Producing nearly 30 independent films since 2003, producer Rick Rosenthal has watched the market “just radically change” over the last several years.
“You used to make films for half a million dollars and could sell for $1 million, and that was good business, but now films that you make for a million dollars, you can’t sell for $1 million—you can’t sell them for half a million dollars,” Rosenthal tells Deadline. “There are exceptions to the rule, but the general trend is not in the right direction.”
Encouraged by the rise of the streaming services and the outstanding television being made today, Rosenthal came to recognize the potential for a new business opportunity. “That is, to take the know-how of independent filmmaking and the risk profile and couple it with experience in television, and create an independent spec pilot,” the director said, appearing at Deadline’s Sundance Studio with writer Nick Morton and actor Matthew Lillard to discuss their new venture, Halfway There.
Starring Lillard and Blythe Danner (who’s had a busy year at Sundance, promoting Sony acquisition Hearts Beat Loud and Elizabeth Chomko’s What They Had), the indie pilot follows a recovering addict, Jimmy Bishop, who finds his sober living facility sitting on the edge of bankruptcy. Caught between a rock and a hard place, Bishop is forced to take in his wealthy, alcoholic mother (Danner) as a client, and that’s where the fun begins.
“Jimmy Bishop has this whole tapestry of emotions he gets to play in the pilot, and as an actor, you sort of salivate over the opportunity,” Lillard said of his Halfway There character. “You just see the potential of this character not only in the pilot, but over the course of the life of a series.”
To view Deadline’s conversation with the Halfway There team, click above.
The Deadline Studio is presented by Hyundai. Special thanks to Calii Love.