Tisch Class Gets Lowdown from Pros

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Producers Nicolas Gonda and Sarah Green talked to students in the course Producing the Independent Film about their work on Knight of Cups.

Tony Schwab, Staff Writer

Students in Peggy Rajski’s Producing the Independent Film class got to learn about the industry from two pros, producers Nicolas Gonda and Sarah Green, who spoke this past Tuesday about their careers so far and their work on Terrence Malick’s upcoming film “Knight of Cups.”

Both Gonda and Green have had long careers in film. Green has been producing for more than 25 years, beginning with 1991’s “Thousand Pieces of Gold.” Her other previous credits include “Girlfight,” “Mud” and “Take Shelter,” as well as all of Malick’s work since 2005’s “The New World.” Gonda, meanwhile, worked in marketing before beginning his career as a producer on “Tree of Life.” Since then he has worked on Malick’s films and a number of others.

Gonda is an NYU alum, having graduated from Gallatin with a concentration in he history of the soul. While at NYU he was granted an independent study to learn from Malick when he was a professor of philosophy. This kicked off the relationship that would ultimately lead to their collaboration.

Gonda and Green largely focused Tuesday’s conversation on the complexity of getting a film financed, shot and distributed. They discussed how film has developed in the age of the internet, bringing up how at one point, filmmakers considered their art separate from the business side.

“They were hired guns, and their job was to do the creative part of it,” said Green. “Now, it falls on the artist to build a brand.”

Gonda clarified the meaning of this term — “brand”— used so often today but rarely defined clearly.

“A brand is what you stand for as a filmmaker,” said Gonda. “The types of films that you want to make. It’s the context you establish for your audience so that they support not just your films but you as a filmmaker.”

Gonda acknowledged that this is difficult for many who are more used to the technical aspects of the business, but reassured the class that there are many ways of reaching the public.

“I know as artists these things might seem profane, but now you are equipped to interact directly with your audience,” said Gonda. “Whether it be through Facebook, Youtube or Twitter, try to find something that speaks to you.”

The two also spoke about Malick’s new film “Knight of Cups.” They did not reveal too much, but did show a few clips featuring star Christian Bale. They both viewed the film as being a new step for Malick even as it shares many of the themes of his other work. It is concerned with the quest to be both a successful artist and a fulfilled person. For the aspiring filmmakers in the audience, this seems very likely to hit close to home.

“Knight of Cups” will be released in theaters on March 4.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Feb. 29 print edition. Email Tony Schwab at [email protected]