HOLLYWOOD — Marshall Persinger has a deceptive Southern accent that only peeks out on heavy voweled words like “sign,” which emerges as “sahn.” But the accent works wonders for the producer of such pics as “Still Breathing,” “Twin Falls, Idaho,” “Kill the Man” and the upcoming “Cherry Falls.”
Two of those films were at the Sundance Film Festival last year with her Fresh Produce Prods., which she maintains with partner and financier Joyce Schweickert. Both pics found domestic distribution.
Meanwhile, Persinger has her fingers in a number of indie production pies. She is close to finding full financing on a comedy called “Black Iris,” with Shirley MacLaine and Laura Linney under Dan Petrie Sr.’s direction. She also has a project called “Waiting for the Barbarians” that Werner Herzog is directing in western China.
Persinger comes out of a mixed background of studio and independent film. Her entree into show business came after three years of selling tax shelters as an investment adviser on Wall Street. She then met Broadway producer Lewis Allen, who made Spalding Gray’s “Swimming to Cambodia.”
She then joined Jonathan Demme’s Clinica Estetico, serving as production supervisor on such studio films as “Amos & Andrew,” “Miami Blues,” “Married to the Mob” and “Silence of the Lambs.”
She moved to L.A. in 1991 and set up a small video and film company (called Fresh Produce) with Gary Goetzman, another Demme disciple.
When given the opportunity to come back to Demme and do post-production and supervision on “Philadelphia,” Persinger paid Goetzman what she says was $1 for his portion of Fresh Produce and went on her own in 1993.
She worked with producer Mark Johnson on a few unproduced projects and on “Higher Learning” with John Singleton.
She hooked up with Schweickert three years ago after an introduction from “Still Breathing” director and writer James Robinson.
In the next two and a half years, the duo was responsible for four well-regarded indie pics.
True to her Southern roots, Persinger grew up in Lookout Mountain, Tenn., and attended college at the University of Virginia. She has a dog named Atticus (from “To Kill a Mockingbird”).
She says she likes working with both “talented new filmmakers and veteran filmmakers.” And though she adheres to the familiar indie mindset of character-driven pics, Persinger says simply her projects should be “films that people should see.”