Anthony Bregman has spent nearly his whole career under the wing of powerhouse Gotham production shingle Good Machine, recently acquired by Universal and renamed Focus. But despite the supportive presence of co-founders Ted Hope and James Schamus, Bregman has operated essentially the same way as an independent producer.
Bregman will be part of Hope’s new production outfit, which will remain solidly independent while benefitting from a first-look deal with Focus. “We don’t finance with our own money,” he says of the way Good Machine worked, “Not having the capability to greenlight on our own makes for a better movie.
“You’re trying to mold your idea according to not only the artistic goals, but the financial realities of the film,” adds the pragmatic Bregman. “If it’s not financeable at $7 million, it should be made at $3 million, not at $7 million.”
Bregman first considered a screenwriting career, but in 1992 found himself working in production on a Good Machine project shot in Brighton Beach.
After being shaken down by the Russian Mafia, he convinced Hope to give him some less perilous work as his assistant.
Good Machine stayed a small outfit for several years, giving Bregman a wide range of experience in budgeting, negotiating, post-production, marketing and just about everything else.
Bregman’s first solo producing credit, 1997’s “Love God,” was the first feature shot entirely in digital. After that came the well-received “Tao of Steve” and the recently released “Human Nature.” His most recent film, “Lovely and Amazing,” directed by Nicole Holofcener, played at Sundance this year.
“It never occurred to us to do it digitally — it’s not that kind of film,” says Bregman. But when the only financing offer came from digital production company Blow Up Pictures, they decided to try it.
Bregman says using high-definition digital made the picture look like film without creating a stylized digital look. “By accessing that technology, we were able to create the vision Nicole wanted.”
Next up, Bregman has several projects ready to go, including an adaptation of teen-angst novel “Thumbsucker” set to star Elijah Wood; a Mexican sci-fi border story “Sleep Dealer”; FilmFour co-venture “Mondo Beyondo,” a comedy about robots taking over the world; and “Houdini Girl,” a British existential thriller.
Primary credits: “Lovely and Amazing,” “Human Nature,” “The Tao of Steve”
Definition of a producer: “The individual who produces the film’s lofty artistic vision out of the film’s gritty financial reality.”
Strengths: “I listen. I enjoy complicated problems, taking complicated situations and trying to find creative solutions.”
Achilles’ heel: “My desk is too messy. I talk too loud.”