From HUSTLE & FLOW to DEAR WHITE PEOPLE, producer Stephanie Allain shares how she makes independent work for studios.
Key Insights

  • Strong creative producers develop an eye for talent, instantly recognizing great writing and filmmaking. They never give up, make sacrifices, and stick with a project until the very end.
  • Producing films in the independent space allows for more creative freedom and innovation. Working in the studio system, you have multiple stakeholders and perspectives which can distract from the original artistic vision of a film and homogenize the outcome. Always know the core vision of the film and be willing to fight for that. 
  • When working with networks, executives are very hands-on collaborators; Be prepared for a collaborative relationship, play ball, listen, have fun and know what’s most important to you and what you’re willing to compromise on as a creator. 
  • TV writers are on-set producers. On the series adaptation of Dear White People, it was Stephanie’s role to make sure that the series had the right showrunner, a great cast and key crew to support the vision of the series creator, the original writer/director of the film. 
  • Your focus should always be on unique storytelling, not fame or money because those are ephemeral. 
  • Anyone can have a great idea, but most people don’t have follow through – stick with your projects through the ups and downs. Know that it never gets easier, but with the heart, the commitment, and the right story, you will succeed. It's a life-long commitment.

Stephanie Allain produces award-winning films that make headlines, launch careers and shape the culture. Homegrown Pictures' past slate includes Hustle & Flow, Something New, Black Snake Moan, Beyond the Lights, Dear White People, French Dirty, Burning Sands, Juanita and Really Love. Additionally, she executive produced four seasons of Dear White People. From 2011-2016, she served as Director of the LA Film Festival, the first to report on its percentages of films directed by women and people of color. In 2020, she became the first African American woman to produce the Academy Awards for which she was Emmy-nominated. In 2022 she became the first woman of color elected President of the Producers Guild of America. A long-time activist for equity and belonging, she’s a member of ReFrame, AMPAS and the Writers Guild of America. She sits on the boards of American Cinematheque, Producers Guild of America and Cast & Crew. Her first children’s book, I’M IN CHARGE will be published by Candlewick Press in 2024.unique voices. more...

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