For almost 20 years, Letty Aronson has been producing the films of her big brother, Woody Allen: She worries about the commercial concerns while Allen focuses on the creative. Their partnership is such a well-oiled machine that Aronson admits, “I’m so used to the way he works, it always bothers me when someone else doesn’t work that way.” Aronson got her start as a producer working with Jean Doumanian, then took over producing Allen’s films after his working relationship with Doumanian ended in a bitter legal battle. Since then, she’s kept up Allen’s pace of making a film a year, and earned her first Oscar nomination for 2011’s Midnight In Paris. Aronson’s most recent production is Blue Jasmine, which has been a hit at the box office and has given Cate Blanchett frontrunner status for a best actress Oscar.
AwardsLine: Has it gotten any easier to finance the films you produce, especially considering the strength of Woody Allen as a brand?
Letty Aronson: Not really. (Laughs.) Except for independent financiers in this country, we get no money from any studio, not even a discussion. After all the hullabaloo of Midnight In Paris, I didn’t get one call from any studio. But I can understand that because they don’t work the way we work. In going out and looking for money, I tell people right up front: They can’t read the script; they don’t have input into the cast; they don’t see dailies; they don’t see a rough cut. They’re really investing in Woody and his reputation. They’re not going to make hundreds of millions of dollars, either. We’re low risk, low reward. The studios don’t work that way, but in Europe, there’s never been a studio system. It’s really always been independent financiers. So it’s easier to go there (with) all these different rules and get money. We don’t want to spend a lot on the films because we would like to pay our investors back. For some, we put together a three-picture deal. If we don’t know the people, I don’t love putting together a three-picture deal because who knows if we’ll like working with them after the first picture? But it’s not any easier. A film like Blue Jasmine, which got the most spectacular reviews, is up to almost $34 million in this country. Now another film without Woody’s name on it that got those kind of reviews would earn three times that much. (more…)