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Andy Meyers has lived the Hollywood life. He started a successful entertainment ad agency from scratch, works with the major studios and flies around the country filming stars.Now he’s ready for his M3 Creative to fulfill every would-be mogul’s dream: making movies.The Burbank company made a name for itself by developing a fast and inexpensive method for producing online videos and promotions for TV shows. Its new goal: applying that same technique to reality TV shows and feature films.“We saw an opportunity to expand by applying our skills in an area that is complementary to our core strengths,” said Meyers, co-founder and chief executive of the company. “But we need to have that fear that the company could all end tomorrow.”In the last year, MC Creative has laid the groundwork for its entrepreneurial leap by starting three new divisions: M3 Film, M3 Creative Reality and M3 Creative Trailers. The company’s staff has grown more than a third in the last year to 22 people to keep up with the work.The effort is certainly not quixotic.The company has big name clients, including Walt Disney Co., Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros. And among its new hires are respected veterans in the entertainment industry. What’s more, M3 already has produced a movie starring Paul Giamatti due out next year.Mark Joseph, president of La Mirada film consultancy MJM Entertainment, who has worked on such movies as “Passion of the Christ,” said M3’s fast style works well for video shorts, but Hollywood rewards hit movies, not fast ones.“They seem to have a good pedigree,” he said. “Now the question is can they deliver the goods?”Promo producersThe Burbank company was co-founded by partners Meyers, Roman Perez and Brad Baruh in a living room in 2003 after the trio quit working as on-air promotions producers for the nightly news show “Entertainment Tonight.”The job taught them how to conceive, produce and edit video in a hurry because new promos were needed every day.With the launch of M3, those skills landed jobs making promos for other shows such as “Reno 911” and “ESPN Hollywood.” But as TV viewers migrated to the Internet, traditional on-air promotions became less effective.In response, the company developed interstititals, short one- or two-minute segments where the star of an upcoming cable TV movie, for example, discusses future plots.Meyers said production costs for interstitials run about a quarter of the cost for traditional TV ads, while viewers watch them twice as long. “They look like programming because they are programming,” he said.The company also uses its fast-video production techniques for other entertainment marketing projects such as behind-the-scenes interviews on movie DVDs, music videos, webisodes and regular TV commercials. But interstitials are now the core of the business, while traditional show promos only contribute about 10 percent of the company’s revenue, which it would not disclose.Aside from studios, the company has produced video for the Boston-based ad agency Digitas and brands such as Audi.A key to the company’s speed in making high-quality video is its vertical integration. Strategic planning, scriptwriting, casting, production, directing, logistics and editing are handled by staff. That keeps cost overruns to a minimum because M3 isn’t dependent on freelancers or outside vendors to deliver a project. It bills on a per-project basis.“We are not the low-budget guys in a garage, but our experience on shows with quick turnover taught us to save time and that saves money,” Meyers said.Hollywood dreamsMeyer’s expansion plan centers on film, starting with the release of the company’s first feature, “John Dies at the End.” The project, which M3 sold to Magnolia Pictures, involves a partnership with Don Coscarelli, director of the Phastasm series of horror films, who wrote the screenplay and directed the picture, a comedy-horror movie based on a novel of the same name. Funding came from M3 profits and a group of private investors the partners recruited from the entertainment industry.M3 has used its expertise to produce behind-the-scene Internet videos and teasers to promote the film through its new M3 Creative Trailers division, which will also produce trailers for other movie studios.David Yocum, a former producer at trailer house Mojo in Los Angeles, was recruited as a partner to head it. Yocum, who worked with M3 partners at Entertainment Tonight, produced trailers for “The Matrix,” “Rock of Ages,” and all of the Harry Potter movies while at Mojo.Joseph, the independent film marketer, said as M3 grows, the vertical integration concept will become an issue because the Hollywood system works by mixing and matching specific talent for each project.“It’s a challenge because generally in our business, you are looking for the all-stars,” he said. “They are not always under one roof.”But Meyers wants to keep his company’s fast-production style – including having people wear multiple hats – no matter how large it becomes. “If you keep the perspective of a small company and give people a chance to contribute, they will come through,” he said.In addition to its feature movies, the company plans to produce reality TV series and earlier this month hired Arielle Worona, a former development executive at Endemol USA, a leading reality TV production based in West Hollywood. She is running M3 Creative Reality, which has a development deal with ITV, a U.K. -based distributor.Ironically, Meyers started M3 so he could have more time with his wife and two children, which hasn’t quite worked out. The “Entertainment Tonight” job required him to arrive by 5:15 a.m. and work late into the night. Now, he and his partners fly more than 100,000 miles a year for shoots, write e-mails at all hours and think about projects 24/7.“I soon realized I had to work my tail off at M3,” he said. “I do have more time in some respects because I have flexibility. I can come in to work later, but my Blackberry is on all the time.”

Joel Russel
Joel Russel
Joel Russell joined the Los Angeles Business Journal in 2006 as a reporter. He transferred to sister publication San Fernando Valley Business Journal in 2012 as managing editor. Since he assumed the position of editor in 2015, the Business Journal has been recognized four times as the best small-circulation tabloid business publication in the country by the Alliance of Area Business Publishers. Previously, he worked as senior editor at Hispanic Business magazine and editor of Business Mexico.
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