Film director Zackary Adler

Zackary Adler.

06-11-2021Humphrey Carter

Zackary Adler’s journey to date would make a great film, although he has many years of film making ahead of him before he could even start thinking about a retrospective piece of work. What is clear is that the world is a very small place and, as on so many occasions, Deya plays a key role in his story.

His parents met in Deya at the Es Moli hotel, his father had met the brother of the late Jackie Waldron in New York. His father plays the guitar as a hobby and music brought the two together and he was invited to Deya, where Zackary’s mother, an artist, was on holiday with her boyfriend. The two were separated and got together and Zackary was born in New York and brought up with seven other children on a farm in upstate New York.

However, while growing up in the States, Deya was their holiday home. At the age of 12, the family moved to Deya, and Zackary, who has American and British nationality, attended what was the American International School in Portals before eventually moving to London, where he began working as a runner for the producers of music videos for the likes of U2 and Sinead O’Connor in the late '70s and early '80s.

“I guess Deya is where I ‘came of age’. To be honest, me and my friends rarely left the area; we didn’t go to BCM or Palma for example. We hung out in Deya, Soller or Valldemossa and were surrounded by this rich vast community of artists from all walks of life, and I guess it rubbed off on me. Deya was and is my spiritual home and it’s where, looking back, I learnt how to tell stories, even the truth, through art. Yes, there were plenty of colourful characters and the celebrities, but no one made a big fuss of anything or anyone, they all just blended together and got on with their lives in harmony.

“So, once I finished school I went to London and began working in Camden Town, which is such a cool place, as a runner. That was when I decided that I wanted to make movies,” he said.

Zackary caught the industry’s eye from an early age. Interning and working in production companies from the age of 15, his early influences were David Fincher, Charlie Chaplin and Francis Ford Coppola. After graduating in film from Bard College and moving to New York, where he began directing music videos, he secured employment at Akiva Goldsman’s Warner Bros-based production company, Weed Road Pictures, where he wrote and directed his first short film The Cookie Story. It premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival and won Best Comedic Short Award at Film Fest New Haven, where it was also picked up for distribution and broadcast on HBO.

He went on to write and direct another short film, Something In Between, starring Keram Malicki-Sanchez, April Grace and Brittany Murphy, which screened in competition as an official selection of the Sundance Film Festival. His debut feature film, I’m Reed Fish, was picked up by ContentFilm International during its opening night at the Tribeca Film Festival. It was released in the US by Red Envelope and Screen Media theatrically.

“That was my first big break. We had a bidding war between Red Envelope and Harvey Weinstein’s Miramax and I went berserk when I found out it went to Red Envelope. They had offered the most money and secured the rights but I was angry it went to streaming platform. But Red Envelope then became Netflix, so it worked out fine in the end I guess.

“So, yeah, I was finally on the right track and had made a name for myself. I was working in New York, Los Angeles and that Hollywood stuff, which is a giant contradiction of an industry but was also great because I had always been a huge fan of the likes of David Fincher, Charlie Chaplin and Francis Ford Coppola. Being in Hollywood was an experience to say the least.”

2016 was another breakthrough year, Zackary having amassed a fervent cult following in British film’s gritty underbelly of crime drama through the record-breaking success of the films Rise of the Krays as well as its sequel The Fall of the Krays. These were released in 2015 and both broke sales records across UK and US distribution platforms, with Rise Of The Krays smashing all records to become the highest selling UK DVD for the previous five years.

“I had always wanted to make gangster films. Deep down, I think we all want to be a gangster at some time in our lives, it’s just the eventual fallout that we want to avoid. I think it’s the way in which gangsters have always thumbed their nose at the establishments, broken the established laws to create their own, and many have become legends, rightly or not. Pablo Escobar, for example, invested huge amounts of money in schools, football clubs and helping the poor in Colombia. For decades, many people in the East End missed the Krays. ‘This would never have happened when the Krays were around,' people used to tell me.

"Through making the two films, which were shot back to back, there was a great deal of investigation into the Krays. I ended up meeting Freddie Foreman, who was involved in the disposal of the body of Jack 'the Hat' McVitie, who was murdered by Reggie Kray, and was considered one of the gangster godfathers of London. His son Jamie went on to become a great actor - he was is in Layer Cake, a cracking film. So, after having directed a couple of romantic comedies I finally managed to get my teeth into the gritty movies I wanted to make, and it worked well. I then directed the third instalment of Rise of the Footsoldier: The Beginning and was the executive producer on the football thriller, Final Score, starring Pierce Brosnan.

“That was great because one of the investors in the film was the owner of West Ham football club, and we were able to film the stadium being demolished ahead of the team moving to their new home at the Olympic stadium.

“And then came along one of the greatest moments of my career so far and that was to direct one of my acting heroes, Gary Oldman, in The Courier, a fast-paced action thriller which I co-wrote and directed and also starred Olga Kurylenco. That was released worldwide in 2019. Working with Gary was great and we’re working on another project together right now, but that’s under wraps.

“However, post pandemic, I have a period thriller to shoot in the UK in the spring. It’s set in the 1800s in Bedlam, the psychiatric hospital, and is about an inmate and how fights break out. Then I travel to LA to film Broken, which I would like to shoot in Puerto Rico but we’re still working on that. So things are moving again and it’s exciting to get back to work after the pandemic.

“In the meantime, we’ve been living here on the island, back in and around Deya. For once, I’ve had the time to really explore Mallorca like I’ve never done before. It’s a magical, wonderful place and it’s been very encouraging to see such a flourishing film industry with great festivals like Evolution!.

“I’ve missed the festival scene and going to the closing night was great, especially seeing The Laureate, which was, apart from being a great film with an excellent cast, a real eye-opener into the life of Robert Graves before he came to Deya and put the village on the map. But to discover more about Robert was also important because my brother is engaged to Natalia Graves. So, like I said, Deya has a very special place in my heart and always will.

“While I was working in Los Angeles, my daughter, who is now 13, was born. Because we missed the close connection with Deya we decided to name her Deya in order maintain that close bond with the village, which had such a profound impact and influence on me. And here we are, back on the island, which I guess is going to become home while I continue to work in London and the States.”

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