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Author Topic: Malpaso questions  (Read 13549 times)
herofan
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« on: December 31, 2008, 02:25:08 PM »

I have some questions about Clint's production company, Malpaso.  How big is this company and how many people does it employ?  Does it produce films other than those in which Clint directs or stars in?  Does it give Clint more control over his movies, for example, even though he may not have directed a certain movie, does he still get a lot of say if Malpaso is involved?  Is it similar to MGM and Universal?
« Last Edit: December 31, 2008, 02:28:08 PM by herofan » Logged
KC
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« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2008, 10:53:50 PM »

That's a lot of questions ... You can find some of the answers in this thread:

Clint & Malpaso

In it, I quote from Richard Schickel's biography Clint Eastwood (p. 186):

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Clint, acting on [Irving] Leonard's [his business manager's] advice, established his own company, Malpaso, which means "bad step" in Spanish and is also the name of a creek that ran through the property he owned in Carmel at the time. Clint liked the irony implicit in the phrase, but he says that he did not then foresee the company becoming the full-scale production entity that it soon turned into. Rather he and Leonard saw it as a typical loan-out company of the kind the movies' above-the-line talent had begun establishing in the 1950s, partly for their tax advantages, partly because they put their owners in at least nominal charge of their own destinies.

Malpaso was from the beginning Clint's personal production company and basically, all Malpaso productions are Eastwood productions and he usually directs and/or stars in them. There are, however, a few Malpaso productions on which Clint only acted as producer or executive producer or had no formal credit at all. Notably, there was 1995's The Stars Fell on Henrietta, which was directed by James Keach and starred Robert Duvall and Frances Fisher, at the time Eastwood's companion, and featured his two-year-old daughter with Fisher, Francesca; Clint is credited as producer. More recently, Malpaso is the credited production company on Alison Eastwood's directorial debut, Rails and Ties (2007). Alison is of course Clint's daughter, but Clint himself does not have a production credit on this project.

You can get a detailed list of films officially credited to Malpaso by searching the Internet Movie Database under the names "Malpaso Productions" and "Malpaso Company, The".

I can't tell you for sure how many people the company employs; not many, and they are basically all Clint's close collaborators. There's some information about some recent key personnel in this thread:

malpaso

That thread is five years old, but Robert Lorenz, at least, continues to work with Clint in Malpaso. The presskit for Changeling has this information about him (he was credited as producer on that film and on Gran Torino):

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ROBERT LORENZ (Produced by) has worked alongside filmmaker Clint Eastwood for almost 14 years.  He currently oversees all aspects of the motion pictures produced at Eastwood’s company, Malpaso Productions, encompassing development, production, marketing and distribution.

Judie Hoyt doesn't seem to be credited on either of Eastwood's 2008 films, but as recently as Letters from Iwo Jima (2006), she was credited as "production executive: Malpaso."

Another thread you might want to check is:

Clint and his Malpaso Company

... which has a (very short) list of Clint's non-Malpaso films since he started the company in 1968, including the lowdown on Paint Your Wagon (is it or isn't it?).

Back to your questions ...

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Does it give Clint more control over his movies, for example, even though he may not have directed a certain movie, does he still get a lot of say if Malpaso is involved?

It's safe to say that it gives Clint near-total control over his movies, at least since that Paint Your Wagon experience, and for the ones he doesn't direct himself ... either the director does what Clint wants, or he never works with Clint again (and in at least two cases, he wasn't allowed to continue as director on the particular film).

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Is it similar to MGM and Universal?

No, not at all. Those are huge film studios, which have their own production facilities and often also provide financial backing, studio facilities and distribution for the film projects of small production companies such as Malpaso. Ever since Dirty Harry in 1971, Malpaso has had a working relationship with another big studio, Warner Bros., being physically located on the Warner lot in Burbank. Changeling, however, was distributed not by Warners, but by Universal, apparently because it was originally a Ron Howard project (he dropped out to work on Frost/Nixon, but his company Imagine Entertainment and his usual studio partner Universal continued their involvement).

I hope that helps answer your questions!
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herofan
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« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2008, 11:50:14 PM »

Thank you KC; that was very informative and answered many of my questions.
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herofan
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« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2009, 04:27:56 PM »


It's safe to say that it gives Clint near-total control over his movies, at least since that Paint Your Wagon experience, and for the ones he doesn't direct himself ... either the director does what Clint wants, or he never works with Clint again (and in at least two cases, he wasn't allowed to continue as director on the particular film).

[/quote]


I'm curious, in what two movies did he fire the director and what happened to cause it?
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KC
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« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2009, 07:59:55 PM »

The two films were The Outlaw Josey Wales and Tightrope.

In the first case, Eastwood fired the director, who was also the screenwriter, Philip Kaufman, and took over the direction himself after about a week's shooting. According to Richard Schickel's Clint Eastwood (pp. 325–27) the main problems were temperamental—Kaufman was indecisive, always agonizing over what would be the best artistic choice, and Eastwood, of course, has always been a "Stick the camera here and let's shoot the thing" type. Eastwood knew that with Kaufman's approach the film would go way over budget and schedule. Schickel reports that Clint told him, "If I kept him, I knew I couldn't keep my promise to the studio as far as schedule and budget went. And since I'd put my own money up to buy the story, I thought I had that right." Aside from that, says Schickel, "Clint could see that the temperamental differences between them would make a good working relationship impossible" and says Eastwood told him that firing Kaufman was "the hardest thing I ever did in my life." That was in 1975.

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It was three years before Kaufman directed another movie, and Clint's action caused the Directors Guild to promulgate a rule forbidding one of its members from being replaced by anyone working in any capacity on the picture from which he or she has been removed.

That action by the Directors Guild made the situation harder to handle when it developed again, on Tightrope in 1983. Again, Eastwood had hired the screenwriter, Richard Tuggle, in this case because Tuggle refused to sell him the script unless he was given a chance to make his debut as a director with it, which recalled the situation a decade earlier with Michael Cimino and the Thunderbolt and Lightfoot script. Here's another quote from Schickel's book:

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Tuggle had sold his script on condition that he be allowed to direct. Clint, harking back to the passion with which Michael Cimino had animated his writerly vision, thought that was a good idea. But the two men are very different personalities. Cimino is a willful and decisive character. Tuggle, on the other hand, is a man who tends to see a dozen equally interesting alternatives in any situation and is not averse to exploring them all. Moreover, he did not have the experience that Cimino had gained making commercials, did not, therefore, know how to command a set. This last, perhaps, was his largest failing, for this was an Eastwood crew, used to moving quickly and ready to glance in his direction when a director faltered.

It seems Tuggle lasted no more than a day in full control of the location. One witness remembers him hesitating overlong on the placement of a picture in the background of a shot. Another recalls him choosing a camera placement that ensured a door that had to be opened in the scene would block the actors from view. And these were comparatively simple shots. "He didn't know how to function in a decision-making deal" is the way Clint puts it. He also suggests, and it is the only criticism of Tuggle that he offers, that the would-be director should have spent some time on other sets, observing how the job was done. It was too late now. There was much complicated work still to be done involving crowds, high-voltage action and sophisticated coverage, and Clint simply did not feel Tuggle would be able to handle it.

Here it was again, the near-endemic problem of trying to direct a star who was not only the film's de facto producer, but also his own best director (at least until someone proves otherwise to him)—vastly complicated in this case by the fact that Tuggle was manifestly "such a good guy," as Clint describes him. Even if the Directors Guild's Eastwood rule [as described above]  had not prevented Clint from taking over, he really didn't want to.

So a compromise was worked out. The writer would stay on, contribute what he could in a collaborative way and receive directorial credit, while Clint, literally, called most of the shots. Tuggle insists he made substantial contributions to his script's realization in this role, and Clint does not deny them. But our eyes tell us this is very much an Eastwood movie--his stylistic tracks are all over it--and the anecdotal evidence supports this reading.
(Clint Eastwood , pp. 390-91.)

Very soon after Tightrope was released, rumors began circulating that it had actually been directed by Eastwood.
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herofan
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« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2009, 08:09:04 AM »

Thank you very much for the response; it was very informative.  I wonder why Clint doesn't just go ahead and direct all his movies himself?  It seems like he is the one actually in charge anyway?
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The Schofield Kid
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« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2009, 02:07:59 PM »

I wonder why Clint doesn't just go ahead and direct all his movies himself? 

For the last 16 years he has. The last film that Clint appeared in but did not direct was In The Line Of Fire.
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