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Interview with Trish Hofmann and Peter Kaufman, Producers of 'Hemingway and Gellhorn'

HBO

What is your approach to film production?

Trish Hofmann

I think [director] Philip Kaufman, [producer] Peter Kaufman and I all share a similar way of making movies, which is: Get in there, roll up your sleeves and figure out how to do it and how to do it well. So we became fast friends.

HBO

People understand what a director does, what a screenwriter does, and what actors do. But the producer's role is often misunderstood. How do you view the producer's function?

Peter Kaufman

You've got to try to get the director's vision on the screen. That's at the root of every great film. A producer and a director have a very intimate relationship. They've got to live together and share the same tastes and the same dreams because a film is all about realizing the dream that is called film. It's a wonderful thing being able to work with all these wonderful people who had worked together on Phil's previous films-people like Rogier Stoffers, our cinematographer; Geoffrey Kirkland, our production designer; and Walter Murch, our wonderful editor. And we met wonderful new friends like our composer, Javier Navarette, our costume designer, Ruth Myers and our vfx supervisor, Chris Morley. It's like a family of friends.

Trish Hofmann

When you work with Phil, you're relentless at getting that vision. We would keep asking questions and finding solutions all the time. So it's not only about building the team to help Phil with the vision, but also about being tenacious. We had a picture of huge scope that required locations in nine different countries. And to do that within our budget parameters was challenging. But because Phil and Peter have worked like that their whole careers, and I learned that from working with Terrence Malick, we were able to apply that here.

HBO

Philip Kaufman is known for his innovative use of archival footage in films like 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being' and 'The Right Stuff.' How did you approach that aspect of the creative process?

Peter Kaufman

We were nesting our actors into the footage, and finding locations in the Bay Area that could be seamlessly interwoven with the footage. We had so many countries-Spain, China, Finland, Cuba, France, Germany. And the archival footage kept us very honest. It gave the look to the film. We had to match the footage, and the challenges were really enormous. I think it's something we're all really proud of.

HBO

Can you expand on how the archival footage "kept you honest"?  

Trish Hofmann

When I first met with Phil and Peter, they showed me 'Unbearable Lightness,' which I had seen a million times before, and 'The Right Stuff.'  We're watching it, and they're like, "This is the archival footage we used." I had no idea.

I always look at Phil as the inventor of this technique because he used archival footage in his movies even before you had the technology to actually insert your actors into the footage. It was something Phil used because he wants to authenticate the past, and give the movie scope. We searched almost three years and went all over the world to find footage that was applicable to the story.

Peter Kaufman

We were looking for archival footage that kept the emotional thrust of the story going. By this, I mean that the footage is a way into our epic love story. Rob Bonz was our stock footage editor, and we got footage from Spain, Russia and China, and all over the world. And by nesting our people into the grit and grain of the past, we were able to get the ghost of the past into the story. It gives you a fantastic fusion of the deeply sexual side of things with their adult love story set into the sweep of historical events.

HBO

What do you hope audiences take away from this story?  

Trish Hofmann

This was a very passionate romance, and they really loved and learned a lot from each other. In many ways, Hemingway gave Gellhorn the bug to go on and explore the world. I hope that the audience takes away the notion that despite their bitter breakup, they loved each other deeply, shared a passion for telling the truth, and we're good for each other - at least for a while anyway.

Peter Kaufman

We hope people will discover Martha Gellhorn, if they hadn't heard about her already. She's really the discovery of this piece. Many people feel Martha Gellhorn was the greatest war correspondent of all time. And the more you read about Martha, the more you love her. I also think people are going to take with them that the two of them shared this great adventure, this epic love story, but as Phil says," the war they couldn't survive was the war between themselves." There just aren't enough love stories being made now.   And, I feel that people are going to take away what extraordinary actors Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman are.

Hemingway & Gellhorn

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