When Jonathan Schwartz launched his producing career six years ago, his mindset could hardly be described as indie. Instead, he set up a number of studio projects including “Mark Twain Remembers” at DreamWorks, with James Franco attached to star. Then, he waited in development purgatory.
“I realized that if I keep setting up films at studios, I may never get to make a movie,” recalls the Los Angeles native who started his showbiz career a decade ago as an ICM lawyer fresh out of George Washington U. law school. “Every film I’ve done since has been an indie.”
The career shift has resulted in 10 films in five years for the Berkeley alum, beginning with the Sundance darling “Wristcutters: A Love Story.” That auspicious debut was followed by another Sundance hit, “Douchebag,” which he also penned.
He solidified his Sundance cred with the $250,000 Anton Yelchin-Felicity Jones starrer “Like Crazy,” which nabbed the grand jury prize at this year’s fest.
Popular on Variety
“I have two criteria for making a movie,” says Schwartz, whose credits include Peter Weir’s “The Way Back” and Austrian auteur Michael Haneke’s English-language remake of his own film “Funny Games.”
“I gotta believe it’s great. … I don’t want to make a movie that never gets seen by anyone.”
And despite his successes in the indie world, Schwartz isn’t ruling out a return to the studio sphere. He still plans to make passion project “Mark Twain.”
Nevertheless, his sensibilities rarely mesh with the typical offering from the majors.
“I don’t always love huge studio movies that appeal to the masses just because of my taste,” says Schwartz, who recently wrapped the drama “Nobody Walks,” toplined by John Krasinski.
Still, Schwartz wouldn’t recommend indie film producing for everyone. “If you care a lot about money, it’s probably not the first business I would advise going into,” he jokes.
Jason Michael Berman | Borderline Films | Tyler Davidson & Sophia Lin | James Gay-Rees | Lawrence Inglee |