Drexel’s film and video program hosted Glenn Williamson, executive producer of the film “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” Oct. 18 for a short talk immediately following a screening of the movie. Williamson spoke briefly about the creative process behind the critically acclaimed film and answered questions from the audience.
“When this was made, there was more money for independent films,” Williamson said in response to Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design professor and event mediator Mark Christopher, who prompted him to explain the creative process of the film. “We got big names. … Stars are good. The studios want to hit a home run, and that helps a lot.”
Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet are just two of the stars in the case, supported by Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood and David Cross. M.J., the Hulk, Frodo and Tobias Bluth aside, the film won the 2004 Academy Award for Best Writing (Original Screenplay). Winslet was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance.
“It all started with this idea of, ‘Wouldn’t it be weird if you got a note from someone that got erased from your memory?’” Williamson said. “The screenplay took a long time, maybe a couple of years. And then we had to cast.”
The longtime producer let slip that Nicolas Cage was considered for the main male role that eventually went to Carrey. Though this received more than a few laughs, he rushed to make it clear that he was pleased with the casting.
“We were a little concerned with Jim Carrey because he usually did comedy, but he did really well. And Kate’s great,” he said.
The event then turned into a question-and-answer session during which Williamson was asked more questions about how to succeed in the industry than about making the film. As a big name in the industry, having worked on films such as “Men in Black” and “Edward Scissorhands,” the DreamWorks senior production executive was a font of film industry knowledge.
“You have to do a movie because you believe in it and you love it,” he said to one questioner. He said to another that he broke into the business by simply working his way up — way, way up. “I started in a mailroom at a production company,” he said. “Film is a collaborative medium, and you have to work with a lot of people. This is a ‘get-butts-in-seats’ business. It’s all up to what you want to do with [your career] in the end.”
Williamson is currently working on four films, including one about a resigning New Orleans politician and another about the last days of the Russian royal family following the Bolshevik-led civil war in 1917.