Gregory Segal Interview - A Talented Producer

Lights-Camera-Interview with the talented producer Gregory Segal, sharing his honest views on life, and life in the Entertainment Industry.

Gregory Segal on the other side of the lens


DR:
What made you decide that you wanted to produce movies?
 
GS:
I always had wanted to be a filmmaker.  I didn’t distinguish so much when I was young between directing and producing.  After being a lawyer and working in finance though, and returning to my dream of the movie business, I was just better suited to step into producing.  
 
DR:
There are different titles for a producer, what’s yours?
 
GS:
I’ve had all kinds of titles. Mostly, though, I am an executive producer or a producer. Usually just plain old producer.  
 
 
DR:
What is the process you go through when you pick a screenplay you would like to produce?

GS:
The process differs for every project. There are a couple of key elements to consider when getting started. It make a big difference, for example, if its writer-director or if there is already a director attached. It also matters if talent (actors) are attached.  But the most important thing is where the financing could potentially come from. That changes the process and informs it all the way through. 
 
DR: 
Do you like to project your thoughts on who should be cast in the film or do you leave it to the director?
 
GS:
Quite a bit, yes. Casting is my favorite part of the process, and it’s something at which I feel I do well. I’ve been told as much by directors I’ve worked with as well.  
 
DR:
Is there ever a time when you are half way through a film being shot and you realize you hired the wrong director or lead actor?
 
GS:
Yes, but I won’t say on which films. There is a time, even, when an actor was hired against my recommendation and against the recommendation of the casting director. We were right, unfortunately, and the picture suffered.  
 
DR:
Are you interested in being in front of the camera as an actor or do you think about directing?
 
GS:
Not so much to be an actor. I think its fun, and I’ve done some bit parts. I even shot someone in a movie. Directing is different, though.  Though I don’t think I’d have a natural talent as a director, and that limits my thoughts on it, I think that I might give it a shot one day if a piece of material appealed to me enough. I am not that visual a person, at my core.    

DR:
What are you working on now?
 
GS:
Like any producer, I have a dozen projects in development. Some I cannot talk about, because they aren’t announced.  A couple I can mention…. A horror film from the Slamdance Horror Screenplay Competition Winner, Slaughter, that Victor Garcia ( Return to House on Haunted Hill) is directing. Some other films that are planned for this year include an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, but set in modern day, and Flower of the Fence, which is a romance along the lines of “The Notebook.” 
   
DR:
What is your goal in this industry?

GS:
I just would like to keep making movies, and to make a decent living doing it. That’s really all, it’s that simple for me.  I worked in industries I didn’t like, and did it solely for the money. I had a conversation last night with Vanessa Williams (we were at the Image Awards gala because the movie we did together was nominated for an NAACP Image Award). We were talking about that movie, The Bucket List and someone asked me what would be on my list. I thought about it for a second and said, this would be my list. I’m living my list. Right now. 
 

Gregory Segal & Vanessa Willams at the My Brother movie premiere in Washington, DC

DR:
Is there any producer that you are a fan of? 
 

GS:
Sure. Quite a few.  Scott Rudin and Marc Platt come to mind most.  
 
DR:
Do you have a favorite film?
 
GS:
Casablanca
.   No competition. 
 
DR:
What advice do you have for anyone trying to break into film, as a producer?
 
GS:
Work harder than anybody else.  Don’t be lazy.  Meet people and listen to them. And be collaborative. Don’t be afraid of someone who knows more than you, who is more powerful than you, joining your project. Linda (Sleepless in Seattle) Obst said (I am paraphrasing) “When the big guys come in the room, that’s when you know the movie is getting done.” 
 
DR:
You used to be a lawyer, are there any similarities with being a lawyer and a producer?
 
GS:
There is a lot of overlap between lawyering (which I still do) and producing, at least part of producing.  A lot of things in the movie business are about contracts, and of course, being a lawyer helps with that, a lot. 
 
DR:
When you go out socially, do you let people know you are a producer, if asked what you do?


GS:
I usually don’t offer it up.  If I am asked, I will likely say. I don’t bring business cards out though. It just gets to be too much. 
 
DR:
Are you bombarded with ton’s of actors, writers and aspiring directors?
 
GS:
I get regular emails and phone calls soliciting my help for a million different things. I recently returned to New York after three months and I had about seventeen postcards from an actress who was doing mailings, presumably, every time she had an audition. I know she’s just trying to get out there, but it does get a little annoying.  And because of the film festival I run (PictureStart) and the legal practice, it’s a little bit easier for people to get my contact information.  
 
DR:
Is it hard for you to make friends in Entertainment Industry?
 
GS:
No, not really. I don’t seek it out so much, though. I have enough friends, and I don’t have to worry too much about ulterior motives with them.  
 
DR:
How about when you are interested in pursuing someone you are attracted to? Does the reaction change when you expose you are a producer in the conversation?
 
GS: 
I never try to let it be about that. If it is, I just turn it off. I very rarely date actresses, for this very reason.  
 
DR:
Is marriage and starting a family on your mind?
 
GS:
Sometimes. Not all the time, and I know that some of my thoughts are more idealistic than realistic. I work so many hours, and have so little time. I also split time between New York and L.A. now, so I don’t know how it would work.
 
DR:
What do you want the readers to know about you? 
 

Gregory Segal rides his motorcycle in NYC

GS:
This has been pretty comprehensive. I think we’re cool. 
  

I had the pleasure to get to know Gregory when my company HOUSE of DCD, Inc. sponsored the film “My Brother” starring Vanessa Williams in which he produced and Tony Lover directed. Gregory is very dedicated to producing and is extremely down-to-earth. I look forward to seeing the talents of this machine producing film maker and I wish him much continued success.

 

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