In San Sebastian to receive the festival’s highest honor, the Donostia Award for career achievement, American actor, producer and director Johnny Depp announced the launch of a new development fund for film and TV projects, headed by his own upstart London-based IN.2 Films and Adolfo Blanco’s A Contracorriente Films in Spain.
IN.2 is Depp’s newly-launched U.K.-based production house, a sister company to his L.A.-based Infinitum Nihil, which is courting original, stage and literature-based scripts for film, stage and television productions “focusing on European sensibility combined with American accessibility,” Depp and his partners explained during a San Sebastian press conference, which started with a crash and a screeching mike.
“That’s all the stuff I stole from this hotel, it wasn’t supposed to be in the mix,” joked Depp.
Producers Stephen Deuters (“Minamata”) and Stephen Malit (“Hector”) are also joining IN.2 as co-heads alongside Depp, and were in person in San Sebastian to jointly announce the new development deal with A Contracorriente Films. Sam Sarkar, CEO of Infinitum Nihil also joined the team.
In the release, Depp explained: “From the student to the maestro, from the aspiring artists to the yet-knowns, to the well-established great masters across all forms of modern media, IN.2 will build a space where artists can be artists, where they will be free to create those unexpected moments, those happy accidents that contain the propensity to constitute great art and so bring their unique vision to life.”
Speaking at the press conference in San Sebastian’s tony Maria Cristina Hotel, Depp pointed out that he had spent “many years working inside and outside of the Hollywood system and trying to persuade them that not every outing needs to be a blockbuster, that they don’t need to be formulaic, commercial drivel.”
“It’s ludicrous to play everything safe,” he added. “Cinema audiences are getting bored,” he asserted.
Referencing the new development deal, Blanco added that “We are delighted and proud to be working with Johnny Depp and his partners on this project, which is so timely for the new times, marked by a changing model in our industry. Being able to identify and produce films with the ability to target specific audiences will be key to remaining competitive.”
Depp and IN.2 are planning new projects with Julien Temple, who directed the Depp-produced “Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan,” which played at last year’s San Sebastian.
The pact also includes projects with Paris-based producer Jelena Goldback and London-based producer Alexandra Stone.
“We have a small slate of projects that we hope to have ready by the years 2022-2023, said Malit. “They’re not ready to go into production yet, but we’re here to say that we’re here, we’re starting,” he added.
Sarkar, whose long collaboration with Depp dates back from Depp’s years with the late ‘80s TV show “21 Jump Street,” reflected on the positive response in Japan to the film they recently produced, “Minimata,” starring Depp, which he saw as a template for what they were trying to achieve.
“’Minimata” is an example of the kind work that we want to continue doing, one that has meaning, that’s relevant. It’s about human behavior, about people and what they went through to achieve a resolution after being poisoned for decades. To bring that to the world’s attention is a great blessing for us,” he added.
Asked if he would act in some of the projects they would be producing, Depp replied: “If there’s something that they feel or I feel that I can add to the character, I’d be more than happy.”
“So the answer is ‘no,’ but ‘yes.’ I would like to say ‘yes’ without saying ‘no’ but agree to both,” he quipped.
Depp is becoming something of a regular at the Basque event. At a pre-ceremony press conference before receiving the festival’s top honor in recognition of his prolific career, Depp reflected on his three-plus decades in the industry, while avoiding questions about his personal life but hitting out at “cancel culture.”
John Hopewell contributed to this article.