Name: Daniel Bobker
Breakthrough pics: “The Brothers Grimm,” “Skeleton Key”
What I learned the hard way: “Four credit cards can launch development, but it takes five to get to a greenlight.”
Two months before production started on “Skeleton Key,” Daniel Bobker and helmer Iain Softley still needed to find a house that would be the main location on the film.
Local scouts told them about the perfect dilapidated home, except for one problem: the 94-year-old couple that lived there wanted to stay in the house during production. “It all felt very ‘Grey Gardens,’ a real dream setting for our movie — and luckily worked out just in time,” Bobker says. “We actually had a trailer for the owner placed nearby, so he could retreat last minute if he desired once night shoots began.”
Such creative problem-solving and gentle diplomacy are two of the traits that have helped to make Bobker a busy producer.
“We call him the Tenacious D,” says Holly Bario, the Universal Pictures exec VP overseeing “Skeleton Key,” which stars Kate Hudson as caretaker to an elderly couple.
Bobker’s first time out as a point producer was on “The Brothers Grimm,” helmed by Terry Gilliam for Dimension Films and MGM. The twisted fairy tale, starring Matt Damon and Heath Ledger, wrapped late last year in Prague.
Having managed the production well, and armed with strong talent relationships, especially with writer Ehren Kruger, Bobker moved straight to “Skeleton Key,” and quickly set up his third production, “Blood and Chocolate” at MGM. Pic, penned by Kruger like “Skeleton Key” and “Brothers Grimm,” is due to start later this year.
Bobker has roots in the literary world, with editorial stints at Farrar Straus & Giroux and HarperCollins. He moved into film by taking posts at Brillstein Grey and Scott Rudin Prods. Michael Besman brought him to L.A. to run his Ballyhoo Prods. at Sony, which produced “Seven Years in Tibet,” “The Opposite of Sex” and “About Schmidt.”
In recent years, Bobker has developed his own slate of projects, including “In a Dark Wood,” set up at Strike Entertainment, and “Sloppy Seconds,” at Bulls Eye Entertainment, which he is producing with Chris and Paul Weitz.
“He’s got great relationships,” says Bario, “especially for a guy working out of his living room.”
It’s doubtful that Bobker will stay there for long.