While Emmett/Furla stands as a powerhouse shingle in the feature film world, the company's recent venture into television space is like a return to elementary school, according to Randall Emmett.
"It's a new world, and we're learning all over again," Emmett explains. "I'm a total amateur in the TV business... But right now it's a magic time for television, and we wanted to wait until that right moment to get involved."
Amateurs or not, Emmett and partner George Furla have already landed a straight-to-series order from Starz for Mark Canton and Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson drama "Power." Beach drama "SAF3" is lensing a hefty episode load in South Africa and has pacted with Tribune Broadcasting for a syndication deal.
The Emmett/Furla TV arm also has numerous scripted projects in the development pipeline aimed toward both the network TV and cable space, along with docuseries and gameshows spearheaded by an unscripted pact with Maria Menounos and Keven Undergaro.
Though Emmett and Furla, who share the co-CEO title, are newbies to the smallscreen realm, their partnership runs 15 years deep in the film space, and Emmett jokingly refers to the pair as an "old married couple." Their extensive experience financing feature films has served them well as they embrace the smallscreen.
"The TV finance model mirrors our film finance model," says Furla, who notes the importance of "pre-selling foreign territories" and "filming in a tax credit state or country."
Leveraging international sales opportunities with tax credits, as Emmett/Furla has done with co-financed series "SAF3," "reduces our exposure, limiting the equity needed to approximately 25%-30% of the budget to fund the project," says Furla. (Pictured above: actor Texas Battle in "SAF3")
While the financial models for Emmett/Furla's film and TV biz may echo one another, Emmett sees the sheer content load to be a key difference between the two showbiz realms.
"We're non-writing producers, so you rely a lot on the showrunner and writing producers to handle the show," Emmett remarks, adding that the company plans to be "aggressive" in its pursuit of scribes for development deals. "We can't be on set every hour. We have to rely on these producers to run the day-to-day for us during production" of a TV series.
Co-financing or fully financing a series before it's even shopped to networks has become an increasingly popular way to produce television; NBC's "Siberia," for example, was fully financed by Infinity Media and Sierra/Engine TV before the pitch landed at the Peacock. And though the risk runs higher for Emmett/Furla when they co-finance an entire series, the chiefs see the payoff as more than worth it.
"The one thing I enjoy about being able to finance a TV show," Emmett explains, "is that you're able to go do something that might not otherwise have been made. It gives you the chance to put something on the air that others may not believe in, or that networks don't have the financial resources available for during that calendar year."
As for the networks that Emmett/Furla is drawn to, the company admits to skewing toward the hourlong cable and pay-TV space, though it would certainly "welcome the opportunity" to land a show on one of the Big Four.
And don't count out digital platforms for this TV shingle. Emmett dubs the Netflix model of rolling out an entire season of episodes at once "the best," and would consider working with the streaming company.
"What makes TV fun is that I haven't done it," Emmett says.
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