In an era when film production is an increasingly risky business, a triumvirate of New York City natives with familiar last names have decided to throw their hats into the ring. Bingo Gubelmann (brother to Phoebe and Tantivy and cousin to Marjorie); Austin Stark (an heir to Stark Carpets) and their friend, banker Benji Kohn, formed Paper Street Films two years ago. This weekend, their very first effort, teen thriller flick “Homecoming,” was released and garnered a flurry of tabloid attention when star Mischa Barton landed in the hospital the eve of the premiere.
Stark talked to WWD.
WWD: Since you’ve mainly done small, indie films for the festival circuit, were you nervous about tackling a mainstream movie?
Austin Stark: With a more artistic film, it has to be good, because if that kind of movie is bad, then no one is ever going to see it. But with a movie like “Homecoming,” there is a built-in audience for it. It’s not a review film — it’s a fun movie. It’s intentionally campy.
WWD: Why did you cast Mischa Barton as the villain, former homecoming queen Shelby?
A.S.: There are very few actors that are that age who can validate the budget for your investors. So Mischa was on a very short list.
WWD: How do you think her involuntary pyschiatric-hold might affect the film?
A.S.: First and foremost, we hope that Mischa gets well soon. Mischa’s health first, movie second. That’s the important thing here. But, honestly, “Homecoming” is a pulpy teen thriller that appeals best to the younger set. If anything, it’s probably brought more awareness. But it’s certainly not how we wanted this to play out.
WWD: Did this come as a surprise to you or did her behavior on-set indicate that this would be a risk?
A.S.: She was a total professional. She came prepared every day, was always on time, and delivered a fantastic performance. I’m not too close with Mischa personally, so I was a bit surprised by all of this, but certainly not shocked. I hear the rumors like everyone else. The whole thing makes me a little sad.
WWD: Understood. On a more positive note, what other projects to you have coming up?
A.S.: “Peter and Vandy” with Jason Ritter, Jess Weixler and Jesse Martin; “Repo Chick,” which is inspired by the Eighties cult classic “Repo Man,” and “HappyThankYouMorePlease,” a movie about twentysomething New Yorkers with Kate Mara, Malin Akerman, Zoe Kazan and Pablo Schreiber. We also just did a Werner Herzog movie, “My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done,” that should be premiering later this year.
WWD: What was working with Herzog like?
A.S.: He’s really nice; nothing like that “Entourage” episode. He’s a genius.
WWD: Do you find that because of your last names, people in Hollywood think you’ve gotten where you are just because of your families?
A.S.: I don’t think anybody really knows my family in Hollywood. In New York, maybe some society people do, but for me it hasn’t been about that and so it’s never been a question.
WWD: Please explain Bingo’s appearance as a “stuntman” in the credits.
A.S.: We were doing a stunt with Jessica Stroup, who costars as good girl Elizabeth, and we thought we could get away without having a stunt guy for it. But that night, it wasn’t playing that way we wanted it to. Because Bingo has long hair like Jessica, he actually threw on her jacket and stood in for her. So if you look closely, there is one shot of Jessica from the back, but it’s actually Bingo.