10 Producers to Watch
Breakthrough pic: “Shaun of the Dead”What I learned the hard way: “When unleashing 1,011 zombies on the streets of London, it is better not to do it around the corner from a kindergarten at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.” Park is, by common consent, the hardest-working woman in showbiz. “She just has the most extraordinary work ethic,” says Working Title development topper Natascha Wharton. “She literally will do anything for a project or a director.” “Natascha’s so worried about me, she thinks I work too hard,” laughs Park. Her work ethic has taken her a long way. After seven years running the Comic Strip, she launched her own shingle, Big Talk, in 1996. Channel 4 teamed her with young writer-director Edgar Wright, and they developed cult slacker sitcom “Spaced,” with Simon Pegg. From that came their debut movie project, the zombie romantic comedy “Shaun of the Dead.” Meanwhile, Park produced three seasons of C4’s Dylan Moran sitcom “Black Books.” But when the time came to get “Shaun of the Dead” off the ground, she and Wright realized they had to drop everything else and devote themselves full time to raising the finance. That clearly cut against the grain for a woman who only seems happy juggling a half-dozen things at once. But it paid off after a year of struggle when Working Title offered to fund the movie. “I feel so lucky to have found such a kindred spirit to stand behind me behind the camera,” Wright says. “It’s inspiring to meet someone so tenacious, driven, stubborn in a good way. If she can’t achieve something, it genuinely can’t be done.” Now she’s working with WT on Aussie thriller “Middle of Nowhere,” with rookie helmer Ringan Ledwidge, and on the next Wright-Pegg comedy, “Hot Fuzz.” She and Wright have two other movies in development with WT parent studio Universal: graphic novel adaptation “Scott Pilgrim” and a version of Jon Ronson’s novel “Them.” As if that weren’t enough, she has movies with other young filmmakers in the works with the U.K. Film Council, with FilmFour and with BBC Films. Big Talk (which only employs four people) continues to power ahead in Brit TV comedy, with a big C4 drama series and three new comedy skeins bubbling up to shoot next year.