As founder of Everest Entertainment, Lisa Maria Falcone heads one of the most promising indie production companies around. Though the company has, thus far, only released three features, they’ve all been winners—from Rodrigo Garcia’s searing drama Mother and Child to Danny Boyle’s Oscar-nominated 127 Hours to, most recently, Tom McCarthy’s emotional comedy-drama, Win Win.

Win Win stars Paul Giamatti as a high school wrestling coach who forms a bond with a troubled player on his team (played by newcomer Alex Shaffer, in real life a successful high school wrestler). Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Jeffrey Tambor and Burt Young co-star in this funny, touching film. Win Win opened on March 18 to strong reviews, and can still be seen across the country in select theaters.

MM recently caught up with Falcone to discuss Everest Entertainment, as well as what interested her in taking on Win Win.

Kyle Rupprecht (MM): Why did you decide to found Everest Entertainment? How does it differ from other indie production companies?

Lisa Maria Falcone (LF): When I was growing up in Harlem, I loved watching movies. They expanded my imagination and helped transport me to different places. As an adult, that love of films has grown. My husband Philip has always said I have a good eye for films. The combination of that and my overall love of the arts led me to launch Everest Entertainment. As far as how we differ from other indie companies, we also invest a significant portion of our profits in social programs and nonprofit organizations dealing with issues that are reflected in our films. So in this sense, our commitment to a certain issue lives on long after a film has left the theater.

MM: You’ve produced two incredibly well-received indies with 127 Hours and Win Win. What’s the secret to choosing interesting indie material that also has mainstream appeal?

LF: To me, it’s about great filmmakers and great scripts. It starts with the script. Rich characters and stories are what I notice most. And then being able to discuss the script with a director, hearing his or her vision for the film. I gravitate toward really creative filmmakers. For example, with our film Mother and Child, it was the director Rodrigo Garcia who sold me on this project. He was so passionate about the story and the characters. I felt we had to be a part of this movie.

MM: What was it about Win Win that appealed to you?

LF: I’m a fan of Tom McCarthy’s work. I loved The Station Agent and The Visitor. So just as Rodrigo attracted us to Mother and Child, Tom drew us into Win Win. As far as the script goes, I was so taken with the fact that the story was about real-life family struggles and how good people sometimes do bad things. Tom was already in talks with Paul Giamatti to play the lead character and I knew he would do an amazing job with it.

MM: In general, how do you choose material? Do you have a personal litmus test that tells you if this is a project you want to get behind?

LF: I go back to our respect for great filmmakers, their vision for a project and a solid script. We also have a really solid team at Everest. Our executives—Tom Heller and Gareth Smith—know what we are looking for and meet with writers, directors, their agents, etc. We find really great, really interesting scripts. We read the scripts, exchange notes and discuss them and then make a selection. But most importantly, I follow my heart. That love of films I first experienced as a child carries me through today.

MM: What advice would you give to screenwriters who are looking to make their material more sellable?

LF: Start with the story. The same things that attract me as a producer will attract others. And on a personal level, make sure you check yourself every now and then. Don’t lose your passion and originality because of the business.

MM: Where do you see Everest Entertainment headed in the future? What are your hopes for the company?

LF: Whether you’re talking about Mount Everest or Everest Entertainment, to me, it’s not all about the summit. Everything goes up and down. In the future I see Everest as a company that will produce multiple projects at one time, while maintaining the integrity and realism of the films. We want to keep our track record intact and growing. This means we’ll have to continue picking great material, and working with talented, trustworthy, fun directors and actors. When people see the Everest Entertainment logo, we want them to feel confident that it will be a great movie. And we want those same people to know that the issues examined in our films continue to be addressed long after the film is over by way of our partnerships with nonprofit organizations.

For more information on Everest Entertainment, visit