Former New Line Cinema co-chief Bob Shaye recently took a two-year break from the Cannes Film Festival, but is back in town this year to tubthump his latest directing project, Ambition. The story, Shaye tells me in the video above, is about a young woman “who is extremely ambitious as a musician and she gets herself into really, really big trouble and then there’s a twist in the end.”
Shaye and his Unique Features partner Michael Lynne are producing the previously-titled Gifted. The pair notably greenlit Peter Jackson’s The Lord Of The Rings trilogy while at New Line, then considered one of the biggest financial risks in movie history which subsequently went on to gross nearly $3B at the worldwide box office.
Ambition is Shaye’s third feature-length film as director after The Last Mimzy in 2007 and The Book of Love in 1990. It stars Katherine Hughes, Sonoya Mizuno, Kyanna Simone, Jared Bankens and Dylan McNamara.
Shaye says, “It felt great” to get back to helming. But, “I had to really convince myself all over again after the bloom of directing a couple of movies, and now this, has worn off, that I can really make worthy entertainment. I believe I can, but I want to knock the socks off the rest of the world. I think almost every artist or director wants to, but it doesn’t always happen that way and it does suggest the time for self-appraisal and reflection about whether this is really what I should be doing. You have to decide that what you’ve done is really worthy of your own being.”
Shaye has been coming to Cannes for 35 years and once, for 1977’s Stunts, hired French stuntmen to run down the Croisette, on fire, and jump into the ocean before being motored to a yacht and airlifted by helicopter. Cannes has changed since then, he says.
The festival, “needs to readjust its own understanding of what the institution is, and nobody should get so full of themselves… I think the institution is maturing, let’s put it that way.”