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Top Indie Producer Julia Verdin on "2 Jacks" and Producing in Hollywood

By Peter Foldy

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Splash: Hi, Julia.  How did Two Jacks come to you and what was the turning point in you deciding to produce it?

Julia Verdin: BERNARD ROSE, DANNY HOUSTON and I have all known each other for many years and wanted to work together so decided to make the sort of film we would like to go and see.  Bernard has always been a big fan of Tolstoy and Danny was keen to do a movie with his nephew, JACK HOUSTON, so Bernard  decided on adapting the Tolstoy short story ‘Two Hussars’ and set it in Hollywood making the father and son film directors as opposed to calvary officer's. The interesting thing about Tolstoy is that many of his themes are still very relevant today.

 

Julia Verdin


Splash: Was there any other cast attached?

Julia:  Danny and Jack were both involved from the start and then between us all we reached out to our other actor friends  who were right for the various roles and very quickly put together a great cast.

Splash: How did you round up such a stellar group of actors for this film?

Julia: I am fortunate to have worked with many wonderful actors over the years that i have developed great relationships and was able to reach out to. I  think many of the actors were also attracted to working with Bernard as he is a wonderful director. The material provided them with interesting challenges and improvising is fun and different.  Tolstoy's characters live and breathe like Shakespeare's and so are very appealing to actors.

Splash: How would you describe your shoot?

 

 

Julia: It was fun and very collaborative, i think everybody really felt a part of what they were doing.  When you are working with friends and people you know really well it really helps as communication is easy. Everybody involved was really excited to be there and be a part of it and brought great energy to the film.  Film making is really a team effort and every little piece of love that each one of our team put in shows and shines in this film.

Splash: What was the biggest challenge you faced in making this film?

Julia: First and foremost getting these types of movies financed in the current economy is always tough - my company put up the majority of the financing on this one.  It was a passion project for me so decided to take the risk. The challenge on any independent movie is always finding creative ways to do things with a limited budget.  We had a big cast and also a couple of big party scenes and small things such as extra casting is needs to be paid attention to, as these details are important and it’s  time consuming finding the right people, with the right visual look who will be a good fit. We reached out to a lot of our industry friends to be in the party scenes so it would look authentic. I had to organize tango lessons for Danny and Sienna and bridge lessons for some of the other cast. I also had to find great locations, musicians and dancers so it was challenging and a lot to do in a short time so found myself working round the clock and calling on the generosity of friends for help.  My  friend, JULIA CLANCEY, who is an amazing fashion designer did the costume design for the film and she dug into her archive collections to create some of the fabulous wardrobe, she is really imaginative and has a real sense of style.  The dresses all the women wear in the big party scene with the headresses are stunning, particularly SIENNA MILLER'S - she put her in silver and a wonderfully sparkling headress which really worked well for the scene.

 

Danny Houston

 

Spash: What advice would you give to film makers?

 Julia: Make sure that you are really passionate about your project because you will need that passion to carry you through the hard times and keep you from giving up. The funny thing about film making is you would think you are done when you finish and deliver a movie, in today's' market place- it takes a year to make and and deliver a movie and then another year to market, do the festival circuit and get your film sold and into distribution so you have to be really prepared for the amount of time you will be working on it.

Splash: Tell us about your background?  Where are you from and how did you start your career? 

Julia: I started in the business as an actress in England and then moved into producing as I am passionate about film and love the creative aspect of it. I love developing material with writers and then putting all the elements together.  It's always challenging but enormously satisfying to see it coming to life.  First and foremost you need a great compelling story and well executed script , then attaching the right  director at the helm who has a real vision for the story  and  casting it right can often make the difference as to how a script comes to life and blossoms.  I Started my producing career in story development running the development side of a film company in london and then moved to LA 20 years ago and set up my own company and have now made 30 films! 

Splash: You are also a personal manager.  Was that a natural progression?  How and why did you take on acting clients?

Julia: I started managing actors about 18 years ago, i was constantly placing friends in jobs as i have always been good at putting people together so it seemed like a natural progression. i have a wonderful roster of great actors who i really love and believe in and are constantly working in film and TV.  It's something i really enjoy and the synergy of managing and producing works very well together.

 

Danny Houston, Sienna Miller in "2 Jacks"


Splash: "2 Jacks" recently premiered at Raindance Film Festival in London.  Where else is it going to be seen?

Julia: "2 Jacks" has been at some great film festivals including Montreal worldwide, Vancouver International, Hollywood film festival and most recently The Raindance festival In London. It will be the opening night film at LA FEMME INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL on Friday Oct 18th in LA and  It will be coming out in Cinemas and on VOD platforms on Friday 18th October too. 

Splash: What's next for you as a producer?

Julia: I love bio pictures  and have a wonderful project about the iconic French actress Sarah Bernhardt written by Cynthia Riddle and An Invisible Army written and to be directed by Eva Gardos based on a true story about a single mother who to provide for her kids takes a high paying but dangerous job driving supplies to the troops in Iraq. I am also producing a dysfunctional family Christmas story called Surviving Christmas written and to be directed by James Dearden for which we are in the process of assembling a wonderful cast. I love projects with inspirational messages to them too, and we definately want to make more of those as a company.  I think film is a very powerful medium and needs to be used responsibly.

Spash: One last question.  What are the movies that have influenced you?

Julia: One of my all time favorite films is “The Party” with Peter Seller’s, i have seen it 10 times and cry with laughter every time i see it.  “Some Like it Hot” directed by Billy Wilder”, Polanski’s “Tess ” “Shakespeare in Love”  were just glorious and Baz Lurhman’s “Moulin Rouge” to me was really innovative, throughly engaging and visually stunning.

Splash: Thanks, Julia.

Julia: My pleasure.

“2 Jacks” screens Friday, October 18, 2013 at:
LA FEMME INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Regal Stadium 14, LA LIVE : 1000 West Olympic Blvd Los Angeles, CA  90015.  Screening at 8:00 pm.

Opens  Theatrically in selected cities and VOD  outlets  October 18th For full list of cinemas and VOD availability see: www.twojacksfilms.com

Published on Oct 17, 2013

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