A mere two months after winning our first ever Launch Pad Competition, Kate Trefry has found herself with hot-on-the-rise manager Lee Stobby (Caliber Media Co.), taking meetings around town, and being coined the next Diablo Cody. We had a chance to sit down with Kate and Lee over a few drinks to discuss Kate’s winning script “Pure O,” find out what she’s working on next, and talk about how the contest along with their new writer/manager relationship has changed both of their lives.
AN INTERVIEW WITH KATE TREFY & LEE STOBBY – PART 1
THE TRACKING BOARD (TB): All kinds of fun stuff to talk about, but first lets learn a little bit about you guys. Kate, what can you tell us about you?
KATE: I’m from Alaska.
TB: What? Are people really from there?
KATE: Yea, it’s like three or four of us. Sarah Palin does not count. (Laughs) I grew up there. My mom was born there before it was a state, while it was still a territory, so she can never be president. I lived there until I graduated from high school. Then I went to Colorado College for two years where I developed OCD and freaked out. So I dropped out and reapplied to NYU and graduated from there with an English major. I wanted to double major in Cinema Studies, but I lost a billion credits in the transfer. I was like, ‘Hey parents, maybe I can just stay…?’ And they were like, ‘That’s 40 grand, do you have that?’ I was like, ‘No, never mind, I’ll just graduate with this…’ (Sighs) So I graduated from NYU in 2009, and then moved out here.
TB: What made you leave New York and move to L.A.?
KATE: Ever since I was a kid I’ve wanted to write fiction, but I never seriously considered screenwriting as an option. Then I got to NYU, and the dramatic writing program is so huge, I really started getting into film and screenwriting. I actually wrote half of a really bad script at NYU. It’s the worst. No one will ever know what it was called, ever…
KATE: Ok fine, it was called “The Protester.” It was a half-baked garbage dump about the Writers Strike, because that seemed really meta and topical at the time.
KATE: Yeah. So then I moved out here to L.A., and started working gigs and writing as much as I could and realized I really love working in the industry. I love being on set. I love watching sh*t get made. I love being on that side of it. I think it’s where I was always meant to be.
TB: That’s a great feeling to have.
KATE: It’s a cool thing, but it’s hard because I feel like New York is the city I want to live in, but the film industry is where I want to work.
TB: You didn’t think about staying in New York?
KATE: No. No matter what everyone says, New York really doesn’t do movies like LA does. New York does theater — LA does film. Everybody just needs to accept it and move on, because that’s the way it is. Maybe one day I’ll reconcile it.
TB: And leave us all behind?
KATE: Breaking hearts dog, that’s how I do. (Laughs)
TB: Okay, so now that we know Kate is an Alaskan turned Angeleno, by way of New York, Lee how about you? Where are you from?
LEE: My bio? Let’s see, I’ve been out here for about five years but I’ve lived with movies my entire life. I went to the University of Michigan, and three days after graduating I got in my Ford Focus and got right the f*ck out of Michigan, and headed to L.A.
TB: That’s a good start.
LEE: It was. But, then I realized I didn’t know one single person when I got here. I mean, like zero people. I stayed in the hostel the first few weeks and didn’t know where anything was, but I made it work.
TB: Damn! So, how did you go from hostel living to one of the hottest up-and-coming managers in only a few years?
LEE: In short — I hustled my ass off! I got a couple of internships and then worked for a talent manager. I learned quickly that I didn’t want to work with actors. I wanted to work with writers. That’s always what I wanted to do. So, I came over to Caliber as an assistant and started signing clients after six months. Now, I had a solid group of writers I am working with, and I also produced my first movie.
TB: We’re friends with a lot of the guys over at Caliber, and they all have nothing but the best to say about you. But how long have you been at Caliber?
LEE: It’s been a year since I’ve been a full-blown manager. And literally every day I’ve just been out there trying to find the best and most amazing people. Every single person that I’ve ever gone after or signed to my roster, are making awesome stuff.
TB: Is it hard finding new talent at that level?
LEE: Well it’s all about the long term. I’m not going anywhere. I’m here for the long haul. I’m planning to be in Hollywood for seventy years, so I’m interested in finding people now. But, people that grow with me.
TB: Does that work? Patience isn’t a virtue often associated with the film industry.
LEE: It works. For example one of my manager friends represents this huge A-list actor. She represented that person for almost a decade before he made her a dollar, but she believed in him. She believed in him that much. And sure it wasn’t the make believe, overnight sensation everyone fights to put in the news, but it was all about that mutual respect and loyalty you build with your clients. I’d do whatever it takes to get my clients the work they deserve. They should believe in you as their rep, and you should believe in them as amazingly talented writers.
TB: And you believe in Kate that much?
LEE: Absolutely! That’s how I look at all my clients. If you’re writing good stuff, I’m going to hitch my wagon to you. If I believe in you I’m going to ride the train and I am going to figure out how to attack from as many angles as possible. I’m going to keep sending out your stuff and having conversations and someone else will eventually realize what I already have. If it takes them ten years to realize it, that’s their problem, not ours.
TB: So you’re not interested in the one-and-done, but more of the long-term growth potential.
LEE: Think of it as Power Ball vs. scratch offs, and I want to play the Power Ball. A lot of people in this town play scratch offs. They play scratch offs because they’re just trying to grab as many clients and projects as they can, so they can just toss everything against a wall and know something will sell. For an agent or manager, it’s security. But, for a writer, it’s terrible if you’re one of the many that don’t sell in that scenario. You poured your heart and soul into something, and just like that, it’s over. That mentality is just not interesting to me. I want to build careers with my clients long term, not profit off them short term.
TB: And do you think you hit the power ball with Kate?
LEE: It’s still early, but I have a feeling she has a few lucky numbers in her.
STAY TUNED FOR PART 2 OF THIS 5-PART INTERVIEW WITH KATE & LEE, AS NEXT WE TACKLE:
TRIPLE MOVIE MARATHONS
WINNING OVER DEVELOPMENT EXECS