Double Oscar nominee Megan Ellison. Following up her Oscar nomination last year for producing Zero Dark Thirty, that’s how she can be referred to as of this morning. Both American Hustle and Her netted Best Picture mentions with Ellison as a producer. With Hustle now the odds-on favorite to win that moniker could change on March 2nd to Oscar-winner Megan Ellison. Her nominations this morning put her in a class by herself as the only female in Oscar history to have two Best Picture nominees in the same year and only the second person to have two Best Picture nominations while under 30 years old, the other being Howard Hughes.
Some people might think that the offspring of a billionaire searching for a money-spending hobby to occupy their time of not having to work is a bad thing (paging Paris Hilton…) but maybe some of those well-off debutants should take a page from Megan Ellison’s handbook.
Ellison certainly isn’t the first to come from money to want to break into the movie business. That hobby has been alive and well since the days of Howard Hughes. But what seems different about Ellison is that the films she chooses seem less to feed her own ego than they do to help auteur filmmakers realize their dream projects get off the ground, even if it means being willing to fund the whole thing herself. She’s also a huge film fanatic and comes to the business with a passion for film instead of a passion of the bottom line. Taking a look at her films from 2013 and we’ve got Spring Breakers, American Hustle, The Grandmaster and Her. A wide and varied group of films if there ever was one.
Even though she only spent a year in film school at the University of Southern California, she began a fledgling producing career funding small ventures and building her resume. She broke in 2010 being an executive producer on the Coen Brothers’ True Grit but it was the next year when, as the story goes, she inherited $200 million from her father on her 25th birthday (or $2 billion if you listen to the scallywag) that allowed her to burst onto the scene with the power of a supernova. Fearless in the face of seasoned producers like Harvey Weinstein and Scott Rudin, Ellison has since paved a path for herself and Annapurna Pictures and filmmakers to make the films they want with the support and assurance they need. Yet she’s still a bit of an old-school deal-maker; breakfasts and a handshake can seal a deal.
Coming up in 2014 and beyond for Ellison is an equally diverse slate. After winning a bidding war against Lionsgate for a new series of Terminator films (set to start releasing in 2015) she also has the very Oscar-baity Foxcatcher from Sony Pictures Classics and starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo.