June: Tell me about the movies you make.
Griffin Mill: Why?
June: Because I want to know what you do.
Griffin Mill: I listen to stories and decide if they’ll make good movies or not. I get 125 phone calls a day and if I let that slip to 100 I know I’m not doing my job. Everyone who calls, they want to know one thing. They want me to say yes to them and make their movie. If I say yes, they think that come New Year’s it will be just them and Jack Nicholson on the slopes of Aspen. That’s what they think. The problem is I can only say yes, my studio can only say yes 12 times a year. And collectively we hear about 50,000 stories a year. So it’s hard. And I guess sometimes I’m not nice and make enemies. That’s what I was to David. An enemy.
June: Was his story one of the 12?
Griffin Mill: No, it wasn’t.
Griffin Mill: It lacked certain elements that we need to market a film successfully.
June: What elements?
Griffin Mill: Suspense, laughter, violence. Hope, heart, nudity, sex. Happy endings. Mainly happy endings.
June: What about reality?
I hadn’t seen this movie until last weekend. I have no idea why I waited so long to see it. I mean, it has a stellar cast and Clint Eastwood is a favorite of mine (as a writer and a director). It’s also based on Dennis Lehane novel (who also wrote the novels on which Shutter Island and Gone Baby Gone were based), with a screenplay written by Brian Helgeland (who shares an Oscar with Curtis Hanson for their on L.A. Confidential). Despite all of that, it took me nearly a decade to actually watch the film. Boy was it worth the wait. It’s probably one of the most tense films I’d ever seen. It was nominated for six Oscars winning two: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress Marcia Gay Harden, Best Supporting Actor Tim Robbins (won), Best Actor Sean Penn (won), Best Director and Best Picture. Incidentally, this was the first time Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor had come from the same film since 1959’s Ben-Hur. The other films up for Best Picture that year were Lost in Translation, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Seabiscuit and winner The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.