‘We Never Fully Ended Up Casting ‘Em’: How Phil Hoelscher Created ‘Landscapers’

Flame of Freedom, a tribute to Neil Young and Crazy Horse featuring Alice Cooper, opens the afternoon of Landscapers, starring Olivia Colman and David Thewlis. Colman plays Rebecca Humphries, the daughter of a crime writer (Benedict Cumberbatch) who works in his academy of fresh thinking. Each new case feels different, almost from the last and sometimes only in its importance to the public. Director Neil LaBute teamed up with cinematographer Seamus McGarvey for this thriller, which shows just how high the stakes are when a high-profile murder is discovered.

“I always come away from a movie disappointed,” Phil Hoelscher said in a conversation with Landscapers producer Josh Berger in Los Angeles. The president of WME Independent handles opportunities like Landscapers, though he doesn’t mention actors by name. “I saw two actors that I thought were both incredible, and I said ‘can you make me the option on each one of them?'” said Hoelscher. “I never fully ended up casting ’em, but I had an idea of what I wanted them to do with their roles, and I wanted a slightly different take.”

Landscapers is one of many films Hoelscher represents with UTA Independent, a partner for UTA, and Leo Daniels Development. Their credit in Landscapers includes screenplay, in the writer’s room, as well as producing. And he was inspired to do it by the journalist he met when trying to get a film made.

“I was telling a story to the guy who I was trying to hire,” said Hoelscher. “I said, ‘I just realized after we were shooting that you left the room and the director took one look at the actors and said, ‘What the hell are you doing?'”

Hoelscher developed the script while working in the office, imagining his words on a computer screen. He attended the screenings and was moved when people came up to him and said, ‘you wrote that part for me!'”

“A lot of times, when people are waiting for something in a movie, they see and say and ‘Wow!’ and they haven’t seen the movie, or they’ll say, ‘Boy, wasn’t that great’ or ‘Actually, was that really good?’ ” Hoelscher said. “They may or may not have an opinion on the content, but they’ll have something negative or positive in their minds to share about what they felt about what we do when we make a movie. That’s how I ended up seeing the film.”

Landscapers is available on Netflix and Amazon Prime for $19.99 or $29.99.

This story first appeared on billboard.com

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