Sundance: THR Talks Panel Focuses on Jump-Starting Film Careers
The lively discussion included The Fine Bros, writer-director Leslye Headland, Gloria Sanchez Productions' Jessica Elbaum, Fullscreen CEO George Strompolos and The Black List's Franklin Leonard.
The Hollywood Reporter and YouTube's second THR Talks at Park City Live on Friday focused on "Jump-Starting Your Career in Film."
Panelists were YouTube creators Benny and Rafi Fine, of The Fine Bros; writer-director Leslye Headland; president of Gloria Sanchez Productions, Jessica Elbaum; Fullscreen CEO George Strompolos; and Franklin Leonard, founder of script-discovery resource The Black List.
The session was moderated by THR film reporter Rebecca Ford. Headland talked about working for her idol Harvey Weinstein when filmmakers such as Darren Aronofsky and Paul Thomas Anderson were on the rise. She noted that these same creators are still getting their films written about and released in theaters today, following it with a request for them to: "get out of my pool, man. Stop dicking around so people who are younger can get their films out." While that didn't happen, she decided to just make it happen on her own terms. Her film Bachelorette, based on her play, screened at Sundance in 2012, and her latest film, Sleeping With Other People, premieres at the fest Saturday. "Why wait 15 years to be the next Heathers when you could be Heathers next weekend," she said.
Similarly, Elbaum noted that she started her company Gloria Sanchez Prods. out of frustration. "I decided to get out in front of it and attack the problem. We're hoping to be the place where women know they can come. I did it because we all want different stories — we have to change the perspective." Elbaum says she's getting great material and writers from sources, including The Black List.
The Black List's Leonard noted that the industry talks about "a moral or ethical decision to make content by women, but it's also a financial one." He reminded everyone that Titanic was driven by female audiences, as were the largest franchises of recent times — Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games. The latter two "weren't released by major studios because they were passed on." Black List-lauded scripts nominated for Oscars this year include Selma, The Imitation Game, Whiplash and American Sniper.
The panel's biggest bun-fight was over buying viewership. Strompolos' Fullscreen, which links online talent with brands, advocated for paying for readership. He says it will mean "people are going to sample it." Benny Fine disagreed. "I'm against buying views. … It is a false number."
Headland got turned on by the heated interchange. "This is the sexiest thing that's ever happened — this is so hot!" she said as she waved her hands as if to clear the steam.