by Scott Beggs.
This summer, Cadillac and The Producers Guild of America are hosting a short film competition with Zaentz as its spiritual center. Contestants are being asked to draw thematic inspiration from his work in order to produce their own, and the prize is fitting: a chance to see their work featured during the 2015 Academy Awards.
At almost every turn in his career as a producer, Saul Zaentz tilted against convention. He wasn’t an outright rebel or provocateur (although he’d work hand in hand with some). It’s more like he was a man who saw what was popular in its time and chose to do something something else. In the 70s, it was One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. In the 80s, it was the weirdness of Amadeus and the mature determination of Mosquito Coast. In the 90s, it was The English Patient, and he rounded out his career with Milos Forman’s Goya’s Ghosts in the 2000s.
But instead of judging each of these movies and their successes against the cinematic movements of their time, it’s more important to see them simply as projects that Zaentz felt passionate about. Not only was he not working within the framework of popularity, he wasn’t responding to it either. Some of these were movies absolutely no one else wanted to make, but they hit Zaentz hard enough in the gut to put his money, time and talent behind them.
His punishment for being that independent was having to write so many Oscar acceptance speeches.
In 1997, when he took home the Oscar for The English Patient, he also accepted the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award — a special tribute, not handed out every year, that saw him join the ranks of Zanuck and Goldwyn and Hitchcock and Wyler and Bergman and more. An elite club of creative producers.
Here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a man who fiercely cut against the grain.
Read the rest f this article from Film School Rejects.