For love, not money

Auster: 'I don't know what commercial means'

CANNES — Looking the very picture of a studio executive in black jeans, black T-shirt, black jacket and black Ray-Bans, novelist Paul Auster had a few words May 14 for some studio acquisition execs who deemed his film “Lulu on the Bridge” as “uncommercial.”

“These are not things I can think about,” Auster says. “I don’t make films to make money. I don’t know what commercial means. Those are just some business people with ideas about what’s sellable and what’s not.”

Auster, in Cannes for the second time after last year’s stint on the film festival jury, is making his helming debut with “Lulu.” Pic was financed by London-based Capitol Films and is still looking for a domestic distribber.

Expectation has been high among acquisitions execs for the pic, which stars Oscar-winner Mira Sorvino, Harvey Keitel, Willem Dafoe, Gina Gershon, Mandy Patinkin and Vanessa Redgrave.

Though he co-directed “Blue in the Face” (the companion pic to “Smoke”) with Wayne Wang, “Lulu” represents his first solo effort as writer/director. Auster says he learned all that he knows about directing from the two pics with Wang.

“That was like going to film school,” he says. “I worked on those films for two years. Wayne and I made those films together. He directed. I wrote. Everything else we did together.”

Auster says he enjoyed seeing his work grow with actors Sorvino and Dafoe, who are both in Cannes to promote the pic. “Once you start working on a film, you know that every role will take on the stamp of the actor playing the part,” Auster says.

The New York writer says he’s turning his attention back to his novel “Timbuktu.” But he doesn’t see any film potential in it. “It’s told from the point of view of a dog,” he says.

As for the future, Auster has no films planned for the future. “Who knows if anyone will ever allow me to make another one again?”