presumably expecting a holiday
burning in the streets. Although more
on the Côte d’Azur—made noises
than a week had passed since then,
about Stalinism, and a wise-cracking
an agitated Truffaut. “The trains have
Godard argued that the festival, with
journalist wondered aloud if the
themselves as The Cinémathèque
stopped, and the metro and buses will
its champagne receptions and fancy
festival would refund his colleagues’
Defence Committee were French New
be next. So to announce every hour
yacht parties, was now an embar-
hotel bills. Juror Louis Malle was more
Wave stalwarts Jean-Luc Godard and
that the Cannes Film Festival contin-
rassing anachronism. “There isn’t one
sympathetic, announcing that he and
François Truffaut, the former known
ues is just ridiculous.” Godard put it
film showing today that represents
three others—including Terence Fisher
for his increasingly radical politiciza-
more bluntly. “We’re talking solidarity
the problems going on today among
and Monica Vitti—had decided to
tion, the latter not, which made what
with students and workers,” he said,
workers and students,” he thundered.
resign from their duties, while Forman
he was about to say all the more
“and you’re talking about dolly shots
“Not one, whether by Milos, myself,
immediately withdrew his competition
surprising. France, said Truffaut, was in
and close-ups. You’re assholes.”
Polanski or François. There are none.
film The Firemen’s Ball.
a state of siege, after a spate of recent
Godard acknowledged that the
We’re behind the times.”
importance in France has come to a
Festival director Robert Favre Le
student protests had escalated into
Committee was showing its colors
The growing crowd—which
Bret’s response came swiftly: The fes-
nationwide strikes and violent rioting.
somewhat late in the day. Student
included jury member Roman
tival would close its doors at noon the
“The radio announces by the hour that
unrest had been percolating since
Polanski, actress Macha Méril and
following day. This left one last screen-
factories are occupied or closed,” said
March, reaching a crescendo on May
directors Claude Berri and Milos
ing—Carlos Saura’s psychological
AP/ R EX /S H U T T E RSTO CK
Taking the stage and representing
“Everything with any sort of dignity or
0508 - Final Frame.indd 54
4/29/18 6:39 PM
LOS ANGELES | NEW YORK Entertainment PR and Awards Consultancy LEA YARDUM | GENA WILDER | JULIE TUSTIN partners
4/26/18 11:03 AM
throughout the film world, and news of his sacking sent out shockwaves. For Truffaut, like Godard and the rest of the French New Wave, Langlois had an almost God-like aura; his Cinémathèque had been their church as young cineastes. He and his peers responded quickly by forming the Committee and pulling their films from the new management. Within weeks, their cause snowballed. Telegrams of support came from the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Roberto Rossellini, Stanley Kubrick, Orson Welles, and Jerry Lewis, with film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma printing an open letter signed by over 700 industry luminaries, including Michelangelo Antonioni, Ingmar Bergman, Luis Buñuel, Alfred Hitchcock and Akira Kurosawa. It took some time, and the boycott was painful, but the government relented in April and reinstated Langlois while, somewhat punitively, slashing his funding. It was a peculiarly French affair, and many saw it as a dress rehearsal for the ensuing events of May. This passion for “real” cinema has been no stranger to Cannes in years since. At last year’s festival, purists protested its decision to embrace serial television and streaming content from Netflix and Amazon. The controversies there trundle on. It’s tempting to wonder what Truffaut, who died in 1984, would have made REVOLUTION NATION From top: Ringo Starr, with then wife Maureen Starkey, attends a screening of Joanna with Polanski; directors Claude Lelouch, Claude Berri and Truffaut sit in solidarity with other protesters in the Festival Palace projection hall.
of this debate, although it’s likely that this mild-mannered rebel would have come out fighting. Indeed, despite
thriller Peppermint Frappé—but by
of the worst punishments the city of
in the Trocadero region of Paris, had
the chaos, confusion, and the films
this time its director had drunk the
Cannes could offer: He was refused
been unfairly removed from his post by
that were never seen, Truffaut never
Kool-Aid and joined the rebel alliance.
service at the fashionable Blue Bar.
the French government in a bid to take
backed away from all the trouble he
state control of a once-private opera-
and Godard caused that fateful May
Chaplin, Saura refused to let the
on his mind and heart (“It could
tion. Langlois was a heavyweight figure
curtain go up, and as the film started,
maybe have been managed more
in French film history and remains so: a
audiences were shocked to see a
elegantly,” he conceded), but, in all, he
tireless champion of celluloid, he was
our [behavior] at Cannes against us
fight break out onstage. In the dark,
was unrepentant—perhaps because,
said to have saved over 50,000 films
for a long time to come,” he admitted
no one could even see who they were
just a few months earlier, he’d been
from extinction, including the only
in August of 1968. “But I also know that
fighting, and it is rumored that Chaplin
through it all before, when The Ciné-
German-language print of Josef von
a few days later, when there were no
lost a tooth in the melee, accidentally
mathèque Defence Committee was
Sternberg’s Marlene Dietrich vehicle
more planes and no more trains, when
punched by a fellow protestor. It was
originally formed. Again, the catalyst
The Blue Angel (1930), which he prized
the telephones weren’t working and
an undignified end to the festival and
was a matter of conscience: in Febru-
from the grasp of Hitler’s SS.
we’d run out of petrol and cigarettes,
Truffaut was blamed for it. Declared
ary, Henri Langlois, co-founder of the
persona non grata, he was given one
influential Cinémathèque Française
Truffaut’s actions weighed heavy
Langlois, a famous eccentric who stored films in his bathtub, had friends
“I know that a lot of people will hold
the festival would have looked utterly ridiculous if it had tried to carry on.” ★
AP/ R EX /S H U T T E RSTO CK
Supported by his co-star Geraldine
0508 - Final Frame.indd 56
4/29/18 6:40 PM
OCTOBER 13, 2018 H A M YA R D H O T E L
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CO NT E ND E RSLO NDO N.D E AD L IN E .CO M
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