Paramount Pictures EVP of production from 2009, where he developed and managed feature projects such as “True Grit” and “World War Z,” Stier will begin to head up Fabula in North America from the second week of April, still based out of Los Angeles where Chile’s Larraín brothers established a production company last year.
Fabula’s first full-on U.S. production, a remake of “A Fantastic Woman’s” director Sebastian Lelio’s “Gloria” starring Julianne Moore and directed by Lelio himself, went into production late last year. Stier will report to the Larraín brothers.
“We have found a wonderful partner who is brilliant, great fun and an extraordinary professional, has a great background and sensibility and understands what we want to do,” said Pablo Larraín, director of “No,” “The Club,” “Neruda” and “Jackie.”
He went on: “What says a lot about us is what we have done and the movies we have made. Geoff has been involved in great movies over the years.”
Juan de Dios Larrain added: “We are the luckiest men on earth to have found Geoff. He is very experienced, very cultured, has great taste.”
In Stier, Fabula taps into the knowledge and connections of an executive who “understands the logic of the Hollywood studio system,” as Juan de Dios Larraín commented, having served from 2006-09 as Paramount Vantage SVP, production, developing and managing films such as “Into the Wild” and “There Will Be Blood.”
Stier’s curriculum stretches back, however, to a decade at Stanley Pollack and Anthony Minghella’s Mirage Enterprises over 1992-2003, where he developed “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” “Cold Mountain” and “Sense and Sensibility,” among many other titles.
Over 1986-1992, Stier worked at the UCLA Film and Television Archive, developing preservation, public programming and research programs, including The Film Foundation with Martin Scorsese.
“I’ve always had a deep love for international cinema and auteurs of distinction,” said Stier, recalling how he watched “Tony Manero” for the first time on a really bad DVD in his office at Paramount and thought it “brilliant.”
Stier called Pablo Larraín “unparalleled as a filmmaker” and expressed his admiration for Sebastián Lelio and Sebastián Silva, another Fabula filmmaker.
The appointment marks a new growth phase at Fabula which has expanded step-by-step from its launch in 2004. Pablo Larraín’s second feature, 2008’s “Tony Manero,” marked his international breakout; 2012’s Cannes Directors’ Fortnight winner “No,” starring Gael García Bernal, and Lelio’s 2013 Berlin best actress winner “Gloria” signal a move towards a more open arthouse cinema, mixed with still daring formal (“No”) and lead character (“Gloria”) choices.
These moves were echoed in 2015’s “Neruda” which eschewed standard biopic format for a manhunt movie about the legend of Chilean writer Pablo Neruda, its conscious creation by the poet itself and its lure of immortality for others.
Made outside Fabula, Larraín’s English-language debut “Jackie,” starring Nathalie Portman, which Juan de Dios Larraín also produced, caused Variety to comment that Pablo Larrain’s “status as the most daring and prodigious political filmmaker of his generation remains undimmed.”
“The idea of working with producers making those kinds of movies with that audacity and ambition is exciting to me at this point in my career,” Stier added.
Stier will be responsible for sourcing U.S. projects and American talent and also be a key part of Fabula’s drive to become a bridge into the U.S film-TV communities for not only Fabula talent but other non-American directors who are seeking to move into English-language filmmaking but are wary of losing total control of their projects in the U.S., said Pablo Larraín.
The creation and now consolidation of the L.A.-based Fabula serves as a bellwether of the fast-evolving status of Hollywood and English-language film and TV in an ever-more globalized industry.
“If we want to grow organically, we need experienced people and the best team possible to connect with the world. That adventure will occur in Los Angeles,” said Juan de Dios Larraín.
“In the entertainment system, the English-language is still by far the most important,” he said, adding that Fabula will still produce in Spanish: “We love our language and Latin America.”
Hollywood itself has also opened up to foreign talent, Stier commented.
“Now it’s not just finding a great director from Germany and putting them on a giant movie in the States, but finding out the way that a filmmaker can maintain his or her creative instincts and work in the system here, which has a lot more to offer in terms of avenues to make good films and TV.”