As a producer for the most prolific feature filmmaker on the planet, Letty Aronson serves multiple roles on Woody Allen’s annual output: “I find the money for the films,” she says. “And after they’re done, I sell the major territories.” She also functions as a special collaborator — being Allen’s younger sister, she knows the writer-director perhaps better than anybody else.
“I’m always there to give my opinions,” says Aronson. When budgetary issues arise, it often falls on Aronson to approach Allen with the bad news. “I’ll discuss it with him and say, ‘We don’t really have the money for this or that.’ But he’s actually very cooperative as a director.”
On their most recent success, “Midnight in Paris,” Allen’s highest-grossing film to date (approximately $100 million worldwide and the specialty hit by which all others are currently being measured), Aronson also offered script notes and casting suggestions.
But Aronson emphasizes that these are strictly Woody Allen affairs, with the auteur weighing in on every decision: “Every piece of clothing, every piece of furniture, there’s no area that he’s not involved with. ”
This total control makes the movies difficult to finance in the U.S., she says, because “studio executives fancy themselves creative forces, so they want to give notes. But Woody refuses to work that way. If you want to finance one of his films, you don’t get a script, you don’t get input on the cast, you don’t get dailies — you give your money and you see a finished film.”
As a result, she continues, “it’s much easier for me to finance his films in Europe.”
Aronson just finished producing Allen’s latest overseas jaunt, the Rome-set “Bop Decameron,” and is also launching three one-act plays on Broadway, collectively titled “Relatively Speaking,” written by Elaine May, Ethan Coen and Allen.
Aronson has worked with other filmmakers in the past, such as David Mamet and Jason Alexander, but she has little time now given her brother’s uninterrupted pace. “Since working with Woody, it’s always finding money for the next film that keeps me busy.”
Role model: “I do not have a role model.”
Career mantra: “Find the money for next year.”
Leisure pursuits: “I have children and grandchildren. I took a class about opera a few years ago, and this year I’m taking a class at Julliard on Tchaikovsky. And I love to travel.”
Philanthropic passion: “I don’t earn enough money to be philanthropic.”