Published in thefallmag.com

“I’m here to get stuff done,” says Gary Michael Walters. We meet over eggs and coffee at the Ham Yard Hotel in Piccadilly, London. He’s a bright-eyed American who can appear either side of 50, depending on his bedtime. Chief executive officer of powerhouse independent film company Bold Films – makers of the Oscar-winning Whiplash, as well as the iconic Drive – he’s got a newspaper for diversion, his iPad for emails and a desire to meet as many interesting and, well, bold European filmmakers as he can now that his company has opened a London office. “I know it’s a cliché,” he says, “but there’s a certain amount of truth underlying certain stereotypes and there’s a certain salesmanship and can-do American attitude that I think is maybe a little kick in the rump over here to get things going.” In print, this may sound arrogant. In person, it’s endearing. He wants to “internationalise” British films – broaden them in scope and ambition. “There have been so many amazing Brit talents that have migrated to the US,” he says. “I see no reason why they can’t come into their artistic and financial maturity here in London.”

Walters speaks with a smile, a sense of self-deprecation and an enthusiasm for movies that is infectious. There’s a certain confidence and peace you feel from people who know they are blessed to be doing what they love – whatever the trials and tribulations of their vocation. They could, instead, have “proper” jobs. Walters, after all, used to be a lawyer. “I was on a very conservative, lucrative career track,” he says, reflecting on when he graduated from the American educational elite at Princeton, heading for the “fast track” on Wall Street. Instead, he chose heart over head and moved to Los Angeles to try to make it in the film business. He secured a legal position in film financing, but raising funds was a slog until he met Belgian businessman Michel Litvak, who believed in him and put him in charge of managing his Hollywood investments. That was in 2004. Bold was born.

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