TheWrap's Inaugural Innovators List: 12 Who Are Changing Hollywood
Hollywood is changing, and not a moment too soon. With traditional entertainment platforms in upheaval and digital models facing down old-style distribution, TheWrap went on the hunt for the people who are creating new business models, challenging the status quo and digging new paths for content creators.
So here they are, in our first annual list of Innovators Who Are Changing Hollywood.
These 12 come from all walks of the entertainment industry -- from production, screenwriting, marketing, social media, finance, YouTube, agenting and talent in front of and behind the screen. Beyond this innovative dozen, there were some fascinating risers who we couldn't resist naming as honorable mentions.
Also read: Hollywood's Innovators: Honorable Mention
Have a look, have a read, and let us know what you think.
Innovators are listed in alphabetical order.
1. JASON BLUM
Founder, Blumhouse Productions
With each new micro-budget hit, Jason Blum is upending the way movies are made, emphasizing thrift in exchange for artistic freedom and greater profits.
He first caught Hollywood's attention in 2009 with "Paranormal Activity," which cost a mere $15,000 to produce and made an astounding $193.3 million globally. Then he proved that wasn't an anomaly with films like "Insidious" and this summer's "The Purge," which earned back their bargain-basement budgets tenfold thanks to fresh spins on familiar bogeymen like ghosts or home invaders.
See photos: 12 Innovators Changing Hollywood
"We can take risks that we wouldn't be allowed if these were traditional studio films," Blum told TheWrap, noting that actors, directors and producers on his films work for scale in return for getting a bigger cut of a picture's back-end.
His reward is a first-look distribution deal at Universal -- but he has no plans to mess with his formula for the sake of nicer craft services or a bigger trailer
Asked what he would do if offered $100 million to make any film he wanted, he replied, "I'd use it to make 35 movies." - Brent Lang
2. ZACH BRAFF
Actor/Writer/Director, Kickstarter Fundraiser
You remember Zach Braff. The goofy doctor-ish guy from "Scrubs," and the writer-director and star of a little indie movie called "Garden State," which in 2004 took the indie world's heart and made almost $27 million?
That guy started an internet feeding frenzy earlier this year when he decided to crowdfund a follow-up called "Wish I Was Here" at Kickstarter. He killed his goal of $2 million in a couple of days and ended up with $3.1 million -- along with a chorus of naysayers who protested that a Hollywood star had co-opted a tool for the unwashed masses.
We disagree. Totally. Making independent films like "Garden State" is a Sisyphean task in the current moviemaking system. And Braff is not in it for the money. He's in it for love. We salute his commitment to telling good stories using the power of social media.
And as he wrote on Twitter: "Haters gonna hate. The angry will only get angrier. I choose love." Amen. - Sharon Waxman
3. MAHA DAKHIL
When TheWrap wrote about CAA back in March, Maha Dakhil was one of the names that continually came up as an agent bound to lead the next generation at Hollywood's largest talent shop.
To that point, she represents a bevy of rising directors with movies coming out this fall, including Lee Daniels ("The Butler"), Steve McQueen ("Twelve Years a Slave") and Denis Villeneuve ("Prisoners"). On the talent side, she works with Natalie Portman and some guy named Tom Cruise.
She also has fully embraced the increasing international nature of Hollywood, signing successful French directors like Michel Hazanavicius, who won an Oscar for "The Artist," and Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, whose "The Intouchables" is the second highest grossing film in French history.
Dakhil told TheWrap she is "focused on igniting creative exchanges with artists from different corners of the world. Packaging is more than putting pieces together, it's about bringing people together who are like-minded and encouraging them to work together."
Oh, she also represents Gary Ross, who launched Hollywood's biggest new franchise -- "The Hunger Games." - Lucas Shaw
4. LENA DUNHAM & JENNI KONNER
Producers, HBO's "Girls"