When LB Entertainment founder Lee Broda first entered the entertainment industry, she wanted to be on stage.
“I grew up in Israel, and I was more of a performer and an artist,” Broda told TheWrap, emphasizing that she grew up “dancing, acting and doing a lot of theater.” That dream followed her to the United States, where Broda joined a professional dance company and attended Los Angeles City College Theater Academy for drama where she was encouraged to write and direct her own projects.
It’s that creator’s instinct that later paved the way for her professional career. Since founding indie production company LB Entertainment in 2015, Broda’s company has shepherded over 50 ambitious independent movies to success, including the Natasha Lyonne and Chloë Sevigny-starring “Antibirth,” the Elijah Woods and Nicolas Cage-starring “The Trust,” the Charlize Theron-starring adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s “Dark Places,” director Andrew Ahn’s “Driveways” and the Maggie Gyllenhaal-starring “The Kindergarten Teacher.”
The most recent feather in Broda’s cap is Todd Hayne’s Netflix release, “May December.” She attached as executive producer on Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore’s buzzy Oscar-nominated film. For Broda, the trick to staying relevant in a competitive film space dominated by blockbusters was embracing both her creative and more financial savvy sides while also pairing ambitious ideas with top-tier talent.
Broda became involved in the executive producing and financing side of the business after college while she was working for a producer.
“I always say I’m like 50/50 left-right brain,” Broda said. “It just became pretty obvious that things were happening really quickly for me on that side, and I took a step back from the creative and acting to really build my career as an executive producer.”
This transition has overall left Broda feeling more balanced. She can both develop projects she’s passionate about and have space for creative outlets, whether it be writing poetry or acting in projects in Israel.
“I’m in a place that I believe if you can do something well, you can be a multi-hyphen person and create your own destiny,” she said.
Read on for Broda’s full Off With a View interview below.
What was the moment you realized you could start your own production studio?
It took me awhile to feel confident enough to do things on my own. If I’m honest, I think the uncertainty of the business was scary to me. It took me a long time to let go of all the side jobs I was doing and fully commit.
There was a moment — it was 2015, during the summer — when I found myself running a company but running it for someone else. I was already taking the meetings and raising the money and finding the projects. And I was like, “Why am I doing all these other things when I can do it for myself?” I also really missed the creative world. I wanted to be more involved as a producer and more involved creatively with writers, in post, in editing.
What do you look for in a project?
Story, obviously. Maybe that’s my background as an actor, but I like stories that influence, inspire and take the audience on an emotional journey. I look for those in scripts. I’m also really attracted to projects that have actors that are inspiring and that I enjoy watching and I think are brilliant. Directors are the leading voices, usually, that dictate a project, but I also look at the talent and who do I want to work with and what kind of artists do I want to be in a collaboration with.
Would you say that your background as an artist has given you an advantage when it comes to producing independent projects?
Sometimes I think we say yes to projects and take chances, and they don’t come out as great as we thought. And sometimes the underdog, or the projects that we’re not certain about, prove us wrong. It’s a very humbling experience. Whatever stage you’re at and whatever position in the industry, it’s such a collaborative art. One thing can go wrong and impact the entire project.
But I just look for things that talk to my passion and the things I can be excited about. I always find that passion is contagious, so if something lifts me up and gets me excited, I look for that.
We take chances. We’ve made a lot of films with first-time filmmakers. They’re unpredictable and can be a gamble, but a lot of them turned out great and we launch a lot of careers. I’m very happy, as well, to discover new voices and support them because I know how hard it is, from my experience, to get your first shot.
How do you find projects to navigate a very blockbuster, franchise-heavy landscape?
We all feel the transition and how the industry has changed the last few years and the challenges that it brought. The studios are not taking as much of a risk and staying with safe choices. The space is challenging, especially for dramas these days. Dramas are usually the projects that I’m the most passionate about. They’re having a moment, and hopefully things have shifted. It feels like this year more people are going back into the cinemas and there are so many great movies being nominated.
We are, as a company, growing into bigger budgets as well. They’re not necessarily in the Marvel world, which is just not what I do, although it can be very successful to other producers. But we are exploring more grounded sci-fi and bigger IPs and telling those stories on a bigger scale. Sometimes it’s a longer process because when you tackle bigger budgets, those usually take longer to come together. But we are definitely putting those together in our slate for 2024 and 2025.
What first drew you to “May December”?
It was one of those projects that you get on your desk, and you’re like, “I have to help make it happen, and I have to be part of it.” And to be honest, there was a competition of who’s going to bring the financing and how it is going to come together.
It was, for me, a combination of both Todd [Haynes] as a director — I watched “Carol” and really fell in love with his work and how he works with actors and what type of actors he attracts — and both Natalie and Julianne … It was a dream coming true to be able to be part of this project at that level. As producers, usually you don’t check all the boxes with every project. This is one of these projects that checks all the boxes, working with Gloria Sanchez Productions and Killer Films, both producers that I hadn’t had a chance to work with.
What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received?
One of my teachers actually told us this one thing that I always carry with me: It’s not about who you know, it’s about who knows you.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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