Award-winning film producer, actor and philanthropist Lyle Howry has over thirty productive years in the entertainment business. Howry is an innovative and dedicated leader focused on finance, studio negotiations, and international film production and distribution. Howry is brilliant when it comes to skillfully traversing the making of a movie, from conception to silver screen. His global hit MMA film franchise “Street” has launched his entrepreneurial business Skinfly Entertainment into international fame and recognition.
Howry was born in Hollywood, California June 19, 1958. He was bounced around from foster homes as a young boy. Lyle had the same independence and innate desire to excel in the face of life’s persistent challenges just as his grandmother, Agnes Cauthorn. Agnes was a graduate of Hollywood High School and with persistence and determination became a stage dancer and an actress in Hollywood. Lyle earned the nickname ‘Pit Bull’ for his ferocious tenacity.
As a young actor, he recurred on TV shows in the 1980’s such as ABC’s award-winning shows “Moonlighting,” CBS’s “Murder, She Wrote” and NBC’s “Hunter” just to name a few.
With a desire to create, Howry stepped behind the scenes in 1985 to co-produce the two-time Emmy winning and nominated CBS’s “The Dukes of Hazzard” TV series. A few years later he executive produced “Reggie’s Prayer,” football legend Reggie White’s inspirational acting debut. Then joined former Paramount studio head Frank Yablans to release Jon Voight family drama “A Dog of Flanders” which won a Bronze Gryphon Award and nominated for a Joseph Plateau Award.
In 1999 with the launch of his business Skinfly Entertainment Lyle Howry focused his artistic endeavors on finance, studio negotiations, international production, and distribution. Skinfly’s MMA action combat film “Street” released in 2015 gained Howry international recognition with the reprise “Street 2 Death Fight” in production. In 2017, Howry’s Skinfly Entertainment released the thriller “You Can’t Have It,” starring Armand Assante, Joanna Krupa, and NFL star Rob Gronkowski.
Lyle’s philanthropic work includes giving a portion of proceeds from his films to “Mission Save Her” and “Phantom Rescue.” He also generously supports PETA yearly.
We had an awesome opportunity to chat with Lyle. Check out the interview below.
Thank you for granting the interview, Lyle! We are excited to speak with you about your career. What an amazing portfolio. You have negotiated some major studio deals over the years. What is the art of a good film deal?
Thank you for having me. In my opinion, it all starts off with a good script, that is an absolute must. Without a good script, there is just no deal. Second is a draft of the script followed by a great business plan for equity investors. It should be very straightforward and black & white so everything is crystal clear. The most difficult aspect of filmmaking is to secure funding. Once your pieces of the puzzle are in place, well then the game begins. Throughout the process, there will be many highs and lows, but you have to stay strong and firm in your beliefs, abilities and the project itself.
The end goal is to take your film from the script to film completion with the crew you built because they are vital to the overall success of the film.
Ultimately, the goals are securing a box office release, or, at a minimum, a limited release, and to release investor funds as quickly as possible without falling prey to hasty, unattractive or “bad” distribution deal. Social media is a key element to filmmaking, it’s very important because it plays a pivotal role in film success. Given all the digital platforms you should allocate resources to enlist professionals to successfully draw awareness, fan base and buzz for your film.
It’s kind of funny story. Years ago I bought an energy drink company called Skinfly as an investment. Later and unrelated, I decided that I didn’t want my name on my production company. During a brainstorm moment, I thought to create a franchise out of the energy drink, which would include the not only a film company but also a musical component and a clothing line.
It was then I named the company Skinfly Entertainment, and that’s where we are today. Ha, my little brainstorm took on a life of its own. At this point in 2017, I am fortunate to say that I have a slate of successful films, I’ve been involved the production and executive production end on many more films and television shows (including reality, scripted and unscripted shows) as they say…the rest is history. I am fortunate to do what I love. It wasn’t easy getting here, yet, I would do it all over again. My company and brand are growing exponentially and we are now a brand on the big screen, the “S” in Skinfly is the company symbol. I wear it with tremendous pride.
You’ve worked hard to build your entertainment empire. You have achieved many goals and received many accolades. What do you contribute to your motivation?
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my grandmother, Agnes Cauthorn, who not only raised me, but she instilled in me the necessary “grit” to succeed in Hollywood. Agnes was a stage and screen actress of the Golden Age of Hollywood. I am equally as proud of my grandmother, as I am of my two sons, whom I raised alone. There was a time when I did really struggle to raise two small boys while navigating the entertainment business. They have always been my greatest source of motivation. It was important to be present-mentally, emotionally for them. I grew up with little guidance, without parents until my grandmother stepped in.
Single parenthood is one of the toughest roads a person can face in life. I have such respect for single parents. You know in regards to Hollywood, most people only see the glamour in the entertainment business without having any concept of the ugly backside of the business. In truth, the large majority of artists/filmmakers pursuing this path, more than half the time, are struggling to maintain the basics of a home – food, power, shelter. Being a parent to my sons, by far has been my greatest achievement. I believe that without family you have very little, whether your family is biological family or people you choose, it’s important to have that foundation and that center.
The entertainment world will not take care of you when you’re old or come and visit you in the hospital. Only your family will sustain you and in this case, it’s my sons, we are very close. We have been through hard times together and we’ve prevailed.
My Grandmother, Agnes, and a mentor, David Miller, were my inspiration and motivation in life. David was an electrical engineer at Lockheed Martin and took me under his wing as a young boy. My biological mother surrendered me to foster care at the age of one and later my grandmother adopted me. I credit her with my strong backbone and ethics she instilled in me. David taught me many great things in life, among them patience and forgiveness. I am not angry with my mother. I have only forgiveness for her. Forgiving people is how I move forward in my life. Life gives no guarantees. We have to use the resources we have, work hard and always keep pushing forward.
You appeared in some of television’s hottest series before going behind-the-camera. Have you always wanted to create films?
Yes, but at first I wanted to be an actor I thought it was going to be so glamorous, and well, it looked very easy. Haha, boy was I wrong. I was ill-prepared for the competition, and back in those days, they (agents, managers, execs) wanted to change everything on you from your teeth to your name, hair color, everything. Those at the top were quite critical. Nowadays everything goes, any look, body type, skin tone, anything so it’s truly fantastic. I think it’s great we’ve come this far.
After enduring pain from agents, and casting directors at that time, I made a decision. I decided on the last film I was cast, Weekend at Bernie’s, I didn’t would hang up my acting hat permanently.
I wanted to be a much more powerful influence and try to help as many people as I could while making great films. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I set out, I traveled the world, raised equity and that’s how I started in filmmaking.
At first, I was contributing small investments to films and later larger amounts. I would achieve the title of Co-Executive Producer, then Executive Producer, and eventually Producer. Building those credits was an arduous, long road but again totally worth it.
What has been your most favorite production to date?
Wow, I have several but I have to say by far the most compelling and fun one is the STREET Franchise. STREET is the first film in the MMA international hit franchise. Upcoming STREET 2 DEATH FIGHT will be the second installment and hopefully at least one more and who knows, maybe more!
STREET franchise is special because it has allowed us to develop an incredibly unique creative storyline and really take the audience for a never-ending ride. Its allow me to work with returning talent from the first installment some of whom are Mark Ryan (Transformers and Black Sails actor), Gigi Cesare (young talent and Imagen Award Nominee), Joanna Krupa (International Model and PETA spokesperson), Mindy Robinson, Gregory Fawcett, Donna Rusch, Shannon Gallagher, Matt Mitrione (MMA champion) and newcomers to the film Amy Shi (Actress and skilled Martial Artist), Sean Stewart (actor and son of music icon Rod Stewart), Reggie Benjamin (Bollywood star), Nataila Borowsky, Serena Laurel and more including our new not-yet-announced Star.
The story in this film is unbelievably captivating and has an element dear to my heart, human trafficking. We are hoping to not spread awareness about the pervasiveness of this issue but also help many charities in the process. By partnering with both Mission Save Her and Phantom Rescue we will be donating proceeds from STREET 2 DEATH FIGHT’S musical score soundtrack.
What’s next in your career?
I plan to continue producing until I simply can’t anymore and hopefully create many more films and projects. One of the things I enjoy most is helping up and coming talent. My next goal would be to work with some of the great Producers and directors that I respect and admire. There’s still much to be learned, and I love a strong mentor. You can always learn from each film you do. You can learn from everybody from actors to camera people to grips to literally anyone on the set. What you glean is that the world, in general, is full of learning and growing opportunities. That is what one should be focused, improving self and skills, sharpening your tools, learning from those who’ve done it successfully. Right now the world is off balance, people are inundated and obsessed with political tensions. Life is about helping each other, growing, evolving as people, as mankind.
Is there anything you would like to add that we haven’t asked?
As you know we are in pre-production on STREET 2 DEATH FIGHT the second film in the STREET franchise, a scripted television show called AFFILIATED, THE ULTIMATE GAME (a futuristic football action film) and several other films. We successfully released, YOU CAN’T HAVE IT, with Joanna Krupa, Rob Gronkowski, legendary actor Armand Assante, Mindy Robinson and many more talented actors. It is now available on Amazon and other platforms.
I think we’ve covered a great many things and now I have a meeting I’m rushing off to, so if you don’t mind let’s chat again after the release of STREET 2. Thank you for taking the time to sit with me, and hear me wax philosophical on politics, mankind, and filmmaking.