Producer Leopoldo Gout

¡Viva Producing!

Becoming a producer and writer had more to do with the laws of cause and effect, my personal history and my unwavering passion to tell a story than anything else I can think of.

Through this intimate approach, I have come to work with extraordinary filmmakers to build an environment that brings out the best in people. Producing is a kind of muscle, a collection of experiences and impulses, a guttural, instinctual force to find a balance between resources and ideas, propelling a group of people to work in one direction. The best producers will bring an anthology of personal experiences and use that individual know-how as an invaluable element to get the best from their team.

There are endless aspects of being a producer that we could talk about from financing and studio, cast, and writer relationships to developing a screenplay and physically building a great team to produce a picture. However, I want to focus on the singular feature that truly makes it all special: the producer’s life—the values and inner knowledge that one already has; the common sense—or not—that the producer brings to the table on the first job, the first day, and through to the last. The magic comes from the experiences that sculpt the individuality that each producer contributes—that is what makes the trade special.

I came to New York from Mexico City, via London where I studied Art at Central Saint Martins School. Although we didn’t grow up with a lot of money, art has always surrounded my family, allowing us to be exposed to a great deal of culture.

One of my earliest memories is of running around with my mother while she was working on audio-visuals for her job making documentary films for the Mexican government; I remember the multitude of slide projectors, lenses and film. As a child, our dinner table was often filled with incredible writers, painters and filmmakers from Luis Buñuel and his family, to Garcia Marquez and Carlos Monsiváis. I found myself growing up in the company of amazing artists and wild people from all corners of the world. We also had lots and lots of books—I think this energy and mixture of ideas made me a natural storyteller.

In early 2000, I had a couple of art shows in New York at galleries such as Kenny Schachter, Tricia Collins and Jack Tilton and during one of those trips, I met the love of my life. It was in those days, going back and forth from Mexico to New York, that my brother Everardo and I formed our production company and art group called Calabazitaz.

We created and produced everything from installation videos to commercial music videos for artists ranging from Mos Def and Ozomatli to Wil I Am and Morcheeba. Back then, we did everything—writing, producing, art direction—and we helped each other as we worked on scripts, comics, stories, short films and art.

Mexican filmmakers tend to be involved in every aspect of making a picture, including both writing and production. In our country, this is the only way to make anything. Because the Mexican film business is so small, we tend to become very resourceful by overlapping the various filmmaking roles. My brother and I became producers, directors and writers from that necessity and have collaborated on these roles since we were kids. Thus, when I furthered my career in the US, it was a seamless transition for me to collaborate with other directors who, luckily, have been very talented.

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