Thursday, Apr. 30, 2009

Tessa Ross

When you're making a film, when you're right in the thick of it, when there's no time, light, money or goodwill left and everyone wants to go home regardless of whether the film is actually finished, sometimes, just sometimes, rather than shout at tired crew members, you wonder, What do executive producers do? There are always lots of them; the bigger the movie, the more there are, yet the more a film's budget is cut, the more "executive producers" appear. Rarely seen, they're often credited in packs. Woody Allen said they gave him complete control over whatever necktie he chose to wear while rewriting for them.

Tessa Ross, 47, has a full-time day job running the film and drama department of Channel 4 television in the U.K. She's also one of the executive producers of Slumdog Millionaire. And In Bruges and Happy-Go-Lucky — all were award-strewn successes this past year and all originated from this most gentle and modest of alchemists.

Combining books and adapters, producers and directors, finance and the fanciful, she conjures this originality with flair and graciousness. Instinctively she challenges cookie-cutter convention and boundary setters alike but is ready to party too — this is the entertainment business, after all. Most of the time, you'll not be aware of her, and she'd prefer it that way. Meanwhile, she's keeping U.K. film culture more surprising, more pleasurable, for everyone.

Boyle is the director of Slumdog Millionaire

Fast Fact: Twelve of Ross's films were nominated for Academy Awards this year.