Meet Blye Pagon Faust, graduate of Monroe High School and one of the producers of “Spotlight,” which has been nominated for six Oscars.
It was early in the morning of Thursday, Jan. 14, and Blye Pagon Faust was crying. Tears of joy. Tears of astonishment.
It happens when your movie is nominated for an Oscar. Or, in the case of “Spotlight,” six. Including best picture.
Faust, a native of Monroe (Monroe High, class of ’93), was a driving force in bringing “Spotlight” to the big screen. It was she and Nicole Rocklin, her partner in the Los Angeles film-production company Rocklin/Faust, who decided the story of investigative reporters uncovering a scandal involving pedophile priests — which rocked the Roman Catholic Church in Boston and then the world — would make a compelling motion picture.
They secured the rights to the reporters’ story in 2009 and selected Tom McCarthy to write and direct the movie. (He’s been nominated in the best-director category, as well as the best-original-screenplay category, along with co-writer Josh Singer.)
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With two other producers, Michael Sugar and Steve Golin, Faust and Rocklin helped develop the screenplay. They secured financing and worked together during the movie’s postproduction phase, and on the marketing of the movie.
As one of the key producers of “Spotlight,” Faust will be one of the people to take the stage if the film wins the best-picture prize.
When “Spotlight” was released last November to glowing reviews and instant Oscar buzz, the idea that it could go all the way began to take hold.
“Throughout the process, we all believed we were making something very good,” Faust said by phone from her home in the Bay Area. A rapturous standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival in September helped validate that perception.
But when the time came for the nominations to be announced on ABC’s 5:30 a.m. broadcast that January morning, Faust was too on edge to turn on the TV.
“I didn’t think I would be nervous, but I was,” she said. She remembered thinking: “I don’t know if I can watch that. So I’m going to distract myself until it’s all over.”
And then, shortly before 6 a.m., she got a text from Rocklin: “We got six.” And then the tears began to flow. “It’s a big moment,” she said.
Her husband, businessman Aaron Faust, “was beyond thrilled.” Her kids, eh, not so much. Faust has two sons: Ben, 4 years old, and Jake, 10 months old. But she said Ben “was very sweet about the whole thing.” When he sees photos of his mom leading up to the event, “he tells me I look lovely.”
Faust said the nominations have brought a new sense of “immediacy” to their company. “I think it’s also easier now when we reach out,” she said. “We have to explain ourselves a little bit less.”
Faust moved away from Washington after high school to attend college, get a law degree and work in entertainment litigation in Los Angeles. She had taken a year off during her undergraduate education to try her hand at acting, landing parts in commercials and independent films, and befriending a group of students from a prestigious producing program at the University of Southern California — many of whom went on to become successful writers and directors. “And I thought, ‘That is so much more interesting than what I’m doing.’ ” Eventually she quit law, met Rocklin and together they went into producing.
Faust said she frequently returns to Washington to visit her parents. Her mother, Roberta Garrett, is a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington, and her father, Garry, owns a real estate company. “They’re thrilled beyond belief” about the nominations, she said. “My biggest supporter is my mom,” who says she’s lost track of how many times she’s seen “Spotlight.”
She thinks, Faust said, “it’s up to seven times now.”
Faust isn’t the only person with Seattle ties basking in the Oscars glow. S. Leigh Savidge, a graduate of Lakeside School, was nominated for co-writing “Straight Outta Compton.” Another Lakeside grad, Aditya Sood, is a producer of best-picture nominee “The Martian.”