How did you come to be a co-producer on GO?
Although Columbia Pictures ultimately released GO, they weren’t the original buyer of the script (in fact, every studio in town had passed on it, feeling the subject matter was too dark). A tiny company called Banner Entertainment read the script and wanted to make the movie, but since they didn’t have a lot of money to put up front, they offered a few things a studio normally wouldn’t.
First, they guaranteed I would be the first, last and only writer on the project. Second, they would give me the right to buy the script back if the movie hadn’t gone into production within 18 months. Finally, they would keep me on board as co-producer.
The various flavors of producer credit (executive producer, associate producer, co-producer) are tossed around a bit too easily in Hollywood, and all too often they’re given to people who don’t really deserve them, such as an actor’s mananger. In my case, I actually earned my masters degree in the film producer’s program at USC, so I was weirdly well qualified for the job.
For the first week or two, I just sat quietly in meetings, happy to be there. But ultimately I got highly involved in every aspect of the production, from hiring Doug Liman to direct it to scrambling for funds when our foreign financing fell apart (I had just made a deal with Columbia’s sister studio, Tri-Star, which is a large reason why the movie ended up there). During production, I was on-set from call to wrap, and sat in on five months of editing. It was an amazing experience.
In total, there were five producers on GO. The three "full" producers were Paul Rosenberg, who had set up the script and given me my first two jobs in the business; Mickey Liddell, who ran Banner Entertainment; and Matt Freeman, who worked with Mickey and brought him the script. The other co-producer was Paddy Cullen, who oversaw the physical production, including the budget, schedule and insurance.
Looking back, it’s hard to imagine making the movie without all those people doing their part. While GO had some unique challenges, every production needs its good cops and bad cops, peacemakers and war-bringers. A writer can go off and work by himself, but a producer needs to lead dozens of other people. It’s a very different set of skills.
Since GO, I have co-executive produced a television series, and signed on to produce a big-budget monster movie that I’m writing at Columbia. But even on projects where I’m "just" a writer, the experience of having produced is a tremendous advantage in anticipating the needs of the filmmakers.