The Prestige Producer
Grant Heslov is proof that with enough savvy you can make thought-provoking Oscar bait on a budget.

When George Clooney is your producing partner, the light tends to flash green a little more often. And Grant Heslov—the other half of Smokehouse Pictures—is the first to acknowledge the upside to partnering with a boldface best friend (bfbf?). But the soaring fortunes of the seven-year-old company, with its bumper crop of Oscar-worthy and -winning films (including last year's Best Picture, Argo), have just as much to do with Heslov's top-to-bottom skills: He produces, directs, and, with Clooney, cowrote the scripts for Good Night, and Good Luck and the upcoming The Monuments Men. The two met as actors before working together on The Facts of Life. Heslov survived that (as well as Joanie Loves Chachi), then joined Clooney in bringing that endangered species—the brainy, talky, medium-budget drama—back from the brink. Heslov acknowledges the challenges of a corporate-run film industry: "Everything is more scrutinized," he says. "It's really hard to make any kind of film, even big-budget. But," he adds, "great small movies still get made." His deceptively simple recipe for success: "Make it impossible for the studio to say no. Spend as little as possible."

Grant Heslov, 50
Credit Check: Good Night, and Good Luck, The Ides of March, Argo, August: Osage County; upcoming: The Monuments Men
A Superhero's Silver Lining: "George had an epiphany when he was making Batman & Robin, which plays into how we pick films: 'What will our legacy be? What will the body of work be?' Everything we do is shaped by that."

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A hybrid of exploitation flicks and art-house indie films, typically featuring nubile ingenues' provocative comings-of-age (not to be confused with the international genre distributor Artsploitation Films). Best exemplified by fledgling distributor A24's oeuvre, including Ginger & Rosa, Sally Potter's teen psychodrama starring Elle Fanning; auteur-provocateur Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers; Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring; Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin; and James Ponsoldt's The Spectacular Now. Characterized by online marketing (e.g., Twitter-meme fodder like "The Spectacular Meow") designed to attract millennial audiences who prefer some sin in their cinema.

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The 2013 Hollywood Mavericks

The Transformer

The New Kings of Doc

The Antiestablishment Exec

The Dynamic Duos

The Soundtrack Wizard

The Netflix Natives

The Cutting-Edge Comedians

The Character Actresses

The Crowdsourcer

The Creative Capitalists

The Prestige Producer

The Rookie Filmmakers

The Indie Auteur