Since graduating from Ithaca College, Bill Carraro ’81 has produced hit films such as “The Adjustment
Bureau,” “The Golden Compass,” “Stay” and “Frequency.”
His latest movie, “Tower Heist,” starring Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy, will hit theaters Friday. Executive Producer Carraro will speak at a free sneak peek screening of “Tower Heist” at 7 p.m. tonight at Regal Cinemas for only Roy H. Park School of Communications students.
Staff Writer Qina Liu spoke with Carraro about producing his latest film, and what it’s like to work on set with celebrities.
Qina Liu: Tell me about the premise of your new movie. What can people expect from the film?
Bill Carraro: It’s a Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy all-star cast comedy heist about working stiffs who basically seek revenge on a Wall Street swindler who stiffs them of their pensions, and it all takes place in what is supposed to be New York’s finest luxury Central Park condominium. They discover the billionaire who stiffed them has potentially hidden millions in this penthouse, and they aspire to reclaim the money they lost by breaking into his apartment.
QL: Sounds like it relates back to the Occupy Wall Street movement.
BC: It doesn’t hurt. And the whole Bernie Madoff scandal also. It’s certainly relevant to what’s going on in the world.
QL: What was it like producing “Tower Heist” and working with stars such as Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy and Matthew Broderick?
BC: The biggest challenge was putting a project together like this. It’s about the planning — executing everything that you would need for a complex project like this, or a demanding director like Brett Ratner, and being able to juggle the logistics of the type of sequences we had in a big city like New York.
QL: How did you get to this point as an executive producer from being a student at Ithaca College?
BC: It certainly wasn’t overnight. It was many, many years of business. Just like any other business, I feel like if they have some success, but particularly in the film business, it’s about perseverance. You have to be somewhat tenacious and you have to fully believe in what you’re capable of, and it was a long road of years and experience climbing the ladder from smaller projects and unrecognizable titles to getting the experience and learning from people and climbing the ladder to finally, I guess, gaining the confidence of the folks that pull the trigger on these things, whether it be a production entity that owns the material or a studio that is fully financing it to build the relationships and give them the confidence you can be trusted to deliver the goods.
QL: When did you know producing was what you wanted to do?
BC: Within a year or two of getting out of school, I wanted to be a producer. Originally I studied cinema and photography more intensely because I honed my skills from taking still photography to possibly being a cinema photographer, but as I got more and more into the work field, I got more and more involved in the coordination of projects and observing. I realized that’s what I want. I want to be the guy who puts things together from A to Z, so it was pretty early on, but I knew it was going to involve a climb. If you bring the material to the table, you have a lot more to say down the road as to whether or not you’ll be involved.
QL: What advice would you give current students aspiring to follow in your footsteps?
BC: I often tell kids that while they’re still in school, “Great, enjoy your film classes. Get what you can get your hands on in terms of experience, whether it’s at the school or in the field.” This a business about content more than anything, so you know, make sure you know how to tell a story and edit a story. But it’s also a business, so make sure you know enough about business practices and accounting practices, because you’ll be potentially in the middle of making decisions about budgets, spreadsheets and calculations.
If You Go
“Tower Heist” screening
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Regal Cinemas
How much: Free