Sister Act: Alice in Wonderland's Producing Duo

Q:  Were you surprised with the overwhelming success of 'Alice' at the box office?
A:  Jennifer Todd -  I was - although I expected the film would do well as I knew how good it was. But no one can predict the kind of numbers the film did. I wish I could!
  Suzanne Todd - We could tell that there was a pretty voracious appetite for the film from the time the online campaign had launched. The facebook fan page was burning up and people were hungry for anything and everything about the film. Although we did have a sense that it would be well-received, no one dared to dream that we would approach a billion dollars worldwide!

Q:   How involved are producers in the development of DVD /Blu-Ray New on DVD: Alice in Wonderland (2010) DVD and Blu-Rayfeatures?
A:   Suzanne Todd - Producers are very involved in the creation of additional bonus materials, putting together the featurettes that you see, and adding insight to the behind-the-scenes process.

Q:  What were the biggest problems as a producer with getting the final product?
A:  Jennifer Todd - One of the biggest problems was getting the film done in time. We had our release date locked very early, and we could not change it. So the last few months were very stressful waiting for the final FX to come in.
A:  Suzanne Todd - Like almost all movies, and certainly big tent pole movies, it always comes down to time and money. Luckily for us, with Tim directing, we never lacked for creative vision, so the task for everyone involved was to work their hardest to bring Tim's vision to the screen – within the schedule and resources that we had available.
Q:  When working with such a talented director like Tim Burton, is the worry factor less or more pressure because of his quirkiness as an artist?
A: Jennifer Todd - I think there's less pressure as Tim is such a known artist, and has had great success in his films prior to Alice.
Tim Burton directs Mia Wasikowska in Alice in Wonderland
Q:  Is there a tug of war between producer and director when it comes to creativity?
A:  Suzanne Todd - Not when you are working with Tim Burton! He is a true genius and a visionary director.

A: Jennifer Todd - Not on a film like this, that was dependent on Tim's vision. We really gave him the script and waited to see what he would come up with.

Q:  Can you tell us what it is like to work with Johnny Depp?
Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland
A:  Suzanne Todd - There just aren't the proper adjectives to describe the magnificence of Johnny Depp. He is the most incredibly talented actor yet also kind, down to earth, and hard-working.

A:  Jennifer Todd - Johnny's such a sweet, likeable guy and a tremendous talent. He's so affable; he makes you forget what a giant movie star he is.

Q:  As women in a male-dominated industry, what are qualities needed to survive Hollywood?

A: Jennifer Todd - Good question! I think you have to have a tough will and a very strong spirit. Movies are so hard to get made. I do think women make great producers though; we are good multi-taskers and caretakers.

Q:  How often do you come across a script that you love but as producers - you know won't work in the mass market? And are you free to make it thru the indie route?
A: Suzanne Todd - There have been a few occasions when we found material we truly loved that could not be financed and released through the traditional studio model. Memento was the first indie movie we had made, and even though we had to work for free, we were very happy with the result!

Q:  Where does your creative inspiration come from?

Suzanne Todd - My creative inspiration comes from so many aspects of my life - art, music, literature, pop culture, my children, my friends, and lots of travel and adventure!
A:  Jennifer Todd - It comes from all over - films and books I've loved as well as the artists in my life. Now it also comes from my children.

Q:  How does the experience compare between working on such a behemoth as Alice and a smaller scale movie like Memento?
A: Jennifer Todd - The time commitment is much greater on a big film. ALICE was about three years in the process and that's even quick for a movie of its size. Also it takes so many more people to complete a film like this - Memento was such a small, intimate experience, the two feel like very different processes.

Q:  Did the two of you “produce” anything in your younger days? (Backyard plays are acceptable)

A:  Suzanne Todd - Yes! Story telling was always a big deal in our house from a very young age, and I was always an avid reader. We liked to act out scenes from The Phantom Tollbooth, which was one of my all-time favorites from childhood.

A: Jennifer Todd - No, but my sister killed me off in a couple of her student films at USC. I was always her main actress, pity for her.

Q:  Have you, for one reason or another, passed on any scripts that you later saw turned into great films?
A: Jennifer Todd - I can't think of any I have - although it's bound to happen. As a producer you have to accept your own taste and know that you won't catch everything. I'm sure I would miss a great horror film if it came my way as I'm not good at those.

Q:  Do you always look to work together as producers on projects, and are there times when the demands and stress of producing impact on your relationship?
A: Jennifer Todd - We do mostly produce together and I think it is actually quite easy having each other. It's nice to have a real ally in the film making process as it's so hard.

A: Suzanne Todd - In the many movies we have made together, we have never disagreed about an important creative decision. We have had trying times, like all sisters do, but never based on the work - usually based on some unreturned shoes that had been borrowed or something like that.

Q:  You've produced 18 movies in 18 years--what are you currently working on and do you ever take a vacation?
A:  Suzanne Todd - We are currently working on a new film entitled "Celeste and Jesse Forever" starring Rashida Jones and Justin Timberlake. For vacations, I like to go to Disney World or on the Disney cruise - I am a huge fan of all things Disney!

Q:  This is going to be a hard movie to top, will your next couple of projects be deliberately small scale?
A: Jennifer Todd - We really make whatever we can when we can but it just so turns out that our next film is quite small, THE ROMANTICS, which premiered at Sundance.

From a $200 million film to a small budget like THE ROMANTICS (Katie Holmes, Anna Paquin, Josh Duhamel, Malin Akerman), the sister producing duo are pros when navigating their Hollywood careers which explains why they are one of the few successful women behind the camera.

Tim Burton's ALICE IN WONDERLAND is on DVD and Blu-ray June 1st.

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