Michael Whalen, SCU’s Knight-Ridder/San Jose Mercury News Endowed Professor of Communication, says, “From a standpoint of Hollywood, getting a movie made is a painstaking process that can take decades. Look at Unforgiven. Clint Eastwood was attached to it for 20 years in order to get it made.”
The process of getting Spotlight to the screen shows the momentum of a good story, as long as it’s given a careful push.
Faust and Rocklin struggled to find the right fit in production partners and screenwriters until Josh Singer and director Tom McCarthy were able to nail a script. Mark Ruffalo (The Avengers), one of the earliest actors to sign on, was “a talent magnet,” according to Faust. He proved key in assembling a cast that also includes Keaton (Beetlejuice, Batman, Birdman), Rachel McAdams (Wedding Crashers, Midnight in Paris), Liev Schreiber (X-Men Origins: Wolverine; Salt), John Slattery (TV’s Mad Men), and Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones).
Now, just weeks from the film’s festival premiere, Faust hopes that Spotlight succeeds in shining light on a timely problem, the atrophy of investigative journalism at major papers.
“Spotlight is the story of the power of investigative journalism, but it’s becoming a dying game,” Faust says. “The resources to fund these investigative teams have largely gone away, and it leaves the question for stories like [the sexual abuse scandal], would they have been broken?”
Following Spotlight’s premiere in Venice, the film will head to the Toronto International Film Festival and begin a limited release on November 6 in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York.
ACADEMY AWARD UPDATE: BEST PICTURE — Oscar buzz turned to a pair of Oscar wins for Spotlight at the 2016 Academy Awards. The film won for best original screenplay and for the top honor: best picture.
Producer Blye Pagon Faust paid tribute to the people whose story the film tells: ”We would not be here today without the heroic efforts of our reporters. Not only do they effect global change, but they absolutely show us the necessity for investigative journalism.”
In recent months, Spotlight has been nominated for scores awards around the world. The night before its Oscar wins, the film picked up four honors in the Independent Spirit Awards: best feature, best screenplay, best editing, and best director.
At the beginning of February, the Vatican hosted a private screening of the film for the commission entrusted with investigating the cover-up of sexual abuse by priests in the Church. When the film was released last year, Vatican Radio described it as “compelling” and “honest.” Updated February 29, 2016.