Five minutes with William Fay

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Oryx speaks to renowned Hollywood producer William Fay, the man behind box-office hits The Hangover, 300, Superman Returns, and Independence Day.

 

Did you know Independence Day was going to be a hit?
Yes and no. It was one of those rare experiences where everything seemed to work out perfectly during shooting, but as the premiere date approached, you could tell that something more was happening. But none of us had any idea it was going to be as big as it turned out to be.


What has been the biggest change in moviemaking since you began?
The development of digital technology and computer-generated images, without question. In the early days, we were always trying to figure out how to push the limits of technology and create the next image that would amaze the audience. Then we suddenly reached a point where any image you can dream up in your head, you can create on film. That is an immensely powerful notion. 


You have been involved in a diverse array of films. What do you look for when deciding to do a project?
I first look for projects that intrigue or excite me. I also look for something that I think will give the audience a satisfying experience at the theatre. I tend to gravitate toward projects that can be visually compelling.


When did you know movies were what you wanted to do?
While at Stanford University, I took a couple of film classes and really enjoyed them. I had planned to go to business school, but decided instead to go to UCLA Film School, thinking that I could always go back to business school if I wanted to. I never looked back.


What is the benefit of a director-driven film as opposed to a star-driven film?
The top film directors are enormously talented and creative, and bring a singular vision to everything they do. The audience really responds to that, and it’s very rewarding for me to help them deliver on that vision. I have had the good fortune to work with some of the best directors in the world, but movie stars play an important part too. When I tell someone I’m making a movie, the first question I almost always get is: “Who’s starring in it?”


What projects do you have upcoming?
We shot a film in the Caribbean last year (Powder and Gold) that is almost ready for release, and we are in post-production on a science-fiction thriller called Replicate that I am extremely excited about; it deals with an alien race that is secretly replacing humans in a small town.


Having filmed around the world, do you have a favourite place to travel to? 
I have done many films in Africa, and a part of my heart will always be there, so I love going back whenever I can. But this summer I’ll be in Italy; it’s very hard to beat!

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