‘Trouble With the Curve’ director enjoyed filming in Macon

Robert Lorenz has years of experience -- including two Academy Award nominations -- working as Clint Eastwood’s producing partner at Malpaso Productions.

And while he has worked as an assistant director on some of Eastwood’s movies, “Trouble With The Curve” marks his directorial debut.

The drama, which was filmed and is set in several parts of Georgia, including Macon, premieres Sept. 21. It tells the story of an aging baseball scout (Eastwood) trying to sign one final prospect for the Atlanta Braves while re-connecting with his estranged daughter, played by Amy Adams. Justin Timberlake, John Goodman, Matthew Lillard and Robert Patrick also star in the movie.

Lorenz spoke with The Telegraph last week about his experiences making the movie.

TELEGRAPH: Why did you choose to film part of the movie in Macon? How was your experience here? Would you shoot here again?

ROBERT LORENZ: The experience was terrific. The ballpark (Luther Williams Field) is terrific and really a character itself. I wish there were more scenes I could’ve filmed there. That’s what brought us (to Macon).

The people were terrific. They were just so accommodating. ... Sure, I’d film there again if the right project came along.

T: You filmed all across Georgia. With so many movies being made in the state these days, what’s the draw?

RL: It was a combination of things. The screenwriter (Randy Brown) is from Georgia and he set the film there. (Georgia’s tax) incentive is a huge draw. (Atlanta) is an urban environment that’s very cinematic, and the rural look is unique. ... There’s a great pool of acting talent. ... I’d come back to Georgia, for sure. There’s a great enthusiasm there for filmmaking.

T: What drew you to this script? There had been rumors that Eastwood was going to retire from acting after “Gran Torino.”

RL: There are so few roles out there for an 82-year-old that are believable and that make use of who (Eastwood) is. This one comes along, and you can distinguish it from his other characters. At the same time, he’s Clint. People want to see his familiar presence on screen. The story appealed to me on many levels.

T: As a first-time director, were you nervous, especially considering your star is one of the most acclaimed directors out there? Were there times Eastwood wanted to step in or give you advice?

RL: I really wanted to strike out on my own. I set out to be a director. But it was really daunting to direct him. I knew because of his years of experience, he would be naturally inclined to take over, so I really thought through my shots and was really prepared. He just rolled into it. He didn’t feel the need to commandeer the process.

The creative process is a fun thing. ... There were times he made good suggestions, and I was happy to take them. There were other times he made suggestions, and I really wanted it to be my own work. When Clint directs, he just lets the actors run with it. Only when it’s not going the way he wants or if they ask him for advice, then he steps in.

T: What was it like working with the Atlanta Braves?

RL: They were terrific. Initially, John Schuerholz, the team president, had some concerns. He’s very protective of the club’s image. There are some rough characters in the movie. But I met with him and tried to reassure him. They really gave us carte blanche. They let us shoot (at Turner Field) and in the team’s offices. They even sent one of their scouts with us, and he brought some of his scouting friends. ... (The scout) was leaning over and whispering to Clint all of the time to give him advice. It was the same with Justin (Timberlake, who also plays a scout in the movie). The scouts in the movie with lines are actors. The guys in the background with the radar guns are real scouts. ... The front office let us use their offices and gave me leads on folks who could play baseball.

T: The movie is set to premiere Sept. 21. Are you nervous and excited? It seems a quick turnaround, considering you were shooting in Macon at the beginning of March.

RL: It’s a pretty simple and straightforward story. It didn’t require months of visual effects. It’s close to playoff season, and we wanted the movie to coincide with that. The budget was very modest. I won’t say what it is, but it was in line with “Gran Torino” (reportedly $33 million, according to the website

I’m feeling pretty good about it. I’m getting a lot of feedback, a lot of positive feedback. ... It’s thrilling to see the posters for it all over.

T: Anytime Eastwood makes a movie, there’s always some Oscar talk. Are you thinking about the awards season?

RL: Not at all. I set out to entertain people. I just want to make the movie entertaining and satisfying and moving. If anything happens beyond that, it’s just a bonus.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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