Saturday, September 24, 2011

Adam Siegel Talks - Drive

Over the course of fall KCET will be hosting a Cinema Series at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica, California. Nine special nights showcasing eight new movies before their theatrical release along with one classic Johnny Mercer scored film. Each screening will also include a Q&A immediately following the film with actors and filmmakers hosted by film critic Pete Hammond. The second film screened was "Drive" directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and starring Ryan Gosling. Following the film producer Adam Siegel was in attendance to talk about the film in a informative Q&A. Read the highlights below...

Adam Siegel's job as a producer is to go out and find movies. Working through Marc Platt Productions Adam has brought a number of ideas to the table including "Drive." The producer explained that he looks for ideas everywhere whether it be screenplays, books or blurbs in the news. "They come from anywhere," he proclaimed. Siegel found "Drive" by way of a review for the book written by Jim Sallis and it stood out to him. An author Adam called, "an American treasure and a writer's writer." After reading the short book (the book is actually shorter than the screenplay) he immediately knew this was "a role for a movie star." He clarified by saying, "this is a character movie stars will want to play."

The question came up how early Ryan Gosling came into the project and Adam Siegel revealed he came aboard very shortly after the script was finished. Siegel told the audience that Marc Platt has a very short list of actors he wants to work with and Gosling was at the top. Adam stressed that Gosling is known as a, "tough get" around Hollywood. The actor is a picky when it comes to his roles but for "Drive," he wanted in immediately after reading the script. Adam was right that the role of Driver was someone actors would want to play. Siegel said that Gosling was given the script and called the next morning exclaiming he wanted the part. Gosling soon sat down with director Nicolas Winding Refn and it was apparent they had something special.

Part of what makes "Drive" so special is it's ability to capture Los Angeles and Adam Siegel unveiled that they had to fight to keep it that way. Mainly because of tax cuts, it was heavily pushed that the film to be shot elsewhere, though Siegel points out that director Nicolas Winding Refn as well as other producers wanted to show a different L.A. Siegel said, "not the glossy L.A. we usually see." He said, "We wanted to make a great movie about L.A." Living Los Angeles Adam Siegel knows that shooting here can be "a dream." He said Los Angeles has the best crews with "a high level of craftsmanship." He went on to tell the crowd how director Nicolas Winding Refn was astonished by the years of service his crew had. Adam said that Refn would spend a lot of time talking with the crew about previous movies they had worked on. "He'd asked every single crew member what the first film they'd worked on by the end of the shoot," the producer said.

Speaking of Nicolas Winding Refn, Adam talked a bit about how extraordinary the director is. Siegel noted Refn is "bold but not clichéd." "He allows his characters to have a feminine side," he said. At the same time Nicolas Winding Refn is not afraid to scare his audience. Adam said, "He wanted to be extreme. He wanted to push and challenge the audience." As far as shooting goes Adam Siegel stressed that Refn wanted to "make our weaknesses our strengths." He wanted to make a down and dirty movie outside of the studio system. Adam said that Refn stressed, "always doing something different" and had a mantra of "less is more and nothing is everything." One easy of example of this is the choice to stay inside of the car during the first getaway sequence. Adam Siegel said that Refn loved to, "fly in the face of reason and logic." Another example of Refn's bold choices is the original music by Cliff Martinez and selected singles from the Italians Do It Better record label. Choices that Adam Siegel said were, "all Refn."

A final note of thanks to Adam Siegel who had the foresight to push to have "Drive" developed from a short story into a screenplay and into a movie with Nicolas Winding Refn at the helm. "Drive" is in theaters now and well worth your time. You can read my full review here and stay tuned for more from the KCET Cinema Series.