Mexican film producer Gastón Pavlovich has worked with stars including Martin Scorsese, Tom Hanks and Mel Gibson, and his most recent release The Irishman has won international critical acclaim. He spoke to us about his career in Hollywood and his interesting career path to get there.
We know you’ve had a very varied career. Could you give us an overview of your career path to date?
I did not study film. I’m an economist by studies, but I’m passionate about literature and writing. Hence I wrote a story, ‘just because’ , but I was convinced I needed to make it a film. I decided to learn step by step how to produce a film and 6 years later I saw it on the big screen. It became a very successful film in Mexico. With the income earned, I opened my production company and since then produced 13 movies, in several languages.
What did you learn about audiences and filmmaking during your time operating a cinema chain?
This is not something many people who work in filmmaking get the chance to do, so we wonder if it gave you some additional insight that influenced you as a filmmaker. It did, primarily that people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds truly enjoy the movie-going experience. Because of that experience, I’ve always been certain that sooner or later people will want to go out to live that theatrical experience, and that influenced my business plan when I decided to do movies. Furthermore, I noticed that the audience would show up more to movies that were inspiring, healthy entertainment. That was important in the kind of films I decided to make.
Could you give some examples of some of the weirder or more surprising things you’ve had to do as part of your job that people may not think of when they imagine what being a film producer is like?
Well, the fact that the producer at the end of the day is the main component of the film. For example, as producer, I technically ‘hired’ a director named Martin Scorsese, or an actor named Robert DeNiro or Tom Hanks or Liam Neeson. Of course they are major talents that move on their own, but technically and legally the producer hires them to do a job. That kind of made me smirk.
Could you describe your experience on the first film project of any kind that you ever took part in?
It was my first Mexican film based on the story I wrote. It was the most special work I had done. did it without much money, with a cast and crew that worked for practically nothing, but believing in the story. It was magical in so many ways. and the results showed. It became the highest grossing film in many years and won film of the year. and, to punctuate this even more, it was a very inspiring film with a very positive message. proving again that audiences really enjoy that.
Do you have any examples of things that surprised you about working within the Hollywood machine? And were there things you anticipated that turned out to be absolutely correct?
To be honest, two things surprised me the most: 1. How professional and good people some of the top talent are (Tom Hanks, Liam Neeson, Martin Scorsese, Mel Gibson). All true gentlemen and greatly professional and in general really good down to earth people. 2. But the rest of the Hollywood machinery is incredibly toxic. I would say even evil. Vanity and greed prevail in so many layers. And most of all, hypocrisy. I quickly realized that and tend to avoid it as much as possible.
Regarding a couple of comments you’ve made on social media about woke films not making waves at the box office, do you think Hollywood itself should be trying to set any kind of social or political agendas?
I’m convinced Hollywood has an ‘agenda’ . They in general try to insert subject matters that align with their ‘woke’ agenda into stories that have nothing to do with that matter. When they do that, the results are evident: the audiences really don’t buy it.
Fortunately, there does exist top talent, such as Scorsese or Mel Gibson (just to name a couple of the ones I’ve worked with) that don’t participate with this. They focus more on their story, pure stories that reflect their realities. And again, the results are evident. Woke agenda and the pressure to use it does not work. And I believe the industry as a whole is realizing that and starting to step away from it. At the end of the day, the story is what counts. And as a producer, we must take care of the purity of the story, without ceasing or bending into agendas that don’t align with the story.
A bonding over faith with Martin Scorsese seems to have played a big part in your working on silence. How do you feel faith is viewed when working in Hollywood?
It’s an uphill battle for those of us who are faith based. There is a strong anti-religious stance in Hollywood, particularly regarding all that is Christian, and more specifically Catholic. However, progress has been made because top talent has embraced faith based stories and they have often been very successful. But in general, yes, Hollywood is anti-faith, anti-religious, anti-Catholic.
What professional dreams of yours have you already achieved by now that you always hoped you would have the chance to do?
To be able to produce important films for the world audience that align with my beliefs. Silence, The Professor and the Madman, and practically all films I’ve made align perfectly with my beliefs.
What is a dream project that you have not yet worked on and hope to someday?
A musical (I’m a sucker for a good musical) and a film related to the Cold War (I feel not enough has been done in that category). I would also add a western, being a Clint Eastwood fan. and btw, for my next projects I’m working precisely on these three genres.