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MOVIE 43

A Note from Producer John Penotti
I'm one of the producers of MOVIE 43.  I run GreeneStreet Films, a New York based production company.  We produce, develop and finance a wide variety of films in all types of genres - but nothing before like this.

My producing partner Charlie Wessler on MOVIE 43 is a dear friend of mine.  About five years ago, he had me up to his farm in Rhinebeck, NY for a weekend extravaganza.  It's here that I met my other producing partner, Pete Farrelly.   They pitched me the idea of developing a series of short films, which we could somehow wrap around into a feature film.  I thought that sounded unique and interesting, so we went for it.

We spent over two years soliciting scripts from, literally, around the world, and we ended up commissioning and buying about 125 of them.  We gave writers the simple mandate that they had to be between three and eight minutes long - and everything was fair game, as long as it was very bold and outrageous -- it's an R-rated comedy.  Beyond that, we just didn't care what they came up with.

It was a strange process, trying to get people onboard -- everyone from writers, actors and directors.    It was tough getting unions and agents to understand that this wasn't just little short films for the internet - this was bona fide feature film material, and that we'd be casting A-level actors.  People would just look at us strange, because we couldn't really describe what the movie was going to be, because, frankly, we had no idea.  Every conversation, you had to resell the idea from scratch.  But we relied a lot on both Charlie's and Pete's track record - that helped a great deal.

On the financing side, we were actually greenlit by one studio, and were just days away from shooting "The Catch," when suddenly, the parent corporation took a look at it and, almost unprecedented, said, "Absolutely no way.  This is way too outrageous," and pulled the plug!  So we decided just to jump in and finance it ourselves.

We shot a few of the shorts, and, at that point, Relativity became interested, and they showed tremendous grace and foresight and enthusiasm -- and we found our home.

As far as casting goes, we never hid the fact that we only had a modest budget.  But, funny enough, most agents and, for sure, the actors, who we mostly just went to directly, just said, "Don't worry, that's not what this is about.  It's stuff I never get to do."   

The shoot took place over about a two year period.  These great actors would often just find time for us, but it had to fit in between other projects they were already committed to.  They'd say, "Listen, I totally want to do it, but I've got to shoot this feature first.  Could you wait for me?"  And we did.

Alternately, we had people like Richard Gere, who said to us, "Hey, it's Monday, I can do this on Friday and Saturday, if you could use get it together."  It was a crazy process of both running and gunning and starting up production and then closing down for a long time.  We produce like a commercial production house, like a mobile MASH unit, just immediately pulling together top level A-list crews and assembling a team to shoot whenever our cast was ready for us.

In getting these amazing directors, we often found that just working our way through their agents could be a little cumbersome.  The real heroes here were their assistants.  The trick was to get the assistant interested, who was usually young and hip, and got the idea.  We'd say, "Hey, when that great director calls, we're not pitching a feature, just tell him about this crazy thing." We found that worked more than you could imagine.

This whole thing really came out of the mind twisted of Charlie Wessler -- in fact, at different times, we thought of calling the film "From the Mind of Charlie" or "Charlie's Shorts," things like that.   He would pitch me these stories straight faced, before we commissioned the writing, and I would be howling and saying, "Charlie, there's no way.  There's not even the slightest chance we're doing that." But, as you see. . . we did.

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