By May 10, 2013Blog

Where: The UK Pavilion, Cannes Festival
When: Monday, 20 May, 2013
Time: 12:00 noon-13:00
Supported by the Cannes Producers Network


PURPOSE: This panel discussion will offer concrete strategies to independent producers and directors who are seeking star talent in the process of taking developing projects and turning them into “go” projects.

The Chicken and the Egg Problem.

Any producer is familiar with this conundrum. You can get financing if you have a star player. But how can you get a star without financing? Informal ‘reads’, expressions of interest, letters of intent? Or Pay or Play offers? How do you work with the gatekeepers, whose job it is to avoid making commitments and having their clients “shopped” to induce such commitments? How does the agent or the manager balance such concerns against the need to find good material and solid commitments? These are the questions and issues for an independent producer.

This panel, composed of accomplished casting directors, agents and producers will discuss the casting director-producer relationship. Topics will include specific strategies for negotiating for cast, without financing already in place. The panel will discuss how the producer, the casting director and the financier can work towards creative solutions during the development period.

Panelists will include:

Nancy Bishop, CSA (moderator) is an Emmy-nominated casting director, author of Secrets from the Casting Couch, acting coach, and head of the Film Acting Department at the Prague Film School. With more than 80 major feature film and television projects among her credits, Nancy has cast hundreds of actors throughout Europe, the United Kingdom and the U.S. Nancy has been retained as casting director by dozens of major screen producers and directors, including Brad Bird, (Mission Impossible IV), Roman Polanski (Oliver), and Bong Joon-Ho (Snowpiercer). She also was nominated for an Emmy Award for her casting work on Anne Frank: The Whole Story, ABC/Disney Studios. Nancy, based in Prague, works internationally casting actors from both Europe and North America. Nancy is author of the book, Secrets From The Casting Couch. She is currently the European casting director for Ridley Scott’s Child 44, starring Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman, and November Man, directed by Roger Donaldson and starring Pierce Brosnan.

Cassian Elwes Considered an expert in the field of arranging financing and distribution for independent films, Cassian Elwes has set some kind of a record having done so for 283 films during his tenure at William Morris Independent. Having begun his career as a producer in 1983 with Oxford Blues with Rob Lowe and Ally Sheedy, he went on to make 29 more before creating William Morris Independent, joined while he was there by panel member Rena Ronson, now at United Talent Agency. Notable successes there include multiple Oscar winner The English Patient, Slingblade, The Apostle and Halle Berry’s Oscar winning performance in Monster’s Ball.
The Hollywood Reporter recently wrote that Elwes was “involved in a virtual who’s who of every great independent film of the last ten years” with films such as Thank You For Smoking, Half Nelson, and Frozen River (the last two of which garnered Oscar nominations for Ryan Gosling and Melissa Leo respectively). Since leaving William Morris Independent, Elwes has been involved in arranging financing and distribution for 24 more films including Lawless, directed by John Hillcoat, The Road, starring Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy, and the thriller The Paperboy, in competition in Cannes 2012 directed by Lee Daniels (Precious), starring Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron. Elwes is currently producing the period drama The Butler, also directed by Lee Daniels, featuring Forest Whitaker as the eponymous Butler, and a huge ensemble cast including Oprah Winfrey, John Cusack, Jane Fonda, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo, Vanessa Redgrave, and Robin Williams, amongst many others. He is also producing The Dallas Buyers Club starring Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints in the Critic’s Week in Cannes 2013 starring Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck and Ben Foster, and Hateship, Loveship which stars Kristen Wiig, Guy Pearce, Hailee Steinfeld and Nick Nolte. Werner Herzog’s Queen Of The Desert, and a new film by director JC Chandor (Margin Call) starring Robert Redford are either completed or in preparation.

Nancy Nayor, CSA Nancy Nayor grew up in Boston, Massachusetts and began her casting career off-Broadway at Manhattan Theater Club in New York, then moved to Los Angeles where she worked as Senior Vice President of Feature Film Casting for Universal Studios. There she enjoyed overseeing casting for Universal’s yearly slate of films including numerous projects for Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Ron Howard, Oliver Stone, Sam Raimi, John Hughes and more. She spent 14 years at Universal and then opened her own freelance casting company in 1997, Nancy Nayor Casting, and has since cast such films as The Whole Nine Yards, Road Trip, Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Grudge, When A Stranger calls, Nim’s Island, Kit Kittredge: American Girl, as well as Wes Craven’s Scream 4. She recently finished casting The Town That Dreaded Sundown with Ryan Murphy and Jason Blum producing for MGM.

Rena Ronson is co-head of the Independent Film Group at leading talent and literary agency UTA. One of the industry’s pre-eminent packaging and finance executives in independent film, Ronson is focused on developing global film finance, distribution and marketing strategies for independent and co-financed studio features. Ronson also oversees an indie group known for packaging and/or representing many of the highest-profile and critically-praised independently-financed films from a diverse range of American and international filmmakers including Wes Anderson, James Ponsoldt, Andrew Adamson, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, David Michôd, Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris, Noah Baumbach, Mike Mills, Drake Doremus, Sean Durkin, and Joachim Trier, as well as new voices such as Haifaa Al-Mansour and Asghar Farhadi. Ronson recently helped lead the UTA Independent Film Group to a successful 2013 Sundance Film Festival where it sold numerous films including Stephanie Meyer and Jerusha Hess’s Austenland, John Krokidas’s Kill Your Darlings, Lake Bell’s In a World and James Ponsoldt’sThe Spectacular Now. Ronson has also been involved in the intricate co-production financing of several films including Afonso Poyart’s Solace starring Anthony Hopkins and Colin Farrell. In addition, she was instrumental in putting together the financing for Carter Smith’s Jamie Marks Is Dead, Stuart Blumberg’s Thanks for Sharing starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Mark Ruffalo and Tim Robbins, and Freezing People is Easy. This Errol Morris film is based on an episode of the podcast This American Life and stars Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd, Kristen Wiig and Christopher Walken. Prior to joining UTA, Ronson was co-head of William Morris Independent where she helped secure financing and distribution for more than 150 films and was involved in over 500 titles, including library packages, feature films and documentaries. During her 11-year career at William Morris, she put together creative financing structures and represented films from a diverse range of directors including Alfonso and Carlos Cuaron, Gus Van Sant, Woody Allen, Jason Reitman, Marc Forster, Dito Montiel and Miguel Arteta, as well as independent features including Thank You For Smoking; Monster’s Ball; Hard Candy, The Cooler, and Oscar-nominated films including Frozen River, Half Nelson, Away From Her, and Academy Award winning documentary, The Cove. In 2008, Ronson was instrumental in putting together a partnership with Screen Capital International to form the film financing entity Incentive Filmed Entertainment. Through this venture, she packaged and helped put together Don Roos’ Love And Other Impossible Pursuits starring Natalie Portman, and Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine with Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. Additionally, she helped raise funding for established production entities including the Donner Company and Mark Canton Company. Prior to joining The William Morris Agency, Ronson ran Lakeshore International.

Elizabeth Simpson is a talent agent who lives and works in Paris. Headquartered on the Boulevard Montparnasse in Paris she represents an exotic list of more than 180 actors and actresses including such prestigious contemporary talent as Clemence Poésy, Ludivine Sagnier and Christa Théret. Her substantial client list also includes well established figures from the French film world such as Alexandra Stewart and Miou-Miou and, besides Actors and Actresses she also represents a potent list of young French writers and directors.

Derek Power is a British born Beverly Hills based personal manager specialising in the representation of an eclectic group of largely international artists–actors, directors, and composers. Casting Sting in his first starring role in the MGM film Brimstone & Treacle lead him into a thirty year relationship with the band The Police, and an on-going relationship with Composer, Performer and Filmmaker Stewart Copeland. He guided Sir Ben Kingsley into a series of films including Sexy Beast, Anne Frank, and The House Of Sand And Fog. These earned Kingsley multiple acting awards as well as two Oscar nominations. Current actor clients include Sibel Kekilli, who stars as Shae on HBO’s worldwide hit Game Of Thrones. Kekilli (co-represented with Wasted Management and Sibylle Breitbart in Berlin) was awarded the Golden Bear as Best Actress at the 2004 Berlinale, as well as the Lola for her extraordinary performance in Fatih Akin’s Head-On as well as another Lola in 2010 for When We Leave. Czech actor Jiri Madl at 25 is one of the biggest film and TV comedy stars in Central Europe.
Among other clients Power works with are Directors Robert Dornhelm and Claudio Faeh. Dornhelm completed K2 for RAI andThe Amanda Knox Story for RAI and Lifetime in Rome and Perugia, Italy, having previously filmed a lush theatrical version of Puccini’s La Boheme not long before. His monumental 8 hour recreation of Tolstoy’s War And Peace starring Clemence Poésy (amongst others) followed the Emmy nominated Steven Spielberg mini-series Into The West for DreamWorks/TNT . Faeh has four projects including Leaving Sarajevo, Northmen and Priority Run all in advance stages of assembly with co-production partners in the US, Germany, Switzerland, South Africa and Canada. Casting Director and Author Nancy Bishop rounds out the list of Power’s Prague based clients.
Composer clients include sought-after French Composer Eric Neveux, working non stop on powerful films like Ziad Doueri’s L’Attentat (The Attack), Luc Jacquet’s newest Once Upon a Forest and Rachid Bouchareb’s upcoming Enemy Mine. Legendary British minimalist Michael Nyman, whose score for James Marsh’s Man On Wire recreation of Phillippe Petit’s amazing walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in 1974 helped earn the film’s Best Documentary Oscar in 2009. Nyman’s haunting The Piano score sold more than 4,000,000 copies worldwide.
Power’s Producer or Executive producer/company’s current projects include Jean Pierre Dutilleux’s TRIBES mini-series and recent First Amendment sensation Romeo Killer, prior films include Claudio Faeh’s Sniper: Reloaded release for Sony’s Stage 6, Stewart Copeland’s 2006 Sundance entry Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out, Dennis Hopper’s The Hot Spot and Tobe Hooper’s The Funhouse. Power has produced numerous videos and a television series on Showtime. He has participated in the sale or distribution worldwide of more than 100 motion pictures, including the Peter Weir films The Last Wave and Picnic At Hanging Rock and has also acted as Executive Music Producer for numerous feature films, most notably the original Highlander, with its landmark score and songs composed by Queen and Michael Kamen.