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Call it Toronto: Next Gen.
This year’s crop of Toronto films feature a high number of features directed by the progenies of famous directors and other high profile parents.
Some, like Jason Reitman, whose “Up in the Air” is one its way to being one of the fest’s more popular selections, are already well down their career paths. Drew Barrymore, established as an actress and producer, is taking a dip in the directing pool with her debut “Whip It!”
Then, there are also those making their first steps into the feature film world.
Jordan Scott, the daughter of director Ridley Scott, is showing off her directorial debut “Cracks,” described as a “Lord of the Flies” set in an elite British boarding school during the 1930s. (Ridley Scott, in town to support his daughter, found himself besieged by industry well-wishers at the lobby of the Four Seasons at one point on Friday.)
Meanwhile, Francesca Gregorini and Tatiana von Furstenberg have co-directed “Tanner Hall,” which premieres Monday night and is also set in boarding school.
Back in Los Angeles, there are lots of sons and daughters of the industry players who get into the entertainment game because they’ve developed a taste for fame — if nothing else, they often end up with their own reality shows.
But the new crop of second-generation filmmakers turning up in Toronto are serious about carving out careers. And while they try to play down their connections, hoping that their work will speak for itself, they make no bones about it.
Von Furstenberg’s family tree included fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg and step-father, media mogul Barry Diller, who was the chairman of Paramount when Tatiana was growing up in the 1970s.
“Did I have doors opened for me? Of course,” von Furstenberg said. “Have I been exposed to talented people and good business leaders? 100% true. Did I have a grandmother who had impeccable taste? Yes. All it does is serve as reference points in my life and inform who I am. But it’s like anybody else; you pull from your past and your life references.
Scott doesn’t think that just because her father is an A-list director means she has it any easier in her choice of career.
“It’s as hard for us as anyone else,” she said. “(Directing) is a tough thing to do no matter who you are. You still have to be the person who makes the film, you still have to get financing for the film, you have to go though all the steps everybody else has to. And if people don’t want it, they don’t want it and there’s nothing you or anyone can do.”
Gregorini, in fact, argues that they may actually have a harder time in the creative world than other people. The daughter of actress Barbara Bach and step-daughter of Ringo Starr, she did a stint as musician and then began making short films with von Furstenberg.
“Directing is risky and scary, for everyone, but especially if you have a loaded background,” she said. “The bar is set so high for kids from the kids of this background. When the Beatles are your bar, why bother getting out of bed? But you have to. It’s your life and you have to claim your place.”
Their parents were influential, sometimes concretely, sometimes unconsciously. Scott had her father as a producer on her indie, and he was never more than a phone call away if she was having a tough day.
Von Furstenberg admitted she learned from the best when it came to making her indie, cobbled through various sources, shot using tax incentives with deals made by squeezing every last dime. She knows very well that film is business as much as it is art.
“I’ve been around my mother and Barry who run huge corporations,” she said. “I’ve seen that decision-making in action.”
There is one obvious benefit to having a famous family who support you: They can all come out to show that support at the movie’s unveiling. Expected to show up at tonight’s premiere of “Tanner Hall” are Diller and von Furstenberg, as well as Bach, plus Olivia Harrison, Barbara Orbison, and Marjorie Walsh (wives of George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Joe Walsh, respectively). All of which makes for an endorsement full of bold-faced names.
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