Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences Tribeca Film Festival Matches George Lucas with Stephen Colbert: “I’m gonna tear you a new one, George" Tribeca Film Festival Matches George Lucas with Stephen Colbert: “I’m gonna tear you a new one, George" 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work The Eerie Connection Between 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' and 'Tomorrowland' The Eerie Connection Between 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' and 'Tomorrowland' Digging Into the Cannes Lineup: More Vet Auteurs and Women, No Netflix Digging Into the Cannes Lineup: More Vet Auteurs and Women, No Netflix Ryan Gosling in Talks for 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Damien Chazelle's 'La La Land' Ryan Gosling in Talks for 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Damien Chazelle's 'La La Land' You Can Now Read Over 200,000 Leaked Sony Emails and Documents You Can Now Read Over 200,000 Leaked Sony Emails and Documents Watch: The New 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Trailer Has Landed Watch: The New 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Trailer Has Landed Watch the Teaser Trailer for Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' Watch the Teaser Trailer for Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' Russia Bans Tom Hardy Thriller 'Child 44,' "A Bloody Mass of Orcs and Ghouls" Russia Bans Tom Hardy Thriller 'Child 44,' "A Bloody Mass of Orcs and Ghouls" Watch: This Exclusive Tribeca Trailer Promises a Vérité Southern Gothic in Malick Vein Watch: This Exclusive Tribeca Trailer Promises a Vérité Southern Gothic in Malick Vein 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO) 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO) 'Queen of Earth,' Starring a Gloriously Unhinged Elisabeth Moss, Goes to IFC 'Queen of Earth,' Starring a Gloriously Unhinged Elisabeth Moss, Goes to IFC LA Film Fest Adds 10 Buzzy Indies and First-Ever TV Gala to Lineup LA Film Fest Adds 10 Buzzy Indies and First-Ever TV Gala to Lineup Cary Fukunaga Takes Over Long-Stalled 'The Alienist' as TV Series Cary Fukunaga Takes Over Long-Stalled 'The Alienist' as TV Series Why the Istanbul Film Festival Cancelled Its 2015 Competition Why the Istanbul Film Festival Cancelled Its 2015 Competition The Dramatic Story Behind Satyajit Ray's 50s Masterpiece 'The Apu Trilogy' (Exclusive) The Dramatic Story Behind Satyajit Ray's 50s Masterpiece 'The Apu Trilogy' (Exclusive) The New Ladder: Anatomy of Indie Women's Picture 'Farah Goes Bang' The New Ladder: Anatomy of Indie Women's Picture 'Farah Goes Bang' Lars von Trier's Last Cannes Q & A: "Stupid" Statements, Melancholia, "I Am Not a Nazi," Dunst, Cruz Lars von Trier's Last Cannes Q & A: "Stupid" Statements, Melancholia, "I Am Not a Nazi," Dunst, Cruz

Plan B Producer Dede Gardner Talks '12 Years a Slave,' 'World War Z,' and Partner Brad Pitt

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood October 15, 2013 at 4:20PM

The movie of movies on the fall film circuit was Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" (October 18). The film was nurtured along the way by Plan B producer Dede Gardner and her partner, Brad Pitt, who co-stars in the film with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Benedict Cumberbatch. I interviewed Gardner for a TIFF Industry Q & A, below.
2
Fassbender, Nyong'o, Ejiofor in '12 Years a Slave'
Fassbender, Nyong'o, Ejiofor in '12 Years a Slave'

The movie of movies on the fall film circuit was Steve McQueen's"12 Years a Slave." The film, which eventually picked up Oscars for Best Picture, screenplay and supporting actress, was nurtured along the way by Plan B producer Dede Gardner and her partner, Brad Pitt, who co-stars in the film with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, newcomer Lupita Nyong'o and Benedict Cumberbatch. I interviewed Gardner for a Toronto Film Festival Industry Q & A, below. 

Anne Thompson: When you showed the film at Telluride were you worried?

Dede Gardner: Of course. 

AT: Here you are at TIFF with "12 Years a Slave." It's so powerful and immersive and puts you through the pain. It doesn't spare you. How did you get involved?

DG: We saw "Hunger" and I couldn't breathe. I thought it was one of the most amazing films I'd seen in a long time. We reached out to Steve McQueen and said, "you don't know us and you're new to the system but we want to work with you, and to trust us." You start talking and feeling out one another's overlap, where your interests are as human beings and artists and as people who love film. He said, "why don't you think there's ever been a movie about the institution of slavery per se? There have been movies about singular events but never one that really presents a survey." We said we didn't know. I was troubled by the question and said, "why don't we try?" So that was the beginning. 

We talked about a lot of ideas, fictional ideas. Steve was always interested in the notion of a free man who becomes a slave. He was always convinced that a story will be more resonant with an audience if you start with someone who is free and has his freedom taken away from him. His wife Bianca found the book [Solomon Northup's memoir] and I'm mortified to say I hadn't heard of it. The book is a beautiful piece of writing and also eerily cinematic both visually and structurally, and that was the starting point. We were already speaking with [John Ridley] and he agreed to write the script [on spec]. Our idea was to get this film as far as we could to the point where it was undeniable. Once we had worked with the script for several years, we got Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt. We thought we had a shot.

AT: Is a $20 million budget about right? How did you do that?

DG: We shot in New Orleans for 35 days. We had in the costume designer and production designer two extraordinary partners. It was an endeavor of goodwill. Everybody wanted to be there and everyone was willing to do what it took to get it finished on schedule and see it through.

This article is related to: Brad Pitt, Brad Pitt, Toronto, 12 Years a Slave, Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life, Killing Them Softly, World War Z


E-Mail Updates