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 Straight Outta Compton - Bill Straus Interview (Continued) 
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THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I do think it's also important to remember where these guys came from. While I don't think our past can serve as an excuse for our behavior, it'd be foolish to think it doesn't impact it. In interviews, Dre has acknowledged making some really horrible choices in is life. I think it's important to acknowledge these things, but to also look at the full spectrum of his life. We tend to want to turn things into cookie-cutter answers and life doesn't work that way. These were complex young men and to try to define them as one certain thing is an injustice in itself. I mean, c'mon. Who really thought Ice Cube would turn into a family film star? He did and he did so beautifully. Of course, he still does films like this one. Then, there's Dre. Yeah, he's a rapper and he's unquestionably still got that edge but he's also an entrepreneur who built a billion dollar business.

BILL STRAUS

They were also kids at the time. You don't think about that stuff. They really weren't fully formed human beings yet. When you're that age, you're just not as attuned. I'm sure by now there's things that they've learned. I think the 80's were less attuned to that.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I want to be respectful of your time and I know we need to be wrapping up. I'd like to get a picture painted of you. Can you talk a little bit about how you got started as a producer? Is this what you set out to do? Can you maybe talk a little bit about the difference in your roles as producer and sales agent?

BILL STRAUS

I've really had sort of an eclectic career. I don't think you're going to find too many people who've done as much as I've done on both the studio and indie side. I sold a script when I was 23 to Sony and I was supposed to be attached to be director. I was supposed to be the white Singleton in a way. It didn't happen. It took me many years to get over it. I'm sort of over it. That's part of why this is a great moment for me. Then, that's why I wanted to go to the other side of the table on the studio side because those were the guys who made the movies - the greenlights. I became a producer. As soon as I left New Line, I was able to go to Sundance. They would never send me. I went to Sundance and kind of fell in love with indie films. Indie culture just really felt like it was enlightened in a way that studio filmmaking wasn't. It kind of changed my career. The next thing I knew is that all I wanted was to have movies at Sundance. This was around 2003-2004. By 2007, I had movies at Sundance as producer. By 2011, I was wanting to move back to New York. I had a kid and wanted to raise her here. It's been going really well. I'm kind of wanting to make my mark with emerging young filmmakers. I think there's a real power to what you do whether it's as a producer or as an executive or as a sales agent. If you're not a writer or director, you're kind of defined by the stuff you champion. The stuff I champion is really, really strong stuff. I think the reviews will bear that out. I'm very territorial and precious in what I take on. I'm really enjoying this side of the business. Compton feels like not just a great feather in my cap, but I'm just really enjoying it. It's like a trip to Disneyland or something.

Straight Outta Compton opens in theaters nationwide on August 14th. Straus is still in New York raising his daughter and representing emerging filmmakers through his company BGP Film.

© Interview by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic 

 

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