Transcript: The Producers 1 | Mar 24, 1988

A caption reads “David Picker. Producer. Lenny.”

David sits on a bench with his German shepherd dog.

David is in his late forties, with short receding brown hair, sideburns, and a moustache. He wears white trousers, a pink shirt and an off-white jacket.

He says YOU CAN'T GAUGE, EVERYBODY
WILL SAY, HOW MUCH DO YOU
THINK THE PICTURE
IS GOING TO GROSS?
AND I SAID, THERE'S ONLY ONE
THING I KNOW ABOUT A PICTURE,
AND THAT'S NOT HOW MUCH
IT'S GOING TO MAKE,
IT'S HOW MUCH IT CAN LOSE.
IT CAN LOSE WHAT IT COST.
HOW MUCH IT CAN MAKE?
I DON'T KNOW.
HAVEN'T GOT A CLUE.

Elwy appears in the studio. He’s in his fifties, mostly bald with some dark hair on the sides, and he has a moustache. He wears glasses, gray trousers, a white shirt, a blue suit jacket and a red tie. He hosts the program sitting on a chair against a black background with a red film reel. The reel reads “Talking Film” several times, alternately in white and orange. Elwy holds some memory notes on his lap.

Elwy says WHAT IS A MOTION
PICTURE PRODUCER?
WHAT EXACTLY DOES HE DO?
HOW DOES HE RELATE TO THE
DIRECTOR IN THE CREATION
OF A FILM?
IS HE A BUSINESSMAN?
IS HE AN ARTIST?
IS HE, PERHAPS, A
COMBINATION OF BOTH?
PROBABLY THE LEAST UNDERSTOOD
OF ALL THE ROLES OF ALL THOSE
ASSEMBLED TO MAKE A MOVIE
IS THAT OF THE ROLE
OF THE FILM PRODUCER.
ON THIS PROGRAM, YOU WILL
MEET PRODUCERS DAVID PICKER
AND WALTER MIRISCH.
AND YOU'LL MEET PRODUCER-
DIRECTORS, ROBERT ALTMAN,
ROGER CORMAN, SYDNEY
POLLACK, AND STANLEY KRAMER.
HERE THEN ARE SIX
PRODUCERS TALKING FILM.

David says WHEN I WAS RUNNING A STUDIO,
IT'S THE ULTIMATE POWER IN
THE MOTION PICTURE BUSINESS.
YOU ARE DECIDING
PEOPLE'S FATES.
YOU ARE SAYING YES TO THIS
PROJECT, AND NO TO THAT PROJECT.
AND PEOPLE GET YOU ON THE
PHONE, AND THEY SEEK YOU AND
THEY NEED YOU AND THEY
WANT YOU BECAUSE
YOU CONTROL THEIR DESTINY.
IF YOU CAN COPE WITH THAT
POWER INTELLIGENTLY, YOU KNOW,
YOU DO A GOOD JOB.
AND IF YOUR JUDGMENT IS
REASONABLY LUCKY AND ACCURATE,
YOU CAN BE VERY
SUCCESSFUL AT IT.
I WAS LUCKY.
I WAS SUCCESSFUL AT IT.
BUT I GOT TIRED OF IT.
I GOT TIRED OF BEING PART
OF A CORPORATE STRUCTURE,
AND I WANTED TO GET IN
THERE AND FIGHT IT OUT
ON THE CREATIVE LEVEL, SO I
DECIDED TO PRODUCE FILMS.
NOW, YOU HAVE THE CREATIVE
POWER OF DECIDING WHAT YOU
PERSONALLY WANT TO DO, BUT NOW
YOU'VE GOT TO CONVINCE THE
FELLOW WHO IS IN YOUR JOB TO
LET YOU MAKE THAT PICTURE.
IT'S NOT, YOU KNOW, SO EASY
SOMETIMES TRYING TO GET IN TO
SEE PEOPLE IF YOU
ARE A PRODUCER.
I'M LUCKY BECAUSE I'M IN A
POSITION WHERE PEOPLE WANT ME
TO MAKE PICTURES FOR THEM.
BUT I AM MUCH MORE SYMPATHETIC
NOW TO THE PLIGHT OF THE
FELLOW WHO TRIED TO GET IN TO
SEE ME, NOW THAT I'M TRYING
TO GET IN TO SEE
OTHER PEOPLE.

The caption changes to “Robert Altman. Director. Mash.”

Robert is in his mid-fifties, with short receding gray hair and a goatee. He wears off-white trousers and a pale yellow shirt.

He says THE ONE I'M DOING NOW IS THE
MOST SATISFYING BECAUSE I
HAVEN'T SHOT IT YET.
I THINK
MASH
WAS PROBABLY
THE BEST FILM IN TERMS OF
THE KIND OF FILMS
I LIKE TO MAKE.
THEY ALL GET MIXED UP.
I THINK THEY ARE LIKE
CHILDREN, AND YOU TEND TO LOVE
YOUR MOST UNSUCCESSFUL
CHILDREN THE MOST.
WHEN PEOPLE ASK ME WHAT MY
FAVOURITE FILM IS OF MINE,
I SAY
BREWSTER McCLOUD.
AND I THINK IT'S PROBABLY THE
MOST AMBITIOUS, AND THE MOST
INVENTIVE, AND IT REALLY PAID
THE LEAST AMOUNT OF ATTENTION
TO WHAT WAS ACCEPTABLE.
I MEAN, WE JUST WENT
AHEAD AND MADE THAT FILM.
BUT I LIKE 'EM ALL.
I'M ALWAYS EXPERIMENTING AND
TRYING NEW THINGS, BUT WHEN I
SAY I DON'T THINK IT'S TRUE,
I DON'T THINK I'M A MEMBER OF
THE ESTABLISHMENT
OR THE INDUSTRY.
AND ALSO, I THINK THERE ARE
MANY, MANY FILMMAKERS TRYING
TO DO THE SAME THING.
THEY MAY NOT HAVE BEEN AS
SUCCESSFUL AS YET IN IT, BUT...

The caption changes to “Roger Corman. Director, Saint Valentine Day Massacre.”

Roger is in his early fifties, clean-shaven and with very short brown hair. He wears black trousers and a patterned shirt.

He says I'VE PROBABLY WORKED WITH
MORE YOUNG WRITERS AND
DIRECTORS THAN ACTORS.
THAT IS WHO HAVE GONE ON.
I'D SAY FRANCIS COPPOLA, PETER
BOGDANOVICH, MARTY SCORSESE,
IRV KERSHNER, CURRENTLY
JONATHAN CAPLAN IS MAKING
SOMETHING OF A NAME FOR
HIMSELF, AS IS STEVE CARVER,
JONATHAN DEMME, PAUL BARTEL,
A COUPLE OF GIRL DIRECTORS,
YOUNG WOMAN DIRECTORS, BARBARA
PETERS AND STEPHANIE ROTHMAN.
AND NOW CHUCK GRIFFITH, WHO
HAS WRITTEN A NUMBER OF FILMS
FOR ME OVER A PERIOD OF YEARS
WILL DIRECT HIS FIRST FILM,
AS WE WERE SAYING,
STARTING TOMORROW.

Elwy says THIS IS
THE CAR.
WHAT'S THE PRODUCER'S ROLE
AND FUNCTION AS YOU SEE
THE PRODUCER?

Roger says THAT'S A VERY INTERESTING
QUESTION, AND WE CAN GO FOR
HOURS ON THAT BECAUSE MY
OPINION OF WHAT A PRODUCER
DOES HAS CHANGED
RATHER DRASTICALLY.
AT ONE TIME, I WAS A BELIEVER IN
THE DIRECTOR AS AUTEUR THEORY.
I NO LONGER PUT
MUCH FAITH IN THAT.
I NOW CONSIDER THE PRODUCER
TO BE THE MOST IMPORTANT
CREATIVE FORCE IN FILM MAKING
FOR A NUMBER OF REASONS.
I'LL TRY TO MAKE
IT SHORT, HOWEVER.
THE PRODUCER MAKES THE MOST
IMPORTANT DECISION THAT WILL
EVER BE MADE IN
CONNECTION WITH A FILM.
HE MAKES THE DECISION
AS TO WHAT TO MAKE.
HE HAS THE IDEA.
EVERYTHING, OR LITERALLY
ALMOST EVERYTHING, STANDS OR
FALLS ON THAT BASIC IDEA.
HE THEN DECIDES HOW
HE WILL DEVELOP IT.
HE HIRES A WRITER, OR HE
IS A WRITER HIMSELF, OR HE
GENERALLY WILL WORK VERY
CLOSELY WITH A WRITER IN
DEVELOPING HIS STORY IDEA,
WHETHER IT'S AN ORIGINAL IDEA
HE CREATED, OR AN
IDEA THAT HE PURCHASED.
BUT AT LEAST HE
MADE THAT DECISION.
HE THEN GENERALLY
WORKS WITH THE WRITER.
EVERYBODY ELSE DROPS OUT.
THEY COME IN AT CERTAIN TIMES.
A PRODUCER IS THE ONLY ONE WHO
STARTS WITH THE INITIAL IDEA
AND CONTINUES TO THE POINT
WHERE THE PICTURE IS
IN A THEATRE.
SO FIRST THE PRODUCER
WORKS WITH THE WRITER.
THEN, AFTER WORKING WITH
THE WRITER AND DEVELOPING A
SCREENPLAY, HE WILL CAST THE
PICTURE AND HIRE A DIRECTOR.
THE CAST AND THE DIRECTOR ARE
ON ONLY DURING THE SHOOTING.
THE DIRECTOR WILL PARTICIPATE,
GENERALLY, FOR A LITTLE WHILE
DURING THE EDITING, AS WELL,
BUT IT'S THE PRODUCER WHO
REALLY IS IN CHARGE
OF THE EDITING.
THE PRODUCER THEN HIRES
THE COMPOSER AND WORKS
WITH THE COMPOSER.
SO THE PRODUCER IS THERE FROM
THE INCEPTION OF THE IDEA TO
THE ANSWER PRINT.
HE MAKES ALL THE KEY
DECISIONS, OR AT LEAST
MOST OF THE KEY DECISIONS.
SO FOR THAT REASON,
I BELIEVE THE PRODUCER
IS THE MOST IMPORTANT.

Robert says I'M A HIGH-RISK DIRECTOR IN
THE EYES OF INVESTORS BECAUSE
THEY DON'T HAVE ANY
CONTROL OVER IT.
BUT ON THE OTHER HAND, I
KNOW HOW TO MAKE FILMS,
AND I HAVE AN
ORGANIZATION OF PEOPLE.
AND IF I SAY THE PICTURE IS
GOING TO COST A MILLION SIX,
THAT'S WHAT IT'S
GOING TO COST.
AND I MANY TIMES FURNISH
MY OWN COMPLETION BOND.
IN OTHER WORDS, I'LL MAKE A
DEAL WITH A COMPANY WHERE
THEY'LL SAY, WELL, WE'LL
SPEND A MILLION, 250 ON THIS.
I SAY FINE.
I'LL PUT UP THE REST.
BUT THOSE PEOPLE HAVE JOBS,
AND THEY FEEL THEIR JUDGMENT IS
WHAT THEY ARE BEING
PAID THAT MONEY FOR.
SO THEY WANT A FILM THAT
THEY KNOW WHAT IT'S GOING
TO LOOK LIKE.
AND IT'S PARTIALLY EGO.
BUT KUBRICK, I MEAN, KUBRICK
HAD FINISHED SHOOTING
CLOCKWORK ORANGE
BEFORE
THEY KNEW HE HAD STARTED.
AND THAT ARROGANCE
COMES FROM JUST DEFENCE.
SO USUALLY -- AND
WE PAY FOR IT.
PEOPLE WHO DO
THAT PAY FOR IT.
IF I GO INTO A COMPANY WHO I
HAVE A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH
AND SAY, HERE'S A
FILM I WANT TO MAKE.
AND RIGHT OFF THE BAT, THEY
AUTOMATICALLY ARE GOING TO
PULL BACK, AND SAY, WELL,
THEY'LL PULL BACK ON THE
BUDGET, THEY'LL PULL BACK ON
MY FEES BECAUSE THEY KNOW I
WANT TO DO IT.
AND THEY'LL MAKE IT SO
DIFFICULT THAT BY THE TIME
THEY GIVE ME, THEY RELEASE THE
PIGEON, THEY LET ME GO, I'LL
BE WORKING ON AN AREA
OF PROBABLY NO PROFIT.
BUT IF THEY, IN TURN, BUY A
BOOK, AND THEN THEY COME TO ME
AND SAY, WILL YOU DO
THIS PICTURE, AND I SAY,
NO, I DON'T THINK SO.
BUT THEY SAY, OH, BUT WE
NEED YOU FOR THIS PICTURE.
THE ACTOR WANTS YOU,
THE AUTHOR WANTS YOU.
YOU'RE THE PERFECT
PERSON FOR THIS BOOK.
AND I AGREE TO DO THAT,
I CAN JUST MILK 'EM DRY.
SO YOU PAY -- WE PAY FOR OUR
OWN ENTHUSIASM AND INTEGRITY.
AND IT'S A PRETTY
SILLY SYSTEM,
BUT THAT'S THE
WAY IT WORKS.
HAD THERE NOT BEEN A
MASH,
WE WOULDN'T BE SITTING HERE
HAVING THIS INTERVIEW.
BUT IT WAS GETTING MORE
DIFFICULT, MORE DIFFICULT
BECAUSE NONE OF THE FILMS
SINCE
MASH
HAVE REALLY GONE
INTO PROFITS.
AND YOU EVENTUALLY
RUN THE STRING OUT.
NOW, WITH
NASHVILLE, I CAN
PROBABLY GO THROUGH THE REST
OF MY LIFE BECAUSE THERE HAS
ALWAYS BEEN, OH, IT WAS A
FLUKE, IT WAS A FLUKE, BUT
IF THERE'S TWO OF THEM,
THAT GIVES YOU YOUR BASE.
SO I WILL NOT, PROBABLY, OTHER
THAN SOME PHYSICAL PROBLEM
THAT I COULD DEVELOP, WILL
EVER HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT
GETTING A JOB.

The caption changes to “Sydney Pollack. Director. The way we were.”

Sydney is in his mid-forties, clean-shaven and with short curly brown hair. He wears jeans, a light blue shirt and a pair of sunglasses.

Elwy says WHAT PERCENTAGE OF YOUR
TIME IS SPENT IN THE PURELY
CREATIVE ASPECT OF MAKING A
FILM AND, CORRESPONDINGLY,
HOW MUCH TIME IS SPENT IN
WHAT ONE MIGHT REFER TO
AS THE BUSINESS ASPECT?

Sydney says WELL, THEY OVERLAP VERY
HEAVILY IN FILM, UNFORTUNATELY.
BY THAT, I MEAN, I WOULD
HAVE TO GIVE YOU A
SPECIFIC EXAMPLE.
BUT ALL THE CREATIVE ASPECTS
OF THE FILM EVENTUALLY
HAVE TO BE PAID FOR.
WHEN IT COMES TIME
TO PAYING FOR THEM,
YOU THEN BECOME A BUSINESSMAN.
AND YOU SAY, OKAY, I'D LIKE A
CERTAIN LOOK IN A SEQUENCE.
BUT TO GET X LOOK, IT'S
GOING TO COST X DOLLARS.
I'VE ONLY GOT SO MANY
DOLLARS TO MAKE THE FILM.
IS IT WORTH SPENDING THAT MUCH
MONEY IN THIS SCENE TO GET
THIS ARTISTIC LOOK, OR CAN I
GET SOMETHING THAT'S CLOSE TO
IT, AND TAKE SOME MONEY OUT
OF THIS SCENE, AND PUT IT IN
ANOTHER SCENE WHICH IS MORE
IMPORTANT, WHERE I CAN HELP
GET A BETTER LOOK?
IN OTHER WORDS, THE ARTISTIC
QUESTIONS ALWAYS OVERLAP THE
ECONOMIC QUESTIONS.
NOT IN TERMS OF THE RHYTHM
OF A SCENE, LET'S SAY,
OR THE ANGLE I MAY
CHOOSE TO SHOOT IT FROM.
BUT SUPPOSE I WERE TO WANT
SOMETHING AS SIMPLE AS A CRANE
TO MAKE A CRANE SHOT.
IT COSTS X DOLLARS A DAY TO
RENT, PLUS A CRANE OPERATOR,
PLUS A CRANE DRIVER, PLUS
FRINGE BENEFITS FOR BOTH.
PLUS A TEAMSTER MAN TO
DRIVE THEM TO THE SET.
THEN, WHEN I SAY TO THE
PRODUCER I REALLY WOULD LIKE
TO START LOW AND RAISE UP ON
A CRANE AS THEY WALK AWAY AND
PULL BACK, I CAN LOOK AT THAT
ON PAPER AND FIND OUT IT'S
GOING TO COST ME 5,000 DOLLARS OR
6,000 DOLLARS FOR THE ONE SHOT, AND I
MIGHT SAY, WELL, WAIT A
SECOND, I'D RATHER TAKE THE
5,000 OR 6,000 DOLLARS, AND BE ABLE
TO PAY INSTEAD OF A 10,000 DOLLAR
ACTOR, I'D LIKE TO GET A
15,000 DOLLAR ACTOR TO PLAY THIS PART.
WHICH IS A CREATIVE DECISION.
BUT STILL INVOLVES ECONOMICS.

Elwy says SO IT'S LIKE 50-50.

Sydney says THEY OVERLAP.
YOU CAN'T AVOID IT.

Robert says I USED TO THINK THAT 98
PERCENT OF MY ENERGY WAS GONE
BY THE TIME WE GOT TO THE
GO AHEAD TO MAKE A PICTURE.
BUT I THINK IT'S
ALL PART AND PARCEL.
DURING THAT TIME, I MEAN, THE
HARDER YOU HAVE TO FIGHT FOR
IT TO GET IT MADE, THE MORE
IMPORTANT IT BECOMES TO YOU,
THE MORE IMPORTANCE
YOU GIVE TO IT.
YOU DEVELOP A SENSE OF
RESPONSIBILITY TOWARD THE
PROJECT THE HARDER IT IS.
SO IT'S ALL ONE THING.
I THINK IF SOMEBODY SAID,
OH, GO OUT TOMORROW AND DO
WHATEVER YOU WANT TO DO, AND
THERE WEREN'T THESE CONSTANT
PROBLEMS TO SOLVE, I THINK
THAT EVERYTHING WOULD RELAX,
AND IT PROBABLY WOULDN'T
BE AS GOOD A FILM.

Elwy says THE APPEARANCE OF THE HOLIDAY
AND I WAS WONDERING, I OFTEN
WONDERED ABOUT THIS POINT IN
CONNECTION WITH LIQUOR THAT
I'VE SEEN USED IN MOVIES, AND
CARS AND MOTORCYCLES THAT I'VE
SEEN USED, BUT PARTICULARLY
HERE WITH CONDOR, WHAT KIND
OF DEAL WOULD BE ARRANGED
WITH HOLIDAY INN?
AFTER ALL, THEY'RE GETTING
SOME PRETTY GOOD PUBLICITY.

Sydney says YES.

Elwy says DO THEY PAY YOU TO HAVE
THE FACADE OF THEIR INN
APPEAR IN THE PICTURE?
WHAT GOES?

Sydney says NO, NOT AT ALL.
THEY DON'T PAY AT ALL.
I THINK OFTEN PEOPLE DO
THINK OF IT THAT WAY.
THAT WOULD REALLY BE
OUT AND OUT PAYOLA.
USUALLY, WHAT HAPPENS IS, IN THE
INTEREST OF REALITY AND US
BEING ABLE TO ACHIEVE WHAT
WE WANT TO ACHIEVE, WE SAY,
OKAY, WE NEED A SET FOR
OUR VILLAIN TO LIVE IN.
NOW, WHERE DOES HE LIVE?
AND WE SAY, WELL, IN REALITY,
HE'D PROBABLY CHECK IN
AT A HOLIDAY INN.
IT'S PRETTY ANONYMOUS
IN THE CITY.
NOW, IT WOULD COST US A
FORTUNE TO BUILD A FACADE
OF A HOLIDAY INN.
ON THE OTHER HAND, WE'RE NOT
ALLOWED, LEGALLY, TO SHOOT THE
FACADE OF THE HOLIDAY
INN WITHOUT PERMISSION.
SO WE GO TO THE HOLIDAY INN
AND SAY, LOOK, THIS MAY STOP
SOME BUSINESS FOR A WHILE
BECAUSE WE'LL HAVE TO BLOCK
OFF THE STREET A LITTLE BIT,
IT MAY COST YOU PEOPLE AT THE
HOLIDAY INN SOME MONEY AND
SOME INCONVENIENCE BECAUSE
WE'LL HAVE TO RUN SOME CABLES
THROUGH YOUR LOBBY, AND SO
ON, BUT IF YOU LET US MAKE A
COUPLE OF SHOTS OUTSIDE, YOU
WILL, IN TURN, HAVE THE
PUBLICITY OF MILLIONS OF
PEOPLE THAT GO TO SEE THE
MOVIE, SEEING HOLIDAY INN.
SO NO MONEY CHANGES
HANDS, REALLY.
WHAT HAPPENS IS THEY HELP US
OUT BY BEING COOPERATIVE WITH
US, AND LET'S SAY NOT RENTING
ROOMS THAT NIGHT, OR WARNING
THEIR GUESTS THAT THERE
MIGHT BE SOME NOISE AND
INCONVENIENCE, AND SO ON.
AND THEY, IN RETURN, GET AN
AWFUL LOT OF FREE PUBLICITY.
WE ACTUALLY HAVE THREE
SEQUENCES IN THE PICTURE THAT
ARE SHOT IN AND AROUND
THE HOLIDAY INN.
NOW, WE HAVE ROOMS IN THE
HOLIDAY INN THAT LOOK LIKE
HOLIDAY INN ROOMS.
WE'D HAVE TO GO BUILD
THOSE IN A SET SOMEWHERE.
INSTEAD, WE GET
TO USE THEM THERE.
WE USE SOME PHONE LINE
EQUIPMENT IN THEIR PHONE
CENTRE IN THEIR BASEMENT.
AND IN EACH CASE,
IT'S THE SAME THING.
IT'S A WAY FOR US TO GET A SET
THAT'S ABSOLUTELY AUTHENTIC.
IT'S NOT PHONY.
WE DON'T HAVE TO BUILD IT.
AND IT'S WAY FOR THEM TO
GET SOME FREE ADVERTISING.
SO IT COMPLEMENTS ONE ANOTHER.
IT'S THE SAME IN THE CASE OF
MOST PRODUCTS THAT YOU SEE
USED IN A FILM.
THOSE THINGS ALL COST MONEY.
YOU CAN GO TO A LIQUOR COMPANY
OR YOU CAN GO TO A MOTORCYCLE
COMPANY, YOU CAN GO TO AN
AUTO COMPANY AND SAY
WE NEED TEN CARS
IN THIS FILM.
THE HERO HAS TO DRIVE A CAR,
SOMEBODY ELSE HAS
TO DRIVE A CAR.
NOW, IF WE WENT OUT AND SPENT
8-9 THOUSAND DOLLARS A CAR TO BUY
CARS, YOU CAN SEE WHAT THE
BUDGET OF THE FILM WOULD BE.
SO WE WILL GO TO FORD OR
GENERAL MOTORS OR AUDI, OR AN
IMPORT COMPANY AND SAY, WILL
YOU LOAN US, FOR THE USE OF
THE PICTURE, FIVE OR SIX CARS?
IF YOU LOAN IT TO US,
WE'LL PHOTOGRAPH THE CARS,
OBVIOUSLY.
WE DON'T MAKE IT A BLATANT
ADVERTISEMENT, BUT
PSYCHOLOGICALLY, PEOPLE SEE
ROBERT REDFORD OR MAX VON SYDOW
GET IN OR OUT OF A VOLKSWAGEN,
OR A FORD, OR CHEVROLET,
OR WHATEVER IT IS.
IT'S A KIND OF ADVERTISING.

Elwy says THAT MOTORBIKE THAT REDFORD
APPEARS IN HIS OPENING SCENE.

Sydney says SOLEX, YES.
THAT'S EXACTLY RIGHT.
AND IT USUALLY WORKS THAT WAY.

Robert says I THINK WHEN SOMEBODY COMES
IN NOW TO PARAMOUNT PICTURES
OR UNIVERSAL, AND SAYS,
LISTEN, WE'VE GOT THIS FILM.
OH, THAT'S LIKE
NASHVILLE,
LET'S TRY THAT, LET'S TAKE
A CHANCE ON IT BECAUSE
NASHVILLE
WAS SUCCESSFUL.
WHERE BEFORE THEY MIGHT HAVE
SAID I DON'T UNDERSTAND THIS.
THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND
ANYTHING, AND THEY NEVER HAVE.
AND THEY CAN ONLY
MAKE COMPARISONS.
SO ANYTHING THAT BREAKS AWAY
AND IS SUCCESSFUL IS AN AID
TO EVERYBODY.
AND ALSO, EVERY FILM THAT'S
BEEN AN ABSOLUTE BREAKTHROUGH
FILM HAS BEEN A FIRST.
IT HAS BEEN A NEW THING.
IT HAS BEEN A THING THAT
EVERYBODY'S TURNED DOWN.
I MEAN, WE LAUGH, THEY SAY
EVERYBODY TURNED THIS THING
DOWN AND LOOK
AT ITS SUCCESS.
WELL, THAT'S THE
REASON FOR IT.
HAD THEY ALL ACCEPTED IT, IT
WOULD HAVE BEEN THE ORDINARY
PIECE OF TRASH THAT
THEY NORMALLY DO.
EVERYBODY TURNED
NASHVILLE
DOWN.

The caption changes to “Walter Mirisch. Producer. Fiddler on the roof.”

Walter is in his late fifties, clean-shaven and with short straight brown hair. He wears glasses, a tweed suit, a pale blue shirt and a black tie.

He says WELL, THE ROLE OF THE PRODUCER
VARIES WITH THE PROJECT.
SOMEONE, I THINK IT WAS
DAVID SELZNICK, SAID,
THE PRODUCER IS THE
MAN WITH THE DREAM.
AND I THINK THAT IS
FUNDAMENTALLY TRUE.
ON SOME PROJECTS, ON
MIDWAY,
FOR EXAMPLE, IT ORIGINATED
AS AN IDEA OF MINE.
IT WAS... I FELT THERE WAS A
VERY EXCITING FILM THAT COULD
BE MADE OUT OF THIS MATERIAL.
I DID A GREAT DEAL
OF RESEARCH ON IT.
TALKED TO PEOPLE.
READ ALL I COULD ABOUT IT.
I FINALLY EMPLOYED A WRITER.
WE WORKED TOGETHER
FOR A LONG TIME.
WE DEVELOPED A SCREENPLAY.
I DEVOTED A GREAT DEAL OF
TIME TO THE LOGISTICS
OF HOW THE FILM
WOULD BE MADE.
MAKING THE ARRANGEMENTS WITH
NAVY DEPARTMENT TO GIVE US THE
USE OF AN AIRCRAFT CARRIER
ABOARD WHICH WE COULD SHOOT
MUCH OF THE FILM.
I EMPLOYED A
DIRECTOR, JACK SMIGHT,
AND PUT TOGETHER THE
CAST FOR THE PICTURE.
WORKED WITH HIM, AND BEHIND
HIM, DURING THE FILMING
OF THE PICTURE.
I WAS WITH IT ALL THE TIME.
WITH HIM.
SAW THE FILM EVERY
DAY AS WE SHOT IT.
DISCUSSED IT WITH
THE DIRECTOR,
GAVE HIM MY
FEELINGS ABOUT IT,
WORKED WITH HIM IN THE
EDITING OF THE FILM.
AND NOW RIGHT THROUGH UP TO
THE RELEASE OF THE PICTURE.
THAT'S WHAT A PRODUCER DOES.

Elwy says YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH
DIRECTORS, YOU'VE ANSWERED
PART OF THIS QUESTION WITH
RESPECT TO Mr. SMIGHT.
I'M WONDERING IF YOUR
RELATIONSHIP VARIES IN
ACCORDANCE WITH THE DIFFERENT
DIRECTORS YOU HAVE.
FOR EXAMPLE, JOHN STURGES,
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN
COMES TO MIND.
HALLELUJAH TRAIL.
HOW WAS YOUR WORKING
RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM?
VERY CLOSE?

Walter says YES, VERY, VERY CLOSE.
I MADE, OH, I DON'T KNOW,
FOUR, FIVE PICTURES WITH JOHN.
AND REALLY SOME OF THE
PICTURES I'M REALLY PROUDEST
OF EVER HAVING DONE.
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN,
PARTICULARLY, WHICH IS VERY
NEAR AND DEAR TO ME.
AND
THE GREAT ESCAPE
WHICH ALSO I LOVED.
WE WORKED VERY
CLOSELY TOGETHER.
WE HAD A VERY GOOD
RELATIONSHIP.
AND AS I SAY, IT WENT ON TO,
OH, PERHAPS, HALF A DOZEN FILMS.
I ALSO WORKED FOR A LONG TIME
WITH YOUR FELLOW CANADIAN
NORMAN JEWISON.

Elwy says OF COURSE.

Walter says I MADE, OH, FIVE OR
SIX FILMS WITH NORMAN,
FROM
THE RUSSIANS
ARE COMING
AND...

Elwy says IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT.

Walter says IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT.
AND
THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR,
AND
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF.
BUT THE RELATIONSHIP OF ANY
PARTICULAR PRODUCER WITH ANY
PARTICULAR DIRECTOR, OF
COURSE, IS GOING TO VARY
DEPENDING ON THE PERSONALITIES
OF THE TWO PEOPLE AND
HOW THEIR CHARACTERS MESH.
I'M REALLY VERY PROUD TO HAVE
WORKED WITH A GREAT MANY
MARVELLOUS DIRECTORS.
JOHN HUSTON, WILLIAM
WYLER, BILLY WILDER.

The caption changes to “Stanley Kramer. Director. Guess who’s coming to dinner.”

Stanley is in his mid-sixties, clean-shaven and with short wavy gray hair. He wears a striped turtleneck sweater and a black jacket.

He says I WAS A PRODUCER ORIGINALLY,
AND THE REASON I BECAME A
PRODUCER FIRST, A BOY
PRODUCER, IS BECAUSE THE
PRODUCER WAS THE BOSS.
THE WHOLE TERMINOLOGY CENTRES
IN WHO MAKES THE FINAL DECISION.
THAT'S WHY SO MANY
PRODUCERS BECAME DIRECTORS,
OR DIRECTORS BECAME PRODUCERS.
IT'S A DECISION.
THE TWO FUNCTIONS
HAVE OVERLAPPED.
BUT THE PRODUCER, GENERALLY
SPEAKING, IN THE TERMS OF
SELZNICK AND HAL WALLIS, AND
THALBERG, HAS THE DREAM, AND
IMPLEMENTS IT BY HIRING ALL
THE PEOPLE, INCLUDING THE
DIRECTOR, AND BRINGING
IT TO FRUITION.
THE DIRECTOR IS THE
CREATIVE HEAD OF THE TEAM.
HE WORKS WITH THE PRODUCER
AND, AS I SAY, WHEN HE TAKES
ON THE PRODUCER CHORES, THEN
HE DOESN'T WORK UNDER THE
PRODUCER, BUT HE WORKS
INDEPENDENTLY, WHICH MEANS
HE HAS ONE LESS PERSON
TO BE ANSWERABLE TO.
THAT'S IMPORTANT,
AND I THINK GOOD.
I DON'T THINK IT'S CALLED
A DIRECTOR'S MEDIUM.
THE DIRECTOR HAD BETTER USE
THAT LOGICALLY BECAUSE IT IS A
MEDIUM OF THE MEETING AND
COMING TOGETHER OF CREATORS.
AND UNLESS THE DIRECTOR, AS
HEAD OF THE TEAM, CAN USE
THOSE CREATORS TO
THEIR FULLEST EXTENT,
HE IS NEGLIGENT IN HIS DUTY.
HE SHOULDN'T BE CALLED A
DIRECTOR'S MEDIUM UNLESS
HE USES THEM ALL AND HAS THE
TACT AND WISDOM TO LET THEM
MAKE THEIR FULL CONTRIBUTION.
THAT GOES FOR CAMERA,
PRODUCTION DESIGNER, ACTORS.
IT TAKES A LOT OF TACT, AND
IT TAKES A SENSE OF LETTING
EVERYBODY FULFILL THEMSELVES
TO BE A DIRECTOR
AND TO GET THE BEST
ON THE SCREEN.

Elwy says MISTER KRAMER, THERE WERE
CERTAINLY SIGNIFICANT CHANGES
IN LIFE AND TASTES RIGHT
AFTER WORLD WAR II.
AND THERE WERE CERTAINLY
CORRESPONDING CHANGES IN
MOVIES AFTER THE WAR.
THIS BRINGS TO MIND, TO MY
MEMORY ANYWAY,
CHAMPION,
HOME OF THE BRAVE,
AND
THE MEN.
HOW WERE THEY?
THEY WERE CERTAINLY DIFFERENT.
HOW WERE THEY DIFFERENT
FROM OTHER FILMS MADE THEN?

Stanley says WELL, I'M AFRAID, BASICALLY,
YOU KNOW, WITHOUT TAKING
MYSELF TOO SERIOUSLY,
THEY WERE CHEAPER FILMS.
THAT'S WHAT BROUGHT THEM
INTO NOTORIETY ORIGINALLY.
THEY HAD A BASIC QUALITY, AND
THEY WERE ABOUT SOMETHING,
BUT THE INDUSTRY, AS IT
ALWAYS IS PERIODICALLY, WAS
GOING THROUGH A GREAT PERIOD
OF STRESS AND CHALLENGE, AND
IT WAS ABOUT TO PASS OUT INTO
SOME OTHER PHASE OF NOTHINGNESS.
AND THE IDEA OF MAKING FILMS
THAT WERE IMPORTANT AT A
REASONABLE COST CAUGHT ON.
HOME OF THE BRAVE
COST
330,000 DOLLARS,
CHAMPION, 510.
WHAT WAS THE OTHER
ONE YOU MENTIONED?

Elwy says THE MEN.

Stanley says THE MEN.
THAT WAS ABOUT 510,000, TOO,
AND MARLON BRANDO'S FIRST
FILM, WHICH DIDN'T HURT.
BUT IT WAS NOT A
SUCCESSFUL FILM.
CHAMPION
AND
HOME
OF THE BRAVE
WERE.
CYRANO
WAS NOT IN
THAT EARLY PHASE.
AND
HIGH NOON
WAS SUCCESSFUL.
THOSE WERE THE SLATE OF THOSE
FIRST FIVE MADE UNDER THAT
KIND OF AN ARRANGEMENT,
ALL SUBSTANTIALLY UNDER
1 MILLION DOLLARS.
SO I'M FORCED.
YOU'VE TRAPPED ME INTO
ANSWERING ON AN ECONOMIC BASE,
A QUESTION, WHICH IS THE WAY
I HATE TO ANSWER A QUESTION
BECAUSE I REALLY DON'T THINK
IT AMOUNTS TO A ROW OF PINS
IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS,
EVEN IF THEY'D COST ANOTHER
500,000, THEY ALL WOULD HAVE
BEEN PROFITABLE WHEN THEY WERE
PROFITABLE, AND DISASTROUS
WHEN THEY WERE DISASTER AREAS.

Elwy says MISTER MIRISCH, THE BIG STUDIO
SYSTEMS, THE BIG STUDIOS
THAT ROSE TO GREAT EFFULGENCE
IN THE '30s AND '40s,
I GUESS THEY ACHIEVED
THEIR ZENITH IN THE '40s,
THEY'VE SEEN A DECLINE.
AND THAT DECLINE,
INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH,
CORRESPONDS WITH, I GUESS, THE
RISE OF THE MIRISCH COMPANY,
WHICH I THINK YOURS IS ONE OF
THE FIRST OF THE BIG INDIES
THAT CAME ALONG.
COULD YOU ACCOUNT
FOR THE DECLINE
OF THE BIG
STUDIO SYSTEM?
SOME REASONS?

Walter says WELL, I DON'T REALLY
KNOW THE ANSWER.
I SUPPOSE PROBABLY THE MOST
PROBABLE REASON FOR IT WAS
THE RISE OF TELEVISION.
WHICH REALLY PARALLELED
THAT DEVELOPMENT.
AND WHAT'S HAPPENED, I THINK,
AS A RESULT OF THAT, IS THE
NUMERICAL NUMBER OF FILMS
THAT ARE BEING PRODUCED
HAS BEEN REDUCED.
CERTAINLY, THE AUDIENCES
OF THE WHOLE WORLD ARE NOW
EXPOSED TO FILM
CONSTANTLY ON TELEVISION.
AND AS A RESULT, THE NUMBERS
OF FILMS WHICH PEOPLE WILL GO
TO SUPPORT IN THEATRES
HAS BEEN REDUCED.
AND, I SUPPOSE, NO LONGER
WOULD SUPPORT THE
HUGE STUDIO COMPLEXES.
SO I THINK THAT AS A RESULT,
MOTION PICTURE FILMS HAVE
BECOME RATHER MORE CUSTOM
MADE THAN THEY WERE
IN THOSE TIMES.
AND I THINK, ALSO, THAT THAT
PROBABLY AIDED THE DEVELOPMENT
OF THE INDEPENDENT COMPANY,
WHICH TENDED TO PRODUCE A
RATHER MORE INDIVIDUALIZED
PICTURE THAN THE, OH,
PRODUCTION LINE FILMS OF
THE OLD MAJOR COMPANIES.
THAT'S JUST A GUESS AT IT.
IT'S A VERY
COMPLICATED SUBJECT.
AND CERTAINLY BETTER STUDENTS
THAN I SHOULD DEVOTE
THEMSELVES TO IT.

Stanley says HARRY COHN TOOK THE
PRINT OUT OF THE VAULT,
SO IT WASN'T A COLUMBIA PICTURE,
IT WAS A UNITED ARTISTS PICTURE.
AND HE HAD NO
BUSINESS HAVING IT.
BUT HE SCREENED IT ONE
WEEKEND AT HIS HOME
AND RETURNED THE PICTURE
TO THE VAULTS.
I WOULD NEVER HAVE KNOWN,
EXCEPT THAT DIMITRI TIOMKIN
WHO SCORED IT, WAS WORKING
ONE SUNDAY MORNING.
AND WHEN I SHOWED UP, HE SAID,
MY BOY, HOW COME YOU LET
HARRY COHN SEE THE FILM?
I SAID, I WOULDN'T LET COHN
SEE IT IF HE WAS THE LAST MAN
IN THE WORLD.
HE SAID, HE SAW IT.
WELL, I WENT TO THE GATEMAN
AND FOUND OUT HE HAD
TAKEN IT OVER THE WEEKEND
AND RETURNED IT.
SO THE NEXT MONDAY MORNING, I
WENT IN TO COHN, AND THERE HE
SAT WITH THESE 84 REPLICAS
OF THE OSCARS IN BACK OF HIS
DESK, AND I SAID, YOU
ARE A TERRIBLE MAN.
AND HE SAID, OH, COME ON,
KID, WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
SO I SCREENED THE PICTURE.
AND I'LL TELL YOU SOMETHING.
WE WERE GOING TO BUY
IT, BUT WHO WANTS IT?
IT'S JUST A PIECE OF JUNK.
IT WAS
HIGH NOON.
AND THAT'S AN ACTUAL,
HONEST TO GOD ANECDOTE.
AND I'M NOT SO SURE AT
THAT TIME HE WAS WRONG.
IT WAS A VERY ROUGH CUT.
IT WAS WITHOUT MUSIC.
WE HADN'T YET GONE INTO THE
STRAIGHT CUTTING TECHNIQUE
WITH THE CLOCKS
AND EVERYTHING.
AND MAYBE HE JUST
DIDN'T SEE IT.
BUT WHEN WE WENT TO THE
FIRST PREVIEW ON
HIGH NOON,
I USED THE BALLAD WHICH TIOMKIN
AND NED WASHINGTON HAD WRITTEN,
DO NOT FORSAKE ME OH, MY
DARLING, AND I HAD USED IT
OVER ALL OF GARY
COOPER'S WALKS.
AND I USED IT 11 TIMES.
AT THE FIFTH USE, DURING
THE PREVIEW, THE AUDIENCE
BEGAN TO LAUGH.
AND I'M SITTING THERE KNOWING
THERE ARE SIX MORE COMING UP.
AND I WANT TO TELL YOU, THAT
PREVIEW WAS A DISASTER AREA.
THEY JUST LAUGHED IT
RIGHT OFF THE SCREEN
BECAUSE OF THE BALLAD.
WELL, IT WAS A
MISTAKE IN TECHNIQUE.
WE WERE TRYING TO DO
SOMETHING AND IT DIDN'T WORK.
WELL, EVERYBODY SAID, TAKE
THAT SONG OUT OF THERE,
YOU KNOW?
THAT SONG WAS A SMASH.
ANYHOW, I TOOK OUT HALF A
DOZEN OF THE RENDITIONS AND
SCATTERED THEM THROUGH THE
FILM, AND IT WORKED
LIKE A CHARM, FINALLY.
THEN, OF COURSE, THE FILM,
ITSELF HAD A GOOD DEAL OF
RESISTANCE.
IT WAS A WESTERN, THEY SAID.
WE NEVER INTENDED
TO BE A WESTERN.
ORIGINALLY, WHEN WE TALKED
ABOUT IT, WE THOUGHT OF
PUTTING IT IN A TENEMENT
DISTRICT, YOU KNOW?
NOT DOING IT AS A WESTERN.
AND THEN WE THOUGHT
OF OTHER BACKGROUNDS.
AND THEY CRITICIZED IT AS A
WESTERN BECAUSE IT HAD NO
CATTLE, NO STAMPEDES, NOT A
LOT OF HORSEMEN, AND NOT AN
AWFUL LOT OF ACTION
EXCEPT AT THE VERY END.

Elwy says THE TALE IS THE FIRST
TO GO, ISN'T IT?

Stanley says THERE YOU ARE.
SO THERE IT WAS.
AND, OF COURSE, COOPER
WAS WONDERFUL IN IT.
GRACE KELLY WAS IN IT.
I DIDN'T THINK GRACE
KELLY WAS VERY GOOD IN IT.
I BROUGHT HER FROM NEW YORK.
I SAW HER OFF BROADWAY.
SHE'D DONE ONE BIT
IN A FOX PICTURE.
AND I BROUGHT HER AND
PUT HER IN THE ROLE.
I HAD VISIONS OF HER
MAYBE BLOSSOMING FROM IT.
BUT THEY DIDN'T PAY AN AWFUL
LOT OF ATTENTION TO HER
IN THE FILM.
KATY JURADO, THE MEXICAN GIRL,
GOT A LOT MORE ATTENTION.

Walter says I WOULD EXPECT, AND I'M
HARDLY A QUALIFIED TECHNICIAN,
BUT I WOULD EXPECT THAT
WITHIN THE NEXT DECADE,
THREE DIMENSIONAL PICTURES WILL
BE DEVELOPED WITHOUT GLASSES,
AND THAT THE EXPERIENCE WILL
CONTINUE TO BE HEIGHTENED.
THAT'S WHAT THE TREND IS.
AND I WOULD EXPECT THAT THAT
WILL CONTINUE TO DEVELOP.

Watch: The Producers 1