10 Producers to Watch

Breakthrough pics: “Brick,” “Dancing at the Blue Iguana”

What I learned the hard way: “You should really delete the word ‘vacation’ from your vocabulary.

“Being a foreigner, I figured I wouldn’t be able to get a job in development or as an assistant,” Bergman says of when he moved from his native Israel to Los Angeles in 1991. “I had no choice, being an immigrant, except to start producing on my own.”

He worked as a valet while trying to break into the industry, eschewing other behind-the-scenes jobs. “You get caught up in how to make a living, but if you work as a P.A. or a second assistant, that’s not getting you closer to your dream. As a valet, I had the flexibility to do what I wanted in terms of achieving my goals.”

His first film was “Rave Review,” made for a few hundred thousand dollars in 1995. “I just kept putting together more and more movies,” he says. “I learned how to take a movie from nothing, raise the money, and produce it, to every stage of finishing it and selling it.”

Now Bergman has a festival hit with “Brick,” which earned good notices at Sundance and is on its way to Venice and Deauville. Focus will distribute domestically in March.

“We loved ‘Brick’ and he’s been really instrumental in making that movie. … He makes interesting and artistically brave movies — and has a good eye for discovering talented filmmakers,” says Jason Resnick, senior VP of acquisitions for Focus Features and Universal.

Another pic under Bergman’s stewardship is the Hans Canosa-directed “Conversations With Other Women,” starring Aaron Eckhart and Helena Bonham Carter. He is bringing the pic to Telluride.

“Not only is he willing to take chances — he took a chance on me as a first-time director — but he also takes chances on material. My film is a dual-frame film, a two-character film with two frames. I didn’t think I would get a producer to make it but Ram kind of inevitably became the guy who made it, because of his willingness to take chances,” says Canosa.

Bergman is currently finishing “Relative Strangers,” a romantic comedy starring Dannny DeVito, Kathy Bates, Ron Livingston and Neve Campbell, and “Nomad,” an epic shot in Kazakhstan over the last two years.

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