Printed for personal use only

Studio Men

John Wells, Barry Meyer, and Ben Affleck on the legacy of the Warner Bros. lot

theessentials_masa_t

The Mogul: Barry Meyer
The Warner Bros. chairman and CEO

My office was once Jack Warner’s office. Only four people have had that office since the actual Warner brothers—Jack, Harry, Sam, and Albert—moved here. When I started as an executive in 1971, the television division was nascent. I think the only show filming on the back lot then was the David Dortort western The High Chaparral. Now we are a global production and distribution company to an extent I could never have imagined, and we are entering a brand-new digital age. 

 

theessentials_masa_t

The Creator: John Wells
The producer

I’m an old-timer. I’ve been here since 1986, and I feel like I am constantly walking into my own history—there isn’t a single place I don’t know, not a single building I haven’t been inside. In many ways it feels like I’ve worked at the same farm or factory for more than 25 years and that I know all these different people and have a story for every place. China Beach, ER, The West Wing, Shameless—I’ve shot every inch in this place over the years because in TV we use the lot itself the way the old studio system did. It’s a canvas we are constantly working with, and that repetition of using the same spaces in different ways is deeply creative. I’ve seen a Japanese village in the 1800s become downtown Chicago in a matter of days. Something is torn down, and something else goes on top of it.

 

theessentials_masa_t

The Auteur: Ben Affleck
Actor-director  

I first came to Warner Bros. in 1990 and met with the head of casting to audition for the role of Robin for a Batman movie. It was a big deal. The studio lot is so emblematic of what I thought of as “real movies.” It’s a place where the legends walked before all of us, and you see their footprints in the sand on that lot. There is no bigger totem of Hollywood than the Warner Bros. water tower. I didn’t get the part, but I guess you could say it was the beginning of a creative relationship. I’ve directed one film with them [The Town] and just finished my new one [Argo].

Studios still fill a need in America. They make the biggest, splashiest spectacles of film and entertainment in the world. In fact, it’s now our country’s biggest export. We don’t sell much of anything anymore, but they still want to buy our movies. They might be watching on a Nano, but they want our stuff. Here I get to make a film, and it will get distributed. It has a chance to be seen.
I feel lucky to work here.

Photographs courtesy (in order): pulse2.com, web.poptower.com, wikipedia.org


The Dream Factory