An interview with Executive Producer Lindsay Goffman.
Lindsay Goffman launched her company, Gratitude Productions in 2019. Currently, Gratitude has projects set up with Apple, FX, FOX, Perfect Storm (Justin Lin), The Roots, Day Zero (Trevor Noah), Get Lifted (John Legend), Jon M. Chu (In the Heights), Laverne Cox, MGM, and Universal Television among others.
Lindsay has been an entertainment professional for more than 18 years. She helped start up and head 3AD, Daniel Dae Kim’s production company. While at 3AD, she sold 8 projects to broadcast networks and premium outlets. One of the projects she found the format for and championed over several years before finally co-executive producing on ABC, is the 2017 hit series, The Good Doctor. The show went on to become ABC’s #1 new series and the pilot of the show was awarded the Humanitas Prize.
How did you get started in the industry?
My first job in the business was working at ICM. I started in the mailroom and was the only woman at the time. I didn’t know anyone in Los Angeles but after gaining some experience, I was promoted to be the assistant for a really talented agent, Greg Cavic, whose clients include Jesse Armstrong, Bo Burnham, and Leslye Headland. His focus was on multi-hyphenates in the comedy department and I learned so much from that experience, as far as how deals are made, shows are developed, and the whole creative process.
How did you make the jump to Gratitude?
Over my career I have helped build a number of successful companies and decided it was time to bet on myself! Even more than that, I see a real need to tell the stories of underrepresented voices. There’s nothing more exciting than finding amazing and moving stories — through IP, life rights and original voices—and getting to then team up with truly inspiring and exciting people to bring them to life. At Gratitude, I’m getting to prioritize the stories I’m passionate about. I’ve actually only pitched shows during the pandemic: I sold a half-hour (with Day Zero) and a one- hour to FX, as well as two other hour-long formats to Fox and Apple. What’s been really fun is getting to work with people whom I’ve known since starting in the mailroom! For example, Boon Saleem at Trevor Noah’s company Day Zero and I started on the same day at ICM, so life really comes full circle. I’m also really enjoying the process of finding new IP. For example, there’s a Korean book I had the rights to that wasn’t even translated into English when I first saw it (I only read a brief summary) that I sold to a major network. I think Korean books could be the next big source of IP!
Tell us about what your documentary Dumbstruck.
The project was inspired by my mom, who is a ventriloquist, so it was a very personal story for me to tell. My husband and I were also looking for a project in which we could collaborate, he directed and I produced. We had both been working in the studio system for several years so we thought it would be fun to create something independently, with a unique tone in the burgeoning documentary space—we had both been really inspired by the recent releases of Spellbound and King of Kong, which Seth Gordan directed, who later went on to direct the pilot of The Good Doctor. Once we decided we were going to make a documentary, we raised a small amount from friends and family and took a skeleton crew of recent USC grads to the annual ventriloquist convention in Kentucky. We then interviewed dozens of potential subjects and shot a lot of footage to create a sizzle reel. From there, we shared the reel with everyone we could think of—and started getting financing from more additional angels and investors. In the middle of production we had a documentary financier lined up, who unfortunately went bankrupt and we weren’t sure how we would get the rest of our finishing funds. But we knew we had something really special with our subjects, and Terry Fator had just gone from mowing lawns and painting houses in Corsicana, Texas to getting his $100,000,000 deal to headline the Las Vegas Mirage! Separately we had become friendly with Elon Musk, and he saw our passion for the project and has such a great sense of humor—he came on as an executive producer and helped us finish the film. It went on to win the audience award at its first festival in Palm Springs and sold to Magnolia Pictures for a theatrical release.
It definitely wasn’t easy getting a movie about ventriloquists financed. We heard a lot of “nos,” but we were so grateful to our eventual investors for believing in the project.
Tell us about the Roadmap Writers program.
Roadmap Writers is a wonderful program where they put newer writers without existing connections in contact with top execs in the business to network and receive notes on their scripts. I think it’s great that they are finding non-traditional pipelines for new voices to break into Hollywood!
Who are your favorite creators right now?
Taika Waititi and Armando Iannucci are my two picks. I think they’re so brilliant and have awesome sensibilities. Death of Stalin is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen, and I love how he approached the topic in such a subversive, humorous way that I wasn’t expecting. And Taika brought such a kinetic energy and inspired take to Thor, and of course JoJo Rabbit!