Kevin Messick does not hide his role as Adam McKay’s production partner, an industrious multi-hyphen. “My job is to do as many things as possible that allow Adam to fully enjoy his work as a writer/director,” Messick says. “Any other problem or enigma is on my plate. It’s as simple as that.”
Messick had more on his plate than usual with Don’t look upMcKay’s comedy starring Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio as two low-level astronomers on a media tour to warn of a comet about to destroy Earth.
Finding a backer wasn’t the problem, the producer says, though Paramount, where McKay had a deal at the time, apparently backed down from the reported $75 million budget needed for a star-studded cast and work. substantial amount of visual effects. “I don’t think they had the appetite for what we were hoping to do with the film,” Messick says. “Because to do disaster satire, you have to be able to afford the disaster component, not just the satire component.”
Other studios were interested, but it was ultimately Netflix that bolstered the necessary budget and the global reach the filmmakers wanted to get their message across.
Recruiting the film’s impressive ensemble wasn’t particularly tricky either, thanks, Messick says, to the “timing of the piece and what it had to say — both before the pandemic, with the ambition of Adam to write an allegory about climate change, and after the pandemic, with our inability to face the facts and the truth. Putting together a cast like this is a big, big headache, but it was great that everyone had the same reason to be there – they wanted to help Adam tell this particular story. Those names include Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perry, Mark Rylance, Rob Morgan, Timothée Chalamet and Ron Perlman, who joined Lawrence and DiCaprio.
What has been a challenge is the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic as well as Don’t look up was preparing for an April 2020 start; filming which finally began in November of that year took place under very different conditions.
“The ins and outs of quarantines and testing were a constant grind,” Messick recalled of filming with pre-vaccination pandemic safety measures. “It wasn’t just the expense, it was managing flights in and out, not allowing people to leave, pulling out Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you were a producer making movies before vaccines, you had a great background in medicine, in testing protocols, in all of that. It was a lot tougher than the usual challenges of just making a movie.
The effort paid off, with a hugely successful pre-Christmas run on Netflix – the streamer reported Don’t look up to be its second most popular original feature of all time. Awards recognition followed, including four Oscar and four Bafta nominations – including best picture/best film citations for Messick himself and McKay – as well as nods from producers, writers and film guilds. American actors.
The film’s message, meanwhile, led McKay to participate in a climate change discussion with British MPs in the House of Commons and to align upcoming initiatives with the United Nations and the White House.
Messick’s relationship with McKay dates back to 2009, when the then independent producer (with credits including romantic comedy Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet in 2005 Very similar to love) sold used car comedy Property to Gary Sanchez Productions, the company founded by McKay and Will Ferrell.
Alongside Gary Sanchez, Messick produced or produced a series of the company’s hit commercial comedies, including Ferrell vehicles written and directed by McKay. the other guys and Presenter 2: the legend continues as well as Ferrell’s outings with other filmmakers such as daddy’s house and Get hard.
Messick helped the company make its mark on television as an executive producer on SuccessionJesse Armstrong’s Emmy favorite who debuted for HBO in 2018. He also produced McKay’s Comedy On Wall Street in 2015. The big court and produced the writer/director’s political comedy-drama in 2018 Vicetwo fact-based – and Oscar-winning – stories that showed their creator’s growing predilection for mixing humor with current affairs.
After the founders split from Gary Sanchez in 2019, Messick stayed with McKay to launch Hyperobject Industries, a Los Angeles-based film, television and podcast production company. The two-year society reflects the interests suggested by The big court, Vice and Succession, projects that McKay was “scratching different things on,” Messick says. “Hyperobject is a continuation of that,” he adds.
“These are all things that lend themselves to Adam’s particular point of view,” explains the producer, “and we share a similar worldview in that sense. So the projects that we take on, whether they’re film or TV shows, represent a broader and more diverse point of view than some of the movies we’ve done, but we’ve done a lot of fun comedies, so don’t touch those.
Hyperobject has signed a first-look television deal with HBO (which is also home to the Gary Sanchez-produced hit East and down). For scripted features, however, the company last year replaced its original deal with Paramount with a first-look deal with Apple, joining the tech giant’s growing list of feature film suppliers.
The hyperobject slate beyond Don’t look up points in intriguing directions for the fledgling operation. In terms of functionality, Costsa horror-comedy starring Daisy Edgar-Jones and backed by Legendary Entertainment, recently screened in the Midnight section at the Sundance Film Festival and has been acquired by Searchlight Pictures for a March 4 release on Hulu and Disney+ on others markets, including the UK.
In post-production is The menuanother horror-comedy for Searchlight, this one from frequent Successiondirector Mark Mylod, with Anya Taylor-Joy starring.
In development for Apple, meanwhile, is Bad bloodwith McKay set to direct Jennifer Lawrence as Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of biotech start-up Theranos, who was recently convicted on four counts of defrauding investors.
On the TV side, the Hyperobject basketball series Buying Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynastywith a pilot directed by McKay and a second season in the works, is set to launch on HBO and HBO Max.
McKay is working on scripts for uninhabited earthan HBO Max drama anthology series based on one of the books that inspired Don’t look up. And in development for HBO is a limited drama series based on a book about billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
McKay’s English-language limited series, inspired by Bong Joon Ho’s Oscar-winning Korean feature, is particularly intriguing. Parasite, a project now in “very active development” for HBO, according to Messick. Revealing only that the series will be set in New York, Messick says that Bong “came to see us before the film opened in the United States. He wanted Adam to take a look at it and it was his idea to turn it into something for television in America. Bong and McKay are “working very closely on it and it’s really cool”.
projects like Don’t look up, uninhabited earth and the Parasite Spin-offs are perhaps a testament to the value of long-time producer/director teams. Messick and McKay’s partnership has thrived, the former says, because the two bring a “drama-free” attitude to their work and each focuses on what they do best.
“There is an efficiency in the way we work together,” is how Messick puts it. “He writes great scripts and I help make them.”