18 February 2008

Production Diary - Day Twelve

Legal limbo. The Kubrick Napoleon documentary is paused as the director negotiates his contract. Thomas Bender made his first documentary on his own so he had no need to negotiate terms with himself, unless he is hiding some deep psychological problem. The contours of La Boca Productions original offer to the director to work on the project have shifted. Originally, we offered him a deal where La Boca would supply the entire budget, a location camera kit and the use of our business operations to produce the Kubrick Napoleon documentary. The thinking behind that deal was that it would free up the director to focus on the creating the picture and remove the distractions of insurance brokers, lawyers and accountants from the process. But moving from calling all the shots on his first documentary to having to deal with an established production company has proved to be a challenge for Thomas. So La Boca presented the director with another alternative. For a reduced budget figure, the director would produce the Kubrick Napoleon documentary on his own, without the camera kit or support from La Boca Productions. This alternative would provide the director with maximum flexibility but he would in essence become his own indie producer and take on the business burdens directly. La Boca would benefit by not going into the equipment business by purchasing the camera kit and by saving money on the budget at the outset. But while the director was considering the two alternatives, internally at La Boca, fear started to creep in. Thomas Bender had only made one other documentary in a small town in rural Illinois and La Boca was contemplating spanning the globe for the Kubrick Napoleon documentary. The feeling inside La Boca was that this project may prove to be too complex for a newbie film maker and it was still not too late to consider partnering with a more experienced documentarian to make the film. In a compromise, La Boca offered the director a third alternative: a scaled back production of the Kubrick Napoleon documentary reduced to 6 weeks and two locations, Paris and New York, and a budget closer to the budget of the director's "Hoopeston" project. La Boca believes in supporting emerging talent, but it does have to protect itself from the risk and expense of the director abandoning the project part way during production. So now we wait as the director considers his options.

Picture of the day. After joining the staff of Look magazine as a photographer, Kubrick eventually graduated from Taft High School in the boogie down Bronx. He watched movies at the Museum of Modern Art and took some classes at Columbia University while working the New York City chess circuit to make spending money. (Imagine if the Matt Damon movie "Rounders" was set in the late 1940s in the seedy world of chess clubs and outdoor park chess boards.) It took him several years working at Look magazine until he decided to make his first film. He was inspired by the subject of one of his photo assignments for Look, the journeyman boxer Walter Cartier, and his twin brother Vincent. He shot the sixteen minute film, Day of the Fight, and had it picked up by RKO for distribution. The short subject is posted in two parts on You Tube. Here are both parts.

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