Arts & Entertainment

“Aim for excellence”: Producer Allyn Stewart on the business of making a blockbuster movie

November 10, 2021

“Aim for excellence”: Producer Allyn Stewart on the business of making a blockbuster movie

Allyn Stewart

Movie Producer and President of Flashlight Films

Producer and president of Flashlight Films Allyn Stewart has developed some of the most iconic movies in Hollywood.

Producer and president of Flashlight Films Allyn Stewart has worked with the stars and developed some of the most iconic movies in Hollywood. On the latest Walker Webcast, Allyn discussed the alliance between business and creativity and the future of the movie industry. She also shared some incredible behind-the-scenes anecdotes about working with the likes of Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks, Laura Dern, Morgan Freeman, and more.

On the latest Walker Webcast, Willy offers a market update on the recent low rates in commercial real estate before turning to his guest for the episode - Allyn Stewart.  Allyn is a movie production executive whose career has spanned seasons at 20th Century Fox as well as Warner Brothers.  For the past several years, Allyn has been spearheading her own company, Flashlight Films, which has produced such noteworthy films as SULLY, Trial by Fire, and LAND.  

Backing up to the early days of her career, Allyn shares about how she got into the film industry, worked on projects like her first movie (Chariots of Fire), and developed her love for filmmaking.  Allyn completed a degree in international economics with a dream of relocating to Europe.  However, she was profoundly struck by a visit to the 20th Century Fox lot and instead spent six months working on getting into the film industry in Europe.  She cut her teeth at a small office in London that afforded her a lot of experience. As she learned about the industry, she developed her passion for storytelling and crafting compelling screenplays for the big screen.   

Of course, Allyn’s career hasn’t followed a straight line.  She rose through organizational ranks to become a production executive at Warner Brothers but made a decision to transition into a purely entrepreneurial space. She established Flashlight Films, and then her industry climb had to - in many ways - begin again.  As things stand now, Allyn loves her job and enjoys it even more than she enjoyed her former executive roles. 

Turning to some of the specific work Allyn has been involved with throughout her career, Willy first asks about Driving Miss Daisy.  Allyn had to push through opposition to see the film made, and with the benefit of skilled actors Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman on board with the project before becoming big Hollywood names, the movie struck a poignant chord with audiences.  Other film concepts, though, haven’t struck Allyn as worth fighting to see completed.  One thing she is particularly drawn toward in a script is effective hero mythology and the crafting of archetypal characters that create a relatable “everyman” baseline.

As she has moved deeper into the epicenter of Hollywood glitz and glamor, Allyn has learned not to be seduced by surface energy but to really listen to what the talent (especially the director) says and look for a vision that jives with its script.  With the benefit of mentorship and experience, Allyn has developed strong instincts and practices in choosing talent, managing business concerns, and striking a balance between vying needs on film projects.  She prioritizes working with people of integrity and is careful in determining what projects to take on and how to structure her film budgets.  Given the fact that a movie release is basically a new product launch without opportunity for pre-testing, there are a lot of stakes to consider before production and release.  

Moving forward, Allyn and Willy discuss the value of realistic movie settings, the extent to which editing can fix a film, and the importance of safety on a movie set.  As the recent Rust set accident demonstrates, there are protocols in place that need to be carefully followed, even if a film hires crew members who aren’t unionized. Allyn explains what drew her to the stories for SULLY and Trial by Fire, offers thoughts on the future of Hollywood in light of its current climate, and finally talks about the importance of screen size and what she’s working on now!    

Links: 

Learn more about Allyn Stewart and the works of Flashlight Films.
Check out Walter & Dunlop’s website
 

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