Genesis: Writer Michael Seitzman brought the project to Wechsler and his producing partners. Wechsler recalls, “I sat down and we listened to Michael’s take on it … and I read it that night and called Michael the next day and said, ‘This is just a fantastic story, we’d love to take a shot at developing it with you.’ “
Attraction: “Michael wrote a very good first-draft script, which is usually a make-it-or-break-it kind of phase on a movie like this. But Michael wrote such a good first draft that we knew that there was light at the end of the tunnel to get this made.”
Building blocks: “Having (director) Niki (Caro) come onboard this movie, zeroing in on her, was kind of like catching lightning in a bottle.”
Charlize Theron got acquainted with Caro while spending the 2003-04 awards season on the same circuit, promoting their films “Monster” and “Whale Rider,” respectively. Wechsler pitched the film to Theron at the Vanity Fair party the night she took home the statuette for “Monster,” and she later signed on to play the lead.
The other actors were easy to recruit, Wechsler says: “It was a combination of both the material and Niki attracting people. But we had a lot of interest in the script, because it was a gem.”
Greatest challenge: “Warner Bros. wanted to put this movie out in October; we started shooting this movie in February. Everything had to go right; it had to be like a perfect clock mechanism to get this thing going, and a much shorter post period than I’ve ever had on a movie of size.
“Everything had to work; that means we had to make a movie that didn’t require any reshoots … I mean, nothing could go wrong to make this October date. And so a lot of that is skill and a lot of that is luck.
“Would we have done any significant changes if we had more time? It’s hard to say. But I think we were pretty close to the movie we would have made even if we would have had more time.”
Setback Setback & solution: solution: “I don’t think that I had a big setback. Everything went very smoothly once we started shooting — there are always the little hurdles that you fall into though.
“There was a time when I thought … we weren’t going to have any mines to (use) in Minnesota. We ended up getting cooperation in both Minnesota and New Mexico and we shot mines in both locations. Ultimately, once we started the ball rolling, there weren’t major setbacks.”
Career Mantra: “The best work comes with passion.”