EXCLUSIVE: Veteran indie producer Lynette Howell Taylor is launching 51 Entertainment, a new production shingle that will focus on filmmaker-driven content with an inclusive female sensibility that will span multiple platforms. She has hired producer Samantha Housman and creative executive Derek Iger to join her. The first film to carry the new company’s logo will be the recently wrapped Unicorn Store. The film marks the directorial debut of Oscar-winning Room star Brie Larson, who toplines with Samuel L. Jackson.
The pic personifies the ambition of 51 Entertainment. Based on an original screenplay by Samantha McIntyre, the comedy centers on a woman who moves back in with her parents, and receives an invitation to a store that will test her ideas of what it really means to grow up. It was written by a woman, directed by a woman, crewed by mostly women, with a female protagonist and a diverse cast.
“The name 51 is associated with the idea of majority,” said Howell Taylor, whose producing credits include Captain Fantastic, Big Eyes, The Place Beyond The Pines and Blue Valentine. “Women are still the majority in the United States and yet the balance is greatly tipped against us in the entertainment industry when it comes to opportunities. Part of the mission for 51 will be to promote equality, diversity and inclusion in hiring practices across all areas of film and TV, both in front of, and behind the camera, in every department. It is a not a female content company or a company focusing only on female filmmakers, instead it is a company that will aim to achieve greater balance.”
Howell Taylor retains her long partnership with Jamie Patricoff in Electric City Entertainment. They will continue to produce their existing projects there; her solo projects will fall under the 51 banner.
Howell Taylor most recently wrapped the Bradley Cooper-Lady Gaga pic A Star Is Born, and before that produced Ben Affleck’s The Accountant. She has been producer on Matt Ross’ movies 28 Hotel Rooms and Captain Fantastic, the latter which earned Viggo Mortensen an Oscar nom. They are reteaming for Ross’ next pic, Tomorrow And Tomorrow for TriStar. On the TV side, she is developing American Lion for Lionsgate and HBO, which has Sean Penn attached to play Andrew Jackson.
A longtime advisor for the Sundance Creative Producing Initiative, she also helped launch the Horizon Award with Cassian Elwes and Christine Vachon, to help support a new generation of female filmmakers.
Before joining 51, Housman (6 Balloons) was VP at Campfire, a film and TV production company with a multi-picture deal at Netflix. Before that she founded OneZero, an indie company that had teamed with Howell Taylor on the Ross movies among other pics.