The Oaks: Monthly Spotlight on Local Businesses & Residents

Monthly Spotlight on Local Businesses & Residents
Q&A with Guy Botham, Co-Head of Production, Solstice-Studios
Solstice Studios is an independent movie studio based in Los Angeles. The firm develops, fully finances, produces, sells internationally and distributes feature films in the U.S. on a wide-release basis.
Solstice’s founders are President & CEO Mark Gill, the former president of Warner Independent Pictures, Miramax and Millennium Films; Production Heads Andrew Gunn (Freaky Friday, Cruella) and yourself, Guy Botham (of Vitality VFX whose recent credits include San Andreas); and Marketing & Strategy Head Vincent Bruzzese (formerly at STX, OTX and Marketcast, whose recent credits include Bad Moms and Halloween). Can you share with us how the 4 of you decided to venture out on your own together?

It started with Mark Gill. We've been friends for a long time, and after Mark parted ways with Millenium, he approached me with an idea: combine his extensive studio background with my visual effects technology. When you're building a movie studio from scratch, while that may sound terrifying, it also allows you to innovate, to introduce new cost-effective strategies that would be too difficult to adopt if you've been running the traditional way for a long time. We reached out to Vinny, our marketing & strategy guru, who is able to create a data-fueled marketing strategy that you won't see anywhere else. Mark brought in Andrew, who's had decades of experience producing and has cultivated ideas of how to approach production in new ways. I like to say that each of us brings our own superpower to the table. The four of us, along with the many employees we've hired since, round out each other's talents to make a truly collaborative team.

Solstice was founded recently in October 2018, and you are expected to grow to 65 people in your first year. Can you share with us your secret to rapid success?
If you create a core team of smart and motivated people, and if you foster a collaborative, warm environment, that's a huge draw. We're very interested in making sure Solstice is a place where our employees are excited to work, and therefore with the amazing crew we have in house, we have been able to attract quality projects and talent who enjoy working with us.
Solstice plans to produce and distribute 3-5 movies per year for a global audience. How do you decide on which projects to move forward?

We've been lucky in that we've received nearly 2000 submissions so far, and we have the luxury of being selective in what we pursue. First and foremost, we're looking for quality scripts, but it also has to be a project that gets moviegoers out of their seats and into theaters, both domestically and internationally. So it has to be big enough, and has to have a unique idea that immediately pulls people in, and something that can attract A-level talent. For instance, we have a script called MANHUNT. When a wealthy man's granddaughter is brutally murdered, he decides to take justice into his own hands and issues a challenge heard around the world: "Kill the murderer, and I'll pay you $1 billion." Now the only thing standing between the accused man and near-certain death is a U.S. Marshall with an impossible job: deliver the accused from New York to Los Angeles, with just about everyone from nurses to shop clerks to sophisticated criminal organizations trying kill them both and cash in. The hook is immediate: Would you kill someone for $1 billion? Stories like that can create a cultural conversation that is bigger than the movie.
We noticed Solstice recently took a stand about not filming in the state of Georgia regarding laws they recently passed. Talk about why it's important for your company to carefully choose where to film, based on the social or moral values of that location:
We're aware that we are new on the scene, and aware that the choices we make early on can truly define us as a company. The abortion law in Georgia is truly reprehensible, and we cannot in good conscience film there while it is in effect. We hope other studios make the same choice.
We hear you are a foodie at heart. Would you share with us your favorite places in the neighborhood to grab a bite to eat?

Without a shadow of a doubt my favorite neighborhood restaurant is Sushi Ike - the food that Rick is creating there is world class, and he is the warmest host. It happens to be in the most unassuming strip mall, but the food is outstanding. Papilles is a great neighborhood bistro, and Yuca's on Hillhurst have the best burrito in town.
What is your favorite part about living in The Oaks? 
I love that we are so close to the park, we have deer in the back yard, P22 has visited our house, and yet we are 10 minutes walk to the heart of Hollywood.

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