Taylor Hackford knows about the art of compromise. “Every director understands this,” he says. “Every film you make could be your last. You try to make something you’re passionate about and has a quotient of art attached to it, but you also realize you’ve got to sell tickets.”
This might make him atypical as a CineVegas Vanguard Director. Previous honorees include the often-inscrutable David Lynch and zombie pic pioneer George A. Romero.
CineVegas programming director Trevor Groth says that while Hackford works much more within the studio system than those mavericks, “I think he shows a passion for storytelling that’s really incredibly dedicated.”
Dedication is one area where Hackford doesn’t compromise. “It took me 15 years to make ‘Ray,'” he says. “I got the rights, and it took a long time to get that film financed. Maybe it says something about my hard head.”
That stubbornness has served him well. Hackford, who usually develops his own material, took an Oscar early in his career for the 1978 short “Teenage Father,” which he wrote and directed.
Occasionally, his resolve turns people off. “When you’re this hands-on,” he says, “you tend to find that certain people are not interested in working with you. But to me, that’s the definition of a director.”
Hackford’s current projects include “Rope Burns,” an adaptation of a novella by F.X. Toole, who penned the source material for “Million Dollar Baby.” Also in the works is “To the Ends of the Earth,” a film about the conquest of Mexico that Hackford describes as a huge project that will take “a lot of planning.”
Hackford is happy to be heading to Vegas, a town he knows well because of his enthusiasm for professional boxing. But he approaches the award carefully.
“I’m always of mixed emotions when this happens,” he says, “because you think you’re getting awards at the end of your career, and I still feel like I have a lot of films left in me.”