10 Producers to Watch

Best friends since they met at a neighborhood barbecue in L.A.’s Laurel Canyon 20 years ago, Echo Films partners Kristin Hahn and Jennifer Aniston always knew they’d work together eventually. The only question was when. While Aniston’s star rose and kept on rising, Hahn followed her own path, making the low-budget road-trip/pilgrimage documentary “Anthem” in 1997; working in theater; and writing a book, “In Search of Grace,” a personal exploration of faith in America, that was published in 2003.

It was on vacation over margaritas — not meditation — that the friends realized they wanted to tell similar kinds of stories and decided to join forces. With Brad Pitt, Hahn and Aniston started Plan B, and last year they announced the formation of Echo Films.

“It wasn’t part of the master plan,” concedes Hahn, “but things lined up and everything I’d done before was informing the desire and the ability to do this.”

Alongside Pitt, Hahn was an exec producer on “The Departed.” She also has an exec producer credit on the first Echo project, Josh Gordon-helmed “The Baster,” starring Aniston and Jason Bateman, which will hit theaters early next year.

Meanwhile, Aniston has been learning to play the dobro for “Goree Girls,” a period picture at DreamWorks based on a true story about women in a 1940s Texas prison who start a band and use their fame to get pardoned.

Also in the works at CBS Films is “Pumas,” a bawdy comedy about two women exploring, as Hahn puts it, “the wild wild West of dating and relating to the opposite sex.”

“I think she’s just a channel for brilliant material,” Aniston says of Hahn. “She sees things from a different perspective, and there are things she’s attracted to that are not your everyday run-of-the-mill ideas. She’s lucky that way. And she’s a writer, so she works with writers like nobody’s business.”

Appropriately for a company that aims to bring more complex stories about female characters into the world, Hahn compares her role as producer to that of a midwife. “My approach is to coax material forward in a humanistic, positive way,” the mother of two says.

And Echo’s projects are “not just for Jen,” Hahn adds. Case in point: “Holler,” a contemporary drama about lingering racism in Mississippi that Echo will produce for Sony’s Screen Gems.

All of it adds up to “entertainment with a purpose,” she says. “That’s the goal.”

P.O.V.

AGE: 40

HOME BASE: Los Angeles

INSPIRED BY: Wim Wenders, the Maysles brothers, James L. Brooks

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