The Big Empty - About the Production

Last Update: 13 November 2003
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"I usually read a script until I don't like it. After 12 pages of The
Big Empty, I called my agent and said I want to meet this guy!" -Jon
When Steve Anderson first sat down to write The Big Empty, he gave
himself a few simple rules. The first rule: there could be nothing in
the script he didn't own, or at least wouldn't be able to get very
easily. There would be no helicopter chases, no machine gun shootouts,
or characters that drove Ferraris. The second rule: it had to be set
somewhere where he could steal locations and not have to worry about
cops or permits. The third rule: he needed to create compelling
characters that actors would love to play. The reason for the rules:
he'd be doing it all himself, so it needed to remain simple. Four weeks
later, the script for The Big Empty was finished.
This was not Anderson's first writing venture. The scripts he had
written before had garnered the attention of a number of Hollywood
creative types and the writer was developing quite a fan base. Yet no
one was willing to pay the price to make the movies he was writing…
much less agree to let the first-time filmmaker direct. A veteran
cameraman, Anderson had spent the last decade covering high-profile
events and entertainment stories for CNN. He was a good writer. He was
being told that. And he felt ready to direct his own material.
Anderson's journey began with the help of producer Gregg Daniel. "Steve
and I met through a mutual friend," Daniel recalls. "When I read his
work, I knew he had talent. And I recognized the hurdles we would be up
against if we tried to put those higher budget projects together and
still have Steve direct." Gregg approached his friend, former AFI
schoolmate Keith Resnick. "Gregg and I were looking for a project to
produce," says Resnick. "He asked me to read some of Steve's work and
when I did, we both agreed that if he could write a film that could be
made on a smaller budget, we would find the money."
"I had a lot of ideas running around in my head," recalls Anderson. "I
remember starting with a premise that was sort of influenced by a film
at Sundance five or six years ago called Blood Guts Bullets and Octane.
And I had a number of experiences through CNN, including covering the
Heaven's Gate suicides in San Diego. I always wondered, what would
happen if that was still going on? I decided to write a story that
touched on this theory and once I got started, it practically wrote
itself. To be honest, I really don't even remember writing it."
The team found themselves in the offices of producers Doug Mankoff and
Andrew Spaulding at Echo Lake Productions. Having had previous success
with such contemplative and intellectual art house films as Things
Behind the Sun and 13 Conversations About One Thing, the producers were
ready to tackle a comedy and were actively searching for a script that
was intelligent, thought-provoking, and fun.
"The Big Empty represents a fun departure for us," says Doug Mankoff,
President of Echo Lake Productions. "Most of the films we have done
thus far have been serious dramas. The Big Empty, as a script, read
like a fun ride, but it also had more. The odd way it looked at
conventions and at the world made it a special story worth the time and
resources we would invest. Steve Anderson clearly had a special vision
for this film. I also happen to be a big fan of Jon Favreau. We had a
lot of confidence that he could carry this film on his shoulders. As
things came together, we couldn't have been more delighted. A wonderful
cast of actors and crew came together to help Steve fulfill his vision.
It was a departure that we are proud to have made."
"We are a very material-driven company," explains Andrew Spaulding,
Executive Vice President of Echo Lake Productions. "The project came to
us with Steve attached as director, and while we're usually reluctant
to work with first-time directors, this script was so strong, we had to
make an exception. It also helped that Steve had worked for years as a
cameraman putting together stories for CNN on a daily basis; we knew he
had the experience needed to craft a good story." Echo Lake guaranteed
the budget and the filmmakers were on their way.

Press Notes Main Page
Soundtrack Info 
About the Production
Locking in the Actors
Let's Put Baker on the Map!
Subliminally Speaking
About the Cast
- Jon Favreau
- Rachael Leigh Cook
- Kelsey Grammer
- Sean Bean
- Daryl Hannah
- Adam Beach
- Joey Lauren Adams
- Melora Walters
- Jon Gries
- Bud Cort
- Gary Farmer
- Brent Briscoe
 About the Filmmakers
- Steve Anderson (Director)
- Doug Mankoff (Producer)
- Gregg L. Daniel (Producer)
- Andrew Spaulding (Producer)
- Keith Resnick (Producer)
- Steve Bickel (Executive Producer)
- Jeffrey Kramer (Executive Producer)
- Steven G. Kaplan (Executive Producer)
- Peter Wetherell (Executive Producer)
- Jory Weitz (Casting Director)
- Scott Scalise (Film Editor)
- Aaron Osborne (Production Designer)
- Chris Manley (Director of Photography)
- Brian Tyler (Music Composer)
- Dondi Bastone (Music Supervisor)
- Kristin M. Burke (Costume Designer)


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