The Creative Collectives
A group of iconoclastic writer-producer-director teams aren't just subverting the system, they're replacing it.

From left: XYZ Films' Nate Bolotin, Nick Spicer, Aram Tertzakian; Before the Door's Corey Mossa, Zachary Quinto, Neal Dodson

Last year's Margin Call, the Oscar-nominated drama about the 2008 financial meltdown, was the first project developed by Before the Door—one of a new wave of production houses designed to curb Hollywood's habit of chewing up and spitting out emerging talent. And it offers a nice bit of symmetry: After all, it was the movie industry's own too-big-to-fail practices that made ambitious, tightly knit creative partnerships like theirs possible. "We arrived at the moment when studios started making fewer movies, but there were these new platforms to watch them on," says Neal Dodson, who founded the company in 2008 with fellow Carnegie Mellon theater geeks Corey Moosa and Zachary Quinto. "People didn't know how to make them at the right price, and we pretended that we did until we actually did."

The same was true for other like-minded collectives. "DVD sales were plunging, the economy collapsed, financing sources dried up, and people who'd been producing for 20 years found it hard to make movies," says Nick Spicer, one of the three UCLA-film-school grads who formed XYZ, also circa 2008. Their surprise Indonesian-language martial-arts hit The Raid: Redemption puts the lie to the notion that the term indie is a synonym for earnest, talky fare, and the company's philosophy of tapping international talent and markets reflects the industry's decentralization.

Meanwhile, Borderline Films, a Brooklyn-based three-headed hydra of NYU pals, is less about capitalizing on a world-is-flat economic Zeitgeist and more about creative checks and balances. Sean Durkin, who wrote and directed last year's Martha Marcy May Marlene; Antonio Campos, the director of the upcoming Simon Killer; and Josh Mond, who's finishing the script for his directorial debut, are a package deal—when one directs, the other two produce, and they rotate roles as needed, as do their counterparts at Before the Door and XYZ. And if there was a time when studios would balk at this all-or-nothing philosophy, it has passed. "It took a while for people to get our system," Campos says. "We had to prove it by doing it and having success with it."

To ensure that this success continues, the collectives must learn to avoid the mistakes of their monolithic, hierarchical forebears. XYZ has around 20 projects in development—a fraction of what its studio-based equivalent might have—and Before the Door has a graphic-novel division. "It really is instinct, knowing the moment to escalate the company," says Quinto, whose responsibilities are a welcome counterpoint to donning Vulcan ears every few years. "We don't need to get ahead of ourselves, we have solid work behind us and projects we believe in."

XYZ Films
Nate Bolotin, 30; Nick Spicer, 30; Aram Tertzakian, 30
Credit check: The Raid: Redemption, Frankenstein's Army, Breaking the Bank (in development)
Origin story: Met as students in the production program at UCLA's film school
From left: Blazer by Z Zegna, T-shirt and jeans by Rag & Bone, his own shoes. Shirt by Thom Browne, T-shirt by Sunspel, pants by Z Zegna, shoes by J. Crew. Shirt and pants by Steven Alan, sneakers by Converse Jack Purcell.

Before The Door
Corey Moosa, 34; Zachary Quinto, 35; Neal Dodson, 34
Credit check: Margin Call, All Is Lost, The Jones/Havemeyer Wedding
Origin story: Quinto and Dodson knew each other as teenagers in Pennsylvania; all three were friends in the drama program at Carnegie Mellon
From left: Cardigan by Z Zegna, T-shirt and jeans by John Varvatos, sneakers by Maison Martin Margiela. Clothing by Gucci, sneakers by Converse. Shirt by Steven Alan, T-shirt by Vince, pants by Mac, shoes by Armando Cabral.

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Hollywood Mavericks

The Leading Man

The Showrunners

The Career Opportunists

The Next Big Thing

The Survivors

The Idea Man

The Directors

The Outsourced Superhero

The Creative Collectives