Academy Award-winning producer Cathy Schulman became President of Mandalay Pictures in January 2007, at which time she also established Mandalay Independent Pictures alongside Peter Guber. Her experience as both an executive and producer dates back to 1987.
As President of Mandalay Independent, Schulman is part of an elite group of women who head self-financed production companies. She started Mandalay Independent in order to produce self-distinguished projects with a social conscience and youth awareness, in the hopes of illuminating stories of consequence not commonly exposed in film.
Schulman served as a producer on the documentary “Darfur Now,” alongside Don Cheadle and Mark Jonathan Harris. “Darfur Now,” while still in its early development, was brought to her attention after she won her Oscar for producing “Crash” in 2006, and Schulman immediately knew how to best utilize the prestige she earned from the award-winning picture – she would focus on a film that could give a worldwide voice to those who aren’t being heard. The documentary, which made its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, details the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Sudan’s western region of Darfur as seen through the eyes of activists working to end this crisis. Schulman and director Ted Braun were granted unprecedented access to the internally displaced people of Darfur, international aid workers, the government and the rebels. “Darfur Now” made its theatrical release through Warner Independent Pictures.
At Mandalay, Schulman is developing projects with an array of studios. Additionally, under its first look deal with Universal Pictures, Mandalay has a number of films in various stages of development at the studio, including a remake of Hitchcock’s “The Birds” and an adaption of Daniel Mason’s best-seller “The Piano Tuner,” directed by Werner Herzog for Universal's specialty division Focus Features. Mandalay Independent had success with its first feature, “Never Back Down,” an action drama centered on a transplanted Iowa teen who ends up in an underground fighting league, which was released in March 2008 by Summit Entertainment.
Previous to Mandalay, Schulman produced “Crash,” directed by Paul Haggis and starring Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon and Terrence Howard. Released in May 2005 by Lionsgate Films, the film premiered to critical acclaim at the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival. “Crash” collected numerous awards and nominations, including the Grand Prize at the 2005 Deauville International Film Festival, Best Feature Film at the 2005 Black Movie Awards, Best Ensemble at the 2006 Screen Actors Guild Awards, Best Feature Film at the NAACP Image Awards and Best Screenplay at the 2006 WGA Awards. In addition to the Best Picture Oscar, “Crash” received 2006 Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best Editing.
In 2002, Schulman and Tom Nunan formed Bull’s Eye Entertainment to produce independent film and television content. Through this venture, Schulman produced “The Illusionist,” written and directed by Neil Burger and starring Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti and Jessica Biel. The film, which was released in the fall of 2006 and made its world premiere at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, garnered critical acclaim achieving the Critics Choice Award for Best Composer at the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards, an Oscar nomination for Best Achievement in Cinematography, and a nomination from the American Society of Cinematographers for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases.
“Thumbsucker,” another Bull’s Eye Entertainment production which Schulman executive produced, premiered to mass appeal at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. The film, released by Sony Classics that year, starred Lou Pucci, Tilda Swinton, Vincent D’Onofrio, Keanu Reeves, Kelli Garner, Benjamin Bratt and Vince Vaughn, and garnered Best Actor Awards at Sundance and Berlin for Pucci. Additionally, director and world-famous graphic designer Mike Mills won the Guardian Award (Best Director) at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.
Schulman has served as producer on numerous projects throughout her vast career, including “Godsend,” starring Robert De Niro and Edward Burns' “Sidewalks of New York” as well as associate producing “Tears of the Sun” starring Bruce Willis and “Isn’t She Great?” starring Bette Midler. She was an executive producer on Lifetime’s drama series “Angela’s Eyes,” and executive producer of “Crash,” the television series, for Starz/Encore.
From 1998 to 2000, Schulman served as President of Michael Ovitz’s Artists Production Group, where she supervised over 50 projects, including developing and securing financing for Martin Scorsese’s epic drama “Gangs of New York.” She also served as head of production for a joint venture formed between APG and media giant Studio Canal.
Other positions Schulman has held throughout her career include Production and Acquisitions Executive at Sovereign Pictures, where she served as an executive on a slate of films that included “My Left Foot” and “Reversal of Fortune”; Vice President of Production and Acquisitions at the Samuel Goldwyn Company, where she was the executive on films such as “Much Ado About Nothing” and “The Madness of King George”; Senior Vice President of Production at Savoy Pictures; and as President of Lobell-Bergman Productions at Universal Pictures.
Schulman programmed the Sundance Film Festival for three years during the festival’s formative period in the late ’80s and early ’90s, also playing a major role in designing the annual producer’s conference and the Sundance Film Festival in Tokyo.
Active in the industry, Schulman is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Producers Guild of America, AFI, IFP and FIND. She also serves on the Board of Trustees for Women in Film, teaches graduate-level film producing at UCLA, serves as a USC Stark Program producer’s mentor and is a graduate of Yale University. She also served as a judge for the prestigious Samuel Goldwyn Writing Awards. She resides in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.
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