Producer Don Carmody – Interview
The name of Don Carmody may not be a name that is familiar to most filmgoers; however, it is highly likely that you have seen at least one of his films. From Oscar winning hits like Chicago to computer game adaptations such as Silent Hill and Resident Evil, Carmody has overseen production on well over seventy films.
Although he is not as well known as other Hollywood moguls like Joel Silver and Jerry Bruckheimer, you won’t hear Carmody complain: “It’s the name of the game. A producer generally subverts his ego to those of the creative elements. He goes along to get along.”
As one of the hardest working producers in the business he shows no sign of slowing down. Living in Montreal, Carmody takes immense pride in making big budget Hollywood features in his home country. When asked what his greatest professional achievements were he simply replied: “Winning an Oscar for Chicago and bringing world class films to Canada.”
It is evident to see that Carmody is enthusiastic about film and although he’s been in the business for over thirty years, filmmaking is obviously an ongoing passion to him and he admits that he’d still be keen to work with heavy weights, Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg.
Born in New England, his family moved to Canada when he was a young boy and following a stint at Film school (where most yearn to become a writer or director) Carmody became intrigued by the business side of filmmaking as well as the creative side.
Although Carmody has sat in the director’s chair once before, it is a venture that he doesn’t wish to repeat. When asked why not, he maintains that he’s more interested in hiring the talent behind the camera: “I don’t think as well visually as I do literally. I’m more of a writer creatively than a director. I’ll leave that to people who can tell a story visually.” Following on from production duties of early David Cronenberg films such as Rabid, he also produced the early Bill Murray hit Meatballs. Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, Carmody produced numerous genre films, from thrillers and comedies to science fiction and horror. It is this taste in genre material that would help Carmody make his mark. Indeed, Carmody makes it clear that when choosing a project he looks for a “commercial appeal and emotional involvement by the characters,” however this often isn’t easy to find in a script and he sometimes works for months and even years on a given project.
Carmody has worked with some of the biggest stars in Hollywood, from Jack Nicholson and Bruce Willis to Keanu Reeves and Robert De Niro. However he isn’t coy about the intricacies that a producer faces when working with such huge stars: “Some are more professional than others. Most have been fine. It’s a producer’s job to find a way to get along with those who aren’t.” He is also open when discussing the financial problems that a filmmaker faces today in Hollywood; “Lower budgets are fine as long as everyone is on the same playing field. If you are working with people who refuse to accept the reality of the budget it doesn’t matter how much money you have, it’s never enough.”
Life in the film business isn’t always easy and Carmody has had many failures as well as successes over the years, the most notable being the John Travolta film Battlefield Earth and Sylvester Stallone’s remake of Get Carter. During the course of the interview he makes it clear that films are a collaborative process and that it’s necessary that all members of the production are on the same page. Carmody believes that the main reason that a film can go wrong during production is when “directors insist that their vision is unique and refuse to listen to suggestions or criticisms.” Carmody, however, doesn’t let these failures get him down, he’s been in the business long enough to know that not every film will be a critical or financial success: “I think better luck next time. You can’t always hit home runs. Generally I get at least a base hit which is remarkable as averages go.” With five films currently in various stages of production it looks like Carmody will have many more hits to come, but that doesn’t stop him from being nervous: “Of course I get nervous. All my films are my children and we want the world to love them.”