The Lambs May be Silent, but Oscar-Winning Producer Ed Saxon Isn’t

Published On December 1, 2011 | By admin | Blog Post, Filmmaker, filmmaking

When it comes to making successful and entertaining films few have a track record that can compare with the one carved out by Oscar-winning producer Ed Saxon, who is launching a 1-Day seminar entitled “How It Works – Practical Lessons from 25 Years in the Movie Business” on Saturday, December 3rd in Las Vegas.  Determined to share his experiences and lessons learned with aspiring filmmakers everywhere Saxon said, “My goal is to teach people the structure of the business and give them tools to succeed in it.  This information isn’t taught in most film education programs and not easy to find in one place.  I hope to inspire people with real world lessons.  I will be presenting this program around the world to writers, directors, producers, and people just interested in the business.  I’ll be inLondon, England in the spring.”

Ed became interested in filmmaking as a child when he used to go to double features every Saturday and his love for it continued to grow as he reached adulthood.  “I went to college and took an acting class and just loved the people.  I acted in plays, started a theater with some friends when I was in college in Montreal,” he explained.  Among his fellow students was Nevada Film Alliance founder Marko Sakren, who was instrumental in arranging the debut of Saxon’s seminar inLas Vegas.  “The theater is still going and I liked both the acting and producing side of the business. When I heard there was a producing program at USC, I decided to get my MFA in producing,” he continued.  The program mentioned was the Peter Stark Producing Program and Ed admitted, “Stark was invaluable in giving me the knowledge and tools to do my job.”  For those who can’t afford that type of education he advises, “I encourage people to dive deep into the web and the few books that are available for much of the same knowledge.”

It’s because so few are able to attend a program like the one at USC that Saxon is happy to offer the seminar he’s been developing and be able to mentor more talented individuals who want to go into the business.  Taking his experiences and the lessons he hopes to teach into account he related that the five major steps of producing to him are: find great creative material; work with the best people you can; insist on making great material; move things to the next step – if you have a script get a director then a budget, etc.; and make a safe space for creative people to work in. 

Perhaps best known for the Oscar-winning “Silence of the Lambs”, which along with “It Happened One Night” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is only one of three films to ever sweep the five main categories for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture at the Academy Awards, Saxon partnered for several years with Jonathan Demme before going solo.  With Demme he enjoyed successes including “Beloved”, “Married to the Mob” and “Philadelphia” along with “Silence of the Lambs” and alone he’s produced such films as “Charlie Kaufman”, Spike Jonze’s “Adaptation” and Richard Linklater’s documentary “Fast Food Nation”.  Saxon has worked on big budget studio films and independent features alike and is well aware of both the benefits and challenges that come with projects in both categories.  When asked what attracts him to a script and makes him want to produce it he replied, “Quality.  A story I would want to go see.  Something that will attract financing and can be marketed.  A project that will attract top talent.”.

As for attaching talent he recommends, “Go in through the door, the window, the crack under the door!  Be respectful but persistent and creative.”  Acknowledging the state of flux the film industry is now facing he commented, “The challenges are legion.  The benefit – an enormous one – is that you can film things incredibly cheaply and make them available for the world to see.”  He added that of all the current changes the most significant one in his opinion is the digital revolution.  “The story is still being written, but it’s full of promise and peril,” he believes.

Saxon also offered one last piece of advice for “newbies” to filmmaking, “Read scripts and then read more of them.  Know your own taste.  Work with people you admire and trust.  Be persistent.  Make something, even if it’s small or handmade so that you have work to show.  Trust your inner voice!”

If you want help finding that inner voice and developing the tools to make it stronger then check out Ed’s seminar and find out when it’s coming to a city near you.

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