When he left DreamWorks in October, someone offered Doug Schwalbe (pictured) a small piece of advice: “Don’t try to be clever. Name your company something straightforward.” And since he intends to focus on co-pros, he opted for The Co-Production Company.
Schwalbe has been wrapping up a few final DreamWorks projects as executive producer since exiting his SVP of co-productions post in the fall. But with those contracts expiring on April 2, he’s ready to officially launch his new venture.
Per the name, The Co-production Company will specialize in finance and distribution agreements for high-end international productions. Ultimately, Schwalbe says his goal is to “make good shows.” His expertise is in live-action and animated scripted TV, and he will be firmly focused on the kids and family space.
There are already several partnerships in place. Schwalbe has an overall deal with France’s Superprod Group to produce and develop multiple shows, starting with Home Sweet Rome. Announced earlier this year, this live-action tween sitcom is a co-pro with Italy’s Red Monk, and Michael Poryes (Hannah Montana) is on board as showrunner.
“Live action is an interesting space because it’s underserved right now in the independent community,” says Schwalbe. “Obviously, the networks make big-time live-action sitcoms, but beyond that there’s still a lot of white space. [When] I was working for an animation company, I couldn’t do anything about that opportunity.”
Schwalbe also has a partnership with Impact X Capital, a venture capital fund that specializes in financing for Black creators. Under this collaboration, Schwalbe is working with YouNeek on its first kids series, Iyanu.
He has also partnered with Pukeko Pictures (New Zealand), August Media (Singapore), Chatrone (Brazil) and Anima Estudios (Mexico). Former DreamWorks and Nickelodeon EVP Mark Taylor has joined Schwalbe at The Co-Production Company to raise equity financing for highly branded animated films with studios in Asia.
Schwalbe hopes to take the TV concepts he’s working on—particularly the live-action ones—and make them more appealing to international audiences, whether that’s through formatting or by bringing in more dubbing and subtitling. While this is common practice in animation, he says it’s not as prevalent in live action.
Ultimately, though, Schwalbe wants to do a bit of everything.
“One of the things about starting a new venture is to make sure that I branch out and work with people I don’t know already,” he says. “I just see so many opportunities out there that I want to learn more about.”