Thursday, 1 July 2010
RIP Elliott Kastner - You Will Be Missed.
Elliott Kastner was awesome. I got to meet him once; and it was only ten months ago. I had a meeting set up with a producer who had discovered my work, enjoyed it, and invited me to his office for a chat. That same day, he was meeting with Elliott. And luckily for me, he introduced us.
Elliott Kastner on Wikipedia Elliott Kastner on IMDB
I was prepared to do my quiet-shy-anti-networking-thing of saying "Hi" awkwardly, before shuffling off - but Mark, the producer I was meeting with - went on to tell Elliott all about my work and what I'd been up to. "Well sit down," said Kastner enthusiastically. And then he dropped the question; "what are you working on?". He said it in a professional way; which was kind and welcoming but also, kind of fierce and challenging. I sat there, frozen. Fuck, I'm so crap at this stuff. I eventually rambled a bit about what I do. The voice in my head was reminding me of his incredible experience and filmography, making me feel more and more inferior by the second.
But the great thing about Kastner was how enthusiastic he was. He managed to veer from me, to Mark, to his ideas, to tales from his producing career; and did it in a way that was extremely natural - and extremely riveting. I briefly mentioned a film idea I'd been working on. He listened, he said "that's interesting," (it wasn't, I will ill-prepared), and then he said "You know, I've always wanted to do a film, where Tom Hanks and Johnny Depp meet at a Dental convention in Las Vegas. That would be interesting." He went on to share some humorous thoughts and ideas. I liked them all. "If you write something like that, I could do something with it," he said.
Before I had a chance to process the thought; he and Mark were bantering back and forth, and I was completely in awe of Kastner. Film Producers come in all shapes and sizes, but Elliott really looked and sounded like a film producer. He was approaching 80 at the time, but was still incredibly energetic and enthused.
I wish I could remember the exact content of the things we talked about, but I don't. I do remember him sharing a very funny and fascinating story about Peter Sellers. I would write out the story, but it wouldn't do it justice. It wouldn't have the Kastner touch. I don't know what the Kastner touch is, after all, I only met the man once. But seeing what people have been writing about him today, it seems that his touch was something that inspired a lot of people. He will be missed.
Elliott Kastner died on June 30th, aged 80, after a long fight with cancer. He produced "Where Eagles Dare," "Angel Heart," "The Big Sleep," and countless others. Stealing shamelessly from Wikipedia, here's some names he worked with: Paul Newman; Frank Sinatra; Elizabeth Taylor; Warren Beatty; Clint Eastwood; James Mason; Michael Caine; Peter Sellers; Robert Shaw; Pierce Brosnan; Jack Nicholson; Robert de Niro; Mickey Rourke and Jeff Bridges.