Which venerated directors who made their bones in the ’70s and ’80s have more or less become dead meat in terms of landing hired-gun film gigs or getting their pet projects financed?
To hear it from Variety‘s Anne Thompson, five victims of this MIA syndrome are Lawrence Kasdan (Grand Canyon), Joe Dante (Gremlins), Phil Kaufman (The Right Stuff), Jim McBride (The Big Easy) and Robert Towne (Pre, Personal Best).
The above-named directors were “once reliable makers of modest studio hits, enjoying both popular and critical success,” Thompson notes. “But they’re rarely tapped for new film projects. And they often hit a brick wall in trying to mount their own passion projects.”
Wells to HE Readers: which other former toast-of-the-town directors have been put out to pasture (or have decided it’s better to opt out than be put out)?
“The heart of the problem is Hollywood’s ‘What have you done for me lately?’ mindset,” Thompson writes. “If more than one studio decides that a filmmaker is too old, expensive, difficult, uncommercial or irrelevant, it becomes harder and harder to get a job. The offers stop coming.
“Part of the problem is that studios — and their specialty divisions — prefer close, cordial relationships with cooperative helmers. Final cut is an issue. Name someone who may not be hip, commercially minded or tuned into younger viewers, and execs’ eyes glaze over.
“Many directors try to assemble indie passion projects on the assumption that they’d better love something if they’re not going to get paid. But when faced with the harsh reality of the numbers on the indie side, they balk.
“‘Are they willing to financially or deal-wise start over?’ asks Picturehouse’s Bob Berney. ‘It’s also hard to connect with the people who will let you do it.’
“Many studio directors are marooned within Hollywood’s powerful class snobbery about working in television or cable or Indiewood.
“When they aren’t being paid top dollar for scripts-for-hire, Towne and Kasdan are pitching arcane movies that nobody, studio or independent, wants to make.
“One director’s agent suggests that career rehab requires acting like a young director again: ‘You can’t sit on your high horse and make a movie. Everybody’s got to be entrepreneurial.'”