Interview With Producer Adrienne Biddle
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by: Jerry Smith
Every film needs support from their producer. Someone to help usher the production into a smooth experience and a person to back up the filmmaker's vision. While Hollywood is filled to the brim with people who can only see in the color green, there are also quite a few producers who truly champion a project and its visionairy director and in this case, that producer is Adrienne Biddle. Formerly an exec at Rogue, Biddle helped bring Bryan Bertino's horror classic, THE STRANGERS, life and eventually went on to partner up with the unique filmmaker to form Unbroken Pictures, where Bertino and Biddle helped produce Bertino's THE MONSTER and the subject of this chat, the Osgood Perkins-helmed film, THE BLACKCOAT'S DAUGHTER (out now). Bypassing the horror by numbers approach we've seen so much, Bertino and Biddle's Unbroken company takes on very character-driven pieces that tend to revolve around mood and tone more than just your normal slashing and dicing. We talked to Biddle about THE BLACKCOAT'S DAUGHTER, THE STRANGERS and various other topics, so read on!
I think the work that you and Bryan (Bertino) are doing is great. Not only the best genre films but in my opinion, they've been some of the best recent films in general. A lot of the genre stuff we see today falls into the same ol' thing, but with THE MONSTER and THE BLACKCOAT'S DAUGHTER, the films feel very unique and I know it's thrown around a lot these days but also elevated.
That's so nice to hear! We've been trying to do just that and it's great to hear that people notice that. That means a lot. I think a lot of what we set out to do when we first got together as business partners was to say, "People treat genre movies as genre movies, we want to treat genre movies as cinema." I mean, some of the greatest films of all time ARE genre films. People always try to dress them up as something else and call them something else, but they're genre films. JAWS is a genre movie! We have a tremendous amount of respect for what you can say and do within this space.
Before jumping into THE BLACKCOAT'S DAUGHTER and Osgood (Perkins), I'm curious about Unbroken in general. Bryan's a very unique filmmaker, how did you two partner up to form the company?
I was the Senior Vice President of Production at Rogue Pictures back when it was the genre arm of Universal. I remember in my job interview, I had just been sent a copy of THE STRANGERS and a sample. I read it and I was just completely floored, the writing was extraordinairy and the script absolutely terrified me. When I got the job, I kind of championed that script and process forward. Bryan had never directed anything before, but I sat down with my boss and said, "This guy is great, he's the kind of guy we shoould be in business with, " and we were going to hire a relative newcomer to direct the movie anyways, because that's kind of what was happening in those days. When Bryan spoke about the movie, it was very clear that he SAW it in his head. In previous interviews, Bryan always tells the story of how he had always wanted to be a director but that it's always kind of been a rich kid's game and he wasn't rich. So what he had done is pretty much directed it in his head while he put it on the page and it showed that he knew exactly what kind of film it would be. We took a risk and it was a good risk. Over the course of THE STRANGERS, Bryan and I developed a friendship because we both smoke and would take cigarette breaks and just talk about films in general. It was clear that although we approached the work from two different sides of the coin, we had a very similar philosophy. When Rogue was sold to Relativity, the whole staff was let go and I was trying to figure out what the next move would be. Bryan and I had continued to collaborate and I had hired him to do a rewrite for me and I had read all of his other scripts so we just said, "Why not go into business together?"
I watched THE BLACKCOAT'S DAUGHTER at a festival a couple of years ago when it was still called FEBRUARY and it really just blew me away. To this day, I think it's one of the best directorial debuts I've ever seen, it's such a unique film. How did that project come to fruition?
Originally, we had a third partner who has since gone on to do a lot himself and he had read the script and showed it to me and it was so amazing, it was well written and it was originally sent to us just as a general project for maybe Bryan to direct. We decided to sit down with the writer, so Os (Perkins) walks in and talking to him, it gave me the same exact feeling that I had when I had talked to Bryan all those years ago. They both have a way and ability to articulate their material that shows that this is a real point of view, they know what the films should and shouldn't be. I knew how to support a director who had never done anything before and Bryan had BEEN a director who had never done anything before so we spoke to Os and said, "Look, we want to support this if you want to direct it." We spent four years working on that one, we had read the script in March of 2011 but we never gave up. We worked pretty heavily on the script with Os, the exorcism in the film wasn't in the original script, so there were a few things that we helped develop the script, but always wanted to keep the integrity of what was written. We had funding but then those people got cold feet, so it was a journey. My mom even put in money on a bridge loan! Os and I got on a plane to Ottawa without all of the financing in place, it was crazy but we were devoted to it.
There's something about that film and also THE MONSTER that makes relationships and the drama aspects of storytelling front and center and that humanity in even situations with non-human or supernatural elements really makes the films stand on their own. It's a very unique approach to genre storytelling.
I think it shows buyers that there's something out there. Bryan always laughs about how after the success of THE STRANGERS, he'd go into all of these meetings and people would say, "I really don't like horror films but I love your work." There's such a misconception of horror and what it is and we try to break that and show that these films are just as relevant and important as any other genre.