Photograph by Ben Clark
Originally published in Guitar Aficionado, Fall 2010 Issue – Buy Issue
Film and TV producer Bill Todman Jr. comes from a distinguished entertainment-business lineage: his father was the legendary TV producer and game show pioneer Bill Todman, with whom young Bill got his start. While working in TV in the Eighties, he got his first taste of feature film production as executive producer of the 1988 Jonathan Demme hit Married to the Mob. Since then, Todman has held production roles at various studios on projects such as the 1998 Will Smith action film Wild, Wild West and the 2000 hit X-Men. He is currently co-chairman/CEO of Level 1 Entertainment, LLC, where he is overseeing more than 25 feature film and TV projects.
How did you get started collecting guitars?
I learned to play guitar in 1992. I had just finished shooting a television pilot for CBS in Miami, and the writer/director and co-producer were avid guitar players. Almost every evening, after we wrapped shooting for the day, we would have a jam session and sing-along with the crew. When I returned home eight weeks later, I had made my mind up to learn guitar. My Takamine G330 was the start of my guitar collecting habit.
How do guitars fit in with the design aesthetics of your home?
My wife and I have very classic aesthetics. My taste in guitars is the same—almost exclusively acoustic or acoustic-electric. There is something about wood and steel that resonates with me both emotionally and musically. The smell and visual beauty of the wood of an acoustic guitar is inspiring.
How do guitars fit in with your living environment?
At home, I keep my Taylor 314ce and Taylor Mini GS out for immediate grab-and-play. At the office I have a gorgeous maple Taylor 614c always at arm’s length. It keeps me sane during tough deals and negotiations.
What do you look for in a guitar?
The beauty of a guitar is what gets me to pick it up at first, and if the sound is amazing, I pick it up permanently. I’m motivated to purchase a particular guitar if I truly believe that I’ll enjoy playing it as much in 10 years as I do when I first pick it up.
What are some of the guitars in your collection?
A Martin D-41 and D1, a Fender American Stratocaster, and many Taylors, including a GSST, 914c, 915-M (bird’s-eye maple), 914c Custom Koa, PS14ce Custom Brazilian, PS55 Custom Brazilian, 614, 516ce, 314ce, a Mini GS, and R. Taylor Series 1 Cocobolo/Sinker Redwood.
What's your dream purchase?
The ultimate custom Taylor, probably something only Bob Taylor will be able to conjure up in his amazingly creative mind.