by Chris Monroe, Staff Writer
Note: Mr. Komarnicki was also mentioned in our interview with the producers of the movie, ELF—see interview
With producer credit for the new Christmas film “Elf”, director credit for the new independent feature film “Resistance”, and writing credit for the new Warner Brothers television show “The Flash”, Todd Komarnicki took time out to talk to me at his New York office about these projects as well as his faith.
Beginning the pursuit of his dream in Los Angeles as a writer, Todd now resides in New York City, a place he says he loves and will never leave. He is a principal partner of the production company Guy Walks Into A Bar and is on the board for Reel Spirituality. The hope of this institute is:
to sharpen the cinematic acuity of tomorrow’s clergy and to deepen the theological insight of future filmmakers. We firmly believe the next generation can teach us plenty about visual literacy, but also desperately needs additional exposure to thinking theologically.
Reel Spirituality has conducted several seminars involving contemporary filmmakers such as Tom Shadyac (““Bruce Almighty”,” “Liar Liar”), Randall Wallace (writer of “Braveheart” and “Pearl Harbor”), and contemporary theologians such as a Benedictine monk, Fr. Gregory Elmer and traveling evangelist and brother-in-law to Billy Graham, Reverend Leighton Ford. Also involved with this institute is producer Ralph Winter (both “X-Men” films, ““Planet of the Apes”,” and the upcoming Christmas film “Blizzard”), of whom Todd has been personally acquainted.
When I inquired about what challenges Todd faces and how he deals with decision-making, he clarified that it is no different because he is in the “movie business.” He sees the choices he makes in filmmaking the same as making choices in real life. Coincidently, Todd does not try to “plant his flag” or force a message through his work. Rather, his outlook is to be who you are, everywhere you are; and then people won’t have a squabble with you about your work. He says, “Consistency goes a long way.”
Overall, Todd says our real purpose is to “live humbly, and to seek God’s will, His presence and His guidance.” Including him, he says that we spend too much time “talking” about things. He says, frankly, we need to shut-up and realize that there is grace and mystery at work. Furthermore, Todd quotes Philippians 4:8, and adds that that is how we are to live. “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” Todd concludes, “That’s good advice.”
Todd expressed how amazed he has been by all of the support they have been given by the studios for “Elf”. New Line Cinema has spent as much money (if not more) promoting and distributing the film as they did in making it. As a producer, Todd couldn’t ask for more. Interestingly, it couldn’t be more different when he compares it to the independent feature film he recently directed.
“Resistance” is Todd’s feature film directorial debut, and stars Bill Paxton and Philip Voltaire (“The Double Life of Veronique”). Todd describes this film as an old-fashioned, beautiful story that he tried to tell beautifully. The difficulty is that in the end, when it is time to distribute the film, it’s not about how well it was done, but rather, about how much money people will attach to it in their minds. Essentially, if he wants it to get distributed, those investing the money want to know that it’s going to make money in return.
The film opened the City of Angels Film Festival in Los Angeles and the Stony Brook Film Festival on Long Island, New York, playing to the biggest audience ever there (even bigger than “Titanic”). There have been great responses from audiences who have seen the film. There was also a lengthy discussion during a Question and Answer session after one of the screenings. Yet, because the film is fifty percent in French with subtitles, investors seem reluctant to back the film. Todd is at peace, however, because, as he says, he knows it’s all in God’s hands.
Aside from the monetary support Todd receives in his filmmaking endeavors, he divulged a little about the best support he receives in his work. Todd explains that he is surrounded by inspirational people and, across the board, receives incredible support from friends and family. He believes the key for any artist is to have support from the ones you love. One source Todd has found this support from is his parents, whom he said believed in him and fought for him, even when he wasn’t sure what he was doing.
When Todd was just starting out in Los Angeles as a writer he always found that his parents were behind him. He says it would have been easy for them to wonder what he was doing, question whether or not he was being responsible, or think that it was “flighty” to chase his dream. But his parents were never like this. Instead, they encouraged him to follow his dream and to discover it as he goes. They exhorted him to stay focused on prayer and keep his head and heart where it should be. With the success that Todd has been experiencing as of late, it seems that this support has well paid off.
Some of Todd’s favorite film directors are Alan Parker, Vim Venders, Frank Capra, Preston Sturges, Charlie Chaplin, Anton Tarchovsky and Krzysztof Kieslowski. Before Todd disclosed these directors, he clarified that he is more a fan of great films because of how challenging it is to make one. “So many things have to go right,” he said. He does not believe every single film by a director can be great, which, he says, is proof that even the best directors struggle.
When I asked Todd what his dream project was, his first response was, “I’m living my dream.” He finds it “hilarious” to be making a living doing what he loves. But he does admit that there is a story he has been working on for the past ten years. He explains that it’s not about his dad, but it is definitely an homage to his life. He hopes to gain enough momentum in his career to produce this film while his dad is still living.
Hopefully, we will see this and more work by Todd Komarnicki in the years to come. And aside form this homage film to his Earthly father, it seems clear by his heart, integrity and excellence, that Todd is paying homage already to his Heavenly Father.
[Read our review of “Elf” (the movie)]