Pam Abdy is a Ringmaster of Films

Pam Abdy 2.jpgBy Melissa Unger — 03/06/10
Pam Abdy knows how to run a circus. It is not one with lions, tigers and bears, but one with directors, writers and actors. The production executive says “being a ringmaster isn’t easy.” She says if you want to produce films you have to have a thick skin and not take no for an answer.
Abdy got her big break with the film “Garden State.” She recalls the struggles in making the movie. She was working for Jersey films when she read the script from then-actor and first time director Zack Braff. She says she could not put it down and read it twice that night. Abdy could relate to the characters and the unique love story, but no one in Hollywood thought that Braff could direct. She shopped the script around to different studios, but no one except one guy would help finance the film. However he only offered her half of the budget she thought she needed. So she went back to the drawing board and scaled down production to half of her estimated costs and a few weeks later she was making “Garden State.”
After production wrapped but before the film was edited, Abdy found herself out of work since Jersey Films had gone bankrupt. Fearing the worst, she began hunting for work and that is how she found her job at Paramount Pictures as a studio executive.
Abdy recalls spending her days in the board rooms at Paramount and spending her nights helping to edit “Garden State.” Then the little independent film was accepted into the Sundance Film Festival, showing Abdy’s ability to nurture Braff’s directing talents and legitimatizing her as a producer. While at Sundance the film was picked up by a major distributor of film and opened in mainstream release. Abdy laughed at the thought that when she was making the film she questioned if anyone would ever see it, let a lone that the her little independent film would go on to be a success.
After “Garden State,” Abdy remained at Paramount overseeing films like “Shutter Island” and “Babel.” Eventually she decided to leave her job as a studio executive at Paramount to work at Universal. She is currently working on developing a film with Keanu Reeves.