Gordon’s Alive: LUSSO interviews Gordon Bijelonic
Gordon Bijelonic enters the room impressively, with what appears to be an entourage. Two well-dressed men, one impish and Danish, the other an imposing African-American, shake our hands and admire the Ebony Suite, which will serve as the setting for our interview. Gordon is already staying at the May Fair. LUSSO has just upgraded him (mildly) for the afternoon. His companions turn out to be fellow film producers, who have luncheoned with him downstairs at the hotel’s excellent Amba Grill. So no entourage. Bijelonic appears far too earthed and experienced to indulge in such ego enhancement. However, this doesn’t stop him from politely asking his guests to toodle off towards the impressive terrace approximately a quarter of a mile away at the end of the black and silver room. They acquiesce in a way that would suggest that in his own area of influence, Gordon is considered quite the don.
Of course, the entourage allusions are fitting. Bijelonic was a trained stage actor living in Los Angeles. An old New York friend and fellow out of work thesp was crashing on his sofa. Fed up with never making it past the shortlist to actually getting cast, said friend had decided a radical plan of action. He would write and direct his own short film. A film about (not) getting cast due to his ethnically diverse appearance. Having ploughed $3,000 into ‘Multi Facial’, he took the finished product and Gordon to Cannes to raise the money to make his feature script, thug-life romance drama, ‘Strays’. He never got the money. However, his performance caught the eye of Spielberg, who contacted him about performing in Saving Private Ryan, launching Vin Diesel’s feature film career. Luckily, Vin retained a loyal disposition.
Together, Diesel got to make Strays, with Bijelonic producing, and along the way have had many adventures in the screen trade, still remaining best buddies.
Some 15 years later, with 12 features behind him, Gordon has formed a production partnership with a savvy ex-Abercrombie and Fitch model, Datari Turner. Heavily focused on nurturing eclectic first time writer/directors, he’s never without less than five productions on the slate at any one time and has a keen eye for where the money and the audience are shifting towards.
“What makes us work as producers is that we’re open to getting behind all kinds of films.”
His thoughts on cinema, business and staying ahead of the game are illuminating and thought-provoking. His is a couch we’d still like to crash on.