A Prolific Producer & Mentor: Lisa Crnic

As a Hollywood development executive and producer who’s worked on household franchises like Smurfs and Clifford the Big Red Dog, Lisa Crnic has no shortage of experience in storytelling. However, what’s even more impressive than her onscreen work is the journey that continues offscreen. After an interest in filmmaking began in childhood, Lisa studied the business aspect of filmmaking and earned a Bachelor’s in Business Administration in Marketing at Creighton University before moving to Los Angeles. After that, a strong mixture of relationships and connections molded her path.

“Two weeks after graduating, I crashed on an air mattress at my brother’s place in LA,” Lisa said, carrying the humble and relaxed tone that makes her easy for anyone to speak with. “I took an internship for an Events and Digital Experience company, so I went to fashion, music, film and TV events all over LA and wrote witty blog posts to show what’s on the pulse in town. Eventually, I got hired full-time to work for the two CEOs, but that didn’t really feel like my path, so as I approached a year in LA and gave myself those last few months to figure out whether I would break into the film industry or move back to Iowa.”

Unsurprisingly, it took no time at all for Lisa to find her next gig, although it came unconventionally.

“I found an unpaid internship at a production company with a focus in reality TV, and that gave me a crash course on what it takes to be a Hollywood Assistant in the industry. The CEO really believed in me, so when I expressed my desire to work solely on movies, he said that I needed to work at a talent agency.”

Therefore, he connected her to Creative Artists Agency, one of the best-known agencies in Hollywood.

“I interviewed for a position with a prominent agent who represents writers like Stephen King. His primary assistant interviewed me and we connected, especially because her best friend lived near Iowa. That connection helped me land the job.”

Lisa’s positive trajectory continued when that agent transitioned to Paradigm and brought Lisa along so that she could become an Agent Trainee. However, as Lisa negotiated deals for clients, she realized that she wanted to be on the other side of the table.

“One of our clients was Jordan Kerner, who produced a lot of the big 90s movies like Mighty Ducks and George of the Jungle. He needed a new assistant, so I volunteered myself and my boss vouched for me. As Kerner Entertainment started more projects, I eventually got promoted to Head of Development and worked on a number of films and series.”

When 2020 hit, Lisa felt as if she had reached a ceiling and itched to take her talent beyond family films, so she set out on her own as an independent producer. However, she still maintains all of her prior relationships.

“Every one of those relationships matter, and it’s important to invest in them early on. I still keep in touch with the producer from my first internship. This is such a relationship-heavy business, so mentorship has always been such a big part of my career. While I worked for Jordan, I mentored over 90 interns while also mentoring for Women in Film and Junior Hollywood Radio & Television Society.”

This is why The Slate stood out to her as a crucial opportunity. She could give back to a new generation of filmmakers and build something new with them. Lisa now works with the Slate’s artists-in-residence program to build powerful short film projects that have weight and meaning.

“I want to create a program that is unique and gets results. As a mentor, I’m very action-oriented. I help mentees identify their goals and then dig in to help them achieve them. When I worked with Women in Film, I mentored nine women who all achieved their goals by the end of the year. Now, I want to help our artists-in-residence not only achieve their goals with their films but also grow as filmmakers.”

As Lisa sharpens the Slate’s projects, she also still works on her own projects, currently working on a diverse slate of feature films in various stages of development. She continues to see the fruit of her mentorship as an old mentee just hired Lisa to produce her film. Lisa always hones her craft while building new relationships, so the Slate can’t wait to see her next big accomplishment.

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