Why start a company now, when the indie marketplace is so challenging?
There was the sense that there were a lot of stories that weren’t being told. It was wanting to address these topics and open these worlds and make them accessible. And we were not afraid of taking chances getting behind projects that we truly believe in.
When you decide to pursue a project, what are you looking for?
They need to be a couple things. They need to be unique, they need to be commercially viable and they have to have something to say.
What’s on your slate that fulfills this mandate?
I would say the three projects we’ve done in the past year, whether it’s “Show Me What You Got,” which challenges relationship taboos, whether it’s “Sultana,” which opens up the Muslim culture in a time when there’s a lot of negativity being generated towards it, or “Embattled,” which is written by David McKenna who wrote “American History X” and which asks the question whether it’s possible to break the cycle of violence and abuse in a family or not. We really want people to walk out questioning their views of the world, that’s it’s not just black or white, there’s that gray area and we want to create content that challenges people’s viewpoints.
When do you board a project?
We literally come in from the very beginning, whether we’re co-financing a project or doing a co-production. We don’t shy away from things. Another side of our mandate — since we’re a company owned by filmmakers themselves — is that we want to back up-and-coming filmmakers, those making their directorial debuts or those with sophomore features, with an eye to really back minorities. Svetlana Cvetko is an acclaimed cinematographer that we truly truly believe in and we wanted to help her become a director. And that’s incredibly important to us because we have the ability to support people and we want to be repeat offenders in the sense that when we find talent we believe in we want to continue to work with them as their careers continue to blossom.
Where do you find diverse voices?
Anywhere. There was a project that we were considering but ultimately passed on it, and it came from my Uber driver. I think good material will always rise to the top. The end of the day, if we’re trying to assume what a particular voice or a particular world is, we going to fail. Literally the only way we’re going to create product that resonates with people is if we are coming from a place of truth.