Name: Lauren Moews
Breakthrough pics: “Cabin Fever,” “Briar Patch, ” “Amy’s Orgasm”
What I learned the hard way: “A great cast and crew can make or break your film. I consider ‘Cabin Fever’ and ‘Briar Patch’ to be great gifts from a large group of hard-working professionals who I was able to convince that investing in our creative team was a worthwhile endeavor.”
Lauren Moews walked away from the carrot several times during the making of her sleeper horror hit “Cabin Fever.”
When an investor attempted to persuade Moews (pronounced Mays) to cast his inexperienced daughter in one of the lead roles, his plea fell on deaf ears. The backer pulled out his $500,000 on the $1.5 million production’s first day. Unfazed, Moews kept the cameras rolling and fund-raised for weeks.
“It was offensive to me, against every ounce of integrity I have, ” says the lawyer-turned-producer.
Moews also encountered, and repeatedly refused, offers to sell “Cabin Fever” outright, a gamble that soon paid off.
“Fever” became the subject of a distrib bidding war at the 2002 Toronto Film Festival and generated the fest’s largest sale yet (to Lions Gate).
“I saw it as an A-list horror movie,” says Moews, who was nommed for the Independent Spirit producer award this year. “I don’t care if people say no to me.”
The film opened at $8.6 million, and grossed more than $52.5 million in worldwide B.O. and video sales. A “Fever” sequel is on Moews’ slate.
Peter Block, Lions Gate president of acquisitions and co-productions, says, “She really understands the needs of the distributor. She was a real cohesive force for us.”
Jason Constantine, Lions Gate VP of acquisitions, adds, “Lauren’s got a great eye for material.”
Partnering with her brother Dean Masserman in their BevHills-based production company Tonic Films, the Tulane U. grad is developing a feature based on the sci-fi/fantasy short story series “Death Angel’s Shadow” and will team with Tony Bui and Timothy Linh Bui (“Three Seasons”) on the comedy “Jason Scott.”
With more than 10 films to her credit, Moews is a sought-after producer, says “Fever” writer-director Eli Roth. “Lauren was the best-kept secret in independent film.”
Moews attributes her success to her ability to multitask: she raises the financing, drafts contracts, brokers deals and line produces.
“People feel more comfortable that they’re talking to the person that will get it done,” she says. “The buck really stops with me.”