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"The real secret is just a great creative team and really passionate producers"

Nolan Gallagher, Founder & CEO Gravitas Ventures

Nolan Gallagher is the Founder and CEO of Gravitas Ventures. Part of Red Arrow Studios since November 2017, the major distributor of independent feature films and documentaries has released more than 3,000 films on Video on Demand (VOD) in 12 years. Nolan explains to us what he is looking for at film festivals and which plans he has in order to develop Gravitas into a consumer focused company.
How and when did Gravitas Ventures first start?

I started Gravitas in 2006. Just before that, I was at Comcast, working with the big Hollywood studios trying to bring their movies into American homes and it got me thinking - “what about the thousands of independent production companies and creatives?” There really wasn’t anyone working with them to broker deals to put their movies on cable or the emerging OTT platforms. So, I saw an opportunity and decided to take it from there.

"Our goal is to release films to audiences in over 100m homes in North America and over a billion homes around the world."
How would you explain what a film distribution company does, to someone outside of the industry?

I try to remind people of what they do know. Big names like Disney. So, think of us like a Hollywood Studio. We take a finished film and we put it out there. We want people to access films in whatever way is convenient for them. Our goal is to release films to audiences in over 100m homes in North America and over a billion homes around the world. We sometimes release films in movie theatres, and we release all our films on video on demand, through companies like Apple, Amazon and large US cable companies like Comcast, Verizon or AT&T, or license them to SVOD entities, like Netflix and Hulu, as well as to traditional TV channels like HBO, Showtime and Starz. And we also release via DVD and Blu Ray as there’s still a substantial portion of film lovers who enjoy watching movies in that way.

What do you look for when you head out to film festivals?

A team recently went to Toronto International Film Festival and watched over 40 movies. We saw the latest timely documentaries from Michael Moore, Werner Herzog and Errol Morris, and feature films starring Johnny Depp, Jason Sudeikis, Judi Dench and Chloe Grace Moretz. At film fests, we tend to gravitate towards documentaries. We put out about 100 documentaries each year – out of the 400 movies we release annually. We also look at a lot of Genre movies – horror and action especially – which tend to do best on what we call our “core cable” clients, where there’s a home entertainment audience who have happily been buying or renting genre movies on their big screen at home for years and will continue to do so. With fiction and scripted movies, we tend to go with cast-driven projects.

"We really love that Red Arrow Studios is an entertainment company with a truly global approach; that it doesn’t
see any borders."
You had three movies in the iTunes Top Docs chart in 2017 – what’s the secret to staying at the top?

I think the real secret is just a great creative team and really passionate producers behind the movie, who keep promoting it. We love those creatives; rather than ones that drop the ‘film baby’ at the doorstep and are done with it. A good example is Chris Brown: Welcome to my Life: Chris really wanted to tell his story and kept tweeting and instagramming to get audiences engaged.

How did you first meet the Red Arrow team and what led you to partner with us?

In Spring 2017, we undertook the formal process of presenting the business to potential investment partners, and there we met the Red Arrow team. And we just hit it off! We really love that Red Arrow Studios is an entertainment company with a truly global approach; that it doesn’t see any borders.

How are you working with other companies within the Group?

It’s a really exciting time for us, as part of Red Arrow Studios, to start thinking about the different applications for television content, and to start acquiring independent films globally. We also want to find new ways to work closely with some of the group companies, and potentially start producing independent documentaries and films that we can then distribute.

What are your ambitions for Gravitas in the next few years?

To keep growing. I think the sheer volume that we work at puts us in a great position. None of our competition is at that level. We’re also really excited to not just be a B2B player (which we’ve been for 12 years) but migrating ourselves into a B2C company. Last year, we launched a channel on Pluto TV, “Gravitas Movies”, which has a 24/7 program schedule of movies from our catalogue. A few months ago, we launched a channel on Roku (a popular device for Smart TVs) called “Gravitas Free Movies on Demand”. We already have thousands of people who’ve downloaded the channel and started watching our films.