New York-based producer Lemore Syvan is gearing up for The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee, the next feature from director Rebecca Miller, which starts shooting in Connecticut in April.
The movie, which stars Robin Wright Penn, Julianne Moore and Winona Ryder, marks Syvan's fourth collaboration with Miller, following the director's critically acclaimed debut Angela (1995), Personal Velocity (2002) and The Ballad Of Jack And Rose (2005).
Based on Miller's own novel, the film takes an adventurous trip through the past and present of Pippa Lee, a woman who explores her buried sensuality when she discovers her husband had an affair. "A lot of women will identify with her," says Syvan.
She cultivates close relationships with the directors, crews and financial partners with whom she works. "As a producer, I have to carry the film up the mountains into the desert. So for me it's important to work with people I really want to work with," she explains. "It's a people's business. And I'm here today because of everyone I work with."
Elevation Filmworks, the company Syvan founded in 2003 and named after the U2 song, counts among its recent credits Laurie Collyer's SherryBaby and Davis Guggenheim's Gracie.
Before launching her career as a producer on Angela, Syvan spent several years learning the ropes of the film business as a line producer. "I realised you really have to know what you're doing. And I wanted to learn to make a movie from the inside out," she says. "So I decided to first stick to being a line producer and know the belly of the beast."
Her experience on the ground meant "film-makers knew I was on their side. It also made me realise I didn't want to do scripts I didn't like."
She adds: "Some directors are more difficult than others. But a lot of the job is emotional. And it's your job to bridge that all for the sake of the story."
Today, Syvan says she thrives when she is "able to make films that are bigger but that are still true to storytelling". The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee, on which Elevation teamed with Plan B Entertainment and London-based Lumina Films (which is handling international rights), is an example.
"On this film, Rebecca and I thought there had to be growth," Syvan explains. "We thought this time we can't do it alone. We needed a Hollywood presence, and to work on the budget and the cast."
Elevation is also lining up a biopic about the Italian photographer and silent film actress Tina Modotti, as well as a film to be directed by cinematographer Gabriel Beristain (The Night Watchman) that Syvan is producing with 2929 Entertainment.