In the film industry, it’s not just the directors, actors and actresses, and producers that are the creators and givers to audiences. Executives (in marketing to interactive media to finance), casting directors, choreographers, props masters and designers have a bigger hand behind the scenes as well. We have selected some of the industries “top tier” players that are really making some waves!
Senior Vice President of Marketing, The Weinstein Company
The national dialog inspired by the Weinstein Co. doc “Bully” started with an “organic” Twitter campaign crafted by Bladimiar Norman that generated more than 1 million messages in a single day. “We essentially created a movement,” says the New York native, who credits lessons learned under former boss Megan Colligan on the campaign for the Oscar-winning 2005 doc “An Inconvenient Truth” at Paramount Vantage. A Rutgers graduate, Norman worked in finance on Wall St. before parlaying his film marketing obsession into gigs at Sony and Warner. He’s worked on award campaigns for the past three Best Picture winners (“The Hurt Locker”,”The King’s Speech” and “The Artist”), doing whatever else needs to be done. “I’ve done everything from throwing events, designing websites and making posters to providing feedback on potential acquisitions,” Norman says. “The beauty and genius of working with Harvey [Weinstein] is, if you have something you believe in, he will listen.”
When Randi Hiller was casting Iron Man with then-partner Sarah Finn, Robert Downey Jr. sang “I Hope I Get It” from A Chorus Line during his audition. “Even when you’ve done this a long time, you can never forget that somebody is always excited about certain roles,” she says. Hiller shares the same enthusiasm about casting. She and Finn — who recently ended their eight-year partnership to form separate companies — have worked on Crash as well as several Marvel movies and has collaborated on Thor and Iron Man 2. “Actors stop by sometimes to tell us they got a job which has nothing to do with us, ” Hiller says. “I love when somebody calls, because they know I’ll be excited.”
Vice President of Interactive Media, Paramount Pictures
Dickehut helms the creation and execution of digital media strategies and promotions for all Paramount theatrical releases and has managed the launch of more than 80 innovative digital campaigns for such titles as “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” and the “Iron Man” and the “Paranormal Activity” franchises (the first film in the latter franchise earned an Omma and an IAB Mixx Award for experimental and innovative campaign). “The big challenge is keeping up with all the rapidly changing technology and understanding all the changes in the consumption habits of our core audiences, as they’re so fragmented now,” he says. “You have to know what devices they’re using, when, why and how, so my team can leverage the unique functionalities of all these different platforms.” Also tasked with shepherding the Insurge Pictures digital team in developing brand partnerships and integrations into its slate of original content, Dickehut sees future developments “moving even faster.”
Executive Vice President of Production, Mandate Pictures
As Executive Vice President of Production for Mandate Pictures, Nicole Brown oversees the development of the company’s slate of films and manages Mandate’s creative infrastructure. Brown’s expertise lies in seeking out compelling material and closely collaborating with writers and directors to build entrepreneurial opportunities around their projects. She served as an executive producer on Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley, to be released by Focus Features in June 2012; and A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, released worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures in November 2011.
Brown served as a co-producer on a number of features, including the Golden Globe® and Film Independent Spirit Award nominated film 50/50, starring Golden Globe® nominated Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen, released by Summit Entertainment; LOL, a remake of the French box office hit from writer/director Lisa Azuelos, starring Miley Cyrus and Demi Moore; Whip It, starring Drew Barrymore and Ellen Page; Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, directed by Peter Sollett, starring Michael Cera and Kat Dennings; the crime thriller The Horsemen, starring Dennis Quaid; and Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay, the follow-up to 2004’s comedy for New Line Cinema. Brown has also served as an executive producer on projects under the Ghost House label, including The Possession, to be released by Lionsgate in August 2012; and the Evil Dead remake, just released by Sony Pictures and FilmDistrict in April 2013.
Barry Wilkinson’s props department created hundreds and hundreds of wands for the eight films of the Harry Potter franchise. “Over the years, it was becoming more and more difficult to think up different designs and shapes for each of them,” says Wilkinson. WilkinsonWhen Harry first sees this vessel of victory in Goblet of Fire, it radiates a ghostly blue light. Like much in the films, that wasn’t just a special effect. “We put an actual light in it in order to make it glow,” says property master Barry Wilkinson. “Then that was enhanced later on.”
“At the moment, we’ve got 104 containers full of props and set dressings, which have now got to be lifted and archived and accounted for.” For Wilkinson, who’s become accustomed to breaks of less than 10 weeks between films, the movies seem like one massive undertaking rather than individual projects. “We’ve worked on them for so long, it’s very hard now just to decipher from one film to the next, and it all blends in as one huge project,” he said. “It’s a shame. We wish they could go on again, but it’s been a real marvelous achievement and a marvelous project to work on, you know? Myself and all my team are really proud to have worked on it.”