Steve Golin, the founder and CEO of Anonymous Content and co-founder and former CEO of Propaganda Films, passed away peacefully late Sunday night in Los Angeles after a long battle with cancer. The revered film and TV producer, who won the 2016 Best Picture Oscar for Spotlight, was 64. His loss will be felt far and wide within the business.
Quite simply Golin, who also produced The Revenant and Eternal Sunshine Of the Spotless Mind and executive produced HBO’s True Detective, was a towering figure in the independent film and TV space. The multi-disciplinary and innovative companies he created became models for aspiring film and TV producers and managers who wanted to go beyond the status quo. It’s rare to find producers who excel both in film and TV but Golin was one of them. And he was even more than that. Both firms he launched became an attractive proposition for investors, and a few years ago Anonymous got substantial backing from the Emerson Collective, the organization led by Laurene Powell Jobs.
Golin graduated from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University in 1976 and attended the AFI Conservatory. With partner Joni Sighvatsson, he launched Propaganda Films, a talent management, advertising, and video production company, in 1986. The duo built Propaganda into the largest music video and commercial production company in the world. They are credited with discovering such young video directors who would successfully transition to features as David Fincher, Michael Bay, Spike Jonze Antoine Fuqua, and Gore Verbinski. Golin and Sighvatsson sold Propaganda Films to PolyGram, which was subsequently bought by Seagram in 1998.
Golin exited Propaganda in 1999 and in early 2000, he launched his next management/production company, Anonymous Content, guiding it into becoming a management, production and commercial powerhouse.
Through Propaganda and Anonymous, Golin produced such feature films and executive produced such television series as David Lynch’s 1990 classic Wild At Heart, David Fincher’s The Game (1997), Spike Jonze’s much-loved Being John Malkovich (1999), Michel Gondry’s memorable Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Babel (2006), and Gavin Hood’s Rendition (2007), Nic Pizzolatto’s searing True Detective (2014), Sam Esmail’s hit drama Mr. Robot (2015), Tom McCarthy’s brilliant Spotlight (2015) Cary Joji Fukunaga’s The Alienist (2018), Joel Edgerton’s Boy Erased as well as 13 Reasons Why and George Clooney’s upcoming limited series Catch-22.
“We are devastated by Steve’s passing,” Anonymous Content’s partners said Monday. “He was a trailblazer in the industry, a devoted colleague, a remarkable leader and a truly kind man. He was a rare individual who encompassed intense creativity with a keen business mind. Above all, Steve showed us the power of kindness and generosity. His compassion was unparalleled. He led by example and inspired each and every one of us to be better. In his life and in his work, Steve created a family – he meant the world to many of us, and will leave a lasting impression on our lives. Together, we will continue to build upon the immense legacy Steve has left us.”
Golin received three Best Picture nominations for producing Babel, The Revenant and Spotlight, the latter of which won the top prize. To have made The Revenant and Spotlight in the same season was an incredible feat in itself. Both are among the most acclaimed, challenging and stirring U.S. movies of the past decade. He also was the recipient of three best drama/limited series Primetime Emmy nominations for True Detective, Mr. Robot and The Alienist.
On the management side, Golin himself continued to rep Alfonso Cuaron, with the Anonymous stable also boasting big names like Emma Stone, Samuel L Jackson, Mahershala Ali, Winona Ryder, Meg Ryan, Edgar Wright, James Franco and John Cleese.
Golin wasn’t content just to sit and admire what he had built. He continued to look for new ways to branch out. Last year, Anonymous smartly launched international production company Chapter One in the UK, a joint venture with local agencies Casarotto Ramsay and United Agents.
The pulling power of Anonymous remained as strong as ever with a handful of senior hires in the past year. The ranks have grown to more than 70. Golin’s taste and his reputation as a good guy were key to this.
Just two weeks ago we sat down with Golin in LA alongside some of the partners at the firm. He always made the time to speak. He seemed well and in good spirits. He discussed the industry with his usual intelligence, frankness and curiosity and he was making plans for novel ways to disrupt the business and for buzzed-about new shows with leading networks. We were due to speak to him again last Friday, but he was unable to speak due to sudden illness.
Five years ago, Golin received the Zurich Film Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
“I’m glad to get this award at a time when I feel like we’re making some of the best films and TV I’ve worked on in my career,” he told Deadline’s Andreas Wiseman at the time. “It’s very flattering but you also hope there’s a lot ahead of you.”
Asked what he was most proud of in his career, Golin said, “I’m most proud of the companies.”
He is survived by his two children.