Winner Toby Halbrooks & James M. Johnston

Nominated For:


The 17th annual Producers Award, sponsored by Piaget, honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality independent films. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Piaget.

TOBY HALBROOKS is a producer from Dallas, TX who came to film after touring the world for six years as a member of the rock group The Polyphonic Spree. Pioneer marked his first narrative project; however, he cut his teeth as a successful commercial producer and director. Together with David Lowery, Halbrooks has also helmed a number of acclaimed music videos for artists such as School of Seven Bells, Sarah Jaffe, and Okkervil River.

He is a recipient of a 2011 Sundance Creative Producing Fellowship for his work on Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and was just named one of Variety‘s 10 Producers to watch, along with his producing partner James M. Johnston. He currently has two films in competition at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival: Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (Producer) and Upstream Color (Co-Producer).

JAMES M. JOHNSTON is a filmmaker from Fort Worth, TX.  He was a 2011 Creative Producing Fellow at the Sundance Institute and was recently named to Variety‘s 10 Producer’s To Watch list with his producing partner Toby Halbrooks.

His work as a producer includes the award-winning films St. Nick (2009), Pioneer (2011) which won the Grand Jury Prize at six film festivals including South by Southwest, and co-produced Yen Tan’s award-winning film Ciao (2008) which was distributed theatrically by Regent Entertainment. Johnston also produced Ain’t Them Bodies Saints by writer/director David Lowery, starring Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, and Ben Foster which premiered in competition at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, and the film Pit Stop by Yen Tan, which premiered at Sundance in the NEXT section.

Johnston is a director in his own right and his short films have played at festivals around the world. His most recent film Knife was the recipient of a production grant from Rooftop Filmmakers Fund. Johnston also co-owns two successful vegan restaurants – Spiral Diner & Bakery - with his wife Amy McNutt. They are in the process of opening Fort Worth’s first art house cinema, called The Citizen Theater.

Other nominees in this category:

Image of Jacob Jaffke Jacob Jaffke
Image of Andrea Roa Andrea Roa
Image of Frederick Thornton Frederick Thornton