After backing quality indie dramas like “The Squid and the Whale” and “The Spectacular Now,” Andrew Lauren boosted his Andrew Lauren Prods. shingle by bringing industry vet D.J. Gugenheim aboard as a partner and president. Now the son of designer Ralph Lauren is returning to the fest circuit with his first projects in four years: Brady Corbet’s musical drama “Vox Lux,” pictured above, starring Natalie Portman and Jude Law, which has its Sept. 4 Venice world premiere in competition before screening Sept. 7 in Toronto; and the Sept. 9 Toronto world premiere of Claire Denis’ sci-fi adventure “High Life,” starring Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche and André Benjamin.
You were a producer and the main backer of 2013’s “The Spectacular Now” and an exec producer of 2014’s musician doc “Mateo.” Why did you take a four-year break?
It’s always a challenge as a producer/financier. I’m putting up my own money, and I’m really particular with the type of films that I say yes to. None of the films that I take on are easy, so I needed a strong team to help me with that. Bringing on D.J. [in 2015] has been really a big plus. He’s got a strong sense of good material and an understanding of the numbers, the foreign game, and how the risks can be calculated. In the last few years I’ve become more bullish.
Both “Vox Lux” (repped by Endeavor Content/CAA and Sierra/Affinity) and “High Life” (CAA and Wild Bunch) are up for domestic distribution at press time. How did “Vox Lux” come together?
I saw a screening of Brady’s first feature, [2015’s] “The Childhood of a Leader,” and I was blown away. When we got his script for “Vox Lux,” I signed up immediately just knowing that it was him. Then Natalie Portman and Jude Law came on board, and I’ve always wanted to work with [Killer Films’] Christine Vachon. We almost made “Boys Don’t Cry” together years ago.
And “High Life?”
CAA brought that package to us, and it’s my first international co-production. Claire Denis is one of the greatest filmmakers in history — my dad turned me on to one of her films, “Beau Travail.” It was a unique project in that it came to us more as a “script-ment,” and it was really ambitious for Claire.
What lessons have you taken from working with other producers?
There have been times where I felt there were too many cooks in the kitchen. I’ve had producer partners and said, “You know what? I’m going to buy you out.” I took on my first film, [2002’s] “G,” by myself. I do like control. At the same time, if I have good, trustworthy partners, then that makes all the difference. I would prefer that. We’re working on a project with [producer] José Padilha (“Narcos”), and we have another being developed with Ted Hope at Amazon that we’ll be ready to announce soon.
How do these films indicate where you’re heading as a production company?
I think we’re trying to make films that are bigger in scope, will attract a wider audience and sort of cross the line between independent and studio. “The Squid and the Whale” had a $1.5 million budget and “The Spectacular Now” was $2.5 with tax breaks, so “Vox Lux” and “High Life” [each with eight-figure budgets] felt like the right next step.