Female Blockbuster Writers Team to Help Hollywood's "Development Ills" (Exclusive)

Lindsey Beer ('Chaos Walking'), Geneva Robertson-Dworet ('Captain Marvel') and Nicole Perlman ('Guardians of the Galaxy') have established a production company called Known Universe to "open doors to genre work."
Adam Amengual/Courtesy of WME
From left: Known Universe co-founders Nicole Perlman, Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Lindsey Beer.

A few years ago, Lindsey Beer and Geneva Robertson-Dworet were up for the same studio writing job. "We found out it was down to the two of us, so we said, 'Why don't we just write it together?'" says Robertson-Dworet. The studio went for it. She adds, “People may think that we have a standing competition with each other but the reality is that, no, we have always been very collaborative.”

It’s with this spirit of female-led collaboration that Beer, Robertson-Dworet and fellow writer Nicole Perlman have established their new production company, Known Universe.

As three of only a handful female genre writers consistently working in the industry, the trio has been thrown into every features writers room in town, tasked with group-thinking the tentpole movies that keep Hollywood in the black. Their combined credits span studios, streamers and cinematic universes, and include titles like Guardians of the Galaxy, Tomb Raider, Captain Marvel and Chaos Walking. It was during this time that they noticed a lack of writer-producers (a la Simon Kinberg) that were women. “We thought it is crazy that there are no genre-specific production companies led entirely by women,” explains Perlman.

Their shingle will focus on genre features — sci-fi, superhero, etc. — told from a female perspective. And while the trio says they will write Known Universe's first few projects, they will be developing features from other writers in the hopes of "expanding the idea of who a genre writer is," says Beer.

"Beyond the female empowerment aspect, we are hoping that our model is going to help what we see as huge development ills in Hollywood,” adds Beer. The three writers would often discuss the disheartening experience of being hired to rewrite a long-gestating, prospective tentpole. As producers, they'll have the power to circumvent the "clusterfuck" process, as Robertson-Dworet puts it, of too many cooks in the tentpole kitchen: "The more names on the front of the script, the worse the script is," she says.

Knowing this, the trio has not yet brought in outside execs to help run their new shingle. And while Known Universe has taken meetings with the majors and smaller outfits like Margot Robbie’s LuckyChap Entertainment, they are not yet signing an exclusive first-look deal. “We are trying to stay lean and mean and not gather a ton of overhead,” notes Perlman.

“When I was first starting out, people thought it was really odd that a woman was writing science-themed stories for Hollywood," adds Perlman. "If we can continue to open doors to genre work, that’s one of the best things that can come about as a result of this company.”

Beer is repped by WME and Gang Tyre; Perlman is repped by CAA, Madhouse and Frankfurt Kurnit; Roberston-Dworet is repped by WME, Management 360 and Hansen Jacobson.

A version of this story also appears in the 2018 Women in Entertainment Power 100 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.