Lynette Howell, a British theater world product, and Doug Dey, a Gotham businessman/patron of the arts, arrived on the film scene with a splash when the first two films they were involved with — Ryan Fleck’s “Half Nelson” and Hilary Brougher’s “Stephanie Daley” — impressed at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.
Under their Silverwood Films banner, Dey and Howell helped raise funds for “Nelson” and “Daley,” and are fully producing and financing a spate of projects. Among them are Daniel Barnz’s drama-fantasy “Phoebe in Wonderland,” toplining Elle Fanning and Felicity Huffman, and Toronto fest entry “The Passage,” shot in Morocco and starring Stephen Dorff.
The pair are bicoastal, with Howell based in Los Angeles and Dey in New York. After studying producing at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, Howell moved to L.A. from the U.K. in 2001 to head the theatrical division of legit producers East of Doheney.
“I had known Doug for some time, and we started talking about setting up a company,” she says, noting Silverwood got off the ground in 2004.
The shingle’s focus is on young, up-and-coming filmmakers, first-timers or Sundance lab directors, Howell says. “We’ve done four features with three first-time directors and Hilary,” who hadn’t directed a film in nine years since her debut, “The Sticky Fingers of Time.”
Howell says she likes the process of working with emerging talent. “I personally work with them on developing the story, working on casting, all the way through post.”
This approach seems to work for their filmmakers as well, at least according to “Phoebe” helmer Barnz. “They are the very rare kind of producers who are solely committed to creating great independent films, and that is their primary concern,” Barnz says. “Everybody felt incredibly supported.”
Silverwood also is producing Barnz’s next project. Shingle’s upcoming slate includes thriller “Villain,” a co-production with 2929 Prods.; and Derek Cianfrance’s “Blue Valentine.”
Beyond film, Howell and Dey are striking out into the legit realm, producing (with Paul Lambert and Jonas Neilson) the musical version of “The First Wives Club” on Broadway, among other projects.
Age: Dey, 50; Howell, 28
Provenance: Dey: Long Island, N.Y.; Howell: Liverpool, England
Dey: “In my junior year of high school I saw Roman Polanski’s ‘Chinatown.’ The experience really knocked me sideways.” A successful entrepreneur who attended the Manhattan School of Music, plays piano and has composed since childhood, Dey recently decided to get back to his arts roots as a producer.
Howell: “Obsessed” with theater since age 3, “when I was a ballet dancer at my local arts center,” she was spurred on to produce by “Blood Brothers” and “Les Miserables,” among others.