EXCLUSIVE: Film financier and producer Michael Benaroya (Kill Your Darlings, Margin Call) has teamed with veteran manager-producer Darryl Taja to form an independent television studio, Revolution Media. It will borrow from the Benaroya Pictures financing model and will finance TV shows as an independent studio using a mix of equity, foreign presales and tax credits after securing a domestic broadcaster. Revolution has committed up to $50 million for the production of four series over the next year, with plans to start production on the first series in the beginning of 2015. Revolution, which will operate out of the Benaroya Pictures offices in Beverly Hills, will focus on packaged projects with showrunners and talent already attached. The focus will be on edgy hourlong dramas, which travel better internationally, though the company plans to also produce comedies. It already has acquired a drama and a comedy and is in the process of attaching talent and meeting with broadcasters. “This represents the launch of a financing model for TV that I’ve been interested in for a couple years,” said Benaroya. “And now, having all the pieces come together, with a great partner, great projects and an in-house sales team, I feel that we are uniquely well positioned to execute this model and take top quality scripted content directly to series.” Independent companies that employ the direct-to-series model in the U.S. include Gaumont International TV, Entertainment One and MRC.
Taja is embarking on the new venture after working with clients for years in the current TV studio environment, which “can be a frustrating, antiquated system that often does more harm than good to the creative process, in our opinion,” he said. “We hope to be the television studio where creatives feel that they can truly realize their visions without all the various layers of studio executives who have to justify their jobs and where we can revolutionize the system, or at least die trying,” he added, explaining the choice of name for the company, which is not related to Joe Roth’s Revolution Studios.
Taja, who has a background in business affairs, management consultancy and mergers and acquisitions, has management clients that include actor Michael Ealy and writer-producer Judith McCreary (Secrets & Lies). His production credits include New In Town, Preacher’s Kid and King’s Ransom. Benaroya’s upcoming film projects include the Werner Herzog-directed Queen Of The Desert starring Nicole Kidman, James Franco and Robert Pattinson, and You Shall Know Our Velocity starring Daniel Radcliffe. Projects in postproduction include the Stephen King adaptation Cell, which stars John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson, and Cymbeline, starring Ed Harris, Ethan Hawke and Milla Jovovich.