April 2, 2012

SCA Family Stories: David Jay Lasky

The Producer of Of Corset’s Mine sits down with SCA

Although the most populous of the School of Cinematic Arts’ divisions, Critical Studies tends to be one of the most misunderstood. Most assume that a Crit Studies student either wants to be a professor or a film critic. However, Producer David Jay Lasky not only challenges this perception but also proves that it is possible to use Critical Studies as a basis for a successful career as a producer.

In the following Q&A, David Jay Lasky discusses his invaluable time at USC and his role as a producer on Of Corset’s Mine, as well as his forthcoming plans in the industry.

David Jay Lasky '03

Let’s start from the beginning. What’s your name and graduation year? My name is David Jay Lasky and I graduated in May of 2003 from Critical Studies.

Larry Auerbach suggested you for an interview. Did you take any of his
I took several and I had friends that took several. I took classes all around. I was a minor in English and took classes in Annenberg so I was all around. Education is key to me. It was important for me to meet new people and exchange ideas.

Tell me a little bit about your new project.  The film is called Of Corset’s Mine. It’s directed by Sean Connery’s son, Jason Connery. It’s written by Sharon Soboil. I’m one of the producers. I was doing publicity for a restaurant that Sharon’s husband owns. She wrote a screenplay and I introduced her to one of the producers on the film and it’s been terrific. The film stars Chronicles of Narnia trilogy actor William Moseley as Randolph, a womanizing aristocrat forced to disguise himself as a woman in order to save his family's fortune. Camilla Belle is playing his love interest Jane in the film. The film is a tribute to Connery's late mother Diane Cilento, the Oscar nominated actress for Tom Jones, another film about a rogue in the UK and his comical misadventures.

Where can people find out more about it? We’re filming it in late May. It’s going to be a six week shoot. The plan is to get it to the Toronto Film Festival and after that, hopefully, the world. We’d love to show it to USC as part of the Alumni Screening Series. I'm thrilled to share it with my Trojan Family and make them laugh.

What’s your role as a producer? I have a big role. I brought the writer to the one of the other producers. It's an excellent screwball comedy and that's one of my very favorite genres of cinema. I’m always looking for other projects. New, trailblazing screenplays. I would be thrilled to help USC students and alumni. I love the Trojan family. It’s very important to me.

I’m curious, as a Critical Studies alumnus, did you enter Crit Studies thinking that you wanted to go into the production of films? Yes. Always. Since I was seven years old. I grew up in the Projects in Brooklyn, New York. I got a scholarship from the New York Times to attend USC to study film and journalism. I had a thirst for knowledge of film from experts at USC. I’ve known for years and years. I’m thirty-one years old and I’ve always known I wanted to do this.

In terms of Crit Studies, I wanted to learn all about film and filmmaking. I look up to Francois Truffaut who did film criticism as well as producing. I like looking at every angle.

One of our more famous alumni, Bryan Singer, is a huge advocate for filmmakers going through Crit Studies because it adds to the knowledge base of a media maker.  I agree one hundred percent. He’s a very talented filmmaker and I wholeheartedly agree with that. Crit Studies is an absolutely terrific major and an excellent source of knowledge.

How do you respond to the criticism that Crit Studies isn’t as plugged into the real world as much as the other divisions? That’s it’s too academic. I don’t agree with that at all. I loved it. It was amazing. You can’t work in this industry without knowing about and watching good films. Great films. Knowing how directors, writers, producers work is critical. I'm always thrilled to please audiences.

Lasky with his mother Judith Lederman-Lasky at a celebrity event
in WestHollywood

Is there one lesson you find yourself going back to from your education day in and day out? Everyday I look back on different lectures from professors like Drew Casper and Todd Boyd. From Casper, I can watch contemporary films and see what classic films they pay homage to. I’ve seen in his classes, for example, the films of the modernist era which influence what’s going on today. In general, I tried to absorb everything. All of the knowledge from each professor. Everyday, I learn something new. I am constantly inspired by my family and their emphasis on education that I received all my life. My mother, my sister, and my uncle constantly drive and inspire me to be a better producer and a better man and to fulfill my dreams.

When you first got to SCA, is there anything you wish someone would have told you? Probably to just relax. Just let everything fall into place. I was just worried all the time. I wouldn’t meet the right people or not collaborate with the right people in cinema. In the end, it worked out and the worry was for nothing.

We have a lot of aspiring producers here as well. Is there anything that you would like to relay to them? Make the movie you want to see on the screen. Have a passion for cinema. Have a passion for life. Don't ever give up your dream.

What’s next for you? I have projects in development. A comedy called Lies Angeles. It’s about my zany adventures as a New York Times reporter covering the celebrity milieu. It should be good. We are in the early stages of that.