The CEO of DreamWorks on the Making of 'Lincoln'

By James Fallows

One month before the election, The Atlantic and our partners at UCSD put on the second 'Atlantic Meets the Pacific' conference in La Jolla. Video of many of the sessions has now gone up on the UCSD site. (Videos from both the 2012 and the 2011 conferences are here.)

This year I got to interview Stacey Snider, the CEO of DreamWorks, about many aspects of a studio-executive's job. But the discussion began with the then-impending release of her next big movie, Lincoln. I hadn't seen it at that point and knew only vaguely about its theme, and so I didn't ask her about its substance or implications. Instead, starting 3:00 into the clip below, I ask her to tell us what we should know about the movie that, a month hence, we'd be hearing all about. Then I asked her how a studio thinks about releasing a wholly "worthy" movie like this, in the era of The Fast and the Furious (which was another of her movies).



This is not a mainly-Lincoln discussion, but I thought it was revealing and interesting overall -- including when Snider explains that the most-misunderstood part of her job is that her principal duty is to read: scripts, novels, newspapers, histories, magazines. But its discussion of what the studio was thinking with Lincoln will be interesting for anyone who has seen the movie (as I finally have -- you should certainly do so if you haven't) and thought about its implications. For now I direct you to Ta-Nehisi Coates's ongoing exploration of these issues.

One policy point only: time and again in writing about American politics and the American presidency, I say that things are a huge mess now, but they've often been extremely messy through our history. This movie is a useful reminder on that point.

As a bonus, I also got to interview Gretchen Rubin, creator of "The Happiness Project." I was genuinely fascinated and engaged by everything she says. The three minutes that start at time 22:00 also touch on one of my Major Principles for Life.



Thanks to Stacey Snider, Gretchen Rubin, all the other guests and interviewers, and the UCSD and Atlantic Life teams who made this happen. (I went from these interviews on to China, for my "Mr. China" article in the current issue.) See you in La Jolla next fall.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/12/the-ceo-of-dreamworks-on-the-making-of-lincoln/265878/