MEGHAN OLIVER, Paradigm
Education: Cornell University, Communication major, Applied Economics and Management minor
Career Background: When I was a kid, I was a huge book nerd. Story has always been a big part of my life. When I was in college, I took a semester away to check out Hollywood and landed internships at Mandate, the Weinstein Company and Paradigm (it was a busy semester!). When I returned to L.A. post-gradation, my first job was as a talent assistant at the Kohner Agency. I knew I wanted to be back at Paradigm, which I saw as an innovative, growing company, and in a department that involved getting stories out to the world. I moved through a few departments and up the ranks on various desks through the trainee program. In the process, I found my passion in film sales and packaging with the Motion Picture Finance group.
Agency tenure: I have been at Paradigm for two and a half years, though I got the lay of the land my first year at the Kohner Agency. While here, I have been a floater, a TV assistant, a Motion Picture Finance assistant, a trainee, and a coordinator.
Ambitions: I’m the type of person who is always learning and evolving, which is perfect for the world of independent film. I need to have a career that demands improvement and novelty in projects and deal structures. When it comes to specific goals, I have many. I want to package and represent a film like “(500) Days of Summer,” which is elevated, has a fresh twist and becomes a fan favorite. Also on my agenda is creating digital distribution deals that are financially advantageous for our clients — and of course I have my dream list of people to work with.
What you spend your time doing at Sundance: Selling great films! And when I’m not… I’ll be warming up with a coffee to sell some more. I love finding the best audiences and homes for films.
What young or new filmmakers could learn from you in a five-minute conversation on the street in Park City: Distribution is the least understood aspect of filmmaking, but certainly the most important. Before embarking on the journey of creating a film, filmmakers and their teams should ask themselves what their goal is. Is it profit? Exposure? Something else? While it’s important for a filmmaker to be creatively engrossed in his projects, it’s equally important to recognize that this is a business and to have an eye on the horizon for when the film is complete.
Heads of your department: Andrew Ruf, Rand Holston, Ben Weiss
Best/most useful thing learned from those above you: To be selective and specific with material, films and clients that I represent. It’s a multi-tiered process that involves trusting my gut, having in-depth knowledge of the marketplace, allocating time, and maintaining a high level of passion and, above all, commitment. I need my clients to know that I am 100% behind them and my buyers to respect my taste.
The keys to making the most of the junior position, from Ben Weiss, Head of Film Finance and Sales, Paradigm: Every film/project matters and deserves equal attention. It is important to follow your instincts when selecting material. Sometimes the most difficult projects can be the most rewarding. Taking a risk and believing in material will help build your reputation. Always be creative and flexible in deal-making and release plans. Anything goes in today's environment.