Mike Leigh just made a movie with help from Amazon, but that doesn’t mean he thinks the studio is free from criticism. Speaking to the Guardian, the “Peterloo” director referred to streaming services in general and his benefactor in particular as a “new breed of executives” who micromanage projects in a way that’s more like traditional Hollywood than they’d like to admit.
“I’m not talking about my own experience with Amazon, who backed ‘Peterloo’ and who behaved impeccably,” he was quick to clarify. “The problem really exists for younger filmmakers.”
Leigh, one of England’s most celebrated auteurs, is best known for such films as “Naked” and “Secrets & Lies”; he won Best Director at Cannes for the former, the Palme d’Or for the latter, and has been nominated for seven Academy Awards (all in the Best Original Screenplay and Best Director categories).
“The new streaming services all like to say they don’t work like Hollywood,” he continued. “But, actually, by suggesting a director works with a particular team, or asking why you are not using a female cinematographer, or wondering whether the film should have an upbeat ending, they are behaving in a traditional Hollywood, Louis B Mayer-way and it is totally unacceptable,” he said.
“It is just not on,” said Leigh of fledging filmmakers working with these companies. “The next lot of young directors face such a long wait to get any project off the ground. That’s my biggest worry. I’ve talked to two of them in the last few weeks and one said she expected it to take six years to get her first feature together. That’s terrible, and it is because you have got this whole new breed or culture of executives and producers who will not simply press the button, and say ‘go for it and see what happens.’”