Los Angeles-based Jessica Lacy, partner and head of independent and international film at ICM Partners, leads the department in structuring and arranging financing, packaging and securing distribution for independent films. She has brokered distribution deals on dozens of films at Sundance, Cannes, Toronto, and SXSW.
Recent notable sales include Richard Press’s Farnsworth House starring Ralph Fiennes and Elizabeth Debicki to Sony Pictures Classics, Jim Jarmusch’s 2019 Cannes festival opening night selection The Dead Don’t Die with Bill Murray, Adam Driver and Tilda Swinton to Focus Features, and Sally Potter’s upcoming drama and recent Berlinale selection The Roads Not Taken starring Javier Bardem and Elle Fanning to Bleecker Street.
2020 festival highlights so far include Sundance documentary Disclosure starring executive producer Laverne Cox, and Michael Keaton drama Worth, as well as SXSW grand jury prize-winner Shithouse.
Lacy takes pride in supporting female filmmakers and structuring financing and distribution for their films, in addition to attaching strong female actors to lead roles. She has assembled and sold films for more than 20 female directors in the last year including Eleanor Coppola, Jennifer Fox, Karyn Kusama, Sally Potter, Katie Holmes, Clea Duvall, and Miranda Bailey, among others.
She works with a team of 10 who are all based in Los Angeles.
Is it business as usual for you and your team as you all work remotely home?
I don’t think it will ever be business as usual when you’re trying to sell movies in your PJs while trying to keep your kids entertained and your sanity intact.
How are you maintaining an office routine?
We are in constant communication over Microsoft Teams and we have our usual weekly department meetings via video conference.
Which systems are you using to talk to one another and clients?
Mostly Microsoft Teams for colleagues and Zoom for video meetings with clients and the good old-fashioned phone.
How are you and your team keeping up morale?
We talk and text regularly to see what shows people are watching and what drinks they are drinking while watching those shows. Definitely drinking more…
Which elements of your business are you actively able to move forward on right now?
Because we represent so many finished films, we are focused on which ones we can move forward during this time without a festival launch – we recently closed a deal for the documentary Disclosure directed by Sam Feder which Laverne Cox executive produced and we are honing in on a deal for the SXSW winner Shithouse directed by newcomer Cooper Raiff.
We are also trying to package films for a possible virtual Cannes market and taking advantage of the fact that the whole industry is at home with more time to read – in theory.
What advice would you give to people in the business who are worried about the future?
There are always ups and downs and while no one could have predicted how badly this pandemic would affect the entertainment industry we will get through this with a lot of great packages to put into production. We have to keep our heads up and keep hope alive.
What contingency plans are you making for Cannes?
We are working on a virtual plan with a number of other companies – essentially scheduling video pitch meetings and presentations. It’s not the same as attending the festival but we’ll certainly save on travel expenses.
If you have children, how are you managing keeping them entertained/educated while you work?
My husband is here to keep them busy while I work. In between work calls and emails I get to help them with their homework, set up Zoom play dates and try to ensure that they don’t drive my husband to drink more. We try to go for a bike ride or walk when we can and I absolutely love and am cherishing being home with them all day!
What advice do you have for home working?
I’ll let you know when I think of some!
For example, do you recommend dressing as if for the office? How do you manage the space with others in your home who are also working remotely?
My work uniform consists mostly of yoga pants and sweatshirts and my office space is mostly my bed since the dining table has become HQ for the kids’ schoolwork. And I certainly picked a bad time to change my hair platinum blonde – my roots are crazy!
What are you watching and reading and listening to in order to get you through this time?
Just finished The Tiger King – wow! Started The Hunters– very good! I wish I had more time to read but between conference calls, Zoom meetings and keeping my children occupied, there just isn’t enough time. Which is crazy ‘cause although I’m home all day, I’m super busy.
What positive change might this bring to the industry?
Well it seems to be helping the environment, so that’s nice. As an industry, we are all having to be more creative and it will be interesting to see if some of these changes continue going forward – studios releasing films on demand, virtual markets, Zoom cocktail hours – who knows!