My encounter with Mike Leigh at Miramaxs party

It’s one day before the Oscar’s ceremony and the parties are in full swing in Hollywood.

It began with a DreamWorks brunch at Campanilla in La Brea to honour the Animation Academy nominees. I arrived late, but managed to have some chats with some of the nominees.

I also got busy campaigning Hollywood Foreign Press members to vote for me when they select new members this spring. Yes, I am being sponsored for HFPA membership (more on that in other blogs)

Later in the Evening, I, and other HFPA fellows, head to London Hotel in West Hollywood, where Sony and Miramax were holding their Roof Top pre-Oscar party.

Photographers were out in force, armed with their cameras, waiting at the Hotel’s entrance, hoping to steal a shot of the attending stars.

It’s sumptuous and glamorous, but the mood in the party is relatively subdued this year. Unlike previous years, the food was scarce and the quality was embarrassing. Evidently, the financial meltdown is hurting Hollywood.

In my way to the bar, I spotted Mike Leigh, dressed in white and surrounded by fans. I’ve never met him in person before, but I recognised him from photos and TV interviews. I walked over and waited patiently until he finished his conversation with the others. A friend, who was talking to him, introduced me to him and told him about my project. He was intrigued, and a long, inspiring chat ensued.

Mike Leigh is known for his support of young filmmakers, so I told him about the difficulties I have been facing in financing my project, and how I had been told to give it up to an experienced director. He was adamant that I should not even consider that. “A first time director has to start somewhere, and if you give up now, then you will give up again.” He also suggested that I should go back to Europe and seek financing there, for I’d be risking the integrity of my project if I try to make it within the Hollywood system. “But I am making headways better than in London.” I insisted. He was not pleased to hear that.

After over 30 minutes conversation with Mike Leigh, he gave me his card and said “Send me the script and I will send it to Film four for you.” Needless to say, I was thrilled. He also introduced me to his American producer. It was truly a joy meeting Mike Leigh.

Mike Leigh has later mentioned our encounter in his blog in the Gaurdian:

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