MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

The IED At The Side Of The Road To Oscar? Or Much Ado About Na'vi?

The controversy over the e-mail from Nicholas Chartier, who handled the funding of The Hurt Locker is getting a lot of play from the LA Times, where Pete Hammond first published the e-mail Chartier was sending around.
I’m scheduled for a sitdown with Chartier later this week, but before then, I thought it might be a good idea to speak to someone on the Avatar team, which has been pretty quiet about this… and surprisingly low key throughout the Oscar season. With the team spread out all over the country these days, I was able to catch up with producer Jon Landau via Skype from a hotel room in Tarrytown, NY.
The following is the specific comments about Chartier, but we had a wider-ranging conversation about how he and Team Cameron have approached the season, as well as a few select thoughts about 3D and Avatar‘s 3D future on TV. The whole conversation will be available on Thursday afternoon.

Be Sociable, Share!

8 Responses to “The IED At The Side Of The Road To Oscar? Or Much Ado About Na'vi?”

  1. The Pope says:

    This response is to the short 2 min clip and not the overall interview.
    Landau is very assured and relaxed and ‘on message.’ The decision is clearly not to disrespect any one, be it The Blind Side, Up, IG or THL. And he is making sure to diffuse what the analysts would only love to (lazily) personalize between KB and JC. It is TEN PICTURES. Nothing more. Very impressive and I also believe him. After all, he has produced two of the biggest grossers and has his Oscar and will have no problem funding his next picture.

  2. gradystiles says:

    Landau is a genuinely nice guy, and I’ve never heard anyone say a bad word about him. And while it may be “on message,” I have no doubt that he truly believes what he’s saying.

  3. Gonzo Knight says:

    I like Landau

  4. David Poland says:

    Skype is new for me, Gonzo… figuring it out as I go…

  5. Triple Option says:

    I had to re-read Chartier’s original e-mail but would agree that it did cross the line. I’d also admit, (especially not knowing what official rules are), that defining where the line would be would be rather dubious. Like if he’d said, “Hey, if you happen to know any voting members of the Academy, and you know you do, please, if you think ours was the best movie, tell them to keep us in mind.” Subtlety, semantics, eh?
    Chartier did qualify the request with the caveat of “if you thought ours was the best,” which however small was better I thought than saying something along the lines, “It’s really not about preference, this has to do with the moral imperative of keeping indie films relevant.”
    You see these weird kind of distinctions in other places. Like a head coach isn’t technically allowed to go out and stump for his star rb to win the Heisman. CEO’s aren’t allowed to go on natl tv and pitch their company stock. Buuuut, a reporter in a press conf asks, “so, who would you vote for for Heisman?” The coach is allowed to ramble on about stats, control of the flow of the game, and his player’s leadership ability. Just like the CEO will talk about

  6. Gonzo Knight says:

    It’ fine, David. It really wasn’t a jab at all. I just thought it was funny.
    As was seeing Landau in such a, well, grounded, environment. Skype really added to the sense of informality. It’s a cool trick.
    As far as the whole David vs Galiath thing – it’s just a label. Politics, as he put it.
    The most ironic thing is that it was The Hurt Locker that built itself up to be the Galiath here and this letter, this deseprate move wasn’t even needed.
    Chartier blinked first. Self-marginalization at it’s finest.
    He also showed himself out to be an idiot on multiple levels because he thought he could get away with it, because he thought it was needed and because he though it would help. This is one man who doesn’t understand the game, his position in it and the rules to win.
    And Triple, come on man. That “if you thought ours was the best” comment was just a pathetic attempt to cover his own ass and appear fair. It wasn’t honest. It wasn’t part of his message at all and his messege it pretty direct. I feel bad for the guy and I feel like an asshole for saying all this but sometimes you just gotta admit… it was all premiditated.

  7. Dignan says:

    This feels an awful lot like a semantics issue. How is this any more offensive than spending millions on Oscar campaigns complete with cocktail parties, tv spots and trade ads? Because instead of some obliquely worded “for your consideration” campaign this guy’s coming right out and saying “hey it you liked our movie a) vote for it and b) tell your friends”? Can someone explain why this is so egregious because it seems like just a grassroots campaign to me.

  8. anghus says:

    here’s some suggestions:
    “vote for the movie about bombs that bombed”
    “vote for the movie that didn’t feature giant blue indians spouting dialogue so bad that it made Stephen Sommers declare ‘that’s some mighty bad dialogue’ as well as causing Hayden Christiansen to cry out ‘that’s some real wooden acting'”
    “Vote Precious. What? You’re not going to? Well fine, but at least vote for Mo’nique.”
    “Just because you didn’t see An Education doesn’t mean you can’t vote for it. IT’S BRITISH.”

The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon