A native of the United Kingdom, Graham King has emerged as a formidable producer of both major motion pictures and independent features. His independent production company, GK Films, launched in 2007 with business partner Tim Headington and the soon to be released period film The Young Victoria was the first film produced under this new banner.
Since then, GK Films completed shooting the thriller Edge of Darkness, based on the BBC mini-series of the same name and starring Mel Gibson, which will be released in January 2010. Other GK Films projects in various stages of production or development are The Tourist with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, Rum Diary starring Johnny Depp, the crime drama London Boulevard starring Colin Farrell and Keira Knightley, the children’s book adaptation The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Ben Affleck’s latest directorial feature The Town and the animated feature Rango, featuring the voice of Johnny Depp.
While doing press for The Young Victoria, the very busy producer talked about all of his current and upcoming projects. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
Question: With so many projects in production and in various stages of development, how do you split your time between everything that you’re involved in?
Graham: The key to the success of any producer is to have a great team around. I work with some great guys who spend a lot of time on the development side and with pre-production. I usually get involved in the production itself.
It’s been quite a ride. I have a film coming out next month with Mel Gibson, which is his comeback movie, Edge of Darkness. I’m really, really pleased with that. I’m starting production on this little movie in February, with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp (called The Tourist), and I have a film in post with Johnny Depp, called Rum Diary. I have another film in post with Colin Farrell and Keira Knightley, called London Boulevard, and an animated film with Johnny Depp, directed by Gore Verbinski, coming out in March 2011, called Rango. So, I have a few things going on.
I love it. I just love what I do. I’m just so lucky to do this and work with such great people, like Johnny and Leonardo DiCaprio (he produced The Departed, The Aviator and Blood Diamond). We are all just friends and families.
Is it more difficult to produce movies nowadays?
Graham: It’s definitely more difficult because of the economic climate, there’s no question. As you know, the studios are just getting more difficult to deal with than ever. For us, we are really independent. I was with Warner Bros. for 6 years, and then just left this year. I was lucky enough to get a slot deal with Sony. So, I am not a producer for Sony, I just make films and sell them for distribution.
Although it’s more difficult on the financial side, it’s still down to one thing: the material. If you have a great screenplay, then you will get the great talent, like actors, directors, cast and crew, and it’s going to resonate right to the screen. It’s all about that. The Young Victoria is the first movie I made after Blood Diamond, two years and a half ago. I just didn’t have the material. And, all of a sudden, there were four or five films where I loved the material.
Your projects are very different from one another. Is that a way to keep it fresh and exciting for you?
Graham: Every film takes on its own life. I find it very interesting to show an audience some part of history that maybe they don’t know. When I made The Aviator, nobody outside North America knew who Howard Hughes was. On a promotional tour in Japan for Gangs of New York, I said to Marty [Scorsese] and Leo that I needed them to talk to the Japanese about Howard Hughes. Marty took one room and Leo took another, and they explained to them what our project was.
For me, if you can show something in an entertaining way that people will learn from, that’s hitting the jackpot. The Departed was a type of story that is pure genre film, but that wasn’t the case for Traffic, The Aviator, Ali, or even Blood Diamond. I get really excited about those kind of movies, but you have to subsidize them by making something more commercial also. I love the gangster genre, but how many gangster movies are there? If I get a good gangster movie script, I’ll do it.
How is Rango going? What’s it been like to produce an animated movie?
Graham: I didn’t realize how long it takes to make an animated movie, but I love the process. I love the fact that I can go away, and two months later, still follow the process. It is a lot of fun, but I don’t know if I have the patience to do that over and over again. A Scorsese film takes about two years. We’ve been on this animated movie for three and a half years now.
Is it the same thing for you to produce animation, as it is with other films?
Graham: Not at all. On an animated movie, I’m learning as I go. There are so many details in animation. Doing the voices was the easy-part. Doing live-action, you have to be on the set, every day.
Graham: I’m very much involved in the process, as a producer. In March, we started Rum Diary and two days later, we started another movie in London. A week after that, I started a movie in Boston, with Ben Affleck directing, called The Town. That’s three films in a row, with like a week in between.
As a producer, you don’t have to be there 24/7. It depends on who it is. If it’s a first time director, you want to stay close by and the collaboration is a lot tighter. If it is a small independent movie, it’s the same kind of thing. When Martin Scorsese makes a movie, or Martin Campbell or Mel Gibson, you let them do their thing. Movies are made in post. That’s where you really see what’s up.