Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: As the 2012 Cannes Film Festival gets underway, one of the many Croisette curiosities will be the visage of Alec Baldwin and writer/director James Toback milling around at parties and hotels on the strip, with a camera covering their every move.

They are making Seduced and Abandoned, a feature documentary which defies categorization, about their attempt to raise money to make another movie. Confused? Let Toback explain. “The film idea was generated by conversations Alec and I have had over a long period of time and we decided we’d go to Cannes and shoot a record of our quest to find money to make a movie, which in effect is not a movie we’re definitely making, but rather one we will make in the future if we raise the money for it here,” Toback said. “This film is about that process, documenting the progress and the potential success or failure of the two of us in a picaresque attempt to obtain the financing of a movie we have a general idea about making.”

The movie they’re shopping has no title or script, but it has Baldwin as star, and Toback the director. Toback describes it as “an intimate story and a rather ambitious political drama mix.” The documentary being made now about the effort to fund that film will capture the flavor of the festival, with input from several directors, some of whom are in Cannes to promote or gather funding for movies of their own. Toback and Baldwin interviewed Martin Scorsese in New York before they left, and Bernardo Bertolucci and Roman Polanski will be interviewed at the festival while Francis Ford Coppola will be interviewed later in California. “We will talk to every billionaire financier in Cannes, to a few directors and movie stars to get a sense of where film is today and how it is changing as a business, and the whole evolution of Cannes from a pure festival to this bizarre mix of wildly diverse elements. It still clings to the pure notion of film, with all sorts of other ramifications from financial to maritime implications that make it so complex.”

Seduced and Abandoned is being produced by Toback’s oft-collaborator Michael Mailer, and it is financed by Alan Hellene, Larry Herbert and Neil Schneider, neophytes to the film game. “All of them are massively successful businessmen in different areas, but they came here as virgins with no preconceived notion of how to make a film,” Toback told me. Will others materialize for the dramatic film they hope to get financed? While the effort is unusual enough to raise eyebrows that it is a stunt, Toback said that simply is not the case.

“We’re dead serious about the film we want to make,” he said. “Over the course of this movie, there will be a lot of fun and laughter in describing what the excitement of this place is like. In the case of Marty Scorsese already, we’ve gotten some fascinating views about films and we will add to that with more directors and some great actors. If we get the money, will make the second movie. If we don’t, we will have made a movie I will be thrilled to have made anyway. This is no prank.”

ICM is selling North American rights.

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