The Business of Film

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The Business of Film

"Co-owning a studio, and working in the television and motion picture production businesses were not life-long dreams of Max or Micheline Keller, who were successful Los Angeles attorneys, in general pratice, twenty-two years ago. Max Keller, now Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Keller Entertainment Group ("KEG") and Micheline Keller, President and Chief Operating Officer, feel "that it was just something that evolved naturally." The Kellers became interested in the TV and film businesses through their work with entertainment clients. "Once we started to look at what they were doing,says Max Keller, we decided that it was preferable to be principals than lawyers." Under Keller Entertainment Group, the parent group for several corporations the Kellers control, are subsidiaries: American First Run Studios ("AFRS"), an operating production company which has produced more than two dozen netework movies and several television series; and Inter Planetary Pictures (the film library). With a $60,000,000 production and distribution program in place, AFRS will finance four TV Series: "Tarzan: The Epic Adventures," "Acapulco H.E.A.T." "Cyberkidz" and "Conan: The Adventurer." Over the past 20 years Keller Entertainment has evolved into a successful boutique studio, specializing in the international production and distribution of feature films, television series and movies for global networks. The first subsidiary, Inter Planetary Pictures was established in 1976 and became a theatrical distribution and international television sales company. In 1978, under the Inter Planetary Productions Inc. banner, the Kellers began production on their first picture for NBC called "Summer of Fear" directed by Wes Craven. Upon completion of this film, the Kellers decided to leave theatrical distribution behind, concentrating their efforts on producing television movies for the Networks. Their efforts were very successful, as noted by an Emmy awarded to James Goldstone for "Best Director" on an IPPI film on "Kent State", and a Cable Ace Award for "best Dramatic Special" on the IPPI film "Conspiracy: The Trial of the Chicago 8", which aired on HBO in l986. Although the Kellers continued to produce a few theatrical films ("Deadly Blessing,") produced for Polygram as a negative pickup with Sharon Stone; and "Now and Forever" with Cheryl Ladd), their primary focus turned to television production. Max Keller felt that "The theatrical films we saw coming down the pipeline required intensive production and distribution capital that we didn't have available to us." Keller continues, "To do an 'A' title theatrical movie, even 15 years ago, required 10 to 15 million dollars, and today the budgets require a minimum of $40-50 million." In Max Keller's opinion "MIPCOM hasn't really changed very much, other than some new faces and fortunately, alot of familiar faces". He also thinks that they type of television product distributors seek remains fairly unchanged. "Distributors continue to want programming that attracts large audiences," continues Keller, "and they basically stick to the same program formulas that have always worked, using different names, different titles and different characters. Adventure continues to work well, and comedy still does not translate very well, unless it is physical comedy. The only real change is in the increased demand for product, due to the expansion of pay TV and satellites in the international market." When looking for product to develop, Keller prefers to develop their own franchises, as he did with "Acapulco H.E.A.T." or to utilize existing franchises as in the cases of "Tarzan" and "Conan"..."