What a whirlwind year 2007 has been for the women behind four-year-young, New York based, indie-film production company Plum Pictures. CEO Celine Rattray recaps: “We had three films at Sundance and they all sold in big ways; two to Harvey Weinstein and one to Magnolia!”
Dedication, starring Billy Crudup and Mandy Moore, and Grace is Gone featuring John Cusack in fact, set off a blazing, post-screening bidding war, “An amazing life experience and reward for three years of very hard work” declares the triumphant Rattray—still flushed from the accolade afterglow.
Yet, for she and partners Daniela Taplin and Galt Neiderhoffer, laurels aren’t a respite but a springboard. “We’ve been able to make four more films in the past six months” Rattray exclaims, “thrilling, because that’s what it’s about—getting the movies made.”
Born in New York, the English raised, Oxford graduate grew up with a poster of Manhattan on her wall and a desire to reclaim her cinematic birth-city. “The energy, the people and the pace moves you in this exciting rhythm" Rattray effusively exclaims, “It’s a dynamic place to start a young company.”
“I’ve always wanted to live in New York and to work in film” she continues, “The two are interrelated—in film you see so many images of this city. To see something in person you’ve seen in hundreds of movies is a powerful experience. We shoot movies here even when they’re set elsewhere—the locations are absolutely stunning!”
For the producer, whose greatest priority is “getting it done on time and within budget”, the job is not without challenges. One struggle Rattray cites while appearing to effortlessly navigate, is that of striking the right balance in a project between the critical and the commercial.
“A film needs to get into festivals and win awards but have a broad concept people around the world might be interested in. We look for intelligent, touching roles to attract well known actors”—a necessity in the new indie film age.
Rattray elaborates: “Because of the crowded marketplace, it’s harder than ever to make an independent film—which needs be a small version of a studio one to have a fighting chance. Execution needs to be perfect, A+ along every aspect. Every time a movie is made, for all things to go right, it’s a miracle!”
Equally miraculous for the newly wed but eternally manic Rattray, is the success she has had in attuning the demands of work with those of relationships. “My friends understand now when I don’t return calls. When I’m not in production, I spend quality time with husband and friends. It’s definitely a balancing act.”
And despite the wonder start-up’s lightening success, Rattray remains unabashedly in awe of the talent that surrounds her. Liv Tyler, Lucy Liu, Cillian Murphy, Benjamin Bratt, William H. Macy, Hillary Swank, and Matthew Perry, are only some of the stars who have worked under the Plum rooster, including childhood idol Alan Alda. “He was there everyday working as hard as possible, with so much enthusiasm and so much to give. It gave me so much faith in filmmaking!” she declares.
Also inspiring are the endless possibilities posed by potentially ever-growing budgets. “It’s been a great challenge to do two/three million dollar budgets, but it’s the idea of what you can do with a twenty or thirty-million-dollar film that is really exciting to us!”
No worries, though, for these rising stars of the industry. Just read the outpour of press. From The New York Times, to Variety, to The Hollywood Reporter, the reviews are in! 2008 is poised to be a very plum year indeed!
Read an exclusive interview with Celine Rattray on the official ontheinside.info blog here.
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