There is truth in saying that some great things can’t be put in any category. This rule could also be true for film makers. Some of the best musicians and most respected musicians write AND play their music. Similar to this in the film world would be the writer/director. Those are the ones that really garner a lot of respect amongst their peers and the actors they work with. That’s not to say that those who strictly write or strictly direct are not masters at their craft.
One of the best and well respected writer/directors in Hollywood is Mike Binder. Binder is from Detroit, Michigan where he grew up and his movies many times have a tie to. Binder got his start in show business as a stand-up comedian, but his first love was always writing and that is what would get him his start. His first feature that he wrote would be 1990’s Coupe de Ville starring Daniel Stern, Alan Arkin and a young Patrick Dempsey. His next film was called Crossing The Bridge which was his directoral debut. He would experience more and more success as time went on working with a plethora of A-list stars. Recently I had a chance to speak with Mr. Binder about his career and what is on the horizon for him.
You seemed to get your start in Hollywood as a writer, is that what you always wanted to do?
“I started as a stand-up comic but I always loved people like Woody Allen and Albert Brooks who made their own movies and I said, “That’s the world I’m gonna follow.” If you ask anyone I see myself as a writer first.”
Your films tend to mix a perfect blend of humor and drama to the point where they don’t fall in any one genre. Is that by design?
“It’s just the way I see everything. I don’t think anything is cut and dry. I hate to see a drama with no humor and I hate to see a comedy that doesn’t feel real. My favorite movie this year was Silver Linings Playbook because I loved the blend that it had.”
How much of your life experiences make their way into your films?
“A lot! One way or another it usually starts from something I know of or lived through. I don’t think you get the good stuff without it. Like Reign Over Me was a lot of how I felt about the world at the time.”
Reign Over Me was one 9/11 movie that didn’t feel like it was trying to tug at the heart strings of America. I just felt like it was an isolated story that happened to have that event at the center of it. Can you talk about that?
“I was tired of these 24 hour news cycles when these terrible crisis’ happen and everybody watches and pays attention and then it’s like the spotlight goes off it and everybody walks away but there’s still these lives that are still shattered years later and still picking up the pieces from that. That’s the reason I felt really good using a well known event like that. We never showed the towers because it really wasn’t about that at all.”
Are there any of your movies or scripts that are really special to you that just seem to stand out more than the others?
“No not really (laugh). I never go back and watch them again once it’s done. If Im flipping the television channels and it comes by I just keep going. There’s also just a couple of my movies that just didn’t come out as good as I hoped. I feel that way about a lot of my stuff. Thats why I keep going ya know? I mean I’ve never really had a hit because it’s very hard to get movies made. I’ve always had people really like my movies and actors like my movies and that helps.”
Your production company is Sunlight Productions. Is there any projects you go after?
“Well we just do my stuff. It’s just me and a few people that have worked with me for a long time. We are getting ready to do a movie with Kevin Costner who we worked with before and I wrote the movie. We don’t really look for outside material and I’m not the kind of guy that wants to produce a movie just to produce it for a check.”
Mike Binder is a true film maker. He genuinely loves story telling and has a passion for it and to tell it the best way he knows how. The film Binder mentioned with Kevin Costner is now in production titled Black And White. This is one man in Hollywood not out for the fame and the biggest payday he can get. He truly is one we want to see more from and thankfully we will.