10 Producers to Watch
Producer Todd Traina feels a bit like the Andre Agassi of Hollywood.
“I’d stepped in and out of the business for the last 12 years, sort of like what Andre did in the tennis world with his injuries and setbacks,” explains Traina, who got his start in Hollywood in the early 1990s as a TV series production assistant. “But four years ago, it just came to me — I’m really good at producing and I can go 110% at it now that I’m in my 30s.”
It’s clear Traina has recently stepped up his game via his Red Rover shingle. His profile rose this year after joining forces with producers Arnold Rifkin and Chris Eberts on a feature based on Colin MacKinnon’s “Morning Spy, Evening Spy,” a book Traina optioned about an aging CIA operative who deals with his son’s death by becoming obsessed with the capture of Osama bin Laden.
Traina doesn’t overhype what he’s done. “I have a very good assistant, and I give good phone,” is how he describes why he’s meeting with success.
Thanks to his efforts and the Rifkin/Eberts connection, Traina is now juggling so many projects he’s turning down work for the first time.
“I’m still a bit overstretched, but having this producing relationship really makes it easier for me to breathe,” he says.
He’s in pre-production on “The Woody,” which he co-wrote and has a cast including Scott Caan and Amy Smart. He’s lining up “Stag Night,” a horror film with Kip Pardue and Breckin Meyer. With Michael Mailer Films, he’s prepping a martial arts thriller called “Blood & Bone,” starring Michael Jai White.
He’s an exec producer on $35 million thriller “Blackwater Transit,” which shot in New Orleans, toplining Laurence Fishburne. He’s also an exec producer on “Night Train,” which recently lensed in Bulgaria with Danny Glover, Leelee Sobieski and Steve Zahn on a $3.5 million budget. And Traina has Michael Corrente’s “Deal,” with Charlie Hunnam and Kate Mara, prepping to shoot in Rhode Island later this year.
“He’s very energetic, he’s got a lot of perseverance and he loves what he does,” Eberts notes. “The key with Todd is that he gives you a lot of confidence. There are a lot of people in the business who say they’re going to be able to do something and then they can’t. But Todd’s very good at all aspects, from getting source material to handling the physical production.”
Traina admits he’s particularly enthused about “Morning Spy” as well as “The Woody,” a comedy about a man who teams up with his brother to shoot an adult film so his wife can open up the restaurant of her dreams. Traina’s also partial to his 2006 doc “Punk’s Not Dead,” which explored the roots of punk.
Among his other credits is this year’s L.A. Film Festival entry “What We Do Is Secret,” centered on the life of the late punk singer Darby Crash. In addition, Traina was an exec producer on Sundance fave “Grace Is Gone.”
Provenance: San Francisco
Inspired by: “Furiously busy people who participate in life beyond their title or career; specifically those who get involved and give back while balancing work, family, friends and their sanity.”