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Hats off to hands-on producers

Grant nominees: Producer Awards

Candidates for the Producer’s Award were selected from a group of emerging filmmakers who, “despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality, independent films.” The kudo comes with a $50,000 unrestricted grant, sponsored by Axium Intl.

The finalists for the 10th annual award — two producing teams and a single producer — share a tenacity and versatility.

“What I bring to the table is that I’m a jack of all trades,” notes Julie Lynn, whose recently produced Rodrigo Garcia’s “Nine Lives” and Brad Silberling’s “10 Items or Less.” “I have to be a good listener because there’s so much collaboration at every level when you’re producing with limited resources. So I love it when I can get to be part of the creative process and the physical production.”

Lynn, whose upcoming projects include a romantic drama (“The Jane Austen Book Club”) and a thriller (“Passengers”), says she doesn’t focus on one genre. “I’m not tied to any particular type of films, because making the decision to get involved is something that’s so subjective,” she says.

Alex Orlovsky and Jamie Patricof, producers of “Half Nelson” (nominated for five Spirits) and “Point & Shoot,” work with the credo of putting in the maximum possible commitment to a project. “We believe in bringing sweat equity to a project,” Patricof notes. “So every day, we’re asking, ‘What do we do to move this along further?’ We like everything about the process, from budgeting to scouting.”

Orlovsky says he won’t board projects without a passionate belief in them. “It’s dishonest to get involved if you’re not going to be as committed to the project as people on the creative side,” he says. “Films are never good by accident.” So, the duo seeks out filmmakers who bring passion to their projects. Their upcoming projects include “Blue Valentine” and a Ryan Gosling project centered on a baseball player from the Dominican Republic.

Howard Gertler and Tim Perell, producers of “Shortbus” and “Pizza,” assert that there’s no other way to be successful in the low-budget world than via a hands-on approach. “We do every aspect of the movie because our projects require that approach — particularly when you’re having to translate the vision of something like ‘Shortbus’ to financers and to the marketplace,” Perell notes. “It’s something that takes an enormous amount of time, even though it won’t be seen on 2,000 screens. But it still has to be more than art for art’s sake.”

In the case of “Shortbus,” it took more than three years to move John Cameron Mitchell’s kernel of an idea to the edgy finished film that follows seven people exploring sex and love in New York City. “We really had a situation without precedent,” Gertler asserts. “And it took John a lot of time to hone the message of the film.”

Past projects Gertler and Perell were involved in, either together or separately, include Joel Hopkins’ dramedy “Jump Tomorrow,” David Wain’s comedy “Wet Hot American Summer” and several films by Bart Freundlich. Upcoming projects for the producers include new films by helmers Mitchell, Hopkins, Miguel Arteta and Ziad Doueiri.

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