‘GREEN ROOM’ producer says his role in film is about adaptation, improvisation

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green_room_FF_1Preston Barta // Editor

Whenever the Oscars roll around each year, you probably don’t recognize the men and women who walk the stage to pick up the top honor of the night. Hollywood uses its stars and directors as a tool for marketing. Unless you’re Jerry Bruckheimer (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN) or Harvey Weinstein (nearly every other movie), the chance of you knowing the person who snags the trophy is slim to none.

The role of a producer is no doubt a vital one. It’s also a hard job to nail down. There are so many variables to shepherding a production from start to finish. They build the shooting schedule, find good finance partners, license the music, budget the film out and make sure everything’s running smoothly from conception to release. But most importantly, they facilitate the director’s vision.

Neil Kopp poses in the press room during the 2008 Film Independent's Spirit Awards held at Santa Monica Beach on February 23, 2008 in Santa Monica, California. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Neil Kopp poses in the press room during the 2008 Film Independent’s Spirit Awards held at Santa Monica Beach on February 23, 2008 in Santa Monica, California. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Producer Neil Kopp (PARANOID PARK, WENDY AND LUCY) walked us through his day-to-day with his latest project, GREEN ROOM, which opened regionally on Friday.

Directed by Jeremy Saulnier (BLUE RUIN), GREEN ROOM is not a film for the faint of heart. It’s quite literally one of the most brutal movies you will ever come across. However, it’s also one of the best film experiences you’ll take in this year.

It’s a film that pairs up a low-level punk rock band (Anton Yelchin and Alia Shawkat, among others) that go against a horde of neo-Nazis (led by Patrick Stewart) with a taste for blood.

Kopp and his producing partner, Anish Savjani, of Film Science (their production company) first came across this film’s twisted concept at Sundance 2014, shortly after Saulnier’s success with BLUE RUIN. Over the course of a breakfast, Saulnier walked the producing duo through the film from A to Z, and it didn’t take long for them to agree GREEN ROOM was on the more gripping stories they’ve encountered.

“[Saulnier] had everything worked out in his head, down to every detail,” said Kopp. “After the meeting, we got the script by April, which had a big impact on me.”

In fact, if Kopp wasn’t in producer mode, he said his reaction to the script would have been quite similar to Patrick Stewart’s, who plays the film’s menacing Darcy. Stewart, best known for his role as Professor X in the X-MEN films, locked himself up at his country home in England, turned on his security system and poured himself a tall Scotch.

Patrick Stewart as Darcy Banker. Photo courtesy of Scott Patrick Green / A24 Films.

Patrick Stewart as Darcy Banker. Photo courtesy of Scott Patrick Green / A24 Films.

“When [Stewart] said that, I immediately got it. It really is an intense story, and the script read just as brutal as the movie is,” Kopp recalled.

Kopp described producing a film, and this one in particular, “as a scary process.” You never know what you’re going to confront.

“As a producer, you’re constantly adapting. A lot of the time you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing,” Kopp quipped. “Whether you’re dealing with special effects, practical effects, locations, makeup, musicians, animals, stunts — there are so many moving parts to manage.”

One of those components tied to Kopp’s job was finding the perfect “room” for the film. Most of GREEN ROOM takes place all at one location, the neo-Nazi’s venue for which the band plays at.
“The exterior of the venue was a real location in the woods of Oregon. It was a barn and we added onto the exterior façade to make it look bigger than it actually was,” said Kopp.

“The entire interior, however, was built on a soundstage. The green room was an actual room, but it was elevated five feet above ground level to get shots of the characters falling to the floor.”

Matter of fact, all of the parts to the interior of the venue were separated from each other, but Kopp and the filmmakers were so precise with their planning that the geographic linkage in the film seems flawless.

“Producing is a business job, and film is a collision of art and commerce,” said Kopp. “If I could go back and do my schooling over again, I definitely would have got a legal or business degree.”

Check your local listings for showtimes of GREEN ROOM. And read our full review from Fantastic Fest here.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.