Despite being a critically acclaimed, director Fannie Grande found it extremely difficult to find funding for her new movies. The major studios saw Latino Movies as a niche market with very little broad appeal. This is why Fannie and her husband Nelson Grande, founded Avenida Productions, a movie studio in the heart of LA. It’s here where they are providing equal opportunity to filmmakers to fund film and distribute their next big hit.
As part of Cat Footwear’s Collaboration with Startup To Storefront Podcast celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, Startup host Diego Torres-Palma had the opportunity to sit down with Fanny and Nelson to share their story. They touched on why they founded their studio for creatives and actors across the country, and how they’ve been able to help individuals get their film and projects funded, created and distributed.
Read a few excerpts from their conversation below and follow both Cat Footwear (@catfootwear) and Startup to Storefront on IG (@startuptostorefront) for the opportunity to win a pair of Streamline 2.0 shoes in your size.
Diego: Thank you for joining. Can you explain a little bit about the company and what you do?
Thanks! We are a non-traditional movie studio. Our mission is to democratize access to Hollywood specifically for underrepresented communities. The way that we do that is by providing solutions for funding, production, and distribution.
Diego: What made you aware of the problem that you’re trying to solve in Hollywood? Were you both in Hollywood trying to become actors yourselves? What was the moment where you were like “Okay this is a real problem”.
Well both Nelson and I are actors. I grew up in Venezuela and I’ve been acting since I moved to the US. The climate in Venezuela was getting bad, and my parents are like “We’re out of here!”. We went to the U.S. and I was so excited because it was going to be closer to Hollywood. I moved to Denver, Colorado to go to University, which itself was a huge culture shock for sure. When I was in college to study acting, I wouldn’t get cast in any of the college plays, and I’d be like “Why am I not getting cast, I don’t understand why i’m not even getting opportunities in the like local stuff”. So the Dean of the college pretty much said to me, “Well you know people are not going to believe you can play these roles because I’m a Latina. You should go to the Latino Theater Company in town.” I was like wait I’m paying you to educate me like and I can’t even get in plays here?
When I moved to LA, the issues that I were facing were a lot bigger here. Every Latino actor and creator that I met was facing discrimination when it came to Hollywood and the few roles that were available are usually negative stereotypes. I don’t want to see my community represented this way.
Diego: Once you realized like you could monetize this idea, what was the first step to get started?
So, what we started off with is funding because that’s the biggest need. There are a million amazing stories on paper, so crowdfunding was our first service. To date we’ve raised millions and millions of dollars for hundreds of projects now!
Diego: Are your projects on Kickstarter?
We started using that platform, but in February we launched our own platform called Support our Story. It’s for anybody, but I will say the most people that use it are members from underrepresented communities. We’re all about diversity and inclusion that is our niche. We’re very proud of this platform because even though we just launched, we already have raised close to half a million dollars for projects. The success rate is 96% which is higher compared to the other platforms .
Diego: So then once they have the money and meet the goal and are ready to make the movie, what happens then? How are you both involved in that next phase?
So a lot of our clients are like “Now I have all of this money, but I can’t afford any place to shoot my project”. That’s why we’ve created our studio. Most of these communities and creators don’t have access to these types of facilities, we want to incentivize and give them access to a place. We put this place together, and the cool thing is that we thought of all the amenities you’d want in a studio. We also have hair and makeup room changing rooms, makeup stations, & production office. We just had a dedicated fiber line brought in for remote directing if needed. We pretty much put together everything we wished we had when we started. I’ll say this – people walk into it and cry because they don’t think they’d ever have access to a place like this.
Diego : I’m a real estate developer and in doing that I meet with entrepreneurs and to some extent I’m literally building their dreams. There’s a lot of pressure to that you’re kind of responsible for people’s dreams. Isn’t that terrifying?
Yes and No. Hollywood’s a tough industry no matter what community you come from or who you are On top of that you know being an entrepreneur in that industry is another thing, but I think that the reward has been just so astronomically fulfilling. People who come to us are like, “I’ve been trying to make this movie for 10 years and within one year of contacting you guys my movies on Netflix.
To see the full interview with Hector head over to Startup To Storefront’s Youtube Page here