These producers can shepherd a blockbuster
SMITH: No endeavor too complex for the multi-board member
Iain Smith is the godfather of U.K. producers-for-hire. The 59-year-old Glaswegian earned his spurs working for David Puttnam on such challenging overseas shoots as “The Mission” and “The Killing Fields.”
He runs his own Applecross shingle but has spent time managing the most complex international projects for Hollywood employers, such as “Cold Mountain,” “Alexander” and, most recently, “Wanted.” He also does sterling service as a board member of key industry bodies in the U.K., particularly in his native Scotland.
BARRON: Powering through ‘Potter’ while projects percolate
David Barron, 54, came to producing by working with Kenneth Branagh on “Frankenstein” and “In the Bleak Midwinter.” He served as executive producer on the second of the “Harry Potter” movies (“The Chamber of Secrets”), then returned as a full-fledged producer for the fourth (“The Goblet of Fire”) and all subsequent installments in the franchise.
Barron also has his own company, Runaway Fridge Films, which is developing film projects and has a TV development deal with Fremantle.
“When Potter is over in three years’ time, I hope to have a raft of my own films ready to go,” Barron says.
McDOUGALL: 007 perennial paid his dues
Callum McDougall had two decades of experience as an assistant director and production manager before earning his first full producer credit on 2001’s “The Parole Officer.” He has since become a stalwart of the revived James Bond franchise, co-producing “Die Another Day” and exec producing “Casino Royale” and “Quantum of Solace.” He also stepped in as exec producer of “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” when his friend Barron was unavailable.
HUFFAM: Eager to work on budgets large and small
Northern Irish producer Mark Huffam, 44, doesn’t have much time to bask in the success of “Mamma Mia!,” which he exec produced for Universal. His own Belfast-based company, Generator, which he and producer Simon Bosanquet launched this year, is going full tilt, with three low-budget genre pics already in production.
Huffam started out as a location and production manager in Ireland before getting hired to work on Hollywood pics such as “White Squall” and “Saving Private Ryan.” He produced several big movies for Universal’s Working Title, as well as his own Belfast project “Mickybo and Me” for Working Title’s low-budget arm. After steering the first two films in the “Goal!” trilogy, he returned to U to help translate “Mamma Mia!” from stage to bigscreen.
Huffam is focusing on his own slate for now, but he’s still in the market to produce one big film a year through Generator. “I’d always wanted to do my own things,” he says. “But when you finish one film for someone, the phone goes again offering something interesting, and all of a sudden, five years have gone by.”
INDIES: Doing double duty
These are the folks the studios entrust with their tentpoles. But in the indie world, the U.K. has many producers who work for hire alongside developing their own projects.
They include David Parfitt (“Shakespeare in Love”), Kevin Loader (“Brideshead Revisited”), Jonathan Cavendish (“Elizabeth: The Golden Age”), Paul Webster (“Atonement”), Marion Pilowsky (“Sleuth”), Nicky Kentish Barnes (“Match Point”), Tracey Seaward (“The Queen”) and Anita Overland (“A Mighty Heart”).