Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Berlin Review: Could 'War on Everyone' Be the Best Bad Cop Comedy Ever? Berlin Review: Could 'War on Everyone' Be the Best Bad Cop Comedy Ever? Berlin Review: With 'Midnight Special,' Jeff Nichols Offers Up a Very Special Sci-Fi Thriller Berlin Review: With 'Midnight Special,' Jeff Nichols Offers Up a Very Special Sci-Fi Thriller How They Designed the Characters and Sounds for the Oscar-Nominated 'Mad Max: Fury Road' How They Designed the Characters and Sounds for the Oscar-Nominated 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Meryl Streep to Fund The Writers Lab, Supporting Women Screenwriters Over 40 (EXCLUSIVE) Meryl Streep to Fund The Writers Lab, Supporting Women Screenwriters Over 40 (EXCLUSIVE) Oscar Predictions 2016 Oscar Predictions 2016 Roger Deakins on Shooting Hollywood From the Inside Out in 'Hail, Caesar!' (Video) Roger Deakins on Shooting Hollywood From the Inside Out in 'Hail, Caesar!' (Video) A Letter to Michael B. Jordan A Letter to Michael B. Jordan Bona Fide Acquires Movie Rights to Knausgaard New York Times Series 'My Saga' for Alexander Payne (EXCLUSIVE) Bona Fide Acquires Movie Rights to Knausgaard New York Times Series 'My Saga' for Alexander Payne (EXCLUSIVE) WATCH: 9 Oscar-Nominated Screenwriters on How They Got Their Start, Their Writing Process, and Much More WATCH: 9 Oscar-Nominated Screenwriters on How They Got Their Start, Their Writing Process, and Much More Inside the Oscar Nominees Lunch Inside the Oscar Nominees Lunch How John Ridley and Company Create the Emotional Resonance of 'American Crime' How John Ridley and Company Create the Emotional Resonance of 'American Crime' Top 10 Takeaways:  'Hail, Caesar!' Leads Three New Releases—Which Barely Total $20 Million Top 10 Takeaways: 'Hail, Caesar!' Leads Three New Releases—Which Barely Total $20 Million 'Deadpool' Review & Roundup: Ryan Reynolds Finds a Franchise Worthy of His Talents 'Deadpool' Review & Roundup: Ryan Reynolds Finds a Franchise Worthy of His Talents Arthouse Audit: 'The Club' and 'Rams' Reveal Weakness in Subtitled Film Market Arthouse Audit: 'The Club' and 'Rams' Reveal Weakness in Subtitled Film Market Inside the Directors Guild Awards Inside the Directors Guild Awards Joel & Ethan Coen Crack Each Other Up, And Me, Talking About 'Hail, Caesar!' Joel & Ethan Coen Crack Each Other Up, And Me, Talking About 'Hail, Caesar!' Why George Miller Should Win DGA Award and Directing Oscar for 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Why George Miller Should Win DGA Award and Directing Oscar for 'Mad Max: Fury Road' WATCH: Oscar Nominee Tom Hardy Explains Why Shooting 'The Revenant' Was So Bloody Hard (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO) WATCH: Oscar Nominee Tom Hardy Explains Why Shooting 'The Revenant' Was So Bloody Hard (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO) How They Created the Bear VFX for the Mauling of Leonardo DiCaprio in 'The Revenant' How They Created the Bear VFX for the Mauling of Leonardo DiCaprio in 'The Revenant' What Happened to Scorsese's $70-Million Short 'The Audition' Starring DiCaprio, De Niro and Pitt? What Happened to Scorsese's $70-Million Short 'The Audition' Starring DiCaprio, De Niro and Pitt?

Life During Wartime: Werc Werk Works Jumps Into Indie Fray

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood October 1, 2009 at 6:54AM

As Todd Solondz's Life During Wartime meets a mixed response at Venice, Telluride, Toronto and the NYFF (see IndieWIRE's critics poll), the two women who raised the funding for the $5-million movie are sitting on tenterhooks hoping to score a distribution deal that has not materialized.
1
Thompson on Hollywood

As Todd Solondz's Life During Wartime meets a mixed response at Venice, Telluride, Toronto and the NYFF (see IndieWIRE's critics poll), the two women who raised the funding for the $5-million movie are sitting on tenterhooks hoping to score a distribution deal that has not materialized.

Lifelong Minneapolis chums Christine Walker and Elizabeth Redleaf combined forces a year ago in the production company Werc Werk Works: Life During Wartime, a follow-up to Happiness, is their first production. They started the firm on the assumption that at their budget level—no movie over $5 million—there would be a market for their pictures. That assumption is being tested. "We had the ability to make films," says Redleaf, "as the world of independent film was collapsing."

Thompson on Hollywood

A lifelong film buff, critic and arts patron, Redleaf is putting her money where her passion is. (Redleaf also maintains a home in Telluride, where she is a major Film Fest sponsor, along with her Minneapolis pal Bill Pohlad.) Walker is a veteran producer of such films as Factotum, American Splendor and Rob Perez's just-opening Nobody, which shot in Minneapolis.

Redleaf bonded with Solondz when she booked Palindromes at the new Walker Arts Center theater. Several years later, he handed the script for Life During Wartime to her at Cannes. "I knew I wanted to be involved," she says. "This kind of material doesn't frighten us, though it is a very risky business right now. The subject matter is less commercially viable." Cinetic Media is selling North America, while Fortissimo has sold some foreign territories.

[Photo: Christine K. Walker and Elizabeth Redleaf; Howl stars James Franco as Allen Ginsberg.]

"He was one of the filmmakers we talked about wanting to work with," says Walker. "He hadn't worked in five years. We wanted to bring resources to support filmmakers like this."

The producers are keeping things small with a staff of seven. Werc Werks' next project coming up is Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's Howl, starring James Franco as Allen Ginsberg, a reenactment (with animation) of his obscenity trial, which also stars Jeff Daniels, Jon Hamm and David Straithairn. It wrapped in January. Also in the WW works is a European co-production of Hungarian auteur Bela Tarr's The Turin Horse, based on a story about philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. "Don't mess with the Bela," says Walker, who had booked retrospectives of his films at the Walker Art Center. Ramping up for a start in 2010 is their fourth project, Jill and Karen Sprecher's The Convincer, which follows a midwest salesman tracking a rare violin. WWW are also developing the late Budd Schulberg's last script, set in Florida.

"We keep a clear-headed approach to the business," says Redleaf, who sees an opportunity to take advantage of all the available quality material going begging right now. "We're grounded. The studios are going to be cautious. But they still need movies."

This article is related to: Festivals, Independents, Indies, NYFF


E-Mail Updates






Festivals on TOH



Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.