I was going to tell you all about World Fantasy Con, but that will have to wait. First I want to tell you what it was like spending the evening with George Clooney. I just got home from a special screening at the DGA of THE IDES OF MARCH, a film that George directed. He did a nice long Q and A with director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (BABEL). I sat in the third row and with George’s easy charm, it felt like you were listening to him in someone’s living room.
Photographing wasn’t allowed other than from the official photographer, so all I’m showing is this stock one, but trust me — he really is more handsome in person than on the screen. He spoke about how the film came from a play originally, but he and his co-writer added the problem with Rachel Evan Wood’s character, and the governor as a character. He said the first thing he wrote was the kitchen confrontation scene between Clooney and Gosling that comes near the end of the film. And then he worked backward from that.
He wrote the part with Gosling in mind and was able to get all his first choices for actors. He and his writing partner acted out the parts when writing, often imitating the style and voices of Paul Giamatti or Philip Seymour Hoffman. The budget was only 12.5 million, small by today’s standards, because the actors did the film for very little money. He went to AFM (American Film Market) to raise the money from foreign investors by doing a one hour pitch to a room of 20 people and then repeating that all day. Side note: it’s hard to imagine anyone not wanting to give George money after listening to him speak for an hour. Then he called Amy Pascal at Sony where he had his deal, told her he had raised most of the startup money and asked if they would distribute it. She read the script and gave her okay (because I’m sure she has trouble saying no to him too).
All of the films he’s directed have shown some profit, so he continues to be able to make these kinds of stories that do not fit the typical mainstream studio mold.
He was very kind and generous when he got a couple of pitch questions from the audience (one journalist actually asked him for an interview). The man has “charm” stamped on his forehead. And he’s a truly nice guy, self-effacing and at times, very funny. Really, he’s got it all.