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‘Pulp Fiction’ producer shares Hollywood experience at film fest

Film producer Michael Shamberg, left, and journalist Maureen Orth, right, headlined a “Wine and Conversation” event Oct. 26 at Boxwood Winery. The program was part of the inaugural Middleburg Film Festival. Times-Mirror Photo/Trevor Baratko
George Clooney is the good-natured, genuine guy you see in many of his movies and interviews. And Quentin Tarantino; he's every bit as genius as his thousands of devoted followers make him out to be.

These were just a couple observations film producer Michael Shamberg shared Saturday afternoon during a Middleburg Film Festival conversation with journalist Maureen Orth at Boxwood Winery.

The film fest, which began Thursday night and concludes Sunday, was organized and launched by Middleburg's Sheila Johnson, the visionary of Salamander Resort and co-founder of Black Entertainment Television. Johnson was on hand for Saturday's program, held in the enchanting wine cave at Boxwood.

Orth, a Vanity Fair correspondent who lives 35 miles east of Middleburg in Washington, D.C., and Shamberg chatted for nearly an hour in front of a 70-person audience.

The producer reflected on a career that has spanned five decades and featured both critical and box-office success. Some of his most popular credits include "Pulp Fiction," "Django Unchained," "Contagion," "Garden State," "Man on the Moon" and "Erin Brockovich."

“What does a producer do? Kind of everything, no job too big or too small. I think we're responsible for everything. The first thing we're responsible for is raising the money,” Shamberg said.

One of the films that opened Shamberg's eyes to the allure of cinema was the 1962 tour de force “Lawrence of Arabia.” Describing what that masterpiece – and others – taught him, Shamberg said, “It's about the romance and what you can do with film making; how it can transport you.”

Step one for a compelling movie is a strong script, Shamberg said. If given a choice between two suitcases – one with five good scripts and one with $400 million in financing – Shamberg said he'd take the five scripts every time. With five great screenplays, he'll be able to secure the $400 million, he added.

Orth and Shamberg's relationship goes back to 1972, when they covered the Democratic presidential convention in Miami Beach, Fla. The two were part of the first team to produce live, mobile coverage from the floor of a political convention.

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