Most of the time when you interview a director, you're talking with them about their latest film; interviewing Mike Binder about The Search for John Gissing, a comedy about corporate backstabbing as an American executive (Binder) arrives with his reluctant wife (Janeane Garofalo) in London to smooth over a multinational merger with soon-to-be-outcast fellow executive John Gissing (Alan Rickman) sabotaging his every move, is a different story. It's not a recent film -- it was shot in early 2001, before Binder released The Upside of Anger or Reign Over Me -- but it's just coming to DVD now; the other thing is that The Search for John Gissing is, in fact, Binder's movie -- he's releasing it himself, selling it via the website www.thefreebird.com, and doing so without any studio involvement. Binder spoke with Cinematical about making The Search for John Gissing, working with star Alan Rickman, The Search for John Gissing's long road to release and his dream of what he calls "a big-ass pipeline" that gets his movies directly into the hands of fans.
Cinematical: The Search for John Gissing has taken a little while to get out there; let's talk about that gap between the making of the film and it being available.
Mike Binder: Well, it's a long story, but what happened was: I made the movie, and I cobbled together the money – I put up a lot of my own money, and some family and friends money, and I really just made it on the cheap. And we started playing it, and we got in a lot of festivals, and it played really well to audiences – but the only deals we could get were from people who wanted to own it. Forever. For doing nothing. And I also started, it was the type of thing where I felt, 'Boy, if I could go back in there for two more weeks, I could really open this up a little, do a little more work to it." So I thought I was going to do that, and I did some re-writing, and I was going to do two more weeks of shooting., and then I started doing The Mind of the Married Man; and then I started planning to the other two weeks of shooting, and I got the second series of The Mind of the Married Man, so I didn't do it then ... And then I went into The Upside of Anger, and it became too long, you know? And I owned it, and had lost all this money on it ... and I ultimately sat down one day and re-wrote the whole script. And I called it The Multinationals and really started over, and I thought "Okay, I want to do this without me and without Janeane (Garofalo) and maybe still with Rickman; I want to re-cast it and start over." And when I went back to the people who wanted to buy it, they wanted the rights, to do that, and I couldn't give those rights away. ...
Cinematical: Couldn't or wouldn't?