Interview by Andreea Boyer // Edited by Chris Charles of Idol Features
A graduate of the London Film School and member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, producer Barry Navidi has a long list of successful films to his credit. Two of his more notable productions have been The Merchant of Venice and Salomé, both of which starred Al Pacino. One of his most recent productions is an adaption of Shakespeare’s King Lear, which is being directed by Michael Radford and will also star Pacino.
Andreea: Mr. Barry Navidi, you are a very talented filmmaker with an impressive career. Congratulations on all your creative activities. It is my honor to interview you. How did you start your career as a film producer and what has been your motivation?
Barry: As a kid, I was inspired first by my father who took me to movies as a kid. He was my biggest champion. When I grew up in England watching movies such as The Godfather and many more, these movies excited me and encouraged me to study the art of filmmaking. I went to the London Film School where I got my degree and learned all about the craft of filmmaking. Producing is giving birth to a baby. So it’s a big responsibility and I loved the challenge. Once I graduated from school, I started working with top filmmakers such as John Huston, a great director who was my mentor. I went to school with his son, Danny Huston, who is a dear friend and a great actor. Being around Danny and his dad, I was inspired in making good quality films. Producing is not just physically being on the set but knowing what material is great and you wish to tell a story !
Andreea: What has inspired you?
Barry: The most important factors are passion and desire. If one has that, then that’s a fantastic start to be part of this great art form.
Andreea: Congratulations on your past success as well. What can you tell us about your movie Salomé in which well-known actors Al Pacino and Jessica Chastain play the main characters and Mr. Al Pacino is also the director?
Barry: Salomé is based on the play by Oscar Wilde. Having worked with Al on Merchant of Venice, we wanted to work together on another picture. So, Salomé was the one. I loved Oscar and Al in one movie. Al cast Jessica to play Salome. She was an unknown actress and she turned out to be a great actress. Al discovered her. Al directed other films in the past like Looking for Richard, but Wilde Salomé and Salomé were challenges, as we did not have a full script, but a play. So in time and after six years producing, we are very proud of our film. Al is a very generous actor and director. He is a collaborator. It was a great journey working with him.
Andreea: How would you describe the reactions from the audience at the Venedig International Film Festival premiere for the movie Salomé and how has your experience been?
Barry: The reaction was better than we expected. At Venice and other festivals, the audiences were fantastic and we were very happy with the reactions. The experience has been beautiful and I am very proud of the film.
Andreea: What can you tell us about your other fantastic movies ?
Barry: I am proud of all my other films. They are like your kids. I love them all.
Andreea: You are the producer of various important movies, including The Merchant of Venice. What is the story of this film and who plays in it?
Barry: Merchant is based on Shakespeare’s play. The story always fascinated me and no one had ever made it as a big movie. So when I got Al Pacino to play Shylock, the film was funded and made beautifully and directed by Michael Radford. Jeremy Irons and Joesph Fiennes are the other main actors. The three were magic and are great actors.
Andreea: What can you tell us about your collaboration with Al Pacino?
Barry: Al is the greatest iconic legend actor of our time. He is brilliant human being and I love him. I am lucky to be part of his life and legacy.
Andreea: Did you work with Al Pacino before the film (The Merchant of Venice)?
Barry: Merchant of Venice was our first film. Followed by Salomé and Wilde Salomé. We have other projects in the pipeline for the future.
Andreea: Which moments in your career have been the most influential ones for you?
Barry: Working and collaborating with Al Pacino, but I started with John Huston and followed by Marlon Brando, who was my second mentor. I have been very lucky and blessed.
Andreea: When did your start with your career as a filmmaker and has filmmaking always been your main focus?
Barry: I started as soon as I graduated from the London Film School at very young age. My focus and career has always been filmmaking.
Andreea: What can you tell us about your best experience in your work as a filmmaker?
Barry: They have all be good, but the best is working with Al Pacino. I learn from Al every day.
Andreea: What is the current project that you’re working on?
Barry: I am working on a few projects. Modigliani about the great artist and King Lear in the near future with Al Pacino.
Andreea: What do your advise for all young independent filmmakers on how they should work on their goals and reach the best audience for their individual work?
Barry: My biggest advice is don’t let go of your dreams and, with passion and extra desire, you will make it. Keep studying and watch great old classic movies!
Thank you, Mr. Barry Navidi. We wish you continued success.