Spotlight | February 2016
Spotlight on a busy and successful filmmaking couple who finds time for luxury loving -- Michael Bederman and Anna Gerb.
By Andrea Syrtash
Meet Michael Bederman and Anna Gerb, award-winning filmmakers who originally met as friend in high school in Toronto, and married almost 20 years later. They now live in New York, though their busy production schedules mean that they aren’t always (or sometimes often) in the same place at the same time.
Michael’s latest film ‘Spotlight’, which he executive produced, has been nominated for many Oscars including the coveted best picture award. Michael’s wife Anna is no stranger to the awards circuit, as well, having produced popular films like, “A Most Violent Year’ and ‘All is Lost’ with Robert Redford.
I sat down with this dynamic filmmaking duo in New York City to hear more about their work, and perhaps more importantly… their play!
Andrea: What is it like for two successful filmmakers to be in a relationship? Is it helpful or hard that you work in the same industry?
Anna: I’d say it’s a bit of both. Depending on what stage we’re each in of a project, it can run like regular business day or the day can run as long as 16 or 18 hours. Los Angeles is behind us by 3 hours, so sometimes after we put kids to bed we get calls and have to keep working. The production schedule and where we are in the process of a film dictates our schedules and it’s not always predictable; but it helps that we each understand that.
Michael: Prior to getting married to each other, Anna and I were involved with people who weren’t in the industry and I’d say it’s more natural to be in this relationship because there’s an inherent understanding of the demands that your partner is facing on a daily basis. There’s disappointment when your partner won’t make it home for dinner because she has to deal with work, for example, but you understand.
We also understand that at times we have to take turns – one will be more involved at home and the other at work – and we’re okay with that…it feeds us in a way. There are even times that neither of us can be home for dinner and we’ve used it as a tool with our kids, to show them that even when we’re not home, we love them and we’re off doing stuff that excites us and they should, too. Because the schedules can be busy, we make sure to carve out family time. That’s definitely a priority for us.
Andrea: When or how do you carve out family time when you’re each in such demand at work?
Anna: Weekends are for the family. If both of us can’t be there on the weekend, we really try to make sure one of us is there for the kids. We want them to stay in the same school and have consistency.
Michael: We structure our time around our children as much as possible. We work through our schedules on a week-to-week basis and our goal is to always be together.
Andrea: Where does romance – and even luxury romance – fit into all of this? Does it?!
Anna: It’s tricky, but we make it work. We try to make long weekends out of weekends and we choose to travel to romantic and relaxing destinations, like a spa. This summer I was working on a project in San Francisco and Michael came up before we started and we stayed at a beautiful spa in the wine country. We had spa services, great dinners and lots of wine. It was amazing and the trip re-energized us. I love those moments when it’s relaxed and romantic and we can focus on us as a couple.
Michael: I think spa weekends are our favorite. We spend the weekend together eating, getting massages and relaxing without the usual noise. We often schedule it around work. When Anna was working on a TV show in Arizona, I flew out so we could go to a spa in Sedona for a weekend, which was amazing. Last July 4 weekend, I surprised Anna when she was working on a project in Mexico. I let her producing partner know I was flying out and they picked me up at the airport. I pulled up in a golf cart wearing a sombrero. We had a great weekend together.
Andrea: What about when you don’t have time for a romantic getaway – are you able to find romance locally and keep the spark alive at home?
Anna: We have local dinner dates and will even meet for a cocktail occasionally. We recently met around 4 pm for a quick martini and oysters since we both got out of work early. The nanny stayed a little later so we could enjoy it. We don’t need to travel far to find romantic time together.
Michael: Date nights are important. Whether going out for dinner on the weekday – or doing something more extravagant, like taking a weekend away, we make this happen. It’s really important to prioritize that time together – even sometimes more than family. We know that when our relationship is working best, our family life works best. We’re very busy but make time one night a week or plan a vacation. Because work can be so demanding and take us away, we find opportunities to remember why we love being together.
Andrea: What lessons have you learned about marriage as you’ve juggled your busy careers and family life?
Michael: Whatever your profession, whether you’re in the same industry as we are or in different professions, it’s important to take time to prioritize your partner and find a way to have some private time together and shut off work – so you can just talk, connect and check in to make sure you’re still on the same paths…