After a five-year run as New Regency president and CEO that garnered two Best Picture winners—12 Years a Slave and Birdman—and nearly a third—The Revenant—Brad Weston left to form Makeready with funding from eOne and distribution through Universal Pictures. And the game plan, he says, was to go beyond the traditional platforms of film and television.
One year in, and with Pam Abdy and Scott Nemes running film and TV, Makeready has already wrapped one feature, the Sam Taylor-Johnson-directed A Million Little Pieces, based on the book by James Frey, and numerous others will go into production shortly, including in other platforms.
After growing up as a lot-based producer and production president at Paramount and Dimension, Weston believes the current disruptive climate has created more opportunities than ever for producers open to different models, and who come to the table with the conviction to take risks and the funding to make that possible.
“Three years ago I was at a tech summit and heard Mark Zuckerberg talk about changing the world through connecting people,” Weston says. “And two and-a-half years ago I sat at lunch with an award-winning European filmmaker friend who said to me, ‘I want to design boots for a Japanese fashion designer, I want to shoot commercials for a European fashion designer and I want to make movies. Can I do all of that at this new company you’re putting together?’ These conversations resonated really deeply with me as we were creating our business plan and raising our money.”
So, for example, Makeready is in business with a luxury fashion brand in Paris. “We’re creating a TV series together that will have an ancillary marketing and communication strategy for them, stemming from IP we are creating together.” In addition, he says, “We’re doing a scripted premium short-form series and we’re making traditional films with Universal and premium television.”
The key, he insists, is doing all of that for a price. He said yes quickly to Taylor-Johnson’s take on A Million Little Pieces, and said that with a modest budget, he was able to give Sam and Aaron Taylor-Johnson wide creative freedom. “They had a great experience. They found answers and solutions without throwing money at problems, and everybody won.” These opportunities are only going to improve, he says, with the continued development of streaming services and short-form programming platforms.