Cannes Talk: Producer Uri Singer of Passage Pictures

Producer Uri Singer launched Passage Pictures in 2016, taking its drama ‘Marjorie Prime,” starring Jon Hamm and Lois Smith,  to Sundance earlier this year. That film was picked up by FilmRise, which is planning an awards push for Smith. Also in its slate: “I am Rose Fatou,” written by Ted Melfi (“Hidden Figures”), “Tesla,” which teams Singer up again with writer/director Michael Almereyda, and “Rich,” based on the book “King of Oil: The Secret Lives of Marc Rich,” about the infamous billionaire oil trader who died in 2013.


What’s different about Passage Pictures?

I decided I had to sit through movies and watch them and I decided they had to be important to bring to the screen — passion projects that can have a bigger audience, and important stories. Like “Experimenter,” and movies like “Marjorie Prime,” “White Noise,” and Nikola Tesla biopic “Tesla.” That’s a challenge I embrace.



How do you navigate the difficult specialty market?

The market for the arthouse movies is very complicated. It’s very hard to make them so that the larger audience will embrace them. What I am trying to do is have a balance and do bigger movies that can be more commercial.

What kind of material are you attracted to? 

Some kind of a niche — strong characters especially, and most of the times, material about a real, fascinating personality, like Marc Rich, or Nikola Tesla. Strong personalities. Tesla was not in the end a successful person but brilliant; to me, Marc Rich is a fascinating story that had everything. But Rich couldn’t get the most important thing. Stanley Milgram (the real-life social psychologist played by Peter Sarsgaard in the film “Experimenter”) was also a strong character.

How do you attract a high-profile cast?

It is a challenge to attract cast. Actors can be very picky now. So sometimes you go the route where the director attracts the talent. Or the actors are not attracted to a payday but to the content. With “White Noise,” we are finished the script and going out to our wish list of talent. Once you have the cast and the material and the IP and everyone is reading it, you can compete with the big studios.

Surviving the economics of the indie film biz — what’s your secret?

Very challenging. It’s challenging like the Wild West. Producers have a very hard time — it’s getting harder and harder. Producers have to source material, option it, etc.

You have to really believe in what you are doing and if you have a project of quality, doors open. The material has to be unique — a true story, socially relevant. [We are producing] a Brazilian movie about immigrants from their POV, something that’s timley and important.

What’s your favorite place to eat in Cannes?

Bobo is a brassiere there with fantastic food. The last time I was there, Rena Ronson and James Schamus were at a table near me and the waiter started to sing and dance. They couldn’t hear and the waiter wouldn’t stop, and they left, and the waiter just danced and sang. They were not nice and couldn’t care less but it’s just great food. I also love Le Maschou, in Old Town.

Jessica Alba, Kurtwood Smith Others Join Cast Of ‘El Camino Christmas

EXCLUSIVE: Jessica AlbaKurtwood SmithMichelle Mylett, and Emilio Rivera have joined the cast of the dark comedy El Camino Christmas from Netflix, Hidden Figures‘ filmmaker Ted Melfi and director Dave Talbert. They join Tim Allen, Vincent D’Onofrio, Luke Grimes, Dax Shepard, Kimberly Quinn and Jimmy O. Yang in the ensemble.



'Hidden Figures' Filmmaker Ted Melfi Lines Up Strong Ensemble Cast For 'El Camino Christmas' At Netflix


The project, scripted by Melfi and writer Chris Wehner, is about a young man (Grimes) who seeks out a father he has never met and, through no fault of his own, ends up barricaded in a liquor store with five other people on Christmas Eve. The story takes place in the fictitious town of El Camino, NV.


Alba will play reporter Beth Flowers, Smith will play the Sheriff and Mylett is in a lead role of Kate in the film that is already in production.

El Camino Christmas is being produced by Melfi and Quinn through their Goldenlight Films and also through Melfi’s Brother production banners. Rich Carter, Lyn and Dave Talbert, Uri Singer and Jack Murray are the executive producers. Brother is Melfi and Carter’s commercial production house which is making its first foray into feature production with this film.



Alba (Mechanic: Resurrection) is repped by CAA and 3Arts; Smith (Agent Carter, That ‘70s Show), by Progressive Artists Agency and Pop Art Management; Mylett (Letterkenny) is repped by LINK and Parent Managment while Rivera (Sons of Anarchy) is repped by AEFH.

'The Big Sick,' 'Marjorie Prime,' Kristen Stewart's Short Heading to Sundance London

The 14-feature-strong lineup for the festival's U.K. summer spin-off has been revealed.

The program for the 2017 edition of Sundance Film Festival: London, the Utah festival's British spin-off, has been announced. 

Fourteen feature films have been selected from the offerings at Park City in January, including the Judd Apatow-produced comedy The Big Sick, Jon Hamm-starrer Marjorie Prime, Brooklyn-based actioner Bushwick and environmental documentary Chasing Coral, which won the U.S. doc audience award. Also in the lineup are 15 shorts, including Come Swim, written and directed by Kristen Stewart. The festival will close with David Lowery's A Ghost Story, starring Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara. Lowery will also take part in one of the festival's Q&As. 

“As we head into our fifth festival in London, we remain committed to introducing new American independent films to audiences around the world," said Sundance founder Robert Redford. "Our success in the U.K. is a reflection of the enormous creativity of independent artists and the stories they tell, as well as the curious and adventurous audiences who have made us feel right at home in the heart of London.”

As had previously been announced, Sundance: London will open with Beatriz at Dinner, with star Salma Hayek set to introduce the film. 

The festival will run June 1-4 at London's Picturehouse Central cinema.

The Israeli Producer Who Turned Jon Hamm Into a Hologram

The Israeli Producer Who Turned Jon Hamm Into a Hologram

Uri Singer used the technology to advertise his latest movie at the Sundance Film Festival, but worries that it’s easier for young people to emotionally communicate with robots, computerized dolls and holograms
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Producer Uri Singer Launches New Production Company

Producer Uri Singer Launches New Production Company

Veteran producer Uri Singer has opened a new production company, Passage Picturesand the set Marjorie Prime, Singer’s second collaboration with director Michael Almereyda, as the first film released under the new label. The sci-fi drama will premiere at Sundance next month and stars Geena Davis, Tim Robbins, John Hamm and Lois Smith.


Additional upcoming projects include I Am Rose Fatou, a comedic take on email phishing schemes, written by Hidden Figures scribe Ted Melfi. Melfi penned the script while working with Singer on his very first feature, Bed And Breakfast.

As previously announced, Singer optioned the rights to Don LeLillo’s novel White Noise, with Almereyda attached to write the screenplay, as well as The King Of Oil, the biography of controversial billionaire Marc Rich. Singer is also the producer behind Tesla, another teaming with Almereyda, who is set to direct the movie about the life of the Serbian-born inventor Nicola Tesla.