Wednesday, April 22, 2009

BGG Chats with 'Obsessed' Producer, Will Packer

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of speaking with Hollywood film producer Will Packer. He's the man behind several hit movies, including: Trois, Stomp the Yard, This Christmas and the new adult thriller, Obsessed, which opens nationwide this weekend. The sexy thriller stars actor Idris Elba and superstar singer/actress Beyonce Knowles in a tale about a married man who is stalked by a female co-worker and has his world turned upside down. I spoke with Will about what it was like working with Sasha Fierce aka Beyonce, his latest projects and what it takes to make it in the fickle Hollywood industry.



Check out our Q&A:

BGG: It’s so difficult for a film with a predominately African-American cast to be made in Hollywood, what do you think has been the key to your success?
Will Packer: I think that it’s an attitude of “I can do anything.” I say that because this is an industry that can be very daunting to break into. It’s also an industry that sucks the life out of a lot of people. My business partner and I didn’t have any Hollywood connections or any rich financiers to help us get off the ground, we just had pure ambition and will power. I think that has served us well in this industry. So when you say movies with a predominately African-American cast, those movies aren’t easy to get made, but the truth is that no film is easily made – it’s hard to make any movie in Hollywood. We just take the attitude of “we have a product that Hollywood needs that audiences want to see," it’s just up to us to convince both of those segments that that’s the case.

BGG: What was it like working with Beyonce Knowles in Obsessed since it’s such a huge departure from her previous movie roles?
WP: It was a pleasant experience. When you work with someone like a “Beyonce,” you don’t know what you’re going to get. She’s such a huge global persona. There was a point where I wondering if she'd come to set with a big entourage, would she going to have a diva attitude, are the other actors going to like her and get along…how’s it going to be? It was really pleasant because Beyonce comes to play, she really does. When she shows up on a set and I imagine it’s the same when she’s in a recording studio or on set of a music video, you know that she’s coming to work. You know that she’s showing up and she brings no attitude, no preconceived notions, she brings a work ethic that is 150% all the time and she is willing to work harder than anyone else.

BGG: You’ve worked with Idris Elba on several films, including The Gospel This Christmas what does he bring to your films?WP: Idris is my man! I think he is one of the best actors out in Hollywood today. He’s somebody that people are learning about. He has a core following and has people know him from the Wire, but at the same time he’s not a face that mainstream America sees and says, “Oh, I know his name; that’s Idris Elba. I really do believe that he is somebody that when you look pound for pound for having talent in terms of having that leading man charisma, I think he’s one of the best. He brings depth and layers to his roles, which is very important.


Will Packer on set of Obsessed with Idris Elba and Beyonce Knowles.

BGG: What exactly does being a movie producer entail? WP: I like to use the analogy…when you look at the Oscars, you see all of these categories, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinemaphotography, Best Sound, etc. and at the end of the night, the final award goes to the Best Picture and the producer gets that award. The analogy is that the producer is the person who brought together all of those other elements. A producer is responsible for the overall success, look and vision of a film project. That’s why we producers are always so stressed out and busy all the time because we’re trying to take care of so many different aspects of the project.

BGG: Did you ever expect your 2007 film, Stomp the Yard to be such a huge hit at the box office?WP: Absolutely, no question! I did and I’d tell that to anybody who would listen! I think that Hollywood didn’t expect that and was surprised that it was so successful, but I knew that we had a different project that was very different and knew that there was a core audience who were familiar with stepping and the whole black college experience that would come out. I also knew that we would be able to sell it as a very cool dance movie and I knew that we had a lot of commercial potential.

BGG: What’s next for you? What projects are you currently working on? WP: I’m in post-production on a project called Takers, which is an action movie about a young man who pulls of heist jobs around L.A. It stars Idris Elba, Chris Brown, Matt Dillon, Hayden Christensen, Michael Ealy, T.I and others.

BGG: What advice do you have for young aspiring film producers? WP: You define your own success and your vision; your dream is not over until you say it’s over. I feel like that’s what’s important. If you’re an artist, grab a digital camcorder and share your art with the people that matter. If you’re in it for commerce, do something that has commercial matter that people are willing to pay to see. Again, I think you define your own success. No matter how many no’s you get, the only answer that really matters is the one that you give yourself.

Do you plan to see Obsessed, which will be in theaters on April 24th? Why or why not? Are you a fan of his other films, such as This Christmas or Stomp the Yard?

28 comments:

Ondo Lady said...

I really liked This Christmas, I thought it was funny and very heart warming. I have seen trailers for Obsessed but I do not think I will be going to see it. The film just comes across as a cheap version of Fatal Attraction.

MsQuiche said...

Ditto to what Ondo Lady said regarding Obsessed, that said, I really like the Producer's attitude, extremely positive.

B said...

I liked This Christmas too! It was corny and cute. I don't know how I feel about Obsessed. It looks good but Beyonce in it kinda throws me off. LOL, I know, I know...but I really don't think she can act. Lemme stop....I WILL go see it for the gorgeous Idris. And to support the people. Congrats to Will

Karmen said...

Fatastic. very refreshing to hear about this brother. Inspiring!

Bam said...

I will definitely be seeing the boot-leg version of Obsessed. I'm just not convinced that Beyonce is an Actress.

Rebee said...

Nice interview! I made plans last month to see Obsessed on opening day. I make a point to support black actors/actresses and producers. Supporting each other is the only way to change the Hollywood stigma. I actually loved This Christmas. I watch it every time it comes on Starz. My son is a big Stomp The Yard fan.

Nicole Rogers said...

Great interview! I had no idea he produced "This christmas" and "Stomp the yard". I loved both of those movies so I will definitely be going to see "Obsessed".

@Ondo lady I don't think it will be a cheap version of Fatal attraction more like a more chocolate version which always gets my dollar!

Come on let's pull our money together and support this film. Let's show Hollywood we don't have to dress our black men up in dresses to support a film.

M. L., KIner said...

"The Hong Kong Connection" is a legal thriller about a gutsy female attorney who takes on high ranking International officials. It's a taut, rollercoaster of a ride from New York to Palm Beach to Washington D.C. to Hong Kong. The plot is expertly woven, the characters persuasive, and the dialogue snappy and spot on.
www.StrategicBookPublishing.com/TheHongKongConnection.html

kitty vodka said...

i will never watch Obsessed, but i wont judge anyone who does

Karen said...

Great interview! I really enjoyed Stomp the Yard. The post-rock soundtrack for the love scenes in that film were dazzling. I still can't figure out who composed/performed them. If it's from a band I'd like to know who. I'm a big post-rock fan. hehe. Columbus Short and Megan Good were so cute together. Stomp the Yard had a solid supporting cast, great storyline, nice dance scenes, satistifying character arcs and I could go on and on about how delightful that film was but I'll leave it at that.

Mrs.Young_fashion said...

I will most definitely see Obsessed. I've seen his other movies and loved them. They are the type of movies that you can watch over and over and over. So in love with Will Packer's vision...I wish Columbus Short would grace another one of his films.

R. Hines said...

VERY good interview. People don't realize how hard it is to make films in Hollywood.... especially being a black film producer. What Will achieved is extremely inspirational. It just goes to show you that anything can happen when you put your mind to it. I hope the film is even more successful than his prior projects! You asked the right questions as well.... great job BGG!

Kelli said...

I will be going to see Obessessed this weekend. I think this is a totally different role for Beyonce and I am so looking forward to seeing her take it to another level.

Kelli

kbl said...

I really love all of his films, he seems nice too. Wonderful job!Keep up the great job, the both of you!

JenniferNicole said...

Oooh I can't wait for Takers. It sounds pretty good. I think I'm gonna go see Obsessed this weekend (hopefully). Good job Will.

Product Junkie Diva said...

I will see obsessed but the soloist comes out the same day.
Anyway great interview.

MeMe said...

Great interview. I saw Trois a long time ago. I may check out Obsessed though.

Anonymous said...

Excellent interview. Will Packer is a brilliant producer! As usual, your questions are right on. Its great to have a person such as yourself to do a great interview with a phenomenal person like Will Packer.

Had no idea he produced This Christmas, which my husband and I totally love. Stomp The Yard was an excellent movie as well. Will definately go see Obsessed.

I'm still trying to figure how to get a Google blogger account so for now this is Anonymous Auntie Freda signing off- lol

K-Bear said...

I'll be dragging my couch potato boyfriend to the movies on Friday! I'm so excited about this movie because it's a movie with US in it AND because I loved his other movies!

mimieyes said...

Great attitude and very inspiring.

Be Just said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Be Just said...

Another great interview from BGG! I'm not memorized by Beyonce's acting ability, but I do respect Ibris Elba as an actor. Hopefully the movie turns out to be good.

Aisha said...

Nice interview! I really liked Stomp the Yard, so I will probably go see Obsessed now. I wasn't initially interested in the movie, but I do like Will Packer's past work. I'm also a fan of Ibris Elba. He's a great actor.

Brown Girl Gumbo said...

@KBL - He really seemed like a cool guy. I wish him all the best and I will continue to support his films. We must stick together when it comes to getting movies made by us and starring us! :-)

that guy said...

great interview!!! i might check it out.

Shawnta` said...

I know I posted this on Twitter but I wanted to comment here too. Great interview! Keep 'em coming. Thanks for sharing. I really like Will Packer's films.

AZ said...

What great insight! I was just going to Google about this movie because I wanted to see if it was worth going to but leave it to BGG to bring the scoop on the latest hot things.. love it.

This is very interesting and better than the traditional press things that are out there about the movie.. totally makes me want to see it tonight...

Good thing I read this because I was planning on watching "Next Day Air"!

lymariposa said...

Great interview, I'll be keeping an eye out for The Takers, it sounds great.