Prod'n co. plans to expand slate
Gotham shingle and financing arm GreeneStreet is shifting its production headquarters to Los Angeles as part of a larger reinvention that could see it court more studios as well as boost its slate from about three movies per year to six or seven.Office, called GreeneStreet Films West, will open in October. Company made the announcement on the opening day of the Toronto Film Festival. Though execs played down the connection, announcement seemed timed to catch the attention of studios and their specialty divisions as they began trawling the fest for acquisitions. Company is peddling Michael Ian Black-helmed comedy “The Pleasure of Your Company” at Toronto. GreeneStreet feels the pic reps its identity: a mainstream picture with boutique appeal. As part of the revamp, head of production Tim Williams will move to the company’s offices in Beverly Hills, and he’ll also be in charge of building a slate. GreeneStreet also has hired former Dimension story editor Melanie Shanley as West Coast director of development. Other hires, particularly at the company’s international sales division, are expected. Toppers John Penotti and Fisher Stevens will remain headquartered in Gotham, meaning the company has essentially split business and creative sides. “We no longer felt it made sense to orient ourselves outside of where a lot of the decisions are made,” Penotti said, though he emphasized that the types of films the company financed and produced would not change. Right now, shingle works with distribs on a title-by-title basis, although geographic proximity could result in a more formal relationship with studios and Hollywood distribs. Such a move could benefit both parties: It would give a studio an easy pipeline to content while lending more security to a production outfit that normally has to flog each pic on the festival circuit. Still, the track record for similar pacts suggests far-from-perfect results. Shingle is known best for Oscar winner “In the Bedroom” and teen-themed success “Swimfan.” It also has “Tenderness” in production. Williams has exec produced some of GreeneStreet’s more notable films over the last few years, but with the move west will concentrate more heavily on the creative side of production as opposed to aspects of physical production, Penotti said. Move reps a broadening of mission for GreeneStreet Films, which has survived as a relatively powerful indie shingle at a time when most either formalize a deal with a studio or stagnate. GreeneStreet now also is one of the few self-financed production shingles of a certain size, a phenomenon that continues to become rarer in an era of heavy Wall Street investment in Hollywood. Gotham indie film seems to be entering an up cycle, with younger companies like Picturehouse and the Weinstein Co. beginning to hit their stride. This isn’t the first time company tried to expand westward. GreeneStreet Films earlier announced plans to open a Santa Monica office in 2001, but the plan never got off the ground.