Yes, it is true. Good Machine is back. But in a new and improved form. Perhaps we should have done a press release, but I thought I should do it here instead. Press releases are so yesterday.
If you went to Sundance, perhaps you noticed the secret stealth return of our so-called 90's powerhouse. Or if you were at the Golden Globes, it must have caught your eye. Hell, even if you just watched the Golden Globes. If you missed all that, certainly by perusing the Oscar noms, something should have caused a bit of stir. I've been waiting for some sharp newshound to break with the story, but nope. So here's the real buzz...
The Good Machinists seem to have now taken over indie film. The only difference between back then and now is that like any good thing, Good Machine the company achieved its own obsolescence. The Good Machinists each have their own shop. Call it, the decentralized approach. But look at what Good Machine achieved just this month.
My former assistant and partner, former head of production, Anthony Bregman, nabbed the biggest sale (I think) at Sundance for his production MY IDIOT BROTHER. I haven't checked, but also think he's giving Mr. Rudin chase for the title of Most Prolific Producer (when I asked Ant his secret, he replied "Have four children, and you don't have a choice: you have to produce!"). His credit list also includes recent collaborations with many former Good Machine directors, including Nicole Holofcener and Bob Pulcini & Shari Springer Berman.
Good Machine's 2nd initial hire, and the first employee to enter the producer ranks, Mary Jane Skalski, had one of the best received films of the Sundance fest in her 3rd collaboration with Tom McCarthy, WIN WIN. But why stop there? She was also in the elite club of Sundance twofers, with the fest opener and competition stand out PARIAH, which Mary Jane Executive Produced -- and Focus just announced that they picked up. No rest for the weary, eh?
The whole time Anthony was a partner at This is that, and even some of the time he was at Good Machine, he had one assistant, and a remarkable one at that. With Bregman's new company, Likely Story, Stefanie Azpiazu has taken on Executive Producer duties (what are those exactly, btw?). She holds that credit on Jesse Peretz's MY IDIOT BROTHER, as well as several others, including last year's Sundance opener, PLEASE GIVE (and this year's WGA nominee).
Another former assistant of mine, now the head of hottest international sales company in the entire universe (aka FilmNation), Glen Basner, recently decided to expand his company's portfolio into the specialized arena. Awhile back he told me he had found something that should spark. But I think 12 Oscar nominations for THE KING'S SPEECH is an outright bonfire.
Of course, my fellow Good Machine founder, the legendary erudite Mr. James Schamus, is always expected to do well, and last year -- back before Sundance returned as a sales market -- , he picked up a nice little title in THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT, and now has four Oscar noms for his label.
The founder of Good Machine International, David Linde, could well have decided to take some time off after running a studio, but as long as there's great movies to make, I don't think David will be taking a break. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu may be the most gifted filmmaker out there, but his films are challenges, thankfully. But that means they will never be easy to get made, but luckily he has a Lava Bear on his side. David EP'd this year's entry to my top ten list, BIUTIFUL and yes, as a result has some more Oscar noms to his credit.
Then: Lawrence Bender
On team Tarantino since Reservoir Dogs, he has also handled Oscar-winning pics like Good Will Hunting and An Inconvenient Truth.
Now: Anne Carey
The former WMA agent toiled at Good Machine before partnering with Ted Hope on pics including Adventureland and The American.
And why not, her tenacity and genius, did yield the "coolest" film of the year in THE AMERICAN, which happened to enjoy the distinction of being the only This is that production to grace the top of the box office charts. (PS. Hey Anne: that wiki needs some updating! And: Hey HRptr: she wasn't an agent, she just worked there!)
Unfortunately, Good Machine can't take credit for WINTER'S BONE, but that won't stop me from trying. After all, Ang Lee's fantastic RIDE WITH THE DEVIL might have been Good Machine's biggest financial flop (despite being a great movie), but it was the first film to be adapted by WINTER BONE's novelist Daniel Woddrell. Okay, it's a stretch but certainly it speaks a tad of our mutual fine taste for the man's prose and stories (even if Ms. Granik has turned down our efforts to work with her!).
Okay, so this does leaves some Good Machinists still unaccounted for, but after winning some Globes last year, Ross Katz is entitled to some time off. Interestingly enough, Ross should take the reigns on a film Bregman is producing and Basner is arranging the financing on; the film, by title only is a mash up of several of our former projects, THE AMATEUR AMERICAN. One of Mr. Schamus' former assistants, Jawal Nga, has been active on the producing front, with last year's Sundance hit HOWL and prior Grand Jury Winner FORTY SHADES OF BLUE to his credit. And of course there's a squad of GMers doing great things behind the scenes too, some that will no doubt start some bonfires of benevolence in short order.
All in all, though, I must admit it is pretty swell to see the trees those seeds have sprouted.