Kasdan's "Darling Companion" Gets Release; Or How Film Journalism Lacks Cojones

by Anthony Kaufman
July 27, 2011 7:11 AM
5 Comments
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How could every trade paper--including indieWIRE--republish a press release without any context? What sort of journalism is this? One might like to believe that the New York Times doesn't simply rehash White House press releases--although maybe it does--but I was surprised to see the announcement that production company Werc Werk Works sent out about Sony Pictures Classics acquiring their latest film "Darling Companion" just one day after I reported about the company's transgressions. Was it just coincidence or a little strategic media deflection?

Honestly, I expected at least one outlet to mention the Werc Werk Works story that indieWIRE published yesterday. Is our collective memory that short? Or do journalists buy everything they're spoon-fed?

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5 Comments

  • jimbo | July 28, 2011 4:10 AMReply

    I work with a European company that supports director's final cut. If a director does not negotiate that, that is their and their rep's issue.

    Personally, I think that this film is a standard American film. That is not to say it is good or bad. It's just to say it's not an auteur driven film that warrants final cut. Nor is the director in that realm. Indie doesn't mean art or auteur.

    My point, which Antohony has ignored or overlooked (consciously), is if the director cared so much past a premiere, they should've insisted on final cut. They have lawyers. They have agents. That's why it's an obvious who gives a shit scenario and article.

    Variety and Deadline obviously agree. if Kaufman feels otherwise save it for stories where the contracts are different. it's not up to him to objectively interpret what a company does.

    They did not because it's Ameri-indie fare. There's zero to complain over contractually.


    Moreover, a company can change their "perceived" mandate without informing the likes of Anthony Kaufman.

  • Dana Harris | July 28, 2011 2:57 AMReply

    While I don't necessarily share Anthony's dismay over the lack of references to the article with today's announcement (though a link would have been smart), I don't understand how the piece can be considered a non story.

    I don't know whether Variety was pitched the story, but I can certainly believe they would pass on it. It's too small for their audience, which is concerned first and foremost with the business of studio movies. As a commenter said on the original article, odds are that either of the versions will make very little... Same odds as for almost all indies.

    And with those odds, any company that didn't give away final cut has the right to do whatever they can to see a return on their investment. And presumably that's what WWW felt they had to do. Whatever Elizabeth Redleaf's flaws might be, she didn't do a wholesale overhaul of the Sprechers' film because she's evil. She wants the same thing as any producer: make films that make money so you can make some kind of profit -- or at least enough to keep making them.

    I'll give you all of that. But how does it add up to a nonstory -- especially for Indiewire, a publication dedicated to covering independent film? To me, the replacement of an entire creative team with a real track record is a story. So are the producers' on-the-record complaints, made at risk of alienating one of the very few companies that appear to embrace risk.

    And like the headline said, is WWW the hero or villain? Presumably they couldn't sell before the re-edit; afterward, they could. At what cost, we don't yet know. No one's seen "Thin Ice" and it's unclear what WWW will do in the future. There's been no announcement of new projects or of a
    replacement for Walker.

  • Lars Von Crier | July 27, 2011 10:09 AMReply

    I'VE GOT A KEYBOARD! SOMEBODY PAY ATTENTION TO ME!!!

  • anthony | July 27, 2011 9:45 AMReply

    Jimbo, while I think you and others may have been right to point out that the industry is filled with re-cut, re-scored and re-edited films to boost the box office potential of a film, I think you miss the greater point: That WWW totally mishandled this process and alienated the director, and did so in a milieu where the director's vision is supposed to be protected. WWW has continued to mishandle their relationships with filmmakers since they were founded. And I think that's important. But I guess you disagree....

  • Jimbo | July 27, 2011 9:06 AMReply

    I'll bite.

    With all due respect, Mr. Kaufman, the problem with your article and analysis of the WWW is that it truly was a non-story. (i heard rumblings that it was pitched and swiftly rejected by Variety for those reasons.) Regardless, the lack of interest seems to stem by the fact that you are in the minority of those who are incensed by the business of film.

    THIN ICE hardly represents the work of an auteur. If anything, it represents a traditional Sundance-style film, one that arguably was over-budgeted, likely for the price of cast. This is not the work of Bela Tar or Gaspar Noe. This is quasi-mainstream fare that is hardly the spawn of a purely philanthropic effort. As consequence, why should the investor not try to make up their investment in some way, even if it means trimming the film down and putting in a better score? Past credits do mean very little.

    Accordingly, in terms of the editor, you should check with Mr. King to see how many quality editors he went through on his film, HERE, a film that aspires (and whether it achieves it is seriously up for debate) to be more auteur cinema and thus might deserve an alternate status. BTL elements get replaced all the time, even after a high-profile festival premiere and post-acquisition.

    What's most alarming to me is your shock that there is not more applause for an "article" that, to people who understand the investments required to get films off the ground and actual mechanics of the business side of the industry, is essentially a non-story and seeks only to disparage Ms. Redleaf.

    Simply put, if the director's lawyers had no inclination to fight for final cut, it's quite confounding how this could be published on anything but a personal blog.

    And in terms of producers and directors complaining about financiers, when does that not happen? Spare me.

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