’I’d just like to be cut a break, is that too much to ask?’
‘I’d just like to be cut a break, is that too much to ask?’ So said my producer friend who’s over in London putting together the final parts of his new picture. Ostensibly I’m helping him find accommodation for the above-the-line cast as he’s filming over here.
There’s a problem though: his leading lady has just pulled out. He’s now in the tricky position of either threatening to sue so she’s contractually obliged to do as she stated or letting it go and not incurring the wrath of a rising star – and her management and agent.
It’s a tough call. She’s young and thoughtless and has fallen for someone unsuitable who wants to spend the summer sponging from her endorsements and skipping around the hotspots of Europe and the US. No one blames her for falling for the wrong person – we’ve all done that.
What’s a shame is that she’s not more professional about it; why not leave him back at the apartment (I suggest) while she does the movie and then frolic throughout this glorious city when she’s not filming? The folly of youth and the confidence that your star will always burn bright are a heady combination though.
'Think Julia Roberts'
The small amount of time I’ve wasted looking at prospective penthouses and private apartments beyond the glare of the paparazzi’s lenses pales compared to the fact my friend’s film is in serious jeopardy. He’s working the phones as only a producer can and, surprisingly, seeking my counsel as to who could be the replacement casting. I’m not great with break-out 20-year-old actresses.
He suggests, ‘Think Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman – the role made her career. We need to make the same impact.’ I wrack my brains and rather feebly suggest the actress from the new BBC drama The White Queen as it seems current and I’ve just watched it on iPlayer. ‘Is she the new Julia Roberts?’ He asks. ‘Ummmhh, she could be,’ I say vaguely thinking what do I know.
The financing has gone wobbly without a female lead and I come to see how every film – unless with the full backing of a Herculean studio – is built on a house of cards that can so easily cave in at any moment. It’s like juggling the personalities of an ancient Persian harem, massaging finances, politics and egos all together.
There’s pre-sales, pay or play offers, foreign territories, tax incentives, actors demanding and actors begging. Frankly, it’s a miracle any film gets made.
It makes me realise how much luck, timing and fate play their part in any serious transaction. The wind has been blowing foul in three recent property deals that we’ve been working on, but winds change, and I remain a cautious optimist. As Vivien Leigh commented (as we’re in the vein of break-out roles for young actresses), ‘Tomorrow is another day.’