Mick Jagger was a good get for “Burnt Orange Heresy” producers in more ways than one. They knew the Rolling Stones frontman would raise awareness of the indie project — at the very least, there was sure to be curiosity about his first credited movie role since 2002’s “The Man From Elysian Fields” – but he also helped backers qualify for European subsidies.
And they were definitely trying to do that.
Producers had already changed the original Florida setting in Charles Willeford’s pulpy 1971 novel to Lake Como, Italy, lined up Giuseppe Capotondi to direct, and “The Square” star Claes Bang and European-Australian actress Elizabeth Debicki for key roles. Casting the British musician as a wealthy art collector of dubious morality further helped the production meet European quotas on top of Italian subsidies.
“It’s the indie producer’s lot — chasing subsidies all over the world,” producer David Lancaster said before heading to Venice for the film’s world premiere there Sept. 7, which will be followed by a North American debut at Toronto Intl. Film Festival on Sept. 11.
Lancaster, who produced the film with David Zander and William Horberg, said Capotondi floated Jagger’s name early on in the process, and the production made a connection with the musician, who has movie acting credits dating to 1970, through CAA. Once they had him on board, however, they had to find room in the budget for the extra costs associated with “the care and feeding for a superstar of that nature,” Lancaster said.
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To minimize those costs, they shuffled the shooting schedule to compress Jagger’s appearances on set. In the movie, Jagger’s Joseph Cassidy is determined to score a painting by reclusive artist Jerome Debney (Donald Sutherland) and talks Bang’s down on-his-luck art critic James Figueras into helping him do so; Debicki’s Berenice, a schoolteacher from Minnesota, tags along with James to Cassidy’s villa and complicates matters considerably.
In the end, Jagger spent four days shooting the movie’s villa scenes and two days for gallery scenes; the production hired extra security for those days.
For all the attention Jagger inevitably attracted “it wasn’t difficult at all,” Lancaster said. “It’s not something we didn’t anticipate.” Jagger got up before noon, “which he rarely does [and] was very thorough and prepared. He doesn’t do things lightly.”
Now that “Burnt Orange Heresy” is finished, Jagger, 76, is touring in stadium shows while the producers focus on their movie’s big festival debuts — and sales to territories that previously expressed interest in the project.
“We started marketing it the Cannes before last,” said Lancaster, a former co-president of Bold Films Oscar-nominated for “Whiplash,” with more than 45 films under his belt. “And last Cannes we brought the teaser.”
In today’s brutal indie climate, he said, buyers are deferring their purchase further and further into the process, asking to see the finished movie before making a deal. All that advance prospecting can pay off at festival markets, however.
“You’ve kind of gotten a feel for who’s interested and who would be best to sell it to,” Lancaster said. “You have a laser focus at that point.”
HanWay Films is handling international sales, with UTA and CAA on deck for U.S. sales.