Ridley Scott pierces Napoleon’s heart

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Good morning: In today’s edition of The Industry, we look at:

Ridley Scott, Spider-Man, Sundance and a black rabbit.

Let’s go!


RIDLEY SCOTT PIERCES NAPOLEON’S HEART

Ridley Scott is a general.

He commands armies of extras (over 30,000 in Kingdom of Heaven), hand draws meticulous storyboards (like battlefield maps), and works 18+ hour days, even at the age of 84.

David Scarpa (screenwriter: Napoleon) said:

“You send [Ridley] pages while he’s shooting, he shoots twelve hours a day, he then goes out to dinner with the actors, then he works on editing what he’s shot that day. After that, he reads your pages, and the next day, you get the e-mail from Europe, and he’s storyboarded them. That would kill ninety percent of the directors in Hollywood.”

Scott is often chided for being too regimented, often making films that are all atmosphere and no character [see The New Yorker’s 1984 takedown review of Blade Runner].

Yet behind every frame of his new film, Napoleon (trailer), there is a deeply mapped-out character, perhaps his most complex of all time.

Working with Joaquin Phoenix over the course of months, the two dug into the psychology of Napoleon.

Scott remarked:

“We found that he’s a split personality. He is deeply vulnerable, and while doing his job, he’s able to hide that under a marvelous front. His forceful personality was part of his theatre… Why was he vulnerable? It was this woman called Josephine.”

This dichotomy fascinated Scott, who has a penchant for mighty female protagonists (Ripley in Alien, Thelma and Louise, and Lady Gaga in House of Gucci).

Scott’s childhood was shaped by his formidable mother, a matriarch who instilled discipline in his home with a belt.

Scott emerged from this upbringing with an iron-clad resolve that has not only defined his approach to filmmaking but also steeled him against the harsh tides of critical reception:

Post Blade Runner 80’s:

Post Thelma and Louise, 90’s:

He has one mantra:

“I learned that the only opinion that matters, when all is said and done—even with failure in your face, and you’re lying on the mat, crushed—is, What did you think of it?”

After each series of failures, Ridley Scott trudged on, like a general, and birthed cinema classics, generation after generation.

For More:

Ridley Scott’s ‘Napoleon Complex’ read The New Yorker’s full profile of the director.

This Napoleon Behind the Scenes video gives a window into Joaquin and Scott’s collaboration.

“What is [people’s] desire for bloodsport?” Joaquin Phonix, circa 2001, ruminates on his character in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator in this full behind-the-scenes video of the Oscar-winning film.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

Gary Martin, a prominent Sony Pictures executive, passed away at the age of 79 on November 2nd in Los Angeles. During his tenure, he oversaw the production of over 600 films, including:

According to Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chair Amy Pascal, he led with grace and was a generous donor to the Motion Picture Television Fund. We appreciate everything Martin did for the industry.

The new guard is arriving at Sony, Lauren Stein was promoted to Head of Creative at their Television Studios. Stein has played a significant role in the development of successful drama series, including:

She’s also been shepherding development with Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan’s upcoming Apple TV+ show.

In yesterday’s newsletter, we mentioned that Netflix is cutting its scripted executive positions while Sony is bolstering their division. We think that’s interesting.

Small businesses are crippling under the weight of Hollywood’s production shutdowns. Two companies have been hit particularly hard:

Podcasts are the epicenter of Hollywood’s trendiest IP:

Following suit with purchasing podcast IP, MGM+ has officially given the green light to the production of the gripping true crime docuseries titled The Wonderland Murders & The Secret History of Hollywood, based on the highly acclaimed Audible podcast by Michael Connelly.

The series is about the July 1, 1981, Wonderland murders that left four dead in Laurel Canyon. It’s a case that echoes a darker Hollywood, involving a tainted juror, a famed porn star, and a federal agent.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Brit Marling has been off the radar since the OA ended in 2019, a project where she was the showrunner, writer, and lead. On November 14th, FX will premiere her latest series, A Murder at the End of the World.

The psychologically twisted trailer is equal parts chilling and electrifying. Although not the lead, Marling seems to have carved out an excellent role for herself as a reclusive Billionaire’s mastermind partner who organizes a retreat for a young sleuth that results in a series of murders.

This wonderful NY Times piece from 2011 tracks how she alchemized her frustration with the acting industry into a writing partnership with her college friend Mike Cahill (I Origins, Another Earth).

Michelle Yeoh’s Oscar win for Everything Everywhere All at Once has propelled her back into the spotlight after a series of promising roles over the past few decades:

Her latest, The Brother’s Son, harkens back to her roots in Asian cinema. The show follows Charles Sun, a Taipei gangster who’s settled into his life as a ruthless killer but must go to L.A. to protect his mother (Yeoh) and younger brother after a mysterious assassin shot his father.

Netflix will distribute. No release date yet.

Jeremy Allen White (The Bear) won’t be donning a cape anytime soon. He purposely botched a Marvel meeting:

“I had a meeting for a kind of Marvel-y movie, and I had an attitude. I said, ‘Tell me about why I should do your movie.’ They were like, ‘Fuck you.’”

He went on to explain his utter bafflement that Marvel is seen as the apex of an actor’s career. For now, he’ll be sticking with indie drama. With the film The Iron Claw and the new season of The Bear announced yesterday, White continues to chart his own course. And we are glad he is.


FESTIVALS

The Sundance Institute and The Walt Disney Studios have partnered to provide a $25,000 unrestricted grant to nine narrative filmmakers from underrepresented backgrounds. Michelle Satter, senior director of artists programs, said:

“Diverse communities often encounter formidable barriers when striving to break into the industry.”

The selected filmmakers were announced:

Two standout hits, Everything Everywhere All at Once and Short Term 12, both premiered at SXSW. The festival often offers a safe haven for films that don’t fit Sundance’s criteria. If you’re looking to attend this year, you can save up to $630 on a SXSW badge, as rates will increase after Thursday, November 9.

Purchase your badge here.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

Automatik’s executives are among the top indie film producers:

Brian Kavanaugh-Jones:

Fred Berger:

They have consistently made indies that sit squarely in the center of entertainment and art, a place occupied by very few. They’ve just unveiled their new production company, Station26. It is backed by a first-look deal with A+E Studios and Range Studios. Lucky for audiences, they’ve already got their next project lined up: Black Rabbit (Jason Bateman, Jude Law).

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have scored five David Fincher films:

And now, The Killer.

Speaking of their mesmerizing collaboration on The Social Network, Reznor remarked:

“So after I saw that early cut, Atticus and myself spent a few weeks generating what I thought would just be sketches for the score. I figured we would end up going back and revising them probably 10 times. But I delivered them to David and I didn’t hear anything. He finally got back to me and said, “I don’t have anything bad to say– that’s never happened before.”

Netflix is set to release The Killer score on Friday, November 10th, in conjunction with the film’s streaming debut. We’ll be blasting the Social Network soundtrack until then.

The road to narrative is paved in docs. Many great narrative directors have gotten their start in documentaries. Recently:

Before directing his first narrative feature, The Well, Hubert Davis had a solid resume of documentary work:

The film’s synopsis reads:

A wounded man shows up in a world where environmental collapse has left people fighting for the few resources needed to survive. A young woman’s loyalty is put to the test when he finds out that her family has a hidden freshwater source.

XYZ Films has secured global distribution rights. It’s a solid indication that he is primed to follow in the footsteps of those great filmmakers.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

An Urdu-language, supernatural thriller film that premiered at Cannes in the director’s fortnight has one hell of a long-take trailer. In Flames’ plot synopsis reads:

After the death of the family patriarch, a mother and daughter’s precarious existence is ripped apart, they must find strength in each other if they are to survive the malevolent forces that threaten to engulf them.

Pakistani-Canadian director Zarrar Kahn spoke highly of her U.S. distributor, Game Theory (Jesse Eisenberg’s Resistance).

The film has already garnered:

  • Pakistan’s Academy Awards submission
  • TIFF, official selection
  • SXSW Sydney, selection

In Flames also marks the commencement of XYZ Films’ new label, New Visions, focused on promoting low-budget international genre films.

Screenworks Asia takes a stab at true crime: Not A Murder Story revolves around a budding actor who is finally on the brink of success. His world, however, is turned upside down when he wakes up next to a dead woman. Determined not to let this obstacle derail his dreams, he meticulously cleans up the scene, attempting to frame it as a failed robbery. Unbeknownst to him, he leaves behind traces that could lead to his undoing.

The director is Ko Chen-Nie (Close Your Eyes Before It’s Dark and The Silent Forest.)

While no trailer is yet available for the series, check out Chen-Nie’s The Silent Forest trailer; it ranges from dreamy to creepy to violent to gross. We think it’s a little bit disjointed, but his previous films were great, and we’re hoping his new series is a hit.

The show is set to premiere in January 2024 on Catchplay and China’s iQiy.

Universal Pictures executive launches new Saudi Arabian production company. The newly minted TwentyOne Entertainment, headquartered in Riyadh, unveiled its operations with ex-Universal Pictures executive Paul Chesney (former EVP Of International Operations) at the helm as CEO.

Launching with Tawfik Alzaidi’s film Norah, the company embodies Saudi Arabia’s cinematic renaissance post-cinema ban to revolutionize the Kingdom’s creative landscape and international film presence.


READER SPOTLIGHT

Marc Jacobson handles all legal aspects of filmed entertainment for a variety of films.

He worked on Conviction with Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell. Texasville, with Jeff Bridges and Cybil Shepard. All’s Fair with George Segal and Sally Kellerman. Back in The Day, with Alec Baldwin and Anabella Sciorria.

www.marcjacobson.com

If you’d like to be featured in our “readers spotlight,” click here for more information.


ON THIS DAY

1956 Biblical drama film “The Ten Commandments”, directed by Cecil B. DeMille, starring Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner premieres at the Criterion Theater in NYC


Happy middle of the week!


Written by Gabriel Miller and Spencer Carter. Edited by Clarke Scott.

 

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