Interview: Producers Christa Campbell and Lati Grobman on the Realities of the Business

Christa Campbell and Lati Grobman

“The best advice I would give is: get a connection, get in the room, do the best audition in the world, take that contact and run with it” – Lati Grobman

Bite-Size 6 with Christa Campbell and Lati Grobman

Hashtags: #thebite | #biteteam

Christa Campbell and Lati Grobman are the dynamic producing duo behind the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise and the upcoming romantic comedy She’s Funny That Way starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson. Christa and Lati talk the reality of the business, casting the best actor for the role and why you should blow it out of the water when you audition.

Christa and Lati give us the bite on your 6 hot questions.

Your have a wealth of experience in front and behind the camera. From the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise to a slew of projects like She’s Funny That Way. What brought you together and drives your projects?    

Lati Grobman: We met through some friends in LA 15yrs ago. Christa was an actress at the time. I don’t remember whether I was producing or working on set or editing but we became close very fast. We remained friends for many years. Then Christa set up this movie. She brought the financing, the main actor, she got some product placement. Basically she produced the movie. She didn’t take the credit on the movie as a producer. Although she pretty much produced the movie. So over the years, with a little bit of propaganda, she finally realized that she is a producer. And the best producer I have ever met.

Christa Campbell: Our first project was Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Lati Grobman: What drives our projects… I’d love to say a list of pure reasons but I always say other than porn we’ll make anything (laughs). People enjoy action movies, romantic comedies, documentaries, so why not make a movie that somebody is going to enjoy. That’s why our credits cover everything.

Christa Campbell: Sometimes we’ll read a script, or there’s a certain actor or director we want to work with, or the subject of the script. We get so passionate about (the project) that we have to make it and it becomes our mission to get it done.

Do you feel it’s important to have substantial relax roles in your projects? 

Lati Grobman: The answer is no.

Christa Campbell: I mean we don’t look at movies and say ‘Oh there’s a great female role lets do this movie’. We do the movie for the subject matter.

If we are honest about this business. It’s very hard for a female to be the lead in a movie and the male to be secondary. The way we do movies, based on foreign sales, it’s very hard to get those movies made. The value of a male lead, in the overseas market means more than women, unless you are Angelina Jolie. So based on getting the movie made its easier when it’s a male lead.

Do you feel it’s important to cast new unknown talent? 

Lati Grobman: Yes it is important to cast unknown talent, but this is the movie business. It’s a business like every other business, so if we have a project and we cast an unknown actor as the lead, there’s the possibility that the movie will not be sold.

Christa Campbell: You have to have a certain number of names that will give value to the movie. We are doing Texas Chainsaw Massacre right now and we are selling it based on the franchise. Most of the actors in the movie are unknowns and we can do that.

Lati Grobman: There is another movie that is just a script. There are many roles that will be cast with unknowns but the main roles, we will be looking to get names for those. Otherwise it’s very hard to fund it. We are always looking for the next Brad Pitt, the next star.

How would you describe the ex-factor quality that you are looking for in an actor who is coming in to audition?

Christa Campbell: It’s all about the work I have to say. I mean yes there is the look but ultimately it’s all about the work. We watch thousands of tapes and it’s ultimately the best actor, you know. You can have the most beautiful girl on tape and the part calls for a beautiful leading lady, but someone else that’s not as ‘beautiful’ can blow it out of the water. So you take the best actor.

Lati Grobman: And I have something to say that may be unpopular, but I think an actor or any artist is born with this talent. You can finesse it of course but you can’t learn to be talented.

Christa Campbell: You develop your craft obviously but there is something to be said about someone that walks in and just has that thing, the energy, they could just say a few lines and you know instantly that they’re a natural.

Lati Grobman: It’s a star quality. It’s something they just have. You look at all these magazines and you sometimes think wow these people are so unattractive. And then you meet them and they speak and you see they have that ‘thing’. They’ve got the star quality that made them famous.

So if you feel an actor is right for the part but the director disagrees? How do you resolve this?  

Christa Campbell: You can never force a director to take somebody. You can always try to convince them. But obviously if someone is great then everyone agrees that they are great. It only becomes a problem if you are suggesting name actors to go after and they don’t think they are right and we think they are more valuable. That’s the only place where you’d find that they don’t agree with you. Ultimately again, if someone comes in and they are great, usually we are on the same page.

If an actor found a clever way of contacting you to self promote (so no emails, no calling or creepy stuff). Would you welcome it?

Lati Grobman: If it’s a banner in the sky yes. (Laughs)  Listen we came from that world. But we can’t just sit in our office and meet with actors all day. We can’t be too open to helping actors because then we won’t be able to work. But we try as much as we can. Especially if someone is talented. It’s really easy to help someone that’s talented. It’s almost impossible to help people who are not.

Christa Campbell: There’s the old saying that ‘cream rises to the top’.  So when someone is talented, there becomes a buzz about them and people get excited about them. They go out of their way to find out about them and it just spreads. So when you have someone that’s not ready, they are too green. They’re going to hit rejection.

We are casting right now and watching a group of actors and when you say ‘Oh my god, did you see this guys audition?’ everyone agrees, because there’s just something special.

Lati Grobman: The one thing with actors is if you help them, they expect you to follow up and that’s hard. I don’t have a problem to pick up the phone, call a casting director and say ‘Hey Yvonne would like to audition’. Absolutely no problem. The problem begins when they come back with ‘What did they say?’. My answer is, ‘I don’t know, I don’t have time to check.’ So the best advice I would give is: get a connection, get in the room, do the best audition in the world, take that contact and run with it.

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