Edward R. Pressman über das Machen guter Filme

– Ein Gespräch mit dem „Maverick“ eines Produzenten und Preisträger des German Independence Honorary Award „Retrospektive“ 2017 –

Edward R. Pressman hat in seiner Karriere über achtzig Filme produziert und gilt als einer der erfolgreichsten Filmeschöpfer und Wegbereiter vieler Karrieren. OffBlogger Simon Junklewitz hat sich mit dem „Maverick Producer“ zusammengesetzt und über Interessenkonflikte zwischen Hollywood und Independent Produktionen, seine Kindheit und prägende Ereignisse im Leben unterhalten.

Question: Mr. Pressman, welcome to Oldenburg and welcome to the film festival! Did you enjoy it so far?

Edward R. Pressman: It’s been great! I haven’t seen so many films, but the film I saw in the opening night was great. In Oldenburg, you’re meeting lots of filmakers und can see the way it is organzied. It is a very integrated kind of festival, because you get to meet all the people involved. Very fun!

Does that make the festival in Oldenburg unique?

Pressman: Yes, other festivals are often bigger and much more dispersed. Cannes and Toronto for example, they are like a circus. [laughing]

Reviewer and critics call you a “maverick producer“ – somebody who walks the fine line between Hollywood’s commerce and independent masterpieces. Do you feel like that, like a lonestar in a sea of commerce?

Pressman: I think,

it is really a balancing act to make smaller and independent films, which have a difficult commercial potential.

If you balance it, they can only be afforded with films that are also original, but more mainstream, and with major studio involvement. In conclusion, one film pays for the others.

It must be difficult to stand in between the interests of persons, artists amd money. How do you work with directors and authors on a movie? Have you got a specific idea or do you just let it slip?

Pressman: Some producers look not to be in conflict with a director. They take the business and the director does the creative. It is a contagious relationship. That is how big companies work. For example Disney is doing „Star Wars“: They have top producers and five or four directors. In the end, it is the producer’s vision, not the director’s what is shown in the cinema. But I look at it the opposite way.

The filmmaker is my partner in a collaboration. It is us against the world.

We are both trying to do something that is more challenging.

Was there a movie or a production you had to stop the director or interfere with the project?

Pressman: Not exactly. There was only one film in which we changed directors: „Island of Dr. Moreau“. It was written and to be directed by Richard Stanley. Because Marlon Brando came in, it all of a sudden went from a seven million dollar movie to a forty million dollar movie. That moment was focused on the actors and everyone said that this is not working. So, Frank who is an experienced director, and I finished the film. But Richard and I stayed friends.

Your parents used to run a toy factory. Did you have a life like in a childhood dream with a lot of toys?

Pressman: I was very popular. When I was in summer camp where ten kids lived in a small house, and my parents came up and brought toys, everyone wanted to be friends with me.

In my childhood, I didn’t have a lot of toys, because my parents didn’t have much money. So I always went to a friend to play Lego there. He had a lot of friends as well. [Pressman laughs]
Your mother was a role model for a emancipated human being and responsible business woman. Does her way of living impact your way of being a filmmaker?

Pressman: She was very supportive of my desire to make films. Instead of pushing me to be in the family business, she loved films herself and became a key supporter of my start in the film business. She leant me money and was my banker, not just my mother.

The idea of making films – you are emancipated from the hollywood commerce. Do you suggest that it comes from your mother to create things yourself?

Pressman: There are some similarities to toys and movies. They are both in a sense a fashion business they are created to sustain itself. There are obviously big differences, but the experience that I had was: I worked for two years for the toy company, before I started making films. So I had an office in the toy building for the film company. I would give time to toy company and in exchange, they gave me credit for the laboratories. It is that office in which Scorsese and many other filmmakers in New York would hang out  in the toy buidling.

Thank you for the interview!

Interview: Simon Junklewitz
Foto: Filmfest Oldenburg

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