What was it like for you making an independent film?

Making The Conspirator was a combination of two things for me: Going back to the roots of when I first started making films, rather than just acting in them, and having to work within very tough limitations.  The film’s schedule was almost impossible. There were people saying, “you can’t do it, it’s just not going to work.”  But that is, in itself, a challenge. It sort of makes you want to do it even more. The drive and the energy to make The Conspirator happen just felt good.  It became a labor of love in a sense.  I’ve made films over the years that were big budget and others that were very, very low budget.  And when you put them all together, the ones you have to fight for become the most enjoyable.

Robert Redford

About Robert Redford

Director Robert Redford offers his insight into the talent, themes, and making of The Conspirator, now in theaters (April 15).
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12 Responses to What was it like for you making an independent film?

  1. Rick Stelnick says:

    I’d like to ask Mr. Redford a question: I remember reading that Richard Burton once remarked playing John Wilkes Booth’s brother Edwin in Philip Dunne’s “The Prince Of Players” was all the reason he needed to agree to the role. Did the fact John Wilkes Booth had been an actor play any part in your decision to direct The Conspirator?

    • Cintia says:

      While I admire Abraham Lincoln, I am not sure that, had he lived, Reconstruction and the secdeucing hundred years of American history would have been any different. The so-called Radical Republicans represented the thoughts of millions of people as far as the conquered South was concerned. They put up with Lincoln’s conciliatory rhetoric during the war in order to support the cause. Once the war was over, would they have silently done as Lincoln proposed? Personally, I don’t think so.The Civil War was based on societal and cultural issues that were over two hundred years in the making. No one man and not even Congress could wipe out those issues for decades. much less the four years that Lincoln would have been facing before another election came around? Would he have run again in order to keep saving the nation? I don’t think so. He was a tired and drawn man in 1865.

  2. Ed Tant says:

    I am a columnist for the Athens Banner-Herald, the daily newspaper here in Athens, GA. My wife and I look forward to seeing “The Conspirator.” Here are three events that I believe would make great historic films: The Haymarket labor struggle in Chicago in 1886, the assassination of President William McKinley by a self-styled anarchist in 1901 (the basis of a fine book titled “Murdering McKinley), and the life of American socialist Eugene Debs, who campaigned for the White House five times including a run in 1920 when he got nearly a million votes while campaigning from a prison cell in Atlanta where he was incarcerated for speaking out against World War I.
    Athens, GA

    • Stephen Fox says:

      Mr. Redford:

      Shot in the dark here; and possibly Mr. Tant is the fellow I should approach as I share both your passions for Historical fiction.
      A friend and I have collaborated on a period piece set near Mr. Tant’s Athens of the 1970′s. President Carter’s Jody Powell read for us as did Marshall Frady, the journalist/suthor whose bio of George Wallace was the template for the TNT Production.
      We brought the piece to the attention of Luc Sante, consultant to Gangs of New York as well.
      I realize Sundance is your vehicle for such enterprises, but would be sweet and tremendous dose of good fortune if we could fast tract our script and concept straight t0 you via this blog. Maybe Mr. Tant could sign on in some production capacity and enlist the services of Athens Notable Bertis Downs, whose fancy I’m convinced the project will tickle.
      Wishful thinking, but wanted to give it a shot.

      Caught some of The Conspirator this afternoon theatre hoppin and plan to catch it in full soon.
      Would be an honor to have public reply here from both Mr. Redford and Mr. Tant.


      Stephen Fox
      Collinsville, Alabama

    • Prem says:

      I found the film a bit flat. Only slightly eniilhtengng. There was a little history there of which I was not aware. Still I was left waiting for the wow moments that never came. The only time I got a rise was when the captain is blacklisted from the club and his girlfriend leaves him hanging. Standing up for what you believe even if it is not popular and at all personal cost is what I derived from the film. The southerners did just that. Washington politics hurt the south but elevated the north. How was that justice for all? All this business about Lincoln living or not living and what he may or not have been is ridiculous. He screwed the south over and evil men prevailed as carpet baggers here and do to this day. The same evil he unleashed came back to him as well. That is poetic justice I say. Kevin Cline’s character spoke volumes for me. Why did he want it brushed away so quickly? Hmmmm? Nobody wins in war or politics unless they are directly profiting from it. Although this film put me to sleep I would say it will make great debate material for small groups of intellectuals in class rooms around the world. Peace

  3. B. Ramirez says:

    Mr. Redford,

    I have never been a big fan of history, but as late I have opened my interest. Went to see the movie thought it was great. I always thought a good movie had to leave you with moments of happy, sad, anger and of course something to think about. It forces one to think about the kind of stuff that still goes on in today society, how does government really get involved in high profile cases. I don’t beleive you have to be a great historian to watch, observe and draw your own conclusion. History is really about someone else’s interpretation just like the bible how many version do we have now? I absoultely loved this movie because it brought on conversation, please continue to do the great you do continue to give reasons to challange and question subjects such as these.

    • Amanda says:

      I agree. However, Mr. Redford was the director of The Conspirator, not the pruodcer. The American Film Company is a new production company whose stated mission is to bring American history back to the American public. I certainly hope they succeed because Americans need to learn their own history. Many people from other countries know more about our history than we do.I am the director of Surratt House Museum in Clinton, Maryland, and I can tell you that our visitation over the past six weeks since the release of The Conspirator has doubled and tripled. 99.9% of those who have seen the film before coming have remarked on how much they enjoyed it, learned from it, and wanted to know more. They have also expressed the desire to see more such history movies. That’s what the purpose of The American Film Company is all about. And no, I am not paid by AFC to say that!!!

  4. Catherine Campbell says:

    Mr. Redford, you’ve done it again – directed a woman to Academy Award performance, Robin Wright was incandescent. I’m shocked at the press citing James Mac Avoye when her performance was stunning – the most beautiful, most vunerable portrait of a women on screen since Jessica Lang’s Francis and Merryl Streep’s Sofie’s Choice. Thanks for being there, and many more!
    A fan of your work,
    Catherine Campbell

  5. Robert Jensen says:

    Dear Mr. Redford,

    I really enjoyed your film. The special attention to the period costumes and scenery was excellent; it took me to 1863. I was very moved by the music at the end of the film, but wasn’t able to catch the name of the male singer. Would you be able to provide his name?

    Robert Leroy Jensen, Ph.D.

    • Laurie Verge says:

      The song at the end is “Empty” by Ray Montague.

      • Priness says:

        The playwright, pdrruceos from The American Film Company, and their research teams appear to have used multiple sources and sought the help of Dr. Kate Clifford Larson, Dr. Thomas Turner, Col. Fred Borch, and Dr. Elizabeth Leonard as well as others who are very well-versed in this specific aspect of the Civil War and Lincoln’s assassination.As director of Surratt House Museum in Maryland, I know that they used our research center quite a bit, both in the initial stages of James Solomon’s script back in the 1990s up to and including beginning the filming. They were very serious in their studies and at our facility had access to some of the best material available the complete files of James O. Hall, considered by most to be the dean of Lincoln assassination research. Dr. Hall passed away in 2007 at the age of 94, having conducted research and written on the subject for over fifty years. He was the co-author, with the late-Gen. William Tidwell and David W. Gaddy, of the exhaustive study Come Retribution, which delves into the possibility that the Confederate high command was behind covert operations related to the original capture scheme against Lincoln. As some of you might know, Booth was (at last count) the fourth Confederate sympathizer to contemplate capture. The first dates to 1862. Dr. Edward Steers’s very good Blood on the Moon covers these earlier plots in an opening chapter. Dr. Steers, by the way, worked with James O. Hall as he researched Blood on the Moon and another good book, His Name Is Still Mudd, bringing out details about Samuel A. Mudd that had laid dormant for a century.

    • Arjun says:

      My review of my viiwneg of The Conspirator as follows:Thanks to this movie, maybe perhaps, the phrase Beware The People Weeping can be replaced by Be Aware Of The People Weeping . Look around you at your fellow audience members when you see The Conspirator . Their reactions are worth the price of admission. Robert Redford and company, if nothing else [and I'm not saying there isn't], have grabbed America’s attention. No one here could have asked for anything more going in. You know, expect the worst, hope for the best. Have no fear. One thing’s certain, The Surratt Society without a doubt about it is going to benefit big time because of the film. Additionally, also virtually guaranteed, there’s going to be continuing and/or growing interest due to the one-two punch of the movie and the Sesquicentennial for the next five years at the very least. Who could ask for anything more?To the movie itself; it is for sure, in every sense, a motion picture as opposed to the seemingly mass-produced, mindless, run-of-the-mill, special effects, suspense/thriller film fodder which sadly is the state of the art today. It combines the characteristics, in my mind and opinion, of two classics; Gone With The Wind and To Kill A Mockingbird. As a result and as such, to paraphrase the African proverb it speaks softly and carries a big stick; it will go far. Bravo Mr. Redford, AFC, cast and crew!

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