By Nadine Jolson
British film producer Julia Verdin is one of the latest filmmakers to embrace socially conscious filmmaking. The goals of her company, Rough Diamond Productions are to look for projects that have commercial potential and also a good social message to them.
Verdin tells Hollywood Today, “We like to make films with interesting film makers who have a voice. Film is a very powerful medium for giving an audience awareness for important issues that need to be brought attention to at the same time as providing entertainment and an engaging story.”
This was successfully executed in the NAACP nominated The Least Among You, directed by Mark Young, Starring Oscar winner Lou Gossett Jr., Cedric Sanders, Lauren Holly and William Devane.
“What attracted me to that script was that I loved the themes and message in it and felt it an important one to put out there. The film is a beautiful story of mentorship, and finding one’s own personal faith with the message that no matter what happens in life however bad, if we can stay in faith, keep positive and make good choices we can always get through any situation. The importance of mentorship is becoming lost in today’s society and would love to see brought back. It’s important for the older generation to use their life experience to help and guide the youth of today,” says Verdin.
Billy Zane, Dir. Bernard Rose, Danny Huston, Julia Verdin, Sienna Miller
Verdin is also in post on Two Jacks, starring Sienna Miller – a modern day adaptation of a Leo Tolstoy short story directed by Bernard Rose, which has a good message to it. The film is about a father/son story about a son trying to follow in the footsteps of his famous father, (a very common theme in Hollywood today, with the tabloids full of the latest scandal of various children of celebrities). The son learns a hard lesson through not being authentic to himself. Ironically the cast includes several offspring of Hollywood royalty – it stars Danny Huston, son of legendry filmmaker John Huston and Danny’s nephew HBO’s Boardwalk Empire star Jack Huston, Richard Harris’s son Jamie Harris and Lydia Hearst and the iconic Jacqueline Bisset.
Verdin has produced many successful films including the critically acclaimed Sundance hit Stander, starring Thomas Jane and was also an executive producer on Merchant of Venice, starring Al Pacino.
“It’s hard getting films made in today’s economy,” says Verdin, “so I think it has become even more important to become really passionate about what you are doing if you want to get it done – for me it is easier to do that when I really believe in what I am doing and hopefully somehow making a difference!”