Honored earlier this year by the Zurich Film Fest, Working Title, the U.K. film outfit behind breakout hits and award-winners from “Billy Elliott” to “Four Weddings and A Funeral,” Bridget Jones’ Diary” and last year’s “Les Miserables,” was presented with the Hamptons Film Fest’s Golden Starfish and was the subject of a panel discussion with its founders Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, as well as an industry insiders’ dinner at Bridgehampton’s Topping Rose eatery.
The lively chat, moderated by Museum of Modern Art’s chief film curator, Raj Roy, saw Bevan and Fellner joined by key creatives Richard Curtis (“Four Weddings,” “Love Actually,”) and Edgar Wright (“Shawn of the Dead,” “At World’s End”). Pointing out the very real working difficulties behind the rosy success story, Curtis noted “almost every single one of my films has been in some kind of crisis,” a view echoed by Fellner’s view that “most movies are painful for us in some way or another.”
With no easy answer to how they paved the road to their esteemed standing, Fellner opined that “story and concept will always be keys to any film success,” while Bevan noted it was essential to “having always done films on a slate basis,” in order to take the chances that led to their biggest wins. Later at chef Tom Colicchio‘s Topping Rose, the Working Title gang were joined by key team member Liza Chasin as well as Universal chief Ron Meyer, as well as Uni’s Alissa Grayson and Hollace Davids and British Film and Television Arts chairman Charles Tremayne, BAFTA’s Luke Parker Bowles and Harlene Freezer.
Parker Bowles called the tribute “something I always wanted to happen. As a Working Title alum, board member of BAFTA New York and Hamptons Fest Advisory board, I see Tim and Eric as legends who deserve this honor and an intimate setting like the Hamptons as the perfect place to make it happen.”
Curtis and wife Emma Freud were even more adamant about the success of the weekend, noting, “We plan to come here every year, even if I don’t have a film. Try and stop us!” Also on hand for the festive dinner were Martha Stewart, Bob Balaban, publishing maven Jane Friedman, the Sloan Foundation’s Doron Weber, newly minted Variety 10 Actors to Watch honorees Brie Larson and David Oyelowo, Hamptons Fest executive director Anne Chaisson and husband Jeff Gillis, Inphenate chief Glenn Rigberg and Cohen Media prexy Daniel Battsek.