×

How a ‘Breaking Bad’ Producer Helped Boost Jennifer Connelly’s Pic

Access to Hollywood agents key to pic's casting

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain — A chance encounter with “Breaking Badexecutive producer Mark Johnson was the key to attaching a high-caliber cast — led by Jennifer Connelly — to Claudia Llosa’s “Cry/Fly,” said Spanish producer Jose Maria Morales at a co-production forum discussion at the San Sebastian Film Festival on Monday.

Johnson was a fan of Llosa’s previous film, “The Milk of Sorrow,” which had been nominated for an Oscar, so he agreed to board the project as a producer, alongside Morales, head of Wanda Vision. Johnson provided access to the Hollywood agents, which allowed Morales to attach the key cast, such as Cillian Murphy (“Inception”) and Melanie Laurent (“Inglourious Basterds”).

Morales said that it was necessary to be flexible when dealing with Hollywood. “It has to be me that adapts to them,” he said.

Producer Juan Gordon of Morena Films said that one person had commented that a Spanish company approaching a Hollywood agent was like a company from a province in Pakistan going to an agent in Spain and asking to attach Javier Bardem to their film, so it made sense to partner with a leading U.S. producer to “get that credibility and respect.” Recruiting a top casting director also helps secure leading international actors, he said.

Although Morales preached flexibility, he emphasized that the integrity of the film must not be compromised during the financing process. “The film comes first,” he said at the panel discussion, which focused on internationally pre-financed Spanish films, and was part of the Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum. Morales and Llosa scouted for locations in Eastern Europe before deciding to shoot in Canada.

Gordon said that pre-selling to distributors in some territories was tough. “It’s like selling pork in a Muslim country,” he said. Most distributors would want to see the finished film. “What’s in it for them? They can wait.”

Gordon said filmmakers should keep in close contact with the audience, and develop projects that they want to see, such as genre pics.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Renee Zellweger Rufus Wainwright Sam Smith

    Renée Zellweger: Judy Garland Was 'My Childhood Hero'

    Awards buzz is building around Renée Zellweger for her performance as Judy Garland, emerging as a frontrunner in the Oscar race for best actress. But for her, the real prize was paying tribute to Garland, of whom she’s been a lifelong fan. “Nobody was prettier, nobody sang prettier…the adventures she had, [she was] my childhood [...]

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

  • 'Downton Abbey' Music Gets 'Bigger, Better,

    As 'Downton Abbey' Hits the Silver Screen, the Music, Too, Gets 'Bigger, Better, Grander'

    When “Downton Abbey” fans hear that familiar strings-and-piano theme, a Pavlovian response ensues: Get to the television immediately, because you don’t want to miss a minute of the addictive Crawley family melodrama to follow. This week, with the “Downton Abbey” movie reaching theaters on Friday, fans can’t wait for their fix of Lady Mary and [...]

  • 45 Seconds of Laughter

    Film Review: '45 Seconds of Laughter'

    “Everyone is worth more than their worst act,” said Roman Catholic sister and anti-death penalty advocate Helen Prejean, and it’s with these words that “45 Seconds of Laughter” closes. It’s an apt sentiment on which to leave Tim Robbins’ sincerely felt documentary study of the therapeutic acting workshops run by his own theater company in [...]

  • Julie Andrews

    Julie Andrews Selected for AFI's Life Achievement Award

    The American Film Institute Board of Trustees has selected Julie Andrews as the recipient of the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award. The award will be presented to Andrews on April 25 in Los Angeles. The ceremony will be telecast on TNT. “Julie Andrews is practically perfect in every way,” said Kathleen Kennedy, chair of the [...]

  • 4127_D001_00007_RC Phyllis Logan stars as Mrs.

    'Downton Abbey' to Dominate Box Office Weekend With $30 Million

    The feature film version of “Downton Abbey” is heading for an impressive $30 million opening weekend at 3,079 sites for an easy victory at the North American box office, early estimates showed Friday. The launch of Brad Pitt’s space drama “Ad Astra” will land in second with about $20 million, while Sylvester Stallone’s action-thriller “Rambo: [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content