Interview with David Linde
Premio Raimondo Rezzonico 2016
David Linde, the award you are receiving from Locarno embraces your whole career as film producer. Going back to the origins, however, when did you feel for the first time the spark of love for cinema?
My father was a professor, and as children we were allowed access to the entire University campus. I vividly remember sneaking into retrospective screenings of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, and being just entranced. So, I guess that’s where it’s all started, sitting on the floor of the theatre, laughing and crying.
When you are about to produce a movie, how much does your personal taste affect the movie itself? And how are you able to control this part of you before planning budget, casting and locations?
As a producer, I wouldn’t make something that I didn’t feel strongly that the filmmaker brought his or her own perspective to the material. That’s always what driven me artistically and always been my focus. But, I also have very wide ranging tastes, so it can mean everything from a Chinese drama to a low budget, horror film. I try to apply that belief to every aspect of making a film and support the filmmaker in their choices as much as possible, and which for many reasons you can not always do. But if a relationship is strong and consistent, and you trust how comprehensive each other are being in making a decision, then usually — it works out well.
Could you briefly tell us about your drive to produce within and outside the American film industry? Alejandro González Iñárritu is one among many non-American filmmaker you produced and supported from early on…
My parents always stressed an appreciation for culture as the means of best understanding the world. When I was younger we traveled the world and I was encouraged to learn multiple languages. This exposure and curiosity about the world was the driving force in my early focus on international distribution of American films. As my career progressed I was able to do the opposite and be involved in the global presentation of non-American films. Interestingly, a lot of my work has been focused cross-culturally with Spanish (Almodóvar, Bayona), Mexican (Cuarón, Iñárritu, del Toro) and Chinese (Lee, Yimou) filmmakers… and I don’t speak Spanish or Chinese!
There’s the art of cinema, and the art of producing independent films tailored for a larger audience. What can you tell us about that hard task, since you surely have a significant track record with indie films being so successful in the international box office…
After college, I moved to New York just as the American independent scene was blossoming. Joel and Ethan Coen and Jim Jarmusch were walking the streets, literally. I love the way a filmmaker’s perspective influences the audience’s appreciation for a film, and was really lucky that my colleagues at Miramax and Good Machine shared that understanding. We were really committed to finding the best (and any) way to accomplish that goal. It was a tremendously exciting time, and that is where my career really began.
Stepping up as the CEO of Participant Media, could you tell us about your role with this new position at this particular moment of your career?
I joined Participant Media a little over nine months ago as CEO. Participant is a film and content company that uses storytelling to create impact on important social issues. It’s an exciting place to be a part of and felt like a natural fit with the focus of my career – working with creative visionaries to tell important and compelling stories that move audiences around the world. As CEO, I’m able to take that next step and create avenues for people to be a part of solution. It’s unique in the entertainment world and it’s an honor to lead the company forward.Lorenzo Buccella