DVD Review: “Seduced And Abandoned” Is A Terrific Look Into The Business Of Financing Movies

seduced

Review by James McDonald

An exploration of several interconnected subjects: The Cannes Film Festival, cinema art, money, glamor and death.

As an independent filmmaker for over thirty years, the most difficult and frustrating aspect of making any film, is trying to raise the funds. After you’ve written the script, you get excited at the prospect that your film will hopefully someday soon, have a life of its own and that you’ll see it playing at your local multiplex and after that, you’ll be able to walk into any video store and see your film sitting on the shelf. You meet possible investors and possible distributors and tell them why you think they should put their money into your film and if all goes well and you get an investor who’s willing to support you, then you’re set.

Unless you’re days away from starting principal photography on your project and they suddenly back out at the last minute citing personal reasons, then you’re right back to square one. As an indie filmmaker, it’s almost impossible to raise funds for projects, unless you know someone or have friends with money but what was so fascinating about watching “Seduced and Abandoned”, is that we follow Alec Baldwin (“30 Rock”, “The Hunt for Red October”) and director James Toback (“The Pick-Up Artist”, “Tyson”), famous names in the film and TV industry, as they travel to the Cannes Film Festival in France to try and raise funds for a movie they are planning to make together.

They talk about Bernardo Bertolucci’s “Last Tango in Paris” with Marlon Brando, being the inspiration for their story with Baldwin seemingly in the Brando role and Neve Campbell also starring. Everyone knows who Alec Baldwin is. He has a long and colorful career in movies, stage and most people nowadays know him from his roles on television. With a name like his, you would think that pretty much any project he wants to be a part of, would be picked up in an instant, because of name recognition. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

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Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Toback talk to other filmmakers (Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola & Roman Polanski to name but a few) and the difficulties they had in getting some of their most successful movies made (“Mean Streets”, “Apocalypse Now”, “The Pianist”) and they also meet film distributors and investors and pitch their idea to them, only to be told that Mr. Baldwin is no longer a bankable name, at least in the world of movies and that they would be willing to put up the money if Mr. Baldwin starred in the film alongside some more recognizable names, like Ryan Gosling.

They also propose outrageous revisions to the story if they plan to raise anything close to their intended goal of $15-20 million, such as ousting Campbell and replacing her with someone like Jessica Chastain, besieging Baldwin with a cast of famous international actors, and changing the backdrop from the Middle East to America. The film is nothing if not brutally honest and I would recommend it for anybody who wants to be in the movie industry, whether you want to be in front of or behind the camera, this film shows the harsh reality of what it takes to try and get a project off the ground, even if you have a famous name attached.

Orson Welles once said, “I look back on my life and it’s 95% running around trying to raise money to make movies and 5% actually making them.” This is absolutely the truth, ask anybody in the business and they will tell you but if you are determined to break into the industry or, if you’re already there and trying to get your next project off the ground, take solace in knowing that, if Alec Baldwin and acclaimed director James Toback are having difficulty in trying to get their project produced, then you’re already in good company. Highly recommended.

In stores April 29th

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James McDonald
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