Today: February 22, 2024

The Man Behind The Films: Hollywood Banker

Frans Afman was independent cinema’s most high profile moneyman. He was behind 900 films and changed the way independent films were made. During the ‘80s and ‘90s he was responsible for financing Oscar winners including Dances With Wolves and Platoon. He was the first and possibly only banker to be thanked at the Academy Awards.  Directed by his daughter Rozemyn Afman, Hollywood Banker charts her father’s rise and fall which she started to make following his diagnosis with cancer.  We asked Rozemyn to share her thoughts.

Why did you decide to make Hollywood Banker?
My father Frans (the subject of Hollywood Banker), became terminally ill with cancer. So I asked him if he had anything on his bucket list. He said he felt sad that he couldn’t write his memoirs. So I decided to make a film about his life. When I started the documentary it was to fulfil his wish and keep his spirit alive but while making the film it also became a journey of self-discovery.

What archive material did you have access to?
My father kept all his archive throughout his working years – including grocery receipts – stacked up in boxes in the apartment. There were cassette interviews, recordings and newspaper clippings. When my father passed away it took me months to go through the material. I remember that one day my mum wanted to throw everything out to clean the place, but I managed to convince her not to do so.The archive material and the conversations with my father led me to travel to LA to meet his old colleagues and to search for more in-depth material. It appeared that his life was much more interesting and exciting than I could have ever imagine.

What it hard to finance Hollywood Banker?
Yes, it was difficult. I needed my father, the banker, to make the documentary. But he wasn’t around! Luckily we managed to get finance through the Dutch Film Fund and donations through a fundraising dinner. A lot of people also showed their respect by working on the film as a labour of love. It would have been easier to have had Frans to pre-sell the movie first.

What has the reception been to the film so far?
I feel lucky. The film has been received quite well. It is a great documentary for film buffs everywhere and people love the father-daughter story. I believe I did pretty good research so I had everything covered.

Some impressive film legends contribute to Hollywood Banker like Kevin Costner, Oliver Stone and Paul Verhoeven. How difficult was it to get the talent on board for the project?
Before my father passed away he gave me his email password. Here I could find contacts to some big producers but the story behind getting Oliver Stone on board is a funny one. When visiting Montreal a few years ago I was sitting by accident with actor James Woods in a café. We were both visiting Montreal because of our love for film. I came out for a few days of a storytelling course by Robert Mckee and he came out to work on a new movie. We talked about the documentary I was working on and that I needed to get in touch with Oliver Stone. He immediately emailed Oliver and connected us.

Kevin Costner’s info. I got through a close friend of mine who is a top editor in Los Angeles. She previously worked with him on a movie. Hollywood is a small world. When people are willing to help, they give you access. I was very surprised that they immediately wanted to conduct interviews. It amazed me that they talked so highly of my father. The respect and the appreciation his old colleagues have for him is striking. I never realised when I was young that he was so important.

Are there any actors/directors you wish had participated but couldn’t get on board?
I wanted to interview Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone but we had no more budget. We were also in the final phase of editing. The story is told by the producers and people who made the films with my father so these interviews weren’t essential to completing the film. I also wanted to interview Italian financier and former MGM owner Giancarlo Parretti. We tried to track him down but we didn’t have any luck at all. In all, I did 30 interviews and 24 made the final cut of the film.

What is your favourite film that Frans helped to finance?
My favourites are Weekend At Bernies and Terminator 2. They are such cult classics.

Do you have any tips for female/first time filmmakers?
The documentary world is so tough. But good stories will always find finance. You simply have to persevere. Stay true to yourself. And connect. Films are all about connecting.

Did your father give you any tips on filmmaking? If so can you share them?
Yes, he said stay away! He said the industry was too hard. I went to work in other areas and then funnily enough I end up working in the film sector!

HOLLYWOOD BANKER is available on DVD and digital platforms on Monday 16th November.

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