10 Producers to Watch 2011: Lawrence Inglee

“I’m an accidental producer,” says Lawrence Inglee, Lightstream Pictures president of production, who made waves with his first full producing effort, the military-themed drama “The Messenger,” which nabbed two Academy Award nominations.

Inglee, who hails from a small town of about 10,000 people in Vermont, worked in his father’s bookstore, which doubled as the town’s bus stop, magazine stand and movie rental shop. Inglee’s father kept the shelves stocked with everything from the French New Wave to Hollywood blockbusters.

“That’s where my education in movies comes from,” says the Syracuse U. grad, who came to Hollywood with no car, no contacts and no money but quickly landed a job as an assistant at Imagine Entertainment, where he sat across from Brian Grazer and watched the uber-producer work the phones for 18 months. “And that was my introduction to the movie business.”

From Imagine, Inglee segued to the Mark Gordon Co., where he rose to the post of co-prexy and played a key role in bringing to the bigscreen such tentpoles as “The Day After Tomorrow.” By the time he was ready to branch off on his own, Inglee knew “you can move mountains with a great script.” With the Oren Moverman-penned “Messenger,” he felt he could take on Mount Kilimanjaro.

“We put it together against all rules,” adds Inglee of the Moverman-helmed pic, which stars Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson. “No one wanted to make it because of the subject matter. We didn’t use a foreign sales model. It was made from a place of love and a place of will.”

Thanks to the buzz surrounding “Messenger,” Inglee began taking pitches from the likes of James Ellroy, who brought the idea of corrupt cop drama “Rampart” to the fledgling producer. The upcoming pic, which sold briskly at the recent Toronto Film Festival, reassembled the “Messenger” team of Moverman, Foster and Harrelson.

Inglee is now in preproduction on the Jerry Lewis starrer “Max Rose,” another film that bucks conventional wisdom.

“People said pitching and raising financing for a movie about octogenarians is not the most efficient thing in Hollywood,” says Inglee. “But we love it. One of the funny things about the casting of this movie is seeing these great actors, and saying, ‘Sorry, you’re not old enough.’”

10 PRODUCERS TO WATCH 2011
Jason Michael Berman | Borderline Films | Tyler Davidson & Sophia Lin | James Gay-Rees | Lawrence Inglee |

Red Granite Pictures | Laura Rister | Jonathan Schwartz | Diarmid Scrimshaw | Kevin Walsh

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