|Bill Immerman, Producer|
|It's a Lawyer's Life|
|Good Old Days at the Studio|
|Producing Motion Pictures|
by Elizabeth Willoughby
While growing up in New York, Bill Immerman fell in love with film. He went to the movies every weekend, sometimes twice. At only eight years old he knew that film was the industry that he would become a part of in one capacity or another. His father, a lawyer, wanted Bill to follow a legal path. Bill found a way to do both.
After completing his undergraduate degree and a stint in the army, he decided to go to Stanford Law School and then go on to practice entertainment law. In college he was involved in film, theatre, radio and television, and when he graduated Stanford, at age 25 he headed straight to Los Angeles. Over forty years later, he’s still there. He’s seen many changes and contributed to many film projects over the years, from Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry to Ray to The Maiden Heist, but his journey has not been a predictable one, and it’s one he’s not ready to see come to a close anytime soon.
Bill Immerman shares his thoughts and experiences with WorldGuide:
on his first hurdles in Los Angeles...
My intention was always to get into the entertainment industry, but I couldn’t find the right opportunity. So, I decided as an attorney to get experience as a trial lawyer. The best place to get experience as a trial lawyer is at the District Attorney’s office because they send you right into court. So, I was sworn in as an attorney at noon, and at 1:00 the district attorney handed me my first case.
It was a man who was charged with a sex crime. That’s not a particular thing that you study in law school, so I was probably unfamiliar with what even the law was on the matter, but luckily the policeman who had brought the charges, who was there with me, said, “Don’t worry about it. We’ve got an airtight case.” As it turned out I won the case, but as a result of that, I ended up being given cases in that area, which was not something that I particularly wanted to do. I don’t think most people dream of becoming a prosecutor as a specialist in sex crimes.
on his big break...
I was assigned for awhile to Glendale, which at that time was an extremely conservative suburb of Los Angeles. A young actor and his boyfriend were at Disneyland promoting a new Disney picture that was about to come out. This was the late 60s, when actors didn’t come out about their sexual preferences and certainly Disney actors didn’t. They made a wrong turn and ended up in Glendale, pulled into a park and proceeded to show their affection for each other. Unfortunately, the park they picked was really a cemetery and the police patrolling the cemetery arrested them. I was assigned the case and arranged a plea; the thing never got out publically and Disney was able to release the picture.
About two months later I got a call from the defence attorney and he said I had saved Disney millions of dollars and made him an enormous hero because there was no way that Disney could have released the picture starring this young man if it had come out that he was a homosexual and that he was smoking marijuana. He took me to lunch and said, “I’m very good friends with a Stanford lawyer who represents a lot of film companies. Let me talk to him.”
His friend represented a company called American International Pictures (AIP), which at the time was the first company that was making films aimed at the teenage market. They were doing what was known as the beach party films – Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello – so I went to an interview and they hired me as associate council. That’s how I got my first job in the film business.