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Weekly Alibi Playing The Game

An Interview With Producer Steve Golin

By Devin D. O'Leary

SEPTEMBER 22, 1997:  In the mysterious world of Hollywood, what goes on behind the cameras can often seem like a shadowy blur to the casual observer. While big-name movie stars bask in the glory and hype of talk shows, magazine articles and celebrity profiles, behind-the-scenes personalities like producers, directors and writers are relegated to the world of unseen machinery cranking out product for our enjoyment. In this backstage world, Steve Golin is one of the biggies. As a found-ing partner of Propaganda Films, he has execu- tive produced such eclectic fare as David Lynch's Wild at Heart (winner of the Palme d'Or at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival). Most re-cently, he executive produced the all-star Sleepers and The Portrait of a Lady. Just last week, Propaganda's new film The Game hit movie theaters. This week, A Thousand Acres starring Michelle Pfieffer and Jessica Lange will open. Weekly Alibi had the opportunity recently to talk with this busy producer about his company, his films and his role in the modern-day Hollywood machinery.

Tell me about Propaganda Films.

It started in 1986, primarily doing music videos. We had a relationship, actually, (with) Polygram prior to that. Then in 1987, they got involved with some ownership of the company. And then in 1992, they bought the rest of the company when they decided they were going to make a slow push into the movie business. It was always my scheme to take music video and commercial directors and develop them into movie directors. David Fincher (director of Seven and the newly released The Game) was one of the founding directors of the company. (Also) Dom Sena, who directed Kalifornia. ... It's been about 10 years in the works. Took a lot longer than I thought, but we're now kind of where we want to be.

The style of directors that Propaganda works with (David Fincher, David Lynch, John Dahl) is very powerful, very visual. Is that something Propaganda looks for?

It's not necessarily that they're visual, but they're more "auteur" directors. If you look at any company that we're trying to emulate, it's the old Orion. When you see The Game, you'll see. It's not like any other movie. ... I was talking to another director who saw it last night, and he was like, "Wow! It's different."

How did The Game develop?

(The script) was kicking around. It was at MGM in 1991. Then in 1992, I got it. And I just loved it, right from the beginning. Worked on it, worked on it, worked on it. I loved the concept of it. Rewrote it, rewrote it, rewrote it. Maybe 10 drafts. I was gonna do it with Fincher. We were gonna do it before he did Seven. Then Seven came to-gether really quickly because of Brad (Pitt)'s availability at
the time. They offered the movie to Dave. He did it. Obviously it was a big success. And in the end it worked out better. David was so successful, we got the money we needed to make the movie right. Polygram was ready to set up their own distribution. Michael Douglas was really concerned initially about Polygram's ability to distribute the movie. So he's been very involved. He's so smart and he's been so helpful to us. He's helped us navigate some waters that couldn't have been navigated without him. I can't say enough good things about him. He's a real champion of this whole process.

The films that Propaganda makes are typically dark and off-beat. Do you feel much pressure to produce lightweight Hollywood blockbusters?

There's a lot of pressure to do that. I just don't have the mentality. I wish I could do it. I can't do it. The thing is, I only make two pictures a year. If I made one movie like that every year, I'd be so happy. But I can't do it. I try. I don't have the mentality to develop Liar, Liar. I wish I did. 'Cause I actually thought it was funny as hell. It's not like I didn't like it. It's just not a movie that I see myself making. I don't have that sensibility. ... Every time I've worked on something just for money, I've been so sorry I did it. And every time I've tried to guess the marketplace--what was going to do well--I was wrong. So I just can't be involved in that anymore. Now it's to the point where I'm going to work on stuff that I really like, that I care about, and that's it.

--Devin D. O'Leary

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