From Harvard Business School to ‘Sherlock Holmes’ Producer

Photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages
'Sherlock Holmes' producer Dan Lin is pictured here with fellow producer Lionel Wigram.

Producer Dan Lin graduated from Harvard Business School and headed to Hollywood to pursue a career in the film industry.

By Nalea J. Ko, Reporter
December 14, 2011

Producer Dan Lin, 38, says that pursuing a career in Hollywood after graduating from Harvard Business School would not please most Asian American parents, but the Taiwanese American took a risk that paid off.

“Certainly it wasn’t a very popular choice for me coming out of Harvard Business School to get into the film business,” Lin said in a conference call with the Asian American media. “And as you guys know — you guys all grew up probably with Asian American parents — that they prefer that you take a more professional career, whether it’s a doctor or a lawyer.”

While still at Harvard, Lin did a summer internship with Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, who was then an executive with Warner Bros. The studio executive made good on a promise to give Lin a job after graduation. The day after graduating with a master’s degree from Harvard Business School in 1999, Lin began working at Warner Bros. Pictures in the “junior-most position.”

Throughout his journey at Warner Bros. Lin was also mentored by executives Jeff Robinov and Alan Horn. Lin worked his way up to senior vice president of production at Warner Bros. Pictures before forming Lin Pictures in 2008. Lin’s Warner Bros.-based production company has since produced movies such as “The Box,” “The Invention of Lying,” “Terminator Salvation,” and the soon-to-be-released “Sherlock Holmes 2.”

There are three standards each film project must measure up to before Lin agrees to produce it with his company.

“One, is the hero has a clear call to action, and two, is that hero enters an exciting new world. And, number three, is there’s a clear aspirational theme,” Lin said. “So you can see that with Sherlock.”

Starring Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes and Jude Law as Dr. Watson, “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” opens in theaters Dec. 16. The sequel, which was directed by Guy Ritchie, opens as Holmes — disguised in costume, of course — is on the trail of his arch nemesis Professor James Moriarty.

“He is the Joker to Sherlock’s Batman and he is the spider behind the web. So we saw hints of him in the first movie,” Lin said about the movie’s villain. “Now in the second movie he’s coming out of the shadows for the first time, and you actually see his face, and you get to know more of his motivation and his grand plan.”

“Moriarty is the greatest criminal mastermind in the world,” said Lionel Wigram in a press release, who was Lin’s producing partner for the movie. “He is a genius — albeit a mad genius — but because he is so brilliant, Holmes may have met his match.”

Holmes and Watson soon depart London for France, Germany and Switzerland to help save the world from disaster. At the heart of the movie is Holmes’ and Watson’s unshakable friendship that cannot be broken up by any woman or villain.

The universal appeal of their bromance is one of the reasons that the Sherlock franchise is adaptable to international audiences, Lin says.

“Certainly the friendship between Sherlock and Watson, that kind of brotherhood between the two of them I think that is universal to whatever country you come from,” Lin said.

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