Hollywood movie producer and co-founder of Grey Matter Productions, Ben Everard, was recently welcomed as a guest on one of KatchU’s Speaker Series. Everard is known for producing films such as Lights Out (2016), Hang Men (2014), The Laundromat (2019), Walt Before Mickey (2015), and Yes Day (2021). He has also published a book titled Oh, the Places You’ve Been. Everard has been interested in film since he was a child, but he did not think of it as a dream job at the time. He began as a political science major in college followed by going to law school. Due to his interest in film, he applied to law firms in L.A. in the hopes of meeting people in the film industry. A combination of his entrepreneurial spirit and where he was in his life and career at the time led him to start his own production company. Everard explains multiple different paths that someone can take when becoming a producer or starting their own production company. 1.Climb the ladder, the traditional method everyone is familiar with by working your way up. 2.Raise capital, one of the more difficult methods. 3.Become friends with talent. “Don’t be afraid to cold call people,” Everard encourages. 4.“Own, develop, or acquire great IP.” Lights Out was one of the first films Everard produced. Lights Out started out as short created by David Sandberg, which Everard thought had promise. The way Everard became the producer of Lights Out was by cold calling David Sandberg to acquire the IP, saying that he liked his short and thought it was a high concept idea, which he eventually made into a full length feature. His most recent project, Yes Day, was inspired by Everard’s wife following Jennifer Garner on Instagram and seeing her doing a real life “yes day” with her kids. This means that for a full day she said yes to everything her kids wanted to do, within reason, letting them make the rules. Everard thought that was a great concept for a movie and reached out to Jennifer Garner, who was interested in the idea.
Another piece of advice Everard offers is the importance of networking. Living near people in the same industry you want to break into is key, because it will help you find and build a network. That is why he chose to live in L.A. He also mentions Atlanta and New York as potentially great places to live depending on what you want to do (Atlanta for physical production and New York for theater.) Everard describes the film industry as a “relationship driven business on steroids”.
Everard’s final thoughts are about how theaters will come back in full swing post-pandemic. He explains the importance movie theaters will have in the future, since people will still want to go to entertainment venues to have a shared experience. He writes about this more in-depth for his op-ed article in the Wall Street Journal, "Why Covid Won’t Kill Movie Theaters," which anyone with a Wall Street Journal subscription can read here.