Meet the filmmaker
Brad Rothschild will discuss his work at a screening of Homeland on Saturday, Nov. 5, at 7:30 p.m. at the Rialto Theater in Westfield. The movie is one of four to be shown at the fourth annual Jewish Film Festival of Central New Jersey. Advance admission is $12, $46 for a series subscription, $10/$38 for JCC of Central New Jersey members, seniors, and students. Admission at the door is $15. For information, call 908-889-8800 or visit www.jccnj.org.
October 23, 2008
In these tough economic times, it doesn’t hurt for a screenwriter to have some seichel about the economics of doing a film.
Writer/producer Brad Rothschild has put such knowledge to use in Homeland, a riff on the Romeo and Juliet tale between a former member of the Israel Defense Forces and a Palestinian woman.
Rothschild, 39, grew up in Westfield and Plainfield and was a student at Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union in Cranford. He attended Emory University in Atlanta, where he majored in political science.
After graduation, Rothschild moved for two years to Israel, where he worked for a think tank involved with political and economic reform. He returned to the United States to work on his master’s degree in international affairs at Columbia University. He put that to use as a speechwriter for Gad Yaacobi, the Israeli ambassador to the United Nation in the late 1990s. Rothschild then switched careers, working as a vice president for Citigroup from 2001 to 2006. Since then he has been involved in the production side of TV programs and documentaries.
“It was a long route,” Rothschild told NJ Jewish News in a telephone interview from his home in Manhattan.
During all those years, Rothschild maintained an interest in writing. He took a screenwriting class taught by Michael Eldridge at the Gotham Writers Workshop “in my copious spare time.” Rothschild and Eldridge kept in touch after the program ended.
“I said in the back of my mind, if I write [Homeland] the right way, I’d like to make it myself.” He also said he did not want to try to sell the script because of the complex nature of the story.
He discussed his ideas with Eldridge, who encouraged his former student; Rothschild decided he wanted his mentor on board. “I asked him, ‘What is it going to take to get you to direct this movie?’” Eldridge wanted to see a budget, and that’s where Rothschild’s financial training came in handy.
That background in finance “really helped me in terms of seeing how things get done,” Rothschild said. “When I wrote the script I tried to keep in mind I wouldn’t have a huge budget. I didn’t want a lot of big set pieces. I wanted a few different locations [and] not too many actors, to keep costs down to a reasonable amount. It’s an awareness of how you can stretch your money.”
Rothschild is working on a documentary about the plight of African asylum-seekers in Israel. That kind of writing “is more like journalism than a movie like Homeland,” he said. “As a producer, you need similar skills in terms of organization…but that’s where the similarities end.”
After working exclusively as a producer, Rothschild enjoyed the chance to spread his wings. “I like both roles,” he said. “I love writing, the creative process when you sit down and finally can start working on a script and putting what’s in your head on paper. Producing also speaks to the skills I have in business development. I think that what made me an effective producer on Homeland is that I cared more than anyone else. If I didn’t…it wouldn’t get done.”
Rothschild said he doesn’t consciously take those elements into consideration when he puts on his writer’s hat. A script he wrote after Homeland “is a much bigger story” and as such, he might let someone else buy it and turn it into the finished product. He’s just trying to be realistic.
“Some of the things I write, I want to make, and some of the things I think are maybe too big for me at this point.