How a ‘Breaking Bad’ Producer Helped Boost Jennifer Connelly’s Pic

How 'Breaking Bad' Producer Helped Boost
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Access to Hollywood agents key to pic's casting

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain — A chance encounter with “Breaking Badexecutive producer Mark Johnson was the key to attaching a high-caliber cast — led by Jennifer Connelly — to Claudia Llosa’s “Cry/Fly,” said Spanish producer Jose Maria Morales at a co-production forum discussion at the San Sebastian Film Festival on Monday.

Johnson was a fan of Llosa’s previous film, “The Milk of Sorrow,” which had been nominated for an Oscar, so he agreed to board the project as a producer, alongside Morales, head of Wanda Vision. Johnson provided access to the Hollywood agents, which allowed Morales to attach the key cast, such as Cillian Murphy (“Inception”) and Melanie Laurent (“Inglourious Basterds”).

Morales said that it was necessary to be flexible when dealing with Hollywood. “It has to be me that adapts to them,” he said.

Producer Juan Gordon of Morena Films said that one person had commented that a Spanish company approaching a Hollywood agent was like a company from a province in Pakistan going to an agent in Spain and asking to attach Javier Bardem to their film, so it made sense to partner with a leading U.S. producer to “get that credibility and respect.” Recruiting a top casting director also helps secure leading international actors, he said.

Although Morales preached flexibility, he emphasized that the integrity of the film must not be compromised during the financing process. “The film comes first,” he said at the panel discussion, which focused on internationally pre-financed Spanish films, and was part of the Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum. Morales and Llosa scouted for locations in Eastern Europe before deciding to shoot in Canada.

Gordon said that pre-selling to distributors in some territories was tough. “It’s like selling pork in a Muslim country,” he said. Most distributors would want to see the finished film. “What’s in it for them? They can wait.”

Gordon said filmmakers should keep in close contact with the audience, and develop projects that they want to see, such as genre pics.

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  1. Rena Moretti says:

    I’m very sorry to write this, but this is complete PR hogwash, especially the part about the casting director.

    Casting directors don’t cast the leads. Producers and directors do. Having a so-called “top casting director” isn’t going to do anything for your project except make you and your project all the poorer.

    As for the “chance encounters”, even if one out of a thousand is true, there are just too many of those to think they’re anything but convenient PR the press is eager to repeat as if it were true.

    It’s exactly this kind of “article” that changed Variety from a must-read to a “don’t care” after many years of being a faithful reader.

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