Walker Art Center

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Filmmakers Produced by Pressman

Dialogue: Edward R. Pressman with Julie Salamon

  • Retrospective: April 3–27, 1991
  • Regional Premiere: Paris by Night

The Hollywood studios have never liked to gamble on the unknown, on films that are cynical, political, eccentric. Independent producer Edward R. Pressman has spent more than 20 years convincing somebody, somewhere to put up the money for filmmakers eager to explore the dark side. He has made a specialty of nurturing the careers of provocateurs such as Brian De Palma (Sisters, Phantom of Paradise), Oliver Stone (The Hand, Wall Street, Talk Radio), and Terrence Malick (Badlands). His taste is quirky. Pressman has brought David Byrne’s True Stories and Barbet Schroeder’s Reversal of Fortune to the screen as well as John Milius’ Conan the Barbarian and Alex Cox’s Walker.

Heir to a toy-and-game company, a Stanford philosophy graduate who studied at the London School of Economics, this unassuming man in the sober hat and suits does not look like the champion of iconoclastic filmmakers: he looks like Mr. Peepers. But in his way he is as tough-minded and creative as the directors and writers he supports. His talent is for spotting talent in unlikely places and then figuring out how to foot the bill. Every year, a new source of money pops up, and an old source disappears. Whether working through video and cable companies or tax shelters set up by private investors, Pressman has the agility to find the money and tap into it. He understands that, without money, there are no movies. And, without entrepreneurs such as Ed Pressman, the world of film would be much duller indeed.

─Julie Salamon

Julie Salamon is a film and culture critic for the New York Times and her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s Bazaar, and Vogue. She is also the author of the best selling books The Devil’s Candy, White Lies, and The Christmas Tree.

Edward Pressman

Photo courtesy the artist