10 to Watch group displays usual diversity of paths
Whether operating in the realm of broad commercial appeal or the more daring arena of niche fare, this year’s 10 Producers to Watch class is distinguished by a balance of creative innovation and financial wizardry.As is par for the course, their backgrounds are highly diverse. Some worked their way up from the proverbial mailroom and others via the indie production route. But the two things they all have in common are unbridled tenacity and a deft ability to solve problems. Anne Carey, a partner at This Is That, and Lauren Moews have exhibited a keen eye for finding good material. Danish producer Sisse Graum Olsen used her economics degree to help realize the visions of writers and directors with creative solutions. Daniel Bobker has secured strong relationships with talent through stints in the publishing world as well as paying his dues with Brillstein Grey and Scott Rudin Prods. Some have special skills in financing and packaging talent, such as Michael Pierce, who has some 60 projects in development and has executives clamoring for his attention; or Susan Leber, who started production on “Margarita Happy Hour” with just $35,000 but secured the funds to complete it; or Mark Herbert, who raised $1.4 million in just two days for “Dead Man’s Shoes” and had enough faith in director Shane Meadows to conceptualize his film during the shooting process. For Paul Mezey, whose “Maria Full of Grace” won the audience award at Sundance, it’s all about discovery and broadening his horizons. Then there’s the yin-and-yang dynamic of Platinum Dunes team Brad Fuller and Drew Form: Fuller rose through the agency ranks and can work the phones while Form keeps the production wheels rolling. Oz duo Liz Watts and Vincent Sheehan have found a way to survive outside Hollywood by creating a sustainable financial model and going international. These are the people who provide crucial support to the creatives while fulfilling their own dreams.