The key to success in today’s complex and intensely competitive production world is having the ability to manage and exploit all aspects of a TV or film project.
It appears this modern-day axiom is equally true of a big studio and a small start-up.
When industry veterans Steven DeNure, most recently head of Alliance Communications’ multimedia operations, Neil Court, a distribution and financing consultant to studios such as Hollywood’s Film Roman and Jim Henson Productions, and producer John Delmage decided to open their own production company, they knew they’d have to have it all.
The newly opened DECODE Entertainment will trade on the trio’s complementary skills to provide international financing and distribution, production, international development services and licensing and merchandising management, says DeNure. ‘We are starting as a global company, but on a modest scale.’
‘We are expanding the concept of a small, hands-on independent company to a small, vertically integrated company,’ adds Delmage.
The company will specialize in the products with which all three have become most closely associated live action and animation for the family and children’s market.
Court says he believes there is a great demand today for family-oriented live-action shows, particularly in the action /adventure genre. ‘I see that as continuing to have strong international appeal.’
DECODE is on the hunt for such projects, in addition to animated shows.
Adds Court: ‘We want to be suppliers to the international marketplace. What is key today is developing projects that are not solely dependent on the U.S. market. You need to create for the international market and to find a niche not just in terms of genre, but in the way you do business.’
The first projects heading into production are two television shows that Delmage will roll into the new company from the current Toronto, Canada-based J.A. Delmage Productions. They are Freaky Stories, a half-hour animated series for YTV in association with the U.K.’s Flextech Television, and Ghostwriters, a half-hour live-action youth series to be produced with Children’s Television Workshop and CBS Television.
‘Often, new partners end up stepping on each others’ t’es while they sort out what function each one will perform in the new company,’ says DeNure. ‘In our case, we’ve known each other for such a long time and have such well-defined roles that we can get a lot more accomplished without having to sort out those roles.’
‘It will be easy for us to work together because the delineation [of roles] will be our respective skills,’ says Delmage.
Court provides an entrée into Europe and the United States after spending seven years based in London, where he worked as a consultant on co-production financing, distribution and project development for Henson and Film Roman. Before that, he worked as managing director of Nelvana Enterprises, helping to develop the animation company’s distribution and co-production division.
DeNure spent 10 years at Alliance, handling development, financing and production for many of the company’s feature film and television projects. As president of Alliance’s multimedia division, DeNure became involved in the company’s foray into animation through its investment in Vancouver, Canada-based Mainframe Entertainment.
DeNure will continue to act as executive producer on the animated series ReBoot, Beast Wars and the most recent Alliance co-production, Captain Star. DeNure is also executive producer on Toad Patrol with Funbag and E. Sarson Productions.
Delmage brings 25 years of dramatic programming production to DECODE. His company produced The Campbells (100 episodes) for CTV, Scottish Television and The Family Channel. He was also co-producer of the successful Groundling Marsh children’s television show for YTV and The Disney Channel.
And DeNure, whose experience at Alliance included responsibility for licensing and merchandising, says that job will continue as a priority at DECODE.
‘We will ensure that we have some control and influence over all those elements [such as licensing and merchandising], so they are not just afterthoughts,’ says DeNure ‘Today, you have to manage and control the entire property. The coordination of the entire property from top to bottom is another part of our strategy.’