Ever wonder how Taiwanese director Ang Lee does it, in Hollywood, doing deals with the glitterati and the LA moguls, to make fine films there? One of his producers and basically his screenwriting pal, James Schamus, is his go-to guy there. Together, they buy properties and develop them from books into films.
Recently, the US publishing firm Random House announced another big step beyond traditional publishing with the creation of long-term “creative and strategic filmmaking partnership” with Focus Features, the division of NBC Universal run by David Linde and yes, James Schamus, Ang Lee’s James Schamus, who also teaches screenwriting at Columbia in New York.
Together the companies will develop, co-finance and co-produce “a substantial slate of feature films for theatrical release” based on books published by Random House, where “rights are available and can be acquired.” The films will be jointly owned by the two companies, with Focus controlling worldwide sales and distribution rights. Focus’s book-derived films so far include ANG LEE’s ‘‘Brokeback Mountain’’.
For a Tainan native, growing up in south Taiwan, Ang Lee’s done pretty well for himself. [I wish he’d do an updated version of Eat Drink Man Woman one of these days and come back to his Taiwanese roots.]