TFN recently interviewed Joe Nussbaum, director of fan film 'George Lucas in Love'. He talks about the July 9th, 2004, release of his MGM directorial debut 'Sleepover', a comedy starring Alexa Vega from 'Spy Kids', his five years of frustration involving eight different projects at four major studios, and what it takes to be the first maker of a fan film to finally get a chance to direct a studio movie.
Here's an extract from the interview:
So you make George Lucas in Love and the fans loved it. It went all over Hollywood and you were an 'overnight success' - what happened at that point?
The whole thing was really incredible. GLiL led to me signing with an agent and a manager and going on probably 100 meetings all around Hollywood. I met with studios and production companies and began being sent dozens of scripts. There was also press and TV coverage and so much hub-bub, the whole summer of 1999 was just surreal. I started reading scripts and meeting on the specific projects I liked. And it worked. Within months, I had signed to do a movie called “Almost Romantic” at Dreamworks. Then, I began to learn the difference between being “attached” to direct a movie and actually getting a green light and making a movie.
So you worked on how many projects with how many studios over the past 5 years?
So it started with that Dreamworks movie, but a few months into the development process, the studio had a shake-up and the project fell apart. Somehow I rallied and was attached to a project at MGM within a few months but that also dissolved. Over the next three years I was hired to direct four more movies. Two were independent, one was at Paramount and one was at Warner Bros. Each time one movie would get way-layed or fall apart, I thought that was it, that the GLiL mojo had worn off. But somehow I kept getting more chances. In the meantime I was also directing TV commercials, but the goal of making a feature film never went away. Then, in the spring of 2002, just when I thought I had finally worn out my welcome, MGM hired me to make a movie called “I Want Kandee.” And we started casting! This was the closest I had ever been. One of the producers even promised me that we would get a greenlight. Long story short, we didn’t. “Kandee” fell apart, and then I knew it was over. I had a golden opportunity and somehow I blew it. Almost a year went by, and in the spring of 2003 I read a script called “Sleepover.” I loved it, plus, it was an MGM movie (hey, they had hired me twice!), it was written by Elisa Bell (I had worked with her!), and it was being produced by Bob Cooper and Chuck Weinstock (they had hired me before too!). I felt like this was my last chance. If I couldn’t get this movie with all the connections I had to the production team, I was truly done. I would know that GLiL’s magic had finally worn off. It was a tough fight, but I convinced them I was the person for the job. They hired me. And then the unbelievable happened. It was something I didn’t know really existed but thought was just a myth to keep young filmmakers toiling. We got a greenlight!