Getting a micro-budget indie made is always difficult, and “Capote” faced obstacles at every turn, including a rival biopic with bigger names and a studio merger that left the film with no clear distributor.
“Having a first-time director (Bennett Miller) was a challenge for some financiers,” says Baron. “And although Philip Seymour Hoffman is incredibly talented, he was not a box office star at the time.”
The competing pic, “Infamous,” starring the less well-known Toby Jones as Capote, but boasting stars like Sandra Bullock, Gwyneth Paltrow and Sigourney Weaver, didn’t help matters. “It got set up really quickly and it made it hard for us to get set up,” says Baron, who was pregnant at the time.
“We spent a year and a half trying to get the movie financed. It was perceived as a risk and it was difficult. We found financiers and then they had no money. I was (practically) in labor and I had no patience. I just asked them point blank: Do you have the money or not?” Baron laughs.
They ended up partnering with Infinity Media, whose Ohoven says, “The biggest obstacle was convincing our partners. But everyone fell in love with the text. It was a fantastic script. When (he and his partner, Vince) met Bennett and Phil and (screenwriter) Danny (Futterman), we felt the energy between these three; we were convinced.”
Ohoven and Vince brought “Capote” to United Artists, which had previously passed, and were able to start filming before the rival project. “I think what was instrumental was when Bill asked Phil to fly in for a meeting with Danny Rossett (the head of UA at the time) and (MGM honcho) Chris McGurk, and he convinced us he had the strongest abilities (to play this role) you could possibly find.”
During post-production, UA and MGM were purchased by Sony. “For a while there, we didn’t know where we would end up and who would release the film,” Baron recalls. But the film found champions in Sony Classics’ Michael Barker and Tom Bernard. “They got it and really loved it and wanted to release it.”
At one point, Ohoven recalls, it looked like Warner Bros. might buy UA: “Warners had made the other (Capote) movie. It was a very bizarre situation. There were thoughts that maybe we shouldn’t go ahead when there’s this rival project that was three times our budget and with all these big names attached. But we went ahead with pre-production on our own dime.”
“We proceeded as if everything were in place,” says Baron. “Bennett and Danny and Phil and I always had complete faith in the film.”