Life in the Reel World

Courtesy Columbia Pictures

The roster of careers that Edward Pressman's films have launched or boosted reads likes a who's who of Hollywood: Oliver Stone, Terence Malick, David Mamet, Brian De Palma, David Byrne, Willem Dafoe, Bridget Fonda, Daryl Hannah, Nick Nolte.

The maverick New York film producer, whose work is being celebrated in a retrospective at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's BAMcinématek, has shepherded some 60 films, including Academy Award-winners Reversal of Fortune (1990), Wall Street (1987) and Das Boot (1981). Pressman, '65, attributes his success in large part to an ability to identify charismatic directors. "I find there is an aura around [such directors] that people are energized by. That's what attracts me to them as well."

His films are an eclectic bunch, but what ties them together, says Pressman, is that almost all convey the vision of one individual director or writer. "Each in its own way reflects the personality of one person," he says.

A philosophy major at Stanford, Pressman credits classmate Larry Madison, '65, with inspiring his career. Pressman and Madison, whose father was a filmmaker, talked endlessly about making movies in those days. "That's when I really started seriously thinking about it [as a career]," he says. "Only through talks with Larry did it seem possible."