Friday, 6 February 2015

I was always attracted to the Hollywood film industry...

Interview with Michelle Chydzik Sowa
by Agnes A. Rose

Michelle Chydzik Sowa is a film producer. She is descended from Catholic Poles on her father’s side.  Her father’s family left Poland during World War II. Her credits include: “The Wedding Date” (2005), “Starter for 10” (2007), “My Life In Ruins” (2009), “Inhale” (2010) and “Love, Wedding, Marriage” (2012). Now she is working on the film adaptation of the book by Alyson Richman entitled “The Lost Wife”. She lives with her family in America.

Agnes A. Rose: Michelle, I am very honored that I can host you on my blog and talk to you. First of all I would like to find out something more about your work. What inspired you to become a film producer?

This is the Polish theatrical release poster
of "The Wedding Date"
Directed by Clare Kilner
Michelle Chydzik Sowa: I love storytelling and like many people grew up loving movies. I was raised in London but I was always attracted to the Hollywood film industry. We were exposed to classic movies and the golden era of Hollywood from when we were young. It always seemed magical to me.

Agnes A. Rose: Do you remember your first film production? How did you get started with it?

Michelle Chydzik Sowa: I got my first real job in film production at Paramount Pictures when Fred Gallo then President of Physical Production hired me. Fred had an illustrious career having worked on movies such as “Annie Hall”, “The Godfather” and “Rocky”. It was the mid 90s. Sherry Lansing was the Chairman and John Goldwyn, the grandson of legendary film producer Samuel Goldwyn, became my boss. John was brilliant and really understood the many facets of filmmaking. I learned so much from these individuals. When the opportunity came to produce my first movie, “The Wedding Date”, Gary Goeztman, Tom Hank’s producing partner in Playtone was critical in guiding the way. I am extraordinarily grateful to these generous individuals who supported me professionally. Without them, I wouldn’t have a career.

Agnes A. Rose: Could you tell us how you choose your next project/projects?

Michelle Chydzik Sowa: Every project has had its own journey. Sometimes, the project is based on an original idea or script, sometimes it is a book adaptation and sometimes it is based on a true story.

Agnes A. Rose: I think that as far as your work is concerned you have accomplished a lot so far. Which of your film/films are you most proud of?

Michelle Chydzik Sowa: My films are like children. I love them all and recognize each of their strengths and weaknesses.

This is the Polish release poster
of "Starter For 10"
Directed by Tom Vaughan
Agnes A. Rose: Every day you certainly work with some great actors. Who has been your favourite to work with and who would you love to work with in one of your future films?

Michelle Chydzik Sowa: I’m thankful that I have been really fortunate in terms of the actors I have worked with. Some of the standouts are Amy Adams, whose first take was so good we used to call her One Take Amy, Diane Kruger, James McAvoy, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Dominic Cooper. I am about to shoot a small movie with Jane Seymour who I’ve worked with before and whom I adore. Jane has some Polish heritage, as does Diane Kruger who is modest and incredibly talented.

Agnes A. Rose: Do you think that anything has changed about the film industry since you started out? If so, what is it?

Michelle Chydzik Sowa: Everything has changed. The digital age affects every element of the process. These are exciting times. I embrace change.

Agnes A. Rose: Have you ever thought about giving up making films and beginning to act?

Michelle Chydzik Sowa: No.

Agnes A. Rose: I know that now you are working on the film adaptation of “The Lost Wife” by Alyson Richman. I am sure that you read her novel. What do you think about it? What kind of emotions accompanied you while reading?

Michelle Chydzik Sowa: I couldn’t put the book down. Alyson is one of the best writers of our era. I needed to find out what happened to Lenka and Josef. I got lost in their world and their love story.

Agnes A. Rose: I am very interested in your own work on the film adaptation of “The Lost Wife”. Could you tell us about it?

This is the Polish theatrical release poster
of "My Life In Ruins"
Directed by Donald Petrie
Michelle Chydzik Sowa: Relativity Studios is moving forward with the film version. The script, which is being written by Marc Klein, is the key to making a great adaptation of this wonderful book. Marc travelled to the Czech Republic and to Poland so he could retrace the steps of our heroine. We are looking forward to shooting the movie in Prague.

Agnes A. Rose: Is the production of “The Lost Wife” more challenging than your previous films?

Michelle Chydzik Sowa: My producing partner Jeff Waxman and I feel a moral obligation to tell this story well but all productions have their challenges.

Agnes A. Rose: What is your biggest dream as a film producer? Is it anything you would like to work on in the nearest future? 

Michelle Chydzik Sowa: My greatest dream as a producer is that the digital age will help make the economics easier so I can make a lot more movies. I love epic movies. I love period. “Dr. Zhivago” mesmerized me as a child. I would love to make more movies in that vein.

Agnes A. Rose: Would you decide to make a film adaptation if one day a very interesting book by one of the famous Polish authors came to your hand? Let’s suppose that the book was published in America a few years ago. What should a Polish author do to pay your attention to his/her novel?

Michelle Chydzik Sowa: Tell the author to send me their book. It all starts with the material. Hopefully, the economics of the project support a movie being made.

Agnes A. Rose: What kind of literature do you prefer? Do you have your favourite authors or novels?

Michelle Chydzik Sowa: I have a wide-ranging taste. My favorite writers include literary greats such as William Shakespeare, Leo Tolstoy, Henryk Sienkiewicz, Alexandre Dumas, Jane Austen, Umberto Eco, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. My favorite children’s authors are Enid Blyton, Roadl Dahl and JK Rowling. Among our present day authors I love Paulo Coehlo and Alyson Richman. Alyson’s books have taken me all over the world and through different periods in history. I know her popularity, as a writer will grow as others discover her immense talent. I also have my guilty favorites in the romance and thriller genres. And I have always enjoyed poetry; Rudyard Kipling, TS Elliott and Emily Bronte are favorite voices.

This is the Polish release poster 
of "Love, Wedding, Marriage" 
Directed by Dermont Mulroney
Agnes A. Rose: Let’s talk for a moment about your family. As I mentioned above your family’s history goes back to World War II. Could you tell us a little bit about it? What happened then?

Michelle Chydzik Sowa: My grandmother was taken to Siberia at the start of the war and when the Soviet Union joined the allies she walked with her fellow Polish detainees to North Africa and joined the Polish forces. She was in Palestine, Egypt and at the Battle of Monte Cassino before setting in England after the war, hoping to return to Poland.

Agnes A. Rose: Do you often visit Poland? What do you like most in Poland?

Michelle Chydzik Sowa: We would like to visit more often, although, I prefer the summer to the winter.  Living in California has made my blood thin. I love the old towns of Warsaw and Krakow. They transport me to another era and I am very comfortable there. I also love the forest. When I visited Chopin’s birthplace, I felt at home. There’s something in the countryside that speaks to my soul. It’s probably in my DNA. My husband is first generation American and his parents come from a little Polish town called Stary Nart, which we would like to visit more.

Agnes A. Rose: Michelle, thank you very much for this interview. I am so happy that you agreed to take part in it. I wish you all the best for your further creative work. Is there anything you would like to add?

Michelle Chydzik Sowa: Yes, I really enjoyed IDA. I hope it wins the Oscar. Poland has a great heritage of filmmaking, which I am sure will continue. Thank you for taking the time to ask these questions. It’s made me think quite deeply about my work. 

If you want to read this interview in Polish, please click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for all your comments. Feel free to contact us. We promise that we'll try to answer all of them.