Born: April 14, 1972 (26)
Vice President, Production
New Line Cinema
Where does an unmotivated student at Yale who rarely went to class and spent much of his time watching movies on cable wind up after graduation? Hollywood, of course, and with a screenplay in tow.
"I don't think graduating from Yale gives you a choice of any job," said Richard Brener in recalling his foray into show business (he admits the screenplay was terrible), "but it gives you a choice of any lousy job."
In Brener's case, it got him a temp spot at New Line Cinema; three-and-a-half years later, he has been promoted four times a striking track record even by Hollywood standards.
Today, the 26-year-old production executive is in charge of such upcoming films as Adam Sandler's "Little Nicky;" "Marching to Valhalla," director Oliver Stone's revisionist look at General George Armstrong Custer; and "Boiler Room," a drama starring Ben Affleck that's now shooting in New York.
"He has two things that have made him a success," said Tom Strickler, an agent at Endeavor, "good instincts and the ability to get things done."
Brener is the liaison between New Line executives and the principals shooting the movie. In that role, he supervises day-to-day production and keeps studio executives informed about the activities and/or demands of the director, producer and actors. In addition, Brener develops movie projects that are pitched to him, and shepherds those already in the pipeline.
Brener said that during his years at Yale, where he wrote for the school's humor magazine and majored in history, "I didn't know there were movie jobs out there like mine. I thought it was just actors, writers and directors. I didn't realize there was a studio side."
He briefly considered a career in law after being accepted to Georgetown Law School, but "I heard from so many people, especially my brother, that they hated being lawyers. I didn't want to find out the hard way," he said.
That brought him to California, and the youth-oriented New Line, where he worked on films like Adam Sandler's hit, "The Wedding Singer," a $22 million comedy that has earned $120 million worldwide.
He has also benefited from applying a lesson he learned while studying history: "If you don't learn from the mistakes of the past, you are doomed to repeat them." So he studies box-office failures and the mistakes that others have made.
Brener also learns from Hollywood successes.
"We always look for a marketable hook that we can use in a TV spot or trailer," he said. "We like to do movies that other people are afraid of doing like 'Boogie Nights' and 'Wag the Dog.' On the surface, they look risky, but they have very commercial ideas hidden under edgier material."
How does being a twentysomething help him? "When youthful writers see me," he said, "they see someone like themselves. I'm not a suit."
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