Behind the Camera With ‘Tesla’ Producers, Campbell Grobman Films

Published on July 12, 2019

Known for their past successes with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise and The Expendables 4, Hollywood producers, Christa Campbell and Lati Grobman have made new strides with their recent productions like Rambo: Last Blood and Red Sonja.

The company just finished wrapping up Tesla, a biopic starring Ethan Hawke, and Rambo 5: Last Blood, headed to theaters this September.

The Entrepreneurial Journey

Campbell and Grobman are the CEO and Founders of Campbell Grobman Films, and sat down with Grit Daily News to discuss their entertainment career trajectories as powerhouse female producers in Hollywood.

Grit Daily: How did you two become business partners and what made you decide to start your own production company Campbell Grobman Films?

Lati Grobman: We were friends for many years before we started working together, so we knew the ins and outs of each others personality. We decided to start Campbell Grobman films when it was clear that we make a strong team and can make things happen.

GD: What was the biggest challenge in getting the company off the ground? What were some of your early projects?

Christa Campbell:  Having already gotten our foot in the industry door, and Lati being known as an established  producer, we came aboard the film Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D . We knew we had something big and our working chemistry was palpable so we decided to form our joint company.  Our objective was to receive equal treatment as female producers for our credits, money, etc.  We want this for all women in the industry.

GD: When did you know you had reached success as a company? Was there a particular film that was a turning point for you?

LG: We got a strong start with Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D unexpectedly beating some more high profile movies at the box office upon the opening.  After that, we  went on to make more dramatic and light hearted films as well (She’s Funny That Way). We also continue to make action films because we are able to reach a broader audience.  We are currently working on The Expendables 4 and The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.

GD: Of all your projects, is there one that was particularly personal film or more professionally satisfying? “Your baby” project that you saw through to the finish line.

CC: For me it was Chuck ( known as The Bleeder in the UK and Ireland), starring Liev Schrieber.  It premiered at both Toronto and Venice Film Festivals.  We were incredibly passionate about making this film.  It was at times an emotional roller-coaster.  Every other day it was either green-lit or cancelled.   Everyone worked  really hard on that film.  It took an immense amount of drive and passion from all ends to make it a reality.

GD: What advice do you have for other producers coming up? Or what do you wish you knew when you started that you know now?

CC: Be passionate but not too emotionally attached.  It still has to make sense on the business side.

Empowering Women In the Workplace

GD: Do you have any advice specific to women in the business? How do you personally balance your work/life (be in dating, marriage, motherhood etc.)

LG: There’s a lot going on these days with the women’s movement, particularly in entertainment, that has begun to open up many opportunities.  Take full advantage of every door that opens.  Don’t let the visions of the past blind your view of the future.  Don’t harbor hate towards the ones who have hurt you.   You will only hurt yourself.  Become mega-successful because  success is the best revenge!

GD: How does time management come into play here?

LG: I am a single mother of five children, so I don’t  have the opportunity to date much.  My life revolves around my children and work.

My advice is to learn the best forms of time management as possible. Most people are busy doing wasteful activities  a lot of the day, like scrolling through endless hours of  social media. If you create a smart schedule for yourself,  you’d find that in 24 hours you can accomplish a lot.

GD: Do you have a morning routine that sets you up for success?

LG: With five kids at home, a minimum of 2 cups of coffee in the morning  is a MUST!  Christa, on the other hand,  is the work out queen of  our company.

CC:   I  am always at a level 10!  My motto is: “All In Or Not At All.” I am a SoulCycle queen. It sets my mind straight.  It is my  favorite way to destress!

Expanding the Film Roll

GD: What are you currently working on /most excited about for your company?

CC: We just finished Tesla starring Ethan Hawke.  He is absolutely amazing!  Rambo 5:  Last Blood is in post production and slated for theaters September 20, 2019 . Everyone knows and  loves Rambo!

GD: Where do you see your company expanding or focusing in the next few years? What are your hopes for the work you will do in the future? Any dream collaborations with directors or actors?

LG: We are  always looking to expand and grow. In the film industry, the biggest prize of all is getting an Academy Award. We DEFINITELY wouldn’t mind to get one of those!

CC: Advancements in technology have allowed people to take matters into their own hands.  If you are a director or writer,  you don’t need to wait for someone to green light your film to be seen anymore. You have a camera in your pocket called the iPhone. You have YouTube. There are numerous  outlets to showcase your work.  It’s a different time.   The  resources are everywhere.

Other Successes

  • The Iceman, starring Michael Shannon and Winona Ryder;
  • Emmy-nominated (2014) documentary film Brave Miss World;
  • Horror/thriller, Eliza Graves, starring Kate Beckinsale, Jim Sturgess, and Michael Caine;
  • Criminal starring Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot;
  • She’s Funny That Way, starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson;
  • The Hitman’s Bodyguard starring Ryan Reynolds; and
  • The Bleeder, starring Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts which premiered at the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals.

In 2016, Lati and Christa also produced Winter on Fire, the revolutionary documentary they sold to Netflix that premiered at the Venice, Toronto and Telluride Film Festivals. The film won the Toronto Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award that year!

Andrew "Drew" Rossow is a former contract editor at Grit Daily.

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