Sundance: 10 Producers To Keep Watching

Sundance has no shortage of producers and producers-to-be scurrying around Park City. So Deadline has assembled a Top 10 to keep an eye on post-fest. Some are fairly new to producing while others more established but all their careers are moving up:

Dan Janvey, Josh Penn, Michael Gottwald – Beasts Of The Southern Wild
This trio’s credits producing shorts include Benh Zeitlin’s Glory At Sea. ButZeitlin’s much lauded Beasts Of The Southern Wild went from standing ovation to Fox Searchlight acquisition this week. They are all part of a filmmaking/artist group based in Louisiana dubbed Court 13, a self-described collective of “madcap artists and animators of junk that seek to tell huge stories out of small parts.” The group professes a DIY attitude to make “films about communities as a community.”

Jason Michael Berman – LUV
After producing a series of shorts in the early 2000s, Berman co-produced his first feature The Dry Land which screened in competition at 2010 Sundance and won Best New International Feature at Edinburgh. He returned to Sundance with Jess + Moss in 2011 in addition to producing two other films. LUV about a shy 11-year-old boy who forms a bond with his troubled uncle screened in competition. Currently he is completing Brian Dannelly’s Struck By Lightning with Allison Janney, Chris Colfer, Sarah Hyland, Christina Hendricks, Dermot Mulroney, Rebel  Wilson.

Marie-Therese Guirgis and Lucas Joaquin – Keep The Lights On
Her former producer credits include 2003’s cult hit Tarnation and doc Unknown White Male but Guirgis is known for her connections, passion and energy. She made an indelible mark on U.S. distribution as a principal at Wellspring Media releasing a treasure trove of indie and foreign-language films including Red
Lights, Nina’s Tragedies, Palindromes, Dear Wendy and The Beat That My Heart Skipped. Her fellow Lights producer Lucas Joaquin hails from the NY production company Parts and Labor headed by indie/specialty producers Jay van Hoy and Lars Knudsen (Beginners). Joaquin also is an associate producer on Beasts Of The Southern Wild.

Howard Gertler – How To Survive A Plague
After producing a number of indies in the 2000s including Pizza (2005) and Shortbus (2006) which earned him a Spirit producers award, Gertler may be getting a new start now that How To Survive A Plague sold to Sundance Selects on Thursday. Gertler is saying publicly that producing the film about AIDS activist groups ACT UP and TAG has opened a whole new direction for him in documentaries.

Alicia van Couvering – Nobody Walks
Stints as an assistant to producers and directors on productions including Junebug and Palindromes led van Couvering to produce shorts and then Lena Dunham’s 2010 breakout Tiny Furniture. She co-produced doc Paul Williams Still Alive which debuted at Toronto and the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) last year. Now she is in Park City with Nobody Walks and is catching a lot of attention.

James Belfer – Compliance
He founded his Dogfish Pictures in 2009 aiming to finance and produce 2-3 films per year. His initial investment was The Romantics with Katie Holmes at 2010 Sundance and last year’s Grand Jury Prize winner Like Crazy (associate producer), Salvation Boulevard (co-producer), and Vamps (co-executive producer). His latest project Compliance caused a stir following its first screening with an emotional Q&A because the story didn’t sit well with all the audience because of its uncomfortable story.

Adele Romanski – Black Rock
She started out associate producing the short Hold in 2006 and in 2010 took on the producer mantle for Katie Aselton’s Sundance film The Freebie and David Robert Mitchell’s Cannes debut The Myth Of The American Sleepover. Romanski reconnected with Aselton for this year’s thriller Black Rock and Sundance insiders have tipped Romanski as someone to watch.

Steven Schardt – Your Sister’s Sister
He’s worked at a hedge fund and at Amazon and at writing and directing including 2011 Tribeca feature Treatment (co-helmed with Sean Nelson). A co-producer on Lynn Shelton’s breakout Humpday and last year’s The Oregonian, Schardt teamed up with Shelton on her latest Your Sister’s Sister screening in
Sundance’s Spotlight section after a Toronto debut. His work on the film has given him producer bonafides.

Lynette Howell – Twenty-Eight Hotel Rooms
Howell is well established having produced Half Nelson and Blue Valentine in recent years and wrapped The Place Beyond The Pines with collaborator Jamie Patricof. But now the duo are teaming on a new company
called Electric City Entertainment as Deadline reported earlier this month. (They also threw themselves a celebratory bash this Sundance). They plan to spotlight emerging indie filmmakers while also taking on larger scale specialty projects in the $10M-$30M million range.

Josh Mond, Sean Durkin, Antonio Campos, Matt Palmieri – Simon Killer
The group formed Borderline Films in 2003 and have produced three films: Afterschool, Two Gates Of Sleep, and last year’s Sundance hit Martha Marcy May Marlene. They switch roles. This year’s Simon Killer is directed by Campos. Durkin directed last year’s MMMM and Campos produced. “It’s how we did things in film school,” Campos told Deadline. Borderline signed a 2-year first-look pact with Fox Searchlight (though Simon Killer ended up at IFC Films) so expect more in the pipeline.

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