Film and TV production, done the right way, is increasingly becoming more profitable. Historically, you required a huge production facility, backing from a major distributor and extremely expensive marketing campaigns to achieve significant commercial success. Improvements in things such as the technology to record and edit, ways you can distribute content through platforms such as Netflix and site setup mean that with the right level of creativity a relatively low budget production can go on to make significant profits.
Bringing this all together requires cohesion across the entire value chain and while multi-billion dollar companies such as Disney and Warner Brothers have had this for decades, in recent years we have seen new independent studios such as Tyler Perry’s Studios compete and generate hundreds of millions of dollars per year, producing films and TV shows. An English entrepreneur, who has been on a similar journey to Tyler Perry, and has recently purchased a £4m Georgian mansion country estate in Essex, set across 52 acres, which also boasts a private lake and 14 outbuildings, who plans to build a film and tv studio village is Antoine Dixon-Bellot, founder and owner of Mastermind Media, East London Studios, Cinehouse, and Cinescope Optics.
Antoine has been in the film industry for 18 years. What started out as directing low budget music videos during his first university degree quickly turned into a portfolio of businesses that includes a well serviced media production company, a multi-million pound camera lens manufacturing brand and a vast property portfolio, where some of the best known music videos and films in recent years have been shot. Often called the U.K. version of Tyler Perry, Antoine now has his sights set on fulfilling his long term ambition with the recent acquisition of his new country estate in the U.K. that he plans to convert into a film and television facility village, to produce globally acclaimed films and programming under a significantly more profitable model, leveraging his experience across the entire value chain of film and tv production.
Whilst Antoine already owns an 8 figure property portfolio, his latest acquisition is his biggest yet. The development will involve building giant film stages, art department workshops, production offices, historical buildings as ready-made sets and huge backlot space. The plan is to convert the estate into an international movie studio similar to Tyler Perry’s Studios in Atlanta. Despite living in different continents both entrepreneurs share a similar journey, not settling for just working with large studios, but over time accumulating various parts of the value chain from directing and producing, to lighting and owning the facilities their films are produced in.
Whilst the commercial success of studios such as Tyler Perry’s generating $150m per year after signing a deal with ViacomCBS and the UK’s Pinewood Studios, with annual turnovers in excess of £80m per year, have now become obvious, both entrepreneurs took their journey out of necessity. They either found the content they produced was not accepted by major houses or it needed to be altered to fit a certain mould. Wanting to stay true to their respective visions they went about appropriating as much of the value chain as possible and over time the fans, who ultimately decide what is a commercial success, enjoyed the content produced, which led to the right opportunities.
It’s a lofty ambition for Antoine to take on such an endeavour, with his sights set on building one of the best studio facilities globally, but much of his success to date has been built through hard work and his own shrewd investments, so he feels it is a well calculated risk that he has the experience to turn into a huge success. Additionally, stories such as Tyler Perry’s film Diary, which cost $5.5 million to make, grossed $51 million in theaters and has since brought in an additional $150 million in video rentals, on- demand viewing, DVD sales and TV licensing gives him a direct case study that this business model works.
Foundation for the underprivileged
Finally, and equally important to Antoine, as a young entrepreneur in an industry which has as much underrepresentation and opportunity behind the camera as in front of it, he wants to inspire a new generation of diverse talent coming into the industry and executing on this project will enable him to do just that. He plans to open a foundation for young underprivileged people, with the aim to be able to give them access to equipment and facilities free of charge, with tailored training programs and onset experience, which will act as a gateway into the film industry.
This article is part of a series featuring underrepresented people making a difference. To submit ideas for features or keep up to date with new releases you can find me on Twitter – @TommyPF91