Hollywood producers juggle many roles

Thu Nov 20, 2008 11:52pm EST
 
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By Matthew Belloni

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - What, exactly, does a producer do? Besides supervising the production schedule. And hiring and firing talent. And managing the financing and the budget. In short, besides everything.

Heading into awards season, six producers of some of the year's most ambitious films -- Brian Grazer ("Changeling," "Frost/Nixon"); Dan Jinks ("Milk"); Michael London ("The Visitor," "Milk"); Rob Lorenz ("Changeling," "Gran Torino"), Frank Marshall ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button") and Marc Platt ("Rachel Getting Married") -- discussed their profession, making good movies in a bad economy and all the different jobs they do.

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: WHAT IS IT IN A PIECE OF MATERIAL THAT SAYS TO YOU, "ALL RIGHT, THIS IS A MOVIE?"

Rob Lorenz: A story that stays with me after I put it down. Pretty simple for me. I don't delve too much beyond that.

Michael London: For me, it's usually a character that I can engage with. And the voice of the writer. Once or twice a year, at the end of those 90 minutes or two hours of reading, I just feel it.

Brian Grazer: In the case of "Frost/Nixon," I read the play and I had no idea if it could be a movie. I just knew that I liked it and I thought it was smart. More often than not, it's whether some world or subculture captivates me. If it does, then I dig inside and later it gets determined if it will be a movie.

THR: HOW INVOLVED ARE YOU IN THAT "DIGGING" PROCESS?

Grazer: I don't just say, "Go write this." (The digging) is the part that's personally fun for me. I like to be involved and meet interesting people. Science, medicine, politics, religion -- people who are experts in fields outside of my own. That just helps inform the subjects and informs my sensibility. But I get very involved because it's time-efficient. The more involved I am at the beginning in understanding the subject or the dynamics of the characters, the fewer drafts I have to read.   Continued...