At one point in this fascinating new documentary about writer-director James Toback and the making of When Will I Be Loved, his 2004 picture starring Neve Campbell, which was shot on the fly in 12 days, Toback's exasperated producer says to him, "You are making movies that are almost impossible to market." But Toback, a personal filmmaker whose movies, like Fingers, have always been all about his own demons, knows that. In the battle between art and commerce, Toback has always come down on the side of art. And though there's been a cost to his career, the outsider pose is one that suits him very much. Toback likes the high wire act, improvising scenes and expecting to work it out in the editing room in post-production, which he calls the final draft of the script. For When Will I Be Loved unexpected investors put up $2 million to do the movie. But there's a catch: Toback has to finish in three weeks, which means just 12 days of shooting. Documentary director Nicholas Jarecki had excellent access to this filmmaking sprint, even introducing Toback to supermodel-actress Bridget Hall on the morning she was scheduled to shoot. Toback proceeds to improvise, launching into an explanation of how he's in the movie himself, playing a Jewish professor of African history who's just written a book about female genital mutilation in sub-Saharan Africa. The Outsider includes interviews with boxer Mike Tyson, ex-athlete Jim Brown, agent Jeff Berg, Hollywood studio executive John Calley, actor Robert Downey Jr., and fellow directors Woody Allen, Barry Levinson, and Brett Ratner, among many others.
Twenty-five-year-old Nicholas Jarecki is the author of the book Breaking In: How 20 Film Directors Got Their Start. A graduate of NYU film school, Jarecki has directed several music videos and commercials. The Outsider is his first feature film.