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Even Brian Grazer started with a little movie called “Splash,” starring a then-unknown Tom Hanks.True, that was a Disney movie, but the days when new producers can align with major studios are long gone. Now, to get a project off the ground, it takes workaday jacks-of-all-trades who spend their days scrambling to find projects and the money to finance them.
And even when they taste success, they’re still juggling.
“When ‘Margin Call’ won an Independent Spirit Award — and I have it on my mantle at home — it felt pretty great,” Neal Dodson, a partner with Zachary Quinto and Corey Moosa at Before the Door Pictures, told TheWrap.
At the same time, “the first major benchmark for us will be a time when our movies aren’t sort of hand-to-mouth. Right now, we’re basically making fees on our movies that allow us to extend the life of our company for ‘X’ number of months,” he said. “I’d love to not be movie-to-movie. I’d like to be – movie to two movies.”
Dodson, Moosa and Quinto — better known as “Star Trek’s” latest Spock — are among the most interesting young producers in Hollywood. Their projects are ambitious, challenging and successful.
Also read: Michael Benaroya: Film Financier to Watch
TheWrap has identified nine more like them: Hollywood’s future Grazers (and Robert Rodriguezes and Kevin Smiths). They are listed in alphabetical order.
Keep your eye on them.
Having trained as a lawyer and then served as an apprentice in the packaging department of Cinetic Media, Teddy Schwarzman impressed his colleagues with his willingness to learn the fundamentals, despite being a son of privilege -- his father is the Blackstone Group billionaire Stephen Schwarzman.
Last year, Schwarzman founded Black Bear Pictures, and already he's drawn an impressive list of talent, including Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones for the upcoming 'Broken City,' as well as Jeremy Renner for the slated 'King of Heists.'
In addition, he's teamed with other producers (including Before the Door Pictures) on 'All Is Lost,' starring Robert Redford.
What Others Say: 'Teddy decided he wanted to be a producer, and he was very methodical in acquiring the building blocks in order to optimise his natural talents,' John Sloss, head of Cinetic Media, told TheWrap. 'He observed the financing of movies here, and by the time he left was in a perfect position to go out and be an active producer -- he was smart and pragmatic enough to realise he needed to acquire that knowledge.'
Upcoming Projects: The wry comedy 'A.C.O.D.' starring Richard Jenkins should see release this year, while 'Broken City' is in post-production, and 'All Is Lost' is in pre-production.
An untitled drama from Iranian director Ramin Bahrani ('Chop Shop'), cited by Roger Ebert as the filmmaker of the decade in 2009, stars Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron and should appear this year.
-- Fred Schruers
Mark and Jay Duplass's first feature was 2005's 'The Puffy Chair,' which they made for $15,000. The film went on to receive a nomination for an Independent Spirit Award and won an Audience Award at SXSW Film Festival.
Since then, they've gained fame as producers, writers and directors on such projects as 'The Do-Deca-Pentathlon,' which they produced, wrote and directed, as well as the upcoming 'Safety Not Guaranteed,' which they executive produced and which also stars Mark Duplass.
The brothers have successfully managed the transition between the indie world and the studio world. As an actor, for instance, Mark Duplass stars in the upcoming DreamWorks picture 'People Like Us,' a drama that also features Elizabeth Banks, Chris Pine and Olivia Wilde. Their 2012 film, 'Cyrus,' which they wrote and directed, was a Scott Free production, starring John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill and Marisa Tomei.
'Jay and I often find people have one indie film in them,' Mark Duplass told TheWrap. 'They struggle through one, then they want to get into the studio world. We may be gluttons for punishment, but we like coexisting in both the studio world and the micro-budget world.'
Because Mark Duplass and his wife, Katie Aselton, appear as regulars in the FX Network series 'The League,' they can afford to be flexible.
'My wife, Katie, and I are paid well to be in our television show,' he said, acknowledging that some of that money 'gets siphoned off into our paying for micro-budget films. We're in a fortunate position.'
What Others Say: 'On the surface, they have this non-studio aesthetic,' said Dustin Smith, VP acquisitions and business affairs at Roadside Attractions. 'But underneath, they have great commercial instincts. Great characters and fantastic humour and not really sentimentality, but emotions you connect with.'
Upcoming Projects: 'The Do-Deca Pentathlon,' 'Safety Not Guaranteed.'
10. XYZ FILMS: Nate Bolotin, Nick Spicer, Aram Tertzakian, (left to right) Todd Brown (not pictured)
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