The Big Issue : Edition 462
THE BIG ISSUE 4 – 17 JULY 2014 33 THE STAR MAKER CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT GRACIE OTTO; DAVID BOWIE AND COCO SCHWAB; MICHAEL WHITE AND JACK NICHOLSON; WHITE IN THE 1970S; WHITE AND JERRY HALL; SUSAN SARANDON AND RICHARD GERE; LEONARDO DICAPRIO AND KATE MOSS; ANDY WARHOL AND RACHEL WARD PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE MICHAEL WHITE COLLECTION enough modelling work to pay her way and keep the cameras rolling. Over the three-and-a -half years it took to get the film into post- production, Otto found she’d already put up $110,000 of her own money. It was time to turn to crowdfunding. “I found it really hard,” she admits. “‘I think that, you know, when we did the campaign people thought, ‘Look at all the rich famous people in the movie... They’re Michael’s friends, and they did interviews, and surely they’ll help out.’” But despite its celeb-studded talking- heads cast, who all speak lovingly and admiringly of White – including John Cleese, Richard O’Brien, Kate Moss, Anna Wintour, John Waters and Naomi Watts (who has an Associate Producer credit) – funds just weren’t forthcoming. In retrospect, Otto wishes she’d had someone else to do the asking on her behalf. Now she wonders if her efforts were detrimental to the professional relationships she nurtured while securing interviews with such high calibre talent. “Someone might say, ‘Oh hey, I did that interview for you, wasn’t that enough?’ And you’re like, ‘Yes, it was. Sorry.’ A couple of times that happened...and I felt, like, horrible because I thought, Oh my god, of course that was enough.” Asking White for help was out of the question – not least because, at 78, Otto says “he wouldn’t know what crowdfunding was”. On a more personal level, Otto’s documentary reveals that the charismatic man lost his fortune along the way. Producing is ultimately a gamble and, as the industry changed course, White’s winning streak came to an end, and his lavish lifestyle finally took its toll. Though the septuagenarian can still be found at the hottest parties most nights of the week, Otto’s documentary is laced with melancholy. Aided by walking sticks he wishes she would edit out of the film, and having auctioned off some of his prized possessions at Sotheby’s to keep afloat financially, White wants to spend old age the same way he spent his youth: surrounded by beauty and those with a zest for life. Perhaps that’s why he gave Otto permission to make the film. “He does like a pretty girl,” she admits, though she’s keen to defend White: “He’s definitely not a misogynist or anything.” That said, she sees how being young and female “definitely must have helped”. Otto met some of the world’s biggest celebrities en route to getting her first feature completed, and her filmmaking future looks promising. As for White? He’s not producing anymore, but may still be the hottest ticket to a successful career in showbiz. by Tara Judah » The Last Impresario is out now.