' ' Cinema Romantico: Pitch Meeting: Leigh

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Pitch Meeting: Leigh

Forgive me for tardiness, since stories that happened two months ago in Internet Time are essentially as long ago as 1491, but I was checked into my Roman COVID hotel when the news came down through the social media chute and I was in no position to write anything other than a diary entry of gloom. But. In late November, in an interview with Christina Newland for INews, the acclaimed British director Mike Leigh confessed that his “steadfast integrity” in how he went about making movies was causing him trouble in finding funding for his next movie. He revealed: “Netflix just turned me down, which is a shame, because they have plenty of money. They said they couldn’t possibly contemplate backing it without knowing who the cast is or what it’s about. It’s nonsense, because if they made it, people would watch it – because it would be there.” It’s absolutely true; it would be there, right alongside “A Castle For Christmas”, which was filmed in and around Edinburgh and seems to suggest that Netflix is not against filming in the British Isles. Granted, Leigh, whose oeuvre includes films like “Career Girls” and “Naked”, might not scream Netflix, but as Witney Seibold noted for Slash Film, it’s not like he makes expensive movies. And even if Netflix figures viewers won’t cue up a Mike Leigh film, what does Netflix do if not game their algorithms? Do that thing you do, Netflix, and mindless content consumers will consume Leigh too. Maybe a few of them will like it! Maybe they’ll check out some more of his work! People are liable to think they dig store bought cheddar cheese until they get some English Cheddar straight from the source!

Whatever. What most amused me was Leigh saying this: “They said they couldn’t possibly contemplate backing it without knowing who the cast is or what it’s about.” Like that would change anything! I’m imagining him explaining who the cast for “Vera Drake” would be and what it would be about and the Netflix executives turning out the lights in the room while Leigh is still in the middle of his pitch and then pretending they were never there in the first place. But now I’m also picturing Leigh, in a meeting with Netflix executives, realizing they need a story idea and cast and just trying, off the top of his head, to make a pitch, telling them about some drama “about, uh, this bloke, this bloke from Croydon…” Netflix Execs’ eyes glaze over. “…and, uh, he works for this dying industry…” Netflix execs’ eyes start to close. “…and he inadvertently gets involved with MI6…” Netflix Execs wake back up, sit up straight. “...and it’ll star, uh, Jim Broadbent…” Netflix Execs slump in their chairs. “…And Lesley Manville…” Netflix Execs shrug, half-interested. “…And Timothy Spall…” Netflix Execs’ eyes glaze over. “…and, uh, The Rock!” Netflix Execs erupt from their chairs and immediately greenlight the picture.

So, rather than having a sequel to the 1999 Steve Martin comedy classic “Bowfinger”, we will have an equal in the form of 2022’s “Leigh” as Mike Leigh is forced to enlist Jim Broadbent and Lesley Manville and Timothy Spall and his writer (Dolly Wells) and cameraman (Rupert Grint) to follow an unwitting Dwayne Johnson around Los Angeles, filming him as the star of their movie without him realizing he’s the star of their movie, and desperately trying to make Rodeo Drive and Mulholland Drive and Colorado Boulevard look like London.

1 comment:

mercatiwriter@aol.com said...

Funny and true.