One of these days I will finish the "Two Family House" story and discussion.--if popular demand were a reliable indicator I would have by now happily abandoned it. But in my super-controlled, need-to-tie-everything-up-and-turn-it-into-a-self-aggrandizing-story way, I will pursue it to the end.
On another day, that is.
Today, though, I will take questions from the audience. You, sir, in the yellow hat with the pink hankerchief and the walker by your side. Your question?
What's that? How do I feel about a 'smaller' company like Anchor Bay buying the film instead of a big studio? Good question. The answer is: excellent! Firstly because there really are no more "big studios" buying finished, independent movies--the occasional fluke notwithstanding. The amount of indie films made every year is actually GROWING--unbelievable until you factor in the phenomenon of people shooting movies on their cell phones and cutting them on their Macbooks...and then burning a DVD and sending them into the festivals. I'm not pooh-poohing this development. It's just the way that things are going. Simultaeneously, of course, there are fewer and fewer theatrical distributors for these films. Guess what that means? It doesn't matter if you can make a film on your phone--you still can't get it seen in theaters.
As if that's the point. The fact is, releasing a film in theaters--while a lovely, old-school, proper way to view certain kinds of movies--is becoming as much of an ashtray as the fax machine. Or, for that matter, the land-line. In other words, certain people still need it--are still addicted. But others are satisfied, indeed energized to live with out it. I myself don't use a land-line or a fax machine anymore. But I sure as hell need a theatrical release.
Why? Because the movies I make--for all their slightly off-beat, hard to define, anti-explosive (i.e. nothing explodes in them except tempers) ways are...audience movies! Christ, the only awards I've ever won at the multitude of festivals I've been too are "Audience Awards". (Three--two of them especially important: Sundance 2000 for "Two Family House" and Tribeca this year for "City Island"). This movie--"City Island"--plays wonderfully well in a theater filled with people. It is a communal kind of experience. One of the things we were all surprised by at the Tribeca screenings was that the movie seems to inspire a kind of "shout and call" response--in other words, audiences (and these are the so-called "tough New York crowds") seem to talk back to the screen at certain key moments. This isn't something I had the arrogance to plan. Indeed I'm as surprised as anyone at how visceral the familial situations and complexities seem to be to audiences. Will this make us a hit? I don't know. You can't predict a hit. But I'll mention again--need i bother? yes, I need--that the film played just as well and viscerally in Poland with sub-titles as it did in New York. So....
Let's wrap this up. Small co. V. large co.? Much prefer the small company--especially this one, Anchor Bay--because they have something to prove and are not closed down to what the filmmakers want. I'm thrilled with how much they wanted the film and what the expectations are for it. A bigger company might say they want the film...but a few months later they'll be on to other things (ones involving more money and things that explode) and the passion will have cooled.
You, M'aam. Yes, you, in the leopard skin skirt, with the weird glasses and go-go boots...uh-huh. You were asking about when I would prefer the film released?
Frankly later rather than earlier. I think it belongs to the spring/summer which puts us into 2010. We've talked about end of the year but that's such a train wreck of "prestige" film releases...I love my movie and hate the thought of it being outflanked by a "prestige" movie. Let them all kill each other over the dubious honor of getting a few Oscar noms. Then we'll come out a few months later and put them all to shame.
Irving Lazar: what the hell does any producer do? One of three things. 1) Provide inspiration. 2) Plan the actual making of the film. 3) Raise the money. On this film I (who takes a producer credit) and Andy Garcia did the "inspiration thing". But so did Zachary Matz, who was planning the production along with Ged Dickersen (both credited producers). And so did Lauren Versel do the "inspiration thing" too at the most crucial juncture--when all of our previous inspiration yielded nothing but compliments (and no money): She raised the money. And so all those other producer names you see--the executive producers--are lovely people who believed in the project, believed in me as a filmmaker and Lauren as a producer and wrote us a check. The real "inspiration thing". Anyway, is "Swifty" a name your proud of? Like it inspires confidence?
Money is the truth of a film. The rest is all happenstance.
Oh and Irving: does our communication suggest a posthumous invitation by you and Mary to your by-now posthumous Oscar party? Not that I'll attend of course. But I'd like the invite as a souvenir...
If you think you have troubles...Oy! Imagine being Al Jolsen covering this tune...