Hollywood, at your service
If you’re throwing a party or organizing a film festival and you need Jack Nicholson or Jim Carey to fly in to make a cameo, Bob Van Ronkel is the man to call. His company, “Doors To Hollywood,” can deliver the biggest names in the business.
By Stephen Dewar
When did you first come to Moscow and why?
My first trip to Moscow was in April of 1998. A Russian friend asked if I could get a Hollywood studio to come to Moscow to discuss building Multiplex cinema’s, but in August the economy crashed and the deal fell through.
When you invite film celebrities to Russia from the US, what is their usual reaction?
All 15 actors I have brought to Moscow were concerned about safety, what would they eat, what the hotels and their room would look like. I will never forget Jack Nicholson asking me should he bring a separate suitcase of bottled water! Jim Carrey was very concerned about all the gangsters he heard were in Moscow and kidnapping people for ransom. He wanted to be sure I would have enough security for him, so I arranged for four of my biggest and toughest security personnel, as well as three cars and drivers watching over him. By the third day, Jim was so comfortable in Moscow, that he went roller-blading alone. All my actor friends have asked me to invite them again. They all felt so at home here. Most importantly, none have had any problems, or anything but the best of times.
What do they most enjoy?
If I didn’t say the beautiful Russian women, I would be lying, but separate from that, everyone is blown away by the scenic architecture, the history and museums, the food, nightlife and warmth of the Russian people. Everyone loves to try vodka, blini, and of course Beluga caviar. When I take my friends to Red Square, all gasp and have to take a deep breath when standing there. Most of us have such memories of fear watching the tanks, troops and missiles passing through there when we were kids and we were all made to believe that these people were our enemies.
In your opinion, what are the biggest problems facing the Russian film industry today?
Lack of distribution, not filmmaking skills. All movies require maximum international distribution. Sales usually need to be made worldwide and in all possible outlets of distribution from theatrical release, to television and pay cable sales, video and DVD. Russia does not have enough outlets for distribution to recoup much of a film’s budget.
What has the industry got in its favor?
Many assets! Talented directors and actors, history, interesting sites, locations and stories, all just waiting to be filmed, by US filmmakers as well as Russian ones.
So, what should Russian filmmakers do?
Russian filmmakers need to start making more co-productions with American and European producers - English-language films. To support Russia’s own film industry, whenever possible they should be using Russian locations, cameramen and crews, directors, wardrobe, lighting and catering personnel. Ninety percent of the cast should be Russian.
What is your favorite place in Moscow?
For dinner, Vogue Cafe and Paper Moon. Both remind me of Beverly Hills. For late night, Club Cabaret, First, and Shambala. Great music, beautiful people.
Who is your favorite Muscovite, living or dead?
If an American who has been living and working in Moscow for about 4 years can be considered a Muscovite, Mike Holloman’s the only person who I can count on to take friends of mine like Jim Carrey, Val Kilmer, Dolf Lundgren out in Moscow to all hours of the night. Mike knows every club owner, every restuarant, every banya and every girl. Thanks Mike for being my friend!
If you could write Moscow’s motto, what would it be?
Fun in the fast lane. The land of opportunity, culture, history and beautiful architecture. The land of crime, corruption, adventure and the most beautiful women in the world.