By Diana Colson
Independent film producer K.C. Schulberg recently addressed a group of film enthusiasts at a Sarasota Film Commission Mixer.
Jeanne Corcoran, Director of the Sarasota County Film & Entertainment Office, had invited this third generation film executive to tell about the feature film he will soon be shooting in Southwest Florida. The film is based upon one of his uncle’s short stories, that uncle being the famed writer Budd Schulberg, author of the novel, What Makes Sammy Run, and creator of the Academy Award Winning screenplay for On the Waterfront, starring Marlon Brando.
Budd Schulberg’s short story, The Dare, was the inspiration for the movie. The 25-page story has been expanded into a feature-length screenplay and given the title of A Dream Last Night. Of the script, K.C. says, “A Dream Last Night is a love story and a thriller. It’s a mermaid tale, with a tinge of Rosemary’s Baby. It is an allegory for the creative process as the protagonist plunges into the exhilarating, unforgiving waters of the unknown in pursuit of an elusive goal while the doubters and naysayer try to shake his resolve.”
Director Pierre Filmon and K.C. Schulberg have co-written the script, and in doing so, deepened and enriched the mythical aspects of the story. With Oscar-winner Vilmos Zsigmond as Director of Photography, the film promises to revel in wide-open spaces, broad vistas and panoramic sweeps, allowing the film to showcase the extraordinary flora and fauna of Southwest Florida. The locale of the movie plays a central role in the production.
Oscar-winner Christopher Plummer and Oscar-nominee Eric Roberts are expected to be in the cast. Two-time Grammy nominated Universal music recording artist Jacky Terrasson is on board not only to act in the film, but also to provide the film’s soundtrack. His dreamy, evocative jazz piano will set the tone for the remarkable Florida setting.
Famed Florida landscape photographer, Clyde Butcher, is slated to make a cameo appearance. Pat Garner of Manasota Key is scheduled to be the Production Designer. Several members of the Seminole Tribe play pivotal roles, and The Rod & Gun Club in Everglades City has been tagged as one of the film’s key locations. Jeanne Corcoran is pulling for Director Pierre Filmon to also use some of Sarasota’s remarkable locations, including historic Spanish Point.
The film is being set up as a quality, independent art film and will be produced on a reduced budget. (Similarly, Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild was made for $1.8 million, received three 2012 Academy Award Nominations, and has taken in $21 million to date.) In the words of Producer K.C. Schulberg: “If you keep your budget low, if you attract high caliber talent, if you create a unique work that connects with your audience, and if you position that work correctly on the international marketplace, then you leverage up your chances of creating a successful endeavor. This is what we are attempting to do with this film. For me, this is not just another film. This is personal.”
K.C. Schulberg comes from a celebrated film dynasty. His grandfather, B. P. Schulberg, was a motion picture pioneer in Hollywood’s Golden Age. B.P. first started making movies in New Jersey in 1914, before Hollywood existed. When the center of gravity shifted to the west, he moved out to Hollywood where he partnered with Louis B. Mayer (co-founder of MGM) and worked alongside Adolph Zukor (co-founder of Paramount Pictures.) In 1927, B.P. Schulberg joined Paramount as head of production until 1935. His opening year on the job, he produced the first film to win the Oscar for “Best Picture”. It was a silent movie calledWings, and it starred Clara Bow and introduced the iconic Gary Cooper to the silver screen.
As a lad, K.C. remembers making an extended trip to Southwest Florida, a region he now calls home. He recently bought a home in Naples. His father brought the family to Everglades City for the production of the 1958 film, Wind Across the Everglades, which featured a young Christopher Plummer in his first non-Shakespearian role. Other cast members included Burl Ives, Gypsy Rose Lee, Emmett Kelley, and Peter Falk. Budd Schulberg had written the screenplay. It was the story of a crusading Audubon game warden battling bird poachers in the Everglades, and is considered by many to be the first real eco-film.
Young K.C. was eye-witness to his father’s production of Wind Across the Everglades, and is echoing that memory in his current project, A Dream Last Night. Although the two films are to be released 57 years apart, it’s fascinating to note that Christopher Plummer—now 84— is slated to be featured in both productions.
K.C. grew up surrounded by people in the film industry. His grandmother, Adeline Schulberg, was Hollywood’s first female talent agent. Film greats like the Marx Brothers, Charlie Chaplin, Errol Flynn and Cary Grant swirled through their home. His father, Stuart Schulberg, was an independent producer/director and prominent television producer who served for ten years as executive producer of The Today Show. His sister, Sandra Schulberg, is an independent producer noted for having founded the IFP (Independent Feature Project). And of course there was always the influential presence of his charismatic Uncle Budd, whose collaborations with Marlon Brando, Elia Kazan and Humphrey Bogart are well known.
K.C. Schulberg’s personal career in the film world has been stellar. He has been involved with over 200 films, some made for cinema, some for television. From 1990-1997, he was under contact to New York-based Hallmark Entertainment, at the time the world’s leading producer of movies and miniseries for television, and the third largest producer of American primetime programming. Hallmark Entertainment had an annual turnover of $275 million. Schulberg held various positions in production, including Worldwide Production Supervisor, and in marketing as Sr. VP Worldwide Marketing. Productions for which he was directly responsible included Gulliver’s Travels (5 Emmy Awards), Streets of Laredo (2 Emmy Awards), and Scarlett, the Sequel to Gone With The Wind (3 Emmy awards).
Before working with Hallmark, K.C. Schulberg had been an independent producer and film executive who worked on more than 25
feature films, many of which garnered awards. In 1998, K.C. resigned from Hallmark, moved to Europe and acquired the Paris-based production company, The Stellar Group. K.C. broadened the mission of this company to include film, television and music consulting, talent management of musical artists, and the production of feature films and television products. And he also steered the marketing for Pandora Cinema, the company known for such world-class films such as Shine and Like Water for Chocolate.
It is unquestionable that K. C. Schulberg has the background and experience to bring his personal cinematic vision to life. The movie business is in his blood, and there’s every reason to expect that A Dream Last Nightwill be as remarkable as the man himself. To learn more about this fascinating project, visit www.adreamlastnight.com .