One of the most underrated and misunderstood positions in the filmmaking assemble line is the film producer. The mysterious part of the movie machine is not only a needed position but without it nothing gets done. Below we compiled some of the best film producers working in the business today. From in the trenches indie film producers to Oscar® and Emmy® winning blockbuster giants.
They discuss what a good producer is, what they do, pitfalls to avoid and give you the raw and unfiltered truth to what it takes to be a successful film producer. Enjoy.
1. Jason Blum
I’m excited to talk to a fellow low-budget independent filmmaker today. Granted, he does low-budget films on a completely different level than I or most people do at this point. But if we are going to talk about budget filmmaking, it is only fitting to have expert horror film and television producer, Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions.
That is a testament to his company’s high-quality production. Blumhouse is known for pioneering a new model of studio filmmaking: producing high-quality micro-budget films and provocative television series. They have produced over 150 movies and television series with theatrical grosses amounting to over $4.8 billion.
2. Chris Moore
Every once in a while I have a conversation on this show that blows my mind, this episode did just that. Today on the show we have Oscar® Nominated producer Chris Moore. He produced films like Good Will Hunting, American Pie, Waiting, The Adjustment Bureau, and Manchester by the Sea. Chris’ profile grew from his appearance as the producer on the early 2000’s filmmaker reality show Project: Greenlight.
After graduating from college, Chris Moore moved to Los Angeles after sometime working in the mailroom of a major agency he got promoted to literary agent. He championed projects like: The Stoned Age, PCU, Airheads, Last Action Hero, and My Girl.
When Chris’ agency was acquired by ICM, he left and became an indie film producer. With some friends, he raised the budget to produce the indie film Glory Daze, which starred an unknown Matt Damon. Damon turned down the leading role in favor of paid work on another paid project but introduced him to his friend Ben Affleck, who ultimately starred in Glory Daze.
Afterward, Affleck and Damon wrote the screenplay for what would become the Oscar® winning Good Will Hunting, and they asked Chris help them produce the film that was directed by Gus Van Sant.
Chris and I had a remarkable conversation about how to produce films in today eco-system. We also discuss what it’s like working in the studio system, some of the issues he has with the system, how filmmakers are treated, and so much more. This an EPIC 2-hour conversation full of knowledge and truth bombs so prepare to take some notes.
Enjoy my conversation with Chris Moore.
Today, we are hearing from one of the cultural influencers of the 90s film industry, and that’s non-other but Gary Goldstein, producer of the iconic rom-com, Pretty Woman, starring Richard Gere, and Julia Roberts.
Pretty Woman was most of your introduction to Gary’s work, but mine was Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death. I know. After all these years, the title still makes me chuckle. Years later, I would reference the title to people. And in case you were curious, Gary goes into the movie title origin story in this interview.
Gary films have generated well over one billion dollars – consistent box office hits. Pretty Woman, for example, grossed $463.4 million – more than 30 times its budget. After the massive success of Pretty Woman, Gary collaborated once more with his filmmaking partner, writer, Jonathan Lawton to produce the action thriller, Under Seige in 1992. Like Pretty Woman, this too performed successfully at the box office and critically – including an Academy Award nomination. An ex-Navy Seal turned cook is the only person who can stop a group of terrorists when they seize control of a U.S. battleship
In 2013 he authored Conquering Hollywood: The Screenwriter’s Blueprint for Career Success, which is a compilation of strategies to help anyone; whether looking to sell a spec script, option a screenplay, land a writing assignment and get hired, attract an agent, or manager of your dreams…or get a producer to take a meeting with you. Gary blessed us with knowledge bombs in this interview, including tips on entrepreneurship and film as a business. Enjoy my conversation with Gary Goldstein.
Marta Kauffman is an Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning television writer, director, producer and showrunner behind the hit series Friends and Grace & Frankie. After graduating from Brandeis University, Kauffman got her big break alongside David Crane when their pilots Dream On (1990) and The Powers That Be (1992) were greenlit. The pair then launched Bright/Kauffman/Crane Productions with Kevin Bright and became the trio that created the iconic sitcom Friends.
Get ready to have you mind blown. If you ever wanted to know the TRUE STORY on how the mythical El Mariachi, written and directed by Robert Rodriguez, then this is the conversation you want to listen to. Today on the show we have producer Elizabeth Avellán.
Elizabeth Avellan was born in Caracas, Venezuela, where her grandfather, Gonzalo Veloz, pioneered commercial television. At thirteen, she moved to Houston with her family and later graduated from Rice University, where she had her first behind-the-scenes experience working as stage manager and prop master for several student productions.
She moved to Austin in 1986 to work in the Office of the Executive Vice-President and Provost of the University of Texas, continuing her studies in film production, art, and architecture. There she meet Robert Rodriguez – cult filmmaker and her husband to be.
She co-founder Troublemaker Studios with Robert and have been causing “trouble” in Hollywood ever since. Elizabeth and I have an epic two-hour conversation spanning decades in the history of her, Robert and Troublemaker Studios. We did a bit of myth busting on the now legendary indie film El Mariachi. Elizabeth also discussed what it was like working inside the Hollywood machine, the moment she introduced Robert to Quentin Tarantino, the uphill battles she faced becoming a producer and so much more.
Get ready for one heck of a ride. Enjoy my conversation with Elizabeth Avellán.
6. Edward Zwick
We have been on a major roll lately on the podcast and this episode keep that going in a big way. Our guest on the show today is Oscar® Winning writer, producer, and director Edward Zwick. Edward made his big shift from his childhood passion of theater to filmmaking after working as a PA for Woody Allen in France on the set of Love and Death.
7. Cary Woods
Today on the show we have legendary film producer Cary Woods. He is a film producer best known for producing worldwide blockbusters such as Scream and Godzilla, the beloved independent films Kids, Cop Land, and Gummo, and modern classics like Rudy and Swingers.
Woods is also responsible for producing the breakthrough features of such notable directors as James Mangold, Doug Liman, M. Night Shyamalan, Alexander Payne, Harmony Korine, and Larry Clark, as well as the screenwriting debuts of Jon Favreau, Kevin Williamson, and Scott Rosenberg.
Woods’ filmography features a lineup of A-List actors, including: Robert Downey, Jr., Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone, Marisa Tomei, Christopher Walken, Harvey Keitel, Mike Myers, Laura Dern, Heather Graham, Ray Liotta, Burt Reynolds, Drew Barrymore, Matthew Broderick, Courteney Cox, Timothy Hutton, Andy Garcia, Neve Campbell, Sean Astin, Michael Rapaport, Jean Reno, and Steve Buscemi.
His 1996 film Scream (the most successful film of “Master of Horror” Wes Craven’s career) marked a turning point for the entire genre, grossing over $170 million and setting a box office record that would stand for 22 years. The film instantly and single-handedly pivoted horror toward postmodernism, spawning a massive billion-dollar franchise (consisting of successful sequels, a TV series, toys, and Halloween costumes), as well as inspiring countless knock-offs in the years since.
In 1998, the first US-produced entry of the iconic Godzilla film franchise would become Woods’ and Independent Pictures’ single highest-grossing film, earning nearly $400 million. Woods would go on to serve as co-Chairman, and Chief Creative Officer of Plum TV, in which he was a founding partner. Broadcasting in the nation’s most affluent markets (i.e. Aspen, the Hamptons, Miami Beach), the luxury lifestyle network would go on to earn eight Emmy Awards.
Enjoy my conversation with Cary Woods.
8. Danny Strong
Today on the show we have writer, producer, actor, director and Emmy® winning show runner and producer Danny Strong. He started his career as an actor in numerous classic films and TV shows such as Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Gilmore Girls, then transitioned into screenwriting, exploding onto the scene with his 2007 script Recount which was #1 on the Hollywood Blacklist and became an award winning HBO Film.
Since then he has become a prolific film and TV writer, director and producer, garnering numerous awards for various projects, including two Emmys, a Golden Globe, two WGA awards, a PGA Award, and the Peabody Award.
Through out his career he has shown a wide range and versatility moving between mediums and genres with films like the political docudramas Recount and Game Change, the civil rights epic The Butler and the big budget action blockbusters Hunger Games: Mockingjay (Part I and II).
He co-created the smash hit TV show Empire which won him the NAACP Image Award and he produced the civil rights drama The Best of Enemies starring Taraji P. Henson and Sam Rockwell. He has also written numerous theater projects having made his theatrical debut with a new book to the musical Chess that premiered at the Kennedy Center. Strong transitioned into directing with several episodes of Empire. He made his feature directorial debut with Rebel in the Rye that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was distributed by IFC Films.
Over the years he has continued his acting career with recurring roles in many highly acclaimed TV shows including Mad Men, Girls, Justified, Billions and The Right Stuff. He grew up in Manhattan Beach, California and attended the USC School of Dramatic Arts.
Enjoy my enlightening conversation with Danny Strong.
9. David Permut
The first interview in my Sundance Film Festival Interview Series is legendary producer David Permut.David has produced almost 40 feature films in the course of his career. From Blind Date and Dragnet to Face/Off and the Oscar® Nominated Hacksaw Ridge. His new film, The Polka King starring Jack Black, just got released on Netflix.
Enjoy my interview with David Permut.
Courtney Lauren Penn co-founded and runs the multi-faceted production company Renegade Entertainment with her co-founder Thomas Jane. Courtney oversees content: producing film, series and hybrid new media projects alongside Jane. Renegade is a pioneering outfit that has been among the most active production labels since launching in late 2019. The company is active in several verticals – feature films, streaming and TV series, and comic book and graphic novel publishing and production.
Among the myriad projects currently being developed by Courtney and Jane is the long-awaited adaptation of Stephen King’s FROM A BUICK 8. The duo have a large slate including several best-selling novels they are in development on. Adopting a material-first, platform agnostic philosophy, Courtney embraces the growing disruption in the entertainment ecosystem and together with Jane have built a selective slate of compelling stories and edgy material with global commercial appeal. She takes a transmedia approach to cultivating IP and collaborating with gifted storytellers and partners to build out her company’s diverse content slate.
11. Miranda Bailey
Miranda Bailey is a prolific producer, actor and director, known for producing high quality independent films. Her passion for bringing compelling, well-crafted stories to the screen has been the driving force in her distinguished 15-year filmmaking career. Bailey has produced over 20 films, among them the Oscar®-nominated THE SQUID AND THE WHALE and the Spirit Award-winning THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL, as well as James Gunn’s SUPER, the Sundance hit SWISS ARMY MAN, the critically acclaimed NORMAN and the indie hit DON’T THINK TWICE.
12. Daniel Sollinger
Today on the show we have producer Daniel Sollinger. Daniel and I have fought in the same indie film trenches for years. I had the pleasure of working with him on multiple occassion over the past 10 years. He has a new film coming out called Clean, starring Academy Award® Winner Arian Brody.
Daniel and I discuss the brutal truth on producing and making indie films in today world. The conversation is full of real-world stories, advice and lessons to help you on your path. Enjoy!!!
13. Suzanne Lyons
Today on the show we have returning champion producer Suzanne Lyons. Suzanne was one of my first guests on the Indie Film Hustle Podcast. Her episodes are some of my most downloaded episodes so I had to have her back on to talk shop. Suzanne will go over a ton of information on how to produce an indie feature film. She covers:
- The dos and don’ts of Low Budget Filmmaking
- What is Soft Prep?
- Working with unions
- The hell of deliverables
- and much more
In 1999 Suzanne Lyons launched Snowfall Films and to date has produced/executive produced twelve movies. These included A BAFTA award-winning British comedy(aka “Plots With A View”), with actors Christopher Walken, Brenda Blethyn, Alfred Molina and Naomi Watts with Miramax Distribution. British/Canadian thriller JERICHO MANSIONS staring James Caan, Genevieve Bujold, Maribel Verdu and Jennifer Tilly. was an official selection at the Montreal Film Festival and the Hollywood Film Festival. British/Canadian family comedy $ which stars Dean Cain, Laurie Holden, Tim Curry, and Jon Lovitz.
14. Jonathan Baker
Today on the show we have Sundance-winning producer Jonathan Baker. His new film Sylvie’s Love is the talk of Sundance 2020. Sylvie’s Love is an upcoming American drama film, written and directed by Eugene Ashe. It stars Tessa Thompson, Nnamdi Asomugha, Ryan Michelle Bathe, Regé-Jean Page, Aja Naomi King, and Eva Longoria. It will have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 27, 2020.
Jonathan is a wealth of information. In the episode, I pick his brain on what it was like winning the audience award at Sundance, how the indie film market place is changing, and much more. His last Sundance-winning film was Crown Heights which was later sold to Amazon Studios.
15. Sunil Perkash
oday on the show we have film producer Sunil Perkash. He’s responsible for blockbuster films like Salt starring Angelina Jolie, Premonition starring Sandra Bullock, and the Disney classic Enchanted just to name a few.
Sunil is an independent producer in Hollywood who holds a B.A. in economics and communications from Stanford University. He began his career in 1992 working as the U.S. Production Coordinator on CRONOS, Guillemo Del Toro’s directorial debut. He developed a number of projects at various major studios throughout his career including Second Defense with Arnold Kopelson, Exit Zero with Renny Harlin at New Line, Second Time Around at Dreamworks, Suburban Hero with Scott Rudin at Paramount, Al and Gene with Adam Shankman at Walt Disney Studios, amongst others.
We discuss what is was like jumping from $100+ budgets to $1.5 million, how he attaches talent and how he packages his indie films for investors. Enjoy my conversation with Sunil Perkash.
BONUS: David Chase
The legacy of the crime drama television series, The Sopranos remains a defining art of storytelling for mob TV shows. We have the genius behind this hit TV series, David Chase as our guest today.
As expected, Chase is a twenty-five-time Emmy Awards-winner, seven times Golden Globes winner, and highly acclaimed producer, writer, and director. His forty-year career in Hollywood has contributed immensely to the experience of quality TV.
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of Chase, let’s do a brief of the HBO 1999 hit show, The Sopranos: Produced by HBO, Chase Films, and Brad Grey Television, the story ran for six seasons, revolving around Tony Soprano, played by James Gandolfini, a New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster, portraying the difficulties that he faces as he tries to balance his family life with his role as the leader of a criminal organization.