In 2008, Lisa Black left her corporate job to pursue what had been a side hustle full time. Launching Garnet Girl LLC, she’s produced dozens of award-winning films, and in 2016, then Gov. Jack Markell appointed her as co-chair of the Motion Picture and Television Development Commission to promote the First State as a prime filming location.
Although Lisa Black wasn’t born in Delaware, few film producers are more dedicated to our state’s economic and artistic development. She moved here for a corporate job a few decades ago and stayed, eventually making it her mission to champion the benefits of doing business in the First State.
“I spent the first 10 years of my life in film, especially overseas, extolling the virtues of having a Delaware LLC to other people around the world,” Black says. “I’m like the unofficial ambassador of the state in LLCs. …Ninety percent of the world’s businesses are incorporated in the state of Delaware. It’s an important little state.”
A native of North Edison, New Jersey, Black earned a B.A. in English literature with a minor in art history from Boston University and eventually got an MBA from Goldey-Beacom College. As part of a thriving corporate career, Black took a job transfer to Delaware in 2002 and stayed put.
She had been producing films on the side (her college best friend is screenwriter Mark Fergus, who wrote Children of Men, the first Iron Man and The Expanse, among others), so in 2008, she retired from her corporate gig at Bristol Myers Squibb and launched Garnet Girl LLC, producing creative content from “script to screen,” according to its website.
“From there, it’s been a whirlwind,” Black says. “Since 2008, 26 films, all over the world. And all from Delaware.” She found that skills from her previous career came in handy when producing movies. “It’s a lot of what I learned in corporate America. It’s networking, but it’s also building relationships, project management and managing budgets.”
Along the way, she’s picked up multiple awards at film festivals, with her 2019 feature The Birdcatcher garnering 13 wins and three nominations alone.
In 2016, Gov. Jack Markell appointed her as co-chair of the Motion Picture and Television Development Commission, and she’s still all in on promoting Delaware as a prime filming location. “Even after 20 years, I’m still championing Delaware and the creatives here,” Black says. “I’d like to see the Delaware Division of Arts really come into its own.”
She also keeps busy as co-chair of the board of the Producers Guild of America, Capital Region, and as a published poet whose work has appeared in the Delaware Bards Poetry Review.
Black recently produced a short film, The Fast Track Program, with Delaware-based writer Nick Wilkinson. The slick 12-minute corporate satire, loosely based on Wilkinson’s novel Snakes and Ladders, also marks his directorial debut. It was filmed in Delaware, using businesses and locals in the process. Scenes were shot in the old MBNA “white building” on Route 4, as well as in the atrium and Newark offices of Curran Law, whose owners are steadfast supporters of Black and Wilkinson’s work. White Clay Creek State Park was also used for a fly-fishing scene.
Wilkinson and Black are now working on a feature-length film called Olde Boys, a feel-good movie about soccer and the enduring bonds between friends, which will be released in late 2024. “The best part of working with Lisa is her boundless, relentless enthusiasm and positivity,” Wilkinson notes.
“I think there’s a lot more that we can do,” Black reiterates about promoting Delaware as a film hot spot. “We have an opportunity to really bring some real economic development to the state if we just embrace the arts a little more.”