Paul Mezey does not have the insular New York mind-set of some independent producers based in the Big Apple. One of his next two productions, Joshua Marston's Blood Feud (working title), will shoot in Northern Albania while David Riker's The Girl will shoot in Texas and Mexico.
He has also gone further afield with past films such as Marston's Maria Full Of Grace and Sophie Barthes' recent Sundance hit Cold Souls, which was a French co-production that shot partly in Russia.
'For me it's most exciting to tell stories that put you in environments and situations you're not normally exposed to,' Mezey says. 'The questions that arise about the story you want to tell should also be questions you're interested in about the world around you.'
Since founding Journeyman Pictures in 2000 with Jeremy Kipp Walker, Mezey has worked on a diverse group of films that also includes Half Nelson, Momma's Man, Everyday People, Spring Forward and The City (La Ciudad). 'The only commonality is films with a story that allow me to explore something I'm interested in,' he says.
Journeyman was founded on the principle of creative collaboration. 'It's someone else's story, but I can contribute in this other way, in the logistical process or creative problem-solving,' says the producer, who made key connections when he attended NYU's graduate film programme for writer-directors. 'I have thrived in that kind of relationship.'
Mezey has a strong track record for making indie films that are actually seen. 'Every film we've made has gotten distribution and gotten out there,' he says proudly. And he has built a sustainable business based on that success.
Mezey adds: 'To stay in this business, you need to come up with models to recoup on each project. Films we're developing now won't come into the marketplace for a few years, so we need to understand what's going to change with technology, what will change with distribution and exhibition, and how much foreign sales will matter. It's about trying to think constructively and make some educated guesses.'
Budgets have ranged from $100,000 to $6m and each financial plan is structured differently. For instance, Marston's Blood Feud will have foreign investment, grants and some US equity investors. While there is less cash around, the economic downturn actually makes film investing look better. 'With interest rates so low, now a 15%-20% return on (a film investment) can look quite good,' Mezey says.
Journeyman tries to produce one to two films per year. This year, The Girl stars Emily Blunt as a self-centred working-class woman whose life is changed when she goes on a journey with a Mexican immigrant girl. Blood Feud, about a young boy in Albania caught between modernity and tradition, will shoot in late summer.
Meanwhile, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck's Sugar will be released in the US on April 3 via Sony Pictures Classics and Cold Souls will have a late summer release via Samuel Goldwyn Films.