Storytelling Knows No Borders

Hollywood no longer remains at the center of the storytelling universe. This has been true for a long time, but our virtual world has pushed us further along that path. This week, we’d like to celebrate MPRM clients who are creating opportunities for storytelling in locations as diverse as Nairobi, Milwaukee, New Orleans and points beyond as well as those who are bringing stories from far flung locations to audiences everywhere.

Beginning with the most distant, Kukua, headquartered in Nairobi, is an exciting female led company launching its first animated series franchise, Super Sema, on YouTube on March 8. The company has brought together a global group of talent including BAFTA winner Claudia Lloyd (Charlie & Lola, Mr. Bean, Tinga Tinga Tales) and director Lynne Southerland, the first female African-American director for Disney (Mulan II) as well as African production and voice talent to create the world-changing adventures of Sema, an extraordinary young African female superhero fueled by STEAM super powers.

Established by Oscar winner and Milwaukee native, John Ridley, Nō Studios was founded to create a collaborative workspace and social community in Milwaukee to offer an environment for artists and art lovers to come together. Programming to a virtual audience this past year it was able to reach beyond the city, but true to its roots, last week the studio announced the Nō Studios Artist Grant Program. The program, entirely self-funded by the Nō Studios collaborative, has pledged to give up to $100,000 annually to support Wisconsin artists, especially those in historically underserved populations, to help them realize the completion of their artistic endeavors. Individual artists and the creative industry have been especially hard hit by the pandemic. This program will add resources to the Wisconsin artistic community at a critical time.

Hometeam is a great example of how two well established companies, Co.MISSION Content Group and Magic See Productions, came together to leverage their global networks to create a highly curated community of owner-operator filmmakers worldwide who are ready, willing, and able to create impactful content close to home in response to COVID-19. With access to teams able to deliver commercial-grade content while working remotely on six continents and in over 20 locations across the U.S., the executives and creatives at Hometeam have used their love of storytelling and experience with global shoots to create a smarter model for crews and clients. Success with The Voice, Google and NBC’s Global Citizen Prize is proof positive that their upstart model is the future of production.

Our newest client, The Ranch Film Studios, is based in New Orleans and continues to lead TV and film production in the city with an emphasis on fostering not only creativity among filmmakers but economic development for the community. In the fall of 2020, The Ranch announced that it will continue its presence as a leader in Louisiana film production under the state and Governor John Bel Edwards’ Entertainment Job Creation Program. With the ability to hire additional staff, The Ranch can expand upon its mission of bringing storytellers to New Orleans and entrusting in the film studio to create amazing projects amidst The Ranch’s expansive and state of the art film studios and exceptional customer service. Past TV and film productions hosted by The Ranch include Showtime’s Your Honor, starring Bryan Cranston, Terminator: GenisysDeepwater Horizon, Bill & Ted Face the Music, Netflix’s Mötley Crüe biopic The Dirt and more.

While their offices may be located in Hollywood, Millennium Media makes this list because of their Nu Boyana studio in Sofia, Bulgaria, where they were able to start hosting productions with COVID-19 safety protocols in place last August. After a delay caused by the pandemic, Millennium was able to start production on its female-driven horror/thriller Till Death in August, marking one of the first American productions to move forward following the shutdown.

Vancouver based BRON Studios recently wrapped the psychological thriller Solitary starring David Oyelowo in Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia and will soon begin production in London on the English language adaptation of the French hit series Call My Agent.

The most important aspect of storytelling is its ability to transport us to realms beyond our own narrow reality, especially important this past year. And our client MUBI, a curated cinema streaming service has been able to take its audience to the many corners of the world with films ranging from Cathy Yan’s China-set dramedy Dead Pigs to Werner Herzog’s moving tale of Japan’s rent-a-family business to Déa Kulumbegashvili’s striking debut Beginning about a Jehovah’s Witness missionary seeking justice in a remote Georgian village.

Our world has grown richer thanks to the increased opportunities for storytellers to raise their voice and reach new audiences.