WIth nearly 30 years of experience under his belt, film producer Mark Bakshi has more than lived up to his namesake. The son of renowned animation director Ralph Bakshi ("Lord of the Rings," "Fritz the Cat"), Bakshi began his film career working on the production staff of his father's films. Since then, he has carved out his own niche in the industry. His resume includes a consulting producer credit on the 2011 Academy Award-winning animated film "Rango" and an executive producer credit on the 2011 Best Picture nominee "Moneyball."
Bakshi's latest endeavor finds him working as a line producer on the Lionsgate comedy "What to Expect When You're Expecting." Inspired by the book of the same name by Heidi Murkoff, the film follows several different couples as they deal with the prospect of looming parenthood. The all-star cast includes the likes of Jennifer Lopez ("The Back-up Plan"), Cameron Diaz ("The Green Hornet"), Chris Rock ("Grown Ups"), Chace Crawford ("Gossip Girl"), Elizabeth Banks ("The Hunger Games") and Dennis Quaid ("Footloose"). The Wheel
sat down with Bakshi on the Atlanta set to discuss the process of gathering such a high-profile cast, the benefits of filming in Atlanta and dealing with paparazzi.
Emory Wheel: What was the origins of this project?
Mark Bakshi: Well, I’m a line producer. I typically get involved usually after the script has been written and the studios and the financiers have decided, yes, they want to make the movie. When I got onboard, the rights for the film had already been bought by Phoenix Pictures and they had taken the project to Lionsgate and they decided to finance the script and produce and distribute the picture. And that’s when I got involved.
That was probably last April, maybe even March. And I’ve been working on this film ever since. I’ll finish shooting the end of this month and then it will go into post-production for half a year and then it will be coming out on Mother’s Day 2012.
EW: In reports, they casting announcements seemed to come out all at once. Was the casting planned ahead of time and just revealed over a gradual process?
In the world of filmmaking, usually you get a cornerstone bit of casting—some bit of talent that’s going to attract other talent. The two big casting pieces were Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz. Once those deals were made and announced, there was more focus and interest in the movie and it’s a lot easier to cast the rest of the picture when you can have that kind of talent attached to it.
Also, our director [Kent Jones ("Nanny McPhee")] is a very well respected director in terms of his films and he’s very talent-friendly. He’s an actor’s director. The actual casting announcement might of seemed like it was a big waterfall of people but it was actually like a 12 week process.
EW: With so many in-demand talents, is that difficult to arrange?
Very. It’s hard to arrange because they all have different schedules and we had very specific windows in which to shoot. We’re shooting this movie in vignettes. Every two weeks or so, we have new actors with us so we have to shoot the scenes with those actors in a two week period. It makes scheduling the locations important and the art departments are under a lot of pressure. It is very difficult from a logistical standpoint. Most movies, if you have two or three leads and you have a twelve week schedule, you have much more flexibility. You can work with them for three weeks, let them go, then bring them back. Here, we don’t have that luxury. We have a schedule to finish.
EW: What made you want to work on this movie?
I think the biggest reason was the director. I’m attracted to projects based on who the director is. And the material is important but it’s secondary to that. I thought it would be a very commercial movie and it is. And something that’s different than I’ve worked on in the past, so it’s a new experience for me. I think it’s going to be a very commercial, comedic movie.
EW: Have you liked working in Atlanta?
MB: Atlanta is interesting. We like it. The biggest concern coming into Atlanta during the period we did was the heat. We have a movie about babies. It’s a movie that takes place outside and we were concerned that it would be incredibly hot and humid here. That was our main concern and it’s been something we were prepared for and did a lot of things to offset that. [But] it really hasn’t hindered us. The crew is great, the city is great.
We’re playing Atlanta for Atlanta in our movie so that’s an advantage— when you can shoot a city for the city it is. You’re not cheating it or we’re not doubling it. It gives you the ability to really show the city. Food’s great, restaurants are great. Everything is really accessible here. There are also really talented crews here. From a cost standpoint, you can save a lot of movie when you can hire people locally as opposed to traveling them from New York, Chicago or L.A.—some of the bigger production centers. It’s a big savings. Also, there’s a very attractive state tax incentive in Georgia. It’s one of the better film incentives in the country.
EW: With so many notable stars, are you able to keep a closed set?
There’s a lot of paparazzi issues when you’re dealing with stars. It’s just part of the process. You have to be aware of it and try to manage it. They follow you everywhere. They find out where you’re staying, they wait all night. They know what vehicles you drive. They are determined. Yeah, nobody likes it. But part of being famous is that.
EW: What impact do you hope the movie has on viewers?
Hopefully, they think it’s funny. They laugh and have a good time. That’s the first thing. But also, there’s a lot of heart in this movie and I hope it reinforces family values and being a parent and the responsibility of that and how great it is to be a parent—bringing someone into the world and being responsible for them. I think this movie portrays that in a very positive way. Bringing up children can be very funny, right? The things we do to our parents.
— Contact Mark Rozeman.