THR's Women in Entertainment 2011: Power 100
Cutting deals for directors as dissimilar as James Cameron (Avatar) and Steve McQueen (Shame) "is not as different as you'd think," says Swofford. "People want to make films. They want to reach audiences. They are singular people with something to say. It just has to do with how expensive the tools they need are."
Swofford, a serious art collector who graduated from USC Film School, specializes in developing careers for filmmakers that steer from the giant studio franchise to the more intimately scaled drama, such as Sam Mendes taking on James Bond in Skyfall while directing a stage version of Richard III or Richard Linklater jumping from the independent Bernie to a forthcoming remake of The Incredible Mr. Limpet at Warner Bros. Meanwhile, Cameron is moving ahead on two Avatar sequels while McQueen's intense new work heads into awards season. And Harry Potter director David Yates closes out a four-movie streak with the $1.33 billion of Deathly Hallows Part 2 before starting on a feature version of Doctor Who.
The bottom line for every client, says Swofford, is an acknowledgement that budgets, fees and expectations are not what they once were, and flexibility is the key. "You have to be much more clever about the way you put together films," says the North Carolina native, who splits her time between New York's SoHo neighborhood and the Hollywood Hills. "Smart filmmakers and artists are keenly aware that they have to adapt or they won't be able to make the films that they want to make or tell certain kinds of stories."
Swofford, who describes herself as "a big history buff," made two trips to Russia this year, including a jaunt to St. Petersburg, where she attended a celebration at the Mariinsky Theatre and wandered through Catherine the Great's Summer Palace during the White Nights, when perpetual sunlight bathes the city. "Anytime I get to feel like I'm walking back in time into something that I've been reading about all my life that's hundreds of years old, there's something really magical about it," she says.
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