Real estate mogul turns focus to film

Andrew Meieran has made a tidy sum rehabbing historic properties around L.A. Now he’s pouring that coin into another kind of property — film projects.

The financier has 10 projects in development at Bureau of Moving Pictures, the film arm he set up with Matt Tabak 18 months ago. The projects, in varying stages of development, including “Without Reservation,” a look at the creation of the New England gambling mecca Foxwood Casino, run by Native Americans; a Steve McQueen biopic set during the making of “The Great Escape”; and an adaptation of “We Are All the Same,” a book about a white South African woman who adopted a black boy with AIDS. Naomi Watts is attached to star in the latter, which “Hotel Rwanda” co-scribe Keir Pearson is writing (Daily Variety, June 7).

Meieran said Bureau plans to pro-duce two films a year, maintaining a constant pipeline of 10 projects. Budgets will run from $4 million up to the $15 million-$20 million range, depend-ing on the talent attached and the nature of the project.

Tabak brings experience as a writer, director and producer of film and TV projects to the Bureau. His projects include “Beyond Suspicion,” a Jeff Goldblum thriller he wrote and di-rected, and “Plain Truth,” a Lifetime movie he adapted.

Meieran pointed to “We Are All the Same,” which is furthest along in development, as a project that “exemplifies what we want to do.

“We are looking for very intimate stories but with global reach,” he said.

The projects are “true stories, for the most part,” which reflects Meieran’s interest in history. The financier, who studied film at UC Berkeley, has launched three downtown L.A. niteries in rehabbed properties: the Edison, located in an old boiler room; Mercury Liquors, once home to a bank vault; and the Golden Gopher, one of the oldest bars in the neighborhood. Marc Smith is his partner in those ventures.

Meieran said he always intended to get into filmmaking, but started rehab-bing properties while in college, then continued to pursue that passion in San Francisco before relocating to L.A.

“So many filmmakers seemed frustrated because they could never create their vision, so I decided to get the money first,” he said. “It’s funny. Everyone in Hollywood wants to get into real estate — and everyone in real estate wants to get into Hollywood.”

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