Film financier Peter Samuelson and showrunner-director Jonathan Prince have joined forces to launch Filmco, a production and distribution banner designed to create socially conscious movies and TV shows with a built-in philanthropic element.
Samuelson and Prince are working with private investors to finance the development of various projects that will be purchased from studio and network partners. Content supported by Filmco will focus on topics and factors that allow creative partners to create call-to-action to solve problems illustrated through stories.
Prince said in the past there have been very few steps taken to capitalize on issue-based content awareness and link visitors directly to charitable donations or social work. This will be an initial focus of Filmco, which aims to bring together a network of suitable non-profit, charitable and philanthropic partners to support each project and benefit.
“We’re all great storytellers, we can move people and focus on some of them. But then when they move, we tie them up and throw them away, ”Prince said. “We don’t provide how to take action.”
Filmco’s partners include Ellen Lowe, executive vice president of content and impact partnerships, and Tamica Lamison, senior vice president of development and production, and the board chair.
The company pledges to spend 5% -7% of its production budget on public interest and activism-based activation around project issues.
Filmco came together in 2019, just before the epidemic reversed Hollywood. Lamison was working on a nonprofit venture dedicated to making legacy films for terminal illness for children and young people. He met Samuelson at a humanitarian awards ceremony and realized that his background matched his latest vision for a content manufacturing venture.
“We watch movies to be touched and inspired,” Lamison said. “We want to take the ‘move’ to another level.”
Samuelson has helped fund and produce more than two dozen films, most notably “Arlington Road” in 1999, “Wild” in 1997 and “Foster Boy” in 2019. Prince is a veteran show-runner and director whose credits include BET’s “American Soul” and NBC’s “American Dreams”.
In what the company calls Samuelson’s “double bottom line,” it will measure success by the level of social activism it generates in addition to ratings or box office or other sales metrics. Baked-in focus on storytelling for advocacy is interesting for high-wattage talent.
Moreover, working with a network of grassroots organizations can help drive important word of mouth in a growing on-demand entertainment market.
“There’s an unnecessary need,” Samuelson said. “There are amazingly high-profile talents that they care about emotionally.”
Filmco currently has a total of eight employees. None of them have worked together in the office yet, but it is expected that some employees will eventually gather at a place in Los Angeles. “I hope to be in the office with my colleagues one day,” Lowe said. Prince added that the company’s goal is to sign some pod-type agreements with producers and other creators once the threat of covid becomes easier.
The partners tried to use downtime carefully to create several movie and series packages that reflected its world-changing mission. PhilmCo wants to hit the sales circuit next week with its first major sales pitch
The opening list includes a deal with director Katherine Hardwick to manage “The Greatness”, the story of three deaf Latin students who struggle to play for their high school football team in Modesto, California. Who grew up with deaf uncles who taught him to play the game through ASL.
Filco is the co-producer of the documentary “Ferguson Rises” from filmmaker Mabolji Olambiwannu, which won the Audience Award at this year’s Tribeca Festival. And the company is working with prominent screenwriter Ronald Bass on a historically limited series and podcasts that focus on American expatriates who fought in the Spanish Civil War. It is based on the historical book “Spain in Our Hearts” by Adam Hochsild.
The company has entered into a comprehensive agreement with the American Cancer Society to develop content to raise awareness about cancer detection and prevention methods.
The better the working part of the fabric in the Filmco project, the more the company is aware of the dangers of excessive levels on sincerity.
“Where is the cancer rum-com? How a man goes for his regular prostate check and falls to his radiologist. Not every cancer story has to be told sincerely, ”Prince said.
“Where is thriller or mystery or animated movie or musical? There are stories to be told about early detection and testing. There are stories to tell that will shed light on the great work of researchers and physicians, ”he said.