Blye Faust; Producer of Oscar Award Winning Film “Spotlight” and owner of byblye Interiors

UPDATE:  On February 28, 2016, Spotlight took home the coveted award of "Best Picture" at the 2016 Oscars.  Congratulations Blye and the entire Spotlight Team!

Editor’s Note:  Blye Faust is having a hell of a year.  From the moment I began writing this profile to today, I've had to make revisions about ten different times to keep up with the awards and accolades that have come streaming in for her film, design business, and personal life.  To be honest, I've probably even missed a few.  If there was ever a question of whether a woman could ‘have it all’, Blye would be able to answer ‘yes, there is.’ Although she would never actually say that, she is far too humble and kind.  But to put things into perspective, over the past few years Blye has produced the SAG award winning and Oscar Nominated Film, 'Spotlight', launched her own interior design business that was recently named as one of the 'best interiors of 2016' by Houzz, and started a beautiful family.  Congratulations, Blye.  As we see you walking the red carpet at the Oscars in a few weeks, I’ll remind myself that your investment into your career, your passions, your family and your friends has come from a place of pure love and dedication, and for that you’re an inspiration to women everywhere.

Blye Faust / Photo Courtesy David Duncan Livingston

Blye Faust / Photo Courtesy David Duncan Livingston

Have you ever heard the story about the actress turned lawyer turned interior decorator turned multi-award winning film producer?

Right, neither had I.

Meet Blye.  Without fail, she’s one of the most multi-faceted, multi-talented, intensely curious, and all-around incredible people I’ve ever met.  Her accomplishments are vast, to the point where I could write four different profiles about her four different careers, but for today’s profile I’d love to highlight her insane, incredible path to becoming the SAG award winning and Oscar Award nominated movie producer for the film Spotlight.

THE SPOTLIGHT TEAM ACCEPTING THEIR BEST FILM AWARD AT THE CRITICS CHOICE AWARDS / Photo COURTESY KEVIN WINTER/GETTY IMAGES

THE SPOTLIGHT TEAM ACCEPTING THEIR BEST FILM AWARD AT THE CRITICS CHOICE AWARDS / Photo COURTESY KEVIN WINTER/GETTY IMAGES

Blye’s entry into Hollywood began as many do, through acting.

“I was always interested in film and acting, and actually went to LA for a year in between undergrad and law school to act. I did some independent films and commercials, and graduate student films for the Peter Stark Producing program at USC.”

She immersed herself into everything LA had to offer, acting in a few independent films, commercials and graduate-school films tied to the Peter Stark producing program at USC.  Blye made a tight network of friends from the Stark program that would eventually help shape her path to becoming a producer.

THE SPOTLIGHT TEAM AT THEIR TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL PREMIERE / Photo COURTESY OF MARK BLINCH/REUTERS

THE SPOTLIGHT TEAM AT THEIR TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL PREMIERE / Photo COURTESY OF MARK BLINCH/REUTERS

After about a year, Blye knew that acting wasn’t her only passion, and she decided to apply to Pepperdine Law School.  A year after that, she transferred to UCLA to focus on entertainment law.

“While I was in law school I got to see what my friends from Stark were doing, working at agencies…becoming directors and writers….and I thought to myself ‘oh my gosh…that looks like so much more fun than what I’m doing!’”

She graduated and decided to give practicing law a go, working for a few years as a litigator focusing largely on entertainment cases before partnering with a friend who was working as an actor and producer in the industry.  Blye had this unique opportunity to help navigate her friend’s legal questions while also getting a firsthand look into what a full-time career in the entertainment industry had to offer.

Within a few months, she had pulled herself out of the legal world of entertainment, and into the entertainment industry itself.

BLYE AND HER PARTNER NICOLE ROCKLIN AT THE TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL PREMIERE / PHOTO COURTESY OF OPEN ROAD FILMS

BLYE AND HER PARTNER NICOLE ROCKLIN AT THE TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL PREMIERE / PHOTO COURTESY OF OPEN ROAD FILMS

Blye started working closely with her now-partner Nicole Rocklin, taking on producing roles in film and TV on a project-by-project basis. It was during this time that the duo received a lead—there was an incredible story about the Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team (the Globe’s longstanding investigative unit), and their role in uncovering the pedophilia scandals that rocked the Catholic church in 2002.

“When we first heard this story, we were floored and immediately wanted to meet the Globe reporters involved.  When we told them we wanted to make a movie about their story they were completely shocked.  They were saying ‘what? You want to make a movie about us? Knock yourself out! {laughs}”

Blye and Nicole went to work—they obtained the rights to the story fairly quickly and painlessly, sharing the story with Tom McCarthy, who signed on first and ended up directing and co-writing the film, and then Josh Singer, who co-wrote the screenplay.

This was, to be fair, over the course of several years.  As Blye frequently reminds, these things don’t just happen overnight.

THE SPOTLIGHT TEAM WITH THEIR BEST FILM AWARD AT THE GOTHAM AWARDS / pHOTO COURTESY OF NEILSON BARNARD/GETTY IMAGES

THE SPOTLIGHT TEAM WITH THEIR BEST FILM AWARD AT THE GOTHAM AWARDS / pHOTO COURTESY OF NEILSON BARNARD/GETTY IMAGES

As the complex script was slowly pieced together, Blye, Nicole, and their partners Michael Sugar and Steve Golin, were orchestrating from behind the scenes, the “coaches and the CEO’s” overseeing the project in its entirety.

“We had to get the rights, develop the relationships with the reporters, manage the development process, oversee the financing, work together to find the cast, staff the movie…and all of this was before production even started.”

A BYBLYE PROJECT / PHOTO COURTESY DAVID DUNCAN LIVINGSTON

A BYBLYE PROJECT / PHOTO COURTESY DAVID DUNCAN LIVINGSTON

As production for Spotlight got off the ground, Blye, having relocated to the Bay Area to set-up shop at home with her husband and two young sons, decided pursue one of her other passions, interior design.

“People always say to me, design and movies are so different.  And yes they are, but in my opinion there is a major overlap.  In both design and film, you’re telling a story.  The first thing I try to decipher when I meet a client and their family is ‘what’s the story they’re trying to tell about their family,’ and then it’s my job to create that in their home.”

She launched her company byblye in 2014, and currently staffs two designers in her office.  The company gives her flexibility to manage her own hours, pursue one of her greatest passions, and also be at home with her boys, something that producing had up until this point not allowed her to do.

“Maybe it’s Pollyanna’ish of me, but I think I can continue to do both…so we’ll see how it goes {laughs}!”

American Film Institue Luncheon with Nicole Rocklin / PHoto Courtesy Blye Faust

American Film Institue Luncheon with Nicole Rocklin / PHoto Courtesy Blye Faust

This past fall, after seven years of production from start-to-finish, Spotlight was released, with critics naming it one of the best films of the year.

“I think we all knew that we had made the film we wanted to make, and we were all immensely proud of it, but you really never know exactly how it’s going to be received until it gets out there.  We had a test screening this past summer, and that was the first time we officially showed it to members of the public.  We received an incredibly high score and thought ‘well, okay…maybe we have something here.’  And then we premiered the film at the Venice film festival and received a standing ovation through the end credits.  There were a lot of tears, I think that was one of the most moving experiences I’ve ever had in my life.”

Spotlight was presented at the Telluride Film Festival and then the Toronto International Film Festival, receiving rave reviews from critics and viewers alike.  Online and print publications, like Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal and GQ have touted the film as one of the best of the year.  This past weekend, Spotlight won "Outstanding Performance by a Cast" at the SAG Awards.

But it doesn't end there, nominations have flown in from the Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards, Producers Guild of America Awards, Directors Guild of America Awards, Writers Guild Awards, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Independent Spirit Awards and most recently, the Oscars.

BLYE AND HER HUSBAND AARON FAUST AT THE BOSTON PREMIER FOR SPOTLIGHT / PHOTO COURTESY BLYE FAUST

BLYE AND HER HUSBAND AARON FAUST AT THE BOSTON PREMIER FOR SPOTLIGHT / PHOTO COURTESY BLYE FAUST

I know people always ask, what does it mean to be a Producer on a film?

“Producers really are the “coaches” or “CEO's” of a film.  They are there from inception to completion, handling all aspects of the business of the project – from acquiring rights to the underlying material to developing the screenplay to packaging the project with a director and cast, to overseeing the production of the film to the editing and then the marketing and release.” 

Since the success of Spotlight, do you feel like Producing is your full-time calling?

“Nicole and I are 100% committed to film projects right now, but I’m also going to keep my design business running because I have built up good-will and I have a great team who I can rely on heavily.  As a mom there’s a lot of juggling, and you have to have good teams in place on both the design and the team side, because there are only so many hours in the day.  This is the plan for now, but I think it’s going to be a bit of trial and error to see what’s possible! {Laughs}”

***Editor's Note:  Since this interview, Houzz named byblye one of it's best interiors of 2016.*** 

Was there a moment when your incredible career felt like a struggle?

“Absolutely.  When we moved to the Bay Area a few years ago, and then had our two sons, it was definitely a time where I had to take a step back to get through the trenches, so to speak. That’s when I started my design business…it was something I could do locally, I could manage my schedule, I didn’t have to get on a plane or go away.  I needed that before I could return to Spotlight and pour myself into it.”

What was one of the most satisfying things about working on a film like Spotlight?

“Spotlight has been one of the most gratifying projects from beginning to end.  We have become friends with the real reporters who are just stellar and stunning in every respect. We first sat down with them seven years ago and have worked with them throughout the process, on set and through this crazy tour with us.  Throughout it all I have become such a huge proponent of investigative journalism, and have realized the importance of investigative journalism, and have really tried to align myself with their cause.  More than anything I hope this relationship continues!”

***Editor's Note:  Since this interview, it was announced that Blye joined the Board of Directors of the prestigious Center for Investigative Reporting.*** 

What have you learned about the virtue of patience throughout this 8+ year process of putting together Spotlight?

“This is just the nature of the beast of making films and if you can’t handle the wait, you probably shouldn’t be doing it!” 

What’s YOUR favorite movie of all time (outside of Spotlight, of course)?

“There are so many amazing ones that make a lasting impression and are absolutely brilliant feats of cinema but I must say that the one I always return to is “Elizabeth” with Cate Blanchett simply for the sheer brilliance of her performance and what she embodied in the character of Elizabeth.  There was just something so emotionally powerful for me in that and it has always stuck with me in a way that others have not.” 

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“I’m not sure about an actual piece of advice so much as it was my mom just leading by example in terms of having a career that she loved and was passionate about (she’s a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington) and how important that was in creating and leading a happy life.”


Blye’s film ‘Spotlight’ is in theaters now.  You can also learn more here.

To see Blye’s gorgeous interiors, visit the byblye site here.

Next week, meet Sarah.  She’s an investment banker turned elementary school teacher.  Her inspiring story of dedication and passion is up next, on DRIVEN for Women.  

Don't Forget To Subscribe And Follow Us To Support Our Incredible Women!