From St. John’s to Vancouver and Hollywood, island born producer Margot Hand continues to rise up the ranks of the film industry
No longer a hidden gem to the mainstream, Newfoundland and Labrador is very much in the spotlight in the world of global entertainment.
There’s the Come From Away phenomenon, the Broadway production that has become a global brand, bringing the culture and warmth of our island and its people to audiences worldwide. There are internationally touring musicians like Tim Baker, Alan Doyle and The Once earning recognition and a reputation as world class talent. There’s our Hollywood stars like director Brad Peyton and the rising talent of Mark O’Brien, both very much leaving a mark in the at times cutthroat world of film and television.
Margot Hand can be counted in that fine company. Born and raised in St. John’s, Hand is one of the more promising producers in Hollywood today, having collaborated and worked with acting A-listers Ewan McGregor, Olivia Wilde, Kristen Wiig, Jessica Chastain, Colin Farrell, Evan Rachel Wood, Tom Hiddleston and Anjelica Huston, among others.
Hand’s journey from our rocky shores to the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles began in 2007, when she moved to Vancouver, earning her first job in the film industry in March of 2008 at Canadian based production company Insight Film Studios.
“We were doing about $250 million in production a year,” Hand recalls during a phone interview with The Herald. “And I started on the business side, business affairs which is kind of the legal business aspects of film. And then I kind of worked my way up there and moved over to producing.”
The role of producer is broad, to say the least. From working on financing a production, to dealing with creative, directors and cast, and pre and post release marketing, producers of all stations have fingers in multiple pies in the process of making movie magic.
“I think there’s a lot of different kinds of producers and it’s kind of difficult to describe it in one kind of job description. But what I tend to do, we call it cradle to graving projects. It’s creating, developing and putting cast together, putting a director on and all the way through making it and then post-production,” Hand explains.
“Some people come in and out during a lot of the earlier stages like development and packaging and others really kind of excel at the marketing, distribution and release part of it. So it really also depends on what you’re really looking to do. I kind of like to do all of it.”
A heartwarming film
Now based out of Los Angeles, Hand’s recent production, Brittany Runs A Marathon, opens September 6th in St. John’s. The film has received critical praise, opening at the renowned Sundance Film Festival and currently sitting with a strong 89 per cent critic score on Rotten Tomatoes.
“It’s a really kind of sweet, heartwarming movie,” Hand shares. “I think the world needs that right now.”
Jillian Bell stars as Brittany Forgler, a hot mess of a New Yorker, who, at 27 years old, attempts to turn her life around both physically and emotionally.
“It was really a joy to make,” Hand adds of the feel-good late summer flick.
“Films that handle any sort of body issues are always difficult because every person, and definitely every woman, experiences some form of body image problems as they grow up, so you can never kind of tell everyones story. But I think we tried really hard and it was written with respect and I think that helps.”
Bell, known for high-profile roles in 22 Jump Street and The Night Before, is just another of the laundry-list of stars Hand has had the chance to work and collaborate with. She still has those star-struck moments, she shares, and although not every Hollywood run-in has been positive, the good far outweighs the bad in a world where ego and drive often overtake humility.
“I’ve had the good fortune to meet a lot of people I’ve either loved or whose careers I’ve wanted to emulate or whose movies I love and respect and I think there’s been a lot of moments where that has happened,” she says.
“And there’s been a moment when the opposite happens. Sometimes as the saying goes don’t meet your heroes. And sometimes that’s true and sometimes it’s not. Sometimes they’re more amazing and more grounded and more hilarious than you could have ever had dreamed. So I’ve been lucky. I’ve worked with some really great people.”
A proud Newfoundlander and Labradorian, Hand has seen the growth of the province’s film and television industry first hand (no pun intended).
“It’s actually in the last two or three years that I’ve seen a big difference in terms of people knowing where it is, saying they’ve always wanted to visit there,” Hand says of her home-province. “I think it’s just gotten a little bit more in the zeitgeist. I still think it’s a beautiful hidden treasure and I hope it always stays a little bit like that.”
A star on the rise
And while Hand’s career keeps her jet-setting between film sets and the entertainment hotbed of L.A., her growing family will continue to return to, and love, her home province.
She hopes to one day produce a film here at home – a former pipe dream turned reality for many in recent years. Given her upward momentum with just 10 years stamped in the industry, Margot Hand will be a name Herald readers should acquaint themselves with moving forward.
“I feel like I’m just beginning still,” she says. “I think there’s still a lot of things I want to do. A lot of people I want to work with. I’ve always wanted to shoot a movie at home so I’m always looking for that. I think to me it definitely doesn’t feel like I’ve been doing this for 10 years and I definitely feel like there’s still a lot of things that I want to do and I want to accomplish. I hope it just keeps going this well.”
Brittany Runs A Marathon premieres at Scotiabank Cineplex Avalon Mall in St. John’s on Friday, September 6th.