Inside Streamland Media’s Post-Production M&A Campaign | Industry trends

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Streamland Media is one of the largest post-production groups in the world that you may never have heard of.

Twelve hundred people were employed by the US-based company before adding Technicolor and more than 300 other employees to its roster under a deal reached this week. This is arguably the largest group of episodic and television installations in the world, although it also offers feature films and video games.

“We’ve been Hollywood’s best-kept secret,” CEO and Chairman Bill Romeo told IBC365. “We never really pushed on that.”

That’s because, he admits, Streamland’s sub-brands have their own well-established reputations. Now Romeo, who started his career producing advertisements, wants Streamland Media to become a global name.

“Even the bricks and mortar model can be profitable. We have customers who have been with us for 20 years and still want to come and sit in our color bays. They don’t want to move to the cloud,” Bill Romeo, Streamland Media

Prior to its 2019 name change, Picture Head Holdings was a loose collection of three facilities: LA’s Picture Shop and Picture Head and West Hollywood audio post facility Formosa Group, founded by Robert Rosenthal in 2013. Romeo and Rosenthal were colleagues in a single facility . giant Ascent Media.

“We ran the three facilities as entirely separate brands, but we shared human resources and other back-office systems,” Romeo explains.

So successful that it caught the eye of private equity firms Trive Capital and Five Crowns Capital.

Ambitious to export his role model outside of Los Angeles to international production capitals, Romeo says of the VC, “They supported our global strategy based on where we felt we needed to be to support the customer base.”

Acquisitions soon followed, including Finalé Post in Vancouver, Ghost VFX in Los Angeles and Copenhagen, and The Farm Group in the UK in 2019.

FarmOnlineEditor

“Once you get investment capital, all kinds of companies come to you asking if you want to buy them,” he says. “We transmitted a lot more than what we watched.”

Their purchasing criteria were based on location and the operational and cultural compatibility of the business.

“I liked the philosophy of The Farm. I loved [co-founders] Vikki Dunn and Nicky Sargent. I especially liked the fact that like all of our companies, they hire great talent. We wanted to work with people who shared our culture.

When the “for sale” sign hung above Technicolor’s post and visual effects division in 2020, it seemed too good an opportunity to miss. The company included locations in Toronto, Atlanta and London.

“The only shortcoming we had on the picture side was in the digital intermediate – an area where Technicolor has world-class talent.”

Read more What the Streamland Agreement Tells Us About the Post

The Technicolor brand will be removed from its new acquisitions and rebranded using the existing identities of Streamland’s “boutique family of businesses”.

In the UK, this means the former Technicolor Post facilities in Lexington Street and Cardiff will become the headquarters of Picture Shop and Formosa Group, but The Farm retains its strong national presence.

“I see Streamland Media as a good hotel and whether you’re in the US, Vancouver, New York or London, the Streamland experience will be the same no matter what brand you work for,” he says. “We won’t operate in silos, but it will be the same culture, the same professionalism, the same great talent.”

large scale post

Yet other install groups that grew rapidly through acquisition or spanned huge global operations — like Ascent Media, Technicolor, and Deluxe — ultimately failed.

Deluxe’s ​​bankruptcy in October 2019 led Devoncroft Partners analyst Josh Stinehour to conclude “that the broader post-production business model is broken”.

Romeo was also CMO of global television post-production services at Encore Hollywood, part of the Deluxe empire. What makes him confident that his full-scale post-production model will fare better?

“I think we approach it almost as an entrepreneurial style versus a corporate style,” Romeo says.

He says his management team, including Rosenthal, Jake Torem and former Technicolor Post and VFX chief Sherri Potter, is available around the clock. “We spend time with clients, we support everyone in our organization and we place talent at the center of our service.

Sherri Potter_Photo Services_Streamland Media

“The biggest failure is forcing your customer to use all of your services,” he adds. “They come to us for a particular talent or with a line of business and if they choose to work with an audio engineer, for example, at a competitor, then that’s fine.”

Still, Technicolor hasn’t found the efficiencies in marketing, R&D, around-the-clock workflows, technology investments, or management to insulate it from the ravages of a company in deep change.

Post-production is rapidly moving towards remote and distributed workflows with hybrid in-home solutions. It is believed that the bursting of compute tasks in the cloud provides greater flexibility to compete on larger scale projects. Desktops can exist as virtual and non-physical to call on demand and quickly amass freelance talent regardless of geography.

Business philosophy

“Covid isn’t causing so much trouble in the media technology sector as it is revealing long-standing structural issues,” Stinhour explained. “The fundamental flaw of the post-production business model is that every additional dollar of revenue is an equal and opposite cost of $1 (at least).”

With many post-producers looking to shrink their physical footprint in the aftermath of the pandemic, is Streamland Media’s investment in localized bricks and mortar already out of step with the times?

“I have mixed feelings about the cloud and it depends on how you structure your business. Even the bricks and mortar model can be profitable. We have customers who have been with us for 20 years and still want come and sit in our color bays. They don’t want to move to the cloud. They prefer to stay old school.

“We have other customers who need a whole new set of deliverables and so we’ve put our technical and R&D team on it to deliver that to them. We’ll take advantage of all the technologies. Nothing is on the table.

streamland audio Re-record Step 1 c

Romeo’s business philosophy is remarkably simple, and that may be the key to his company’s extraordinary growth.

“You have to sit down and say ‘here’s the margins we want to create, so how can we be effective at creating that margin. “There’s no answer to that. You have to look at the needs of your customer base and where that content is being created, and then you put a strategy behind it.

Nevertheless, he is embarking on an audit of the company’s real estate assets as part of a four-month integration of its new assets.

“As big as we are, there’s a simplicity to how we operate,” he reiterates. “We see our customers as partners. They ask us to do something in the most cost effective and efficient way and we look at it from the point of view of profitability. »

Meanwhile, Streamland’s VC Backer Fellowship remains open.

“We’re going to take a break and organize and integrate everything, but there are some areas where we plan to grow from a strategic perspective.”

These could be geographical, after all, Streamland does not have an outpost in India, Asia or Australia. It also doesn’t have a virtual production stage, which is arguably the hottest production ticket in town.

“Private equity is not going to buy companies that are not profitable. We succeeded and we will continue to do so. We have a good formula.

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