EXCLUSIVE: Anonymous Content’s Nick Shumaker and Vainglorious co-CEO Whitney Sudler-Smith came into the Deadline Studio in Zurich to talk about a slew of new projects the pair are collaborating on, including Penny Lane-directed documentary Mrs. America and a previously unannounced scripted project Family Office.
The latter is written and created by Sudler-Smith and is being made with Fremantle. “It’s a dark comedy,” he said. “I guess it’s like Gossip Girl on ketamine and it takes the piss out of young London high society. It’s very funny and we’re very proud of it and we’re developing it now.”
Shumaker shepherded the project into Fremantle CEO of Global Drama Christian Vesper, who is producing. For Sudler-Smith, who is best known as creator and star of hit reality show Southern Charm, it’s his first foray into scripted television.
Shumaker and Sudler-Smith are also producing upcoming documentary Mrs. America from, which explores the changing role of American womanhood through the Mrs. America Beauty Pageant’s half-century history. Anonymous Content, Fremantle and Spinning Nancy are behind the premium doc. It’s a space that Anonymous Content have a big presence in.
“We’ve been lucky enough to gain the trust of Alex Gibney, Raoul Peck and Jesse Moss and we’re at varying stages of production, post-production with these guys who are what I consider to be non-fiction auteurs,” said Shumaker, who notes that during the strike the company has “shifted focus a little bit” from a financing perspective “to work on European co-productions.”
“We’re doing a couple of animations with Charades in Paris,” he said. “We’re doing a fair amount of narrative in Europe, language agnostic, where we’re looking at interesting financing structures.”
He added, “We’ve been lucky enough to align with Danny Perkins [Elysian Film Group] to co-acquire The Boy and the Heron, which is going to be released in late December for an awards run in the UK and with GKids [the U.S. distributor] just before it.” Anonymous also invested in Altitude Films’ release of Talk To Me in the UK.
“We’re looking at deals in a different way than a lot of American companies are where it’s not about financing equity in an American film, it’s about what makes sense for the brand, how can we support international, which is a big, big driver for us and so far, we’re doing ok,” said Shumaker.
Both Sudler-Smith and Shumaker gave their thoughts on the impact of the dual labor strikes and where they see challenges in the film and television landscape in the immediate future.
Said Shumaker, “I think the toughest market – and I’m going to choose my words carefully here – is going to be the sub-$5 million independent market, in terms of how those films travel. How do we launch new directors, young new directors, how do we finance new directors and I don’t think anyone has really cracked the nut on that. So we look at international because there are subsidies that allow for that to happen and we are working to find ways to embolden that in the U.S. as well.”
Sudler-Smith also walked through the genesis of his hit show Southern Charm, which has been going for nine seasons.
Check out the video above.