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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

TIME’S UP

Meet the women fighting to build a better industry

TAYLOR SHERIDAN

Prepares to shake up the small screen with Yellowstone

ROSEANNE BARR

Reboots her classic sitcom to ratings triumph

MICHAEL B. JORDAN

Cements his place as a bona fide movie star

HAIFAA AL-MANSOUR

Saudi’s first female director on seismic shifts back home

RYAN MURPHY

On the resounding success of his inclusivity drive

FRANKLIN LEONARD

Gears up to take his Black List finds into production

Plus:

CANNES ONES TO WATCH PAUL DANO

JOHN KRASINSKI

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

Craig Edwards

ASSISTANT EDITOR

Matt Grobar

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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

Pete Hammond

DEADLINE CONTRIBUTORS

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

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PAUL DANO

The actor turns director with first feature Wildlife

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TOPHER GRACE

On double duty with BlacKkKlansman and Under the Silver Lake

VIDEO PRODUCERS

David Janove Andrew Merrill SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER

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An about-face for the diverse director with Under the Silver Lake

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Cannes Film Festival’s director on keeping up with changing times

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Why premiere audiences deserve the first bite

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I’m Sorry • Adam Ruins Everything • At Home with Amy Sedaris • The Chris Gethard Show

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Organize

Discover

Schedule

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Your perfect match Download the updated app The Official MarchĂŠ du Film app

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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,

transition?

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

He is.

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

creatives.

What were the main challenges

and crew do that on set, that’s when

for you?

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.

—Andreas Wiseman

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A.B. Shawky

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

Debra Granik

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

up momentum.

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-

three more.

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

self-generated.

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

Joe Penna

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

Marie Monge

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

arctic.”

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

8

Penna has also toiled as an actor but says he uses

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DIA LOGUE

Paul

DANO

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

actors.

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

challenging.

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

beautiful. ★

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PHOTOGRAPH BY

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4/29/18 5:37 PM


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DIA LOGUE

Topher

GRACE

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

special.

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?

with him.

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

these issues.

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

about it?

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?

a day?

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

David Robert

MITCHELL

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-

ebb away?

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

challenges?

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,

previous successes?

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

Thierry

and less with world premieres.

FRÉMAUX

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

normal today.

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

less ‘acceptable’?

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

world.

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.

BOO YOU

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

the well.

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

the press?

accommodate the volume of features

pleasant festival” they often promise

and festgoers.

in emails.

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. ★

18

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 year’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

[D

Silent Fright

]

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.

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DON’T SPEAK

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.

24

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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

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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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Mark Mann

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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

in everything.

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

that exploration.

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

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less if I can’t do this.

FACES PLACES

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

amazing.”

characters?

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

that backstory?

“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.

fake documentary?”

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,

considered?

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,

one-off.

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?

30

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

happening?

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

started talking.

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

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Wonder Women

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The #MeToo and Time’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

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POWER PLAYERS

From left: Rose McGowan, Frances McDormand, Alyssa Milano, Mira Sorvino, Ashley Judd, activist Tarana Burke, Salma Hayek and Reese Witherspoon.

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T

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.

Daniela Elstner

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

local business?

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,

markets. Why?

directors?

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.

specific quotas?

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

example.

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

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,

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.

Zelda Perkins

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.

GAME CHANGERS

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.

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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

A

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

this year?

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

competition.

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

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Shonda Rhimes Television’s Grand Dame enters the “fearless space” of SVOD and introduces new podcasts BY PETER WHITE

N

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.

A

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.” ★

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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

LGBTQ people.

communities? No. But he’s advocating for them, taking DEADLINE.COM

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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

programming?

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

of this.”

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

ambition.

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,

The downside?

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. ★

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rules. This is great.” I have talked with some of the people who’ve

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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

Trump supporter.

first episode.)

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

Roseanne Barr

H

[D

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.” ★

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] RS O PT RU IS

[D

Haifaa al-Mansour

T

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,”

40

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

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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

I

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

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Michael B. Jordan From The Wire to Creed, Black Panther, and Fahrenheit 451, an actor proves his star power BY MIKE FLEMING JR.

O

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

Stuart Ford

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.

L

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.” ★

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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

W

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

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] RS O PT RU IS

[D

F

Taylor Sheridan

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

How?

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

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“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

clear.

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.”

46

WILD WEST

Scenes from Sheridan’s upcoming TV series Yellowstone, featuring Kevin Costner.

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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.

Brad Weston

The chief of Makeready Pictures is making good on a diverse and allencompassing production strategy BY MIKE FLEMING JR.

A

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

Yellowstone…

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

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NEON

Tom Quinn’s indie outfit punches above its weight thanks to its creative strategies BY MIKE FLEMING JR.

30 WEST

A

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

compose himself.

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.

foundations. ★

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. ★

48

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Chris Rice

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

Alexander Skarsgård.

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

producers.”

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.” ★

RS

]

Bloom

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

[D

B

loom became more than the average foreign

O

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

Disruptors_F_30west_Neon_Rice_Bloom.indd 49

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4/29/18 12:51 PM


MoviePass

The ticket subscription service fights for its seat at the Hollywood table BY ANTHONY D’ALESSANDRO

B

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

[D

distribution executives acknowledge that if MoviePass gets to a point where it

IS

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. ★

RS

]

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DEADLINE.COM

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4/29/18 12:59 PM


Tencent

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

Youku

The Chinese-backed digital platform ups the ante on its quality standards BY PETER WHITE

A

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

Disruptors_G_MoviePass_YouKu_Tencent.indd 51

51

4/30/18 3:01 PM


YouTube

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

A

W

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

52

much time on it and invested so much into it.” ★

DEADLINE.COM

Disruptors_H_Apple_YouTube_French.indd 52

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

A

  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

Of course.

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

new entrants.

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

Disruptors_H_Apple_YouTube_French.indd 53

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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

54

AP/ R EX /S H U T T E RSTO CK

Taking the stage and representing

“Everything with any sort of dignity or

DEADLINE.COM

0508 - Final Frame.indd 54

4/29/18 6:39 PM


INTRODUCING

LOS ANGELES | NEW YORK Entertainment PR and Awards Consultancy LEA YARDUM | GENA WILDER | JULIE TUSTIN partners

PERCEPTIONPR.COM

Untitled-2 1

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

morning.

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

56

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

DEADLINE.COM

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4/29/18 6:40 PM


PRESENTS

OCTOBER 13, 2018 H A M YA R D H O T E L

1 H A M YA R D , L O N D O N , W 1 D 7 D T 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM

( I N C L U D I N G A C AT E R E D B R E A K F A S T A N D L U N C H )

TH E O N LY E V E N T W HE R E B A F TA , A M PAS A N D G U I L D ME MBE R S H AV E T H E O P P O RT UNI T Y TO S PEN D T H E DAY H E A RI N G D I R ECT LY F R O M T H E F I L M M A KE R S OF TH I S Y E A R’ S AWA RDS SE ASON FO R MO R E I N FO R MAT I O N P L E AS E V I S I T

CO NT E ND E RSLO NDO N.D E AD L IN E .CO M

Untitled-18 1

4/30/18 3:43 PM


Untitled-3 1

4/26/18 11:04 AM

Deadline Hollywood - Cannes Film Festival - Disruptors 2018  
Deadline Hollywood - Cannes Film Festival - Disruptors 2018