1428 Elm recently chatted with award-winning Atlanta-based creative entrepreneur Jon Gosier. Jon is the CEO and founder of production company Southbox Entertainment and financial-tech company FilmHedge. He recently served as executive producer on the genre hit Witch Hunt from director Elle Callahan.
Witch Hunt takes place in modern-day America, where witches are real, and witchcraft is illegal, leading to many witches struggling to find shelter from an oppressive government that hopes to round them all up.
We chatted with Jon a little about what appealed to him about Witch Hunt, his companies, and some of their upcoming projects.
Interview with Jon Gosier about Witch Hunt and his various companies
1428 ELM: How did you get involved with Witch Hunt?
JON GOSIER: As one of the executive producers, it came to my desk as many projects do from a referral, I think from another producer that knew the producer of this film, and I liked the project. I liked that it was an allegory for a number of issues like modern immigration, etc. And also that it had a compelling, upcoming female director. I liked the cast. There were a lot of things going for it that had me excited.
1428 ELM: You’re someone who likes to nurture and cultivate diverse directors. How do you do that through your production company?
JON: In a couple of different ways. So number one, my company Southbox Entertainment is a production company, but we’re much more on the finance side of things than on the production side. Most people, when they think of producers, they think of companies with cameras and green screens and things of that nature.
That’s not what we do. We finance other producers. We’re more co-producers and what you would call executive producers. Number one, we look for projects that we can support that have elements that will lead to a better cinema industry, and one of those things we look for is a diverse team behind the project.
Or is there something interesting about the story or the cast that might be doing things differently in terms of diversity? It’s not the sole purpose of what we do, but it’s a big part of what we look for because we think it ultimately leads to better stories. The last thing I’ll say is in-house, we develop content, features and television series, etc. And there, where we have more direct control, we definitely make [diversity] a priority.
1428 ELM: What were your thoughts when you finally saw Witch Hunt?
JON: I thought it was well done. I got to see various iterations over the course of making the film. I didn’t have any creative control or input in the outcomes or how everything came together, but I thought they did a great job. [I’m] really excited to see how it performs. I have been a long-time fan of some of the talent in the film. I’m very satisfied with the outcome.
1428 ELM: I know you’ve got some other projects lined up. Can you talk a little about those?
JON: To date, Southbox has co-financed, or executive produced four films, most of them in the sci-fi genre. Those were us financing other people’s productions. The next evolution of my company is to focus on projects we’re developing in-house. These are scripts that were written by our staff or wrote in-house. These projects are where the IP is either owned by us or acquired by us, much more of my individual or our team’s creative vision for stories and features.
Now we have two television series and two feature films in development. We’re really excited to get those out hopefully in 2022. A big focus of ours going forward is to focus on broader types of stories, global focus, diverse cast, geographically diverse stories as well, and these are largely thrillers and dramas based on true stories. That’s much more where my personal creative compass is, even though I certainly appreciate other genres.
1428 ELM: You also founded the company FilmHedge. Can you talk a little about your work there?
JON: FilmHedge is exclusively a finance company, a little different from what we do at Southbox. At Southbox, we are financiers in a sense. We come in, we executive produce, we don’t necessarily have creative control, but we will be supporting the creator by investing alongside them or alongside other investors. With FilmHedge, it’s similar, but it’s more streamlined and quantitative, meaning there is no creative element to it. It’s very much like an application for a credit card or a bank loan online.
You go to our website you tell us a little about where you are as a film or TV producer. FilmHedge is essentially a lender that is faster, more transparent, more accessible than some other routes producers will go to finance their projects now. The vision for FilmHedge is to create paths of sourcing capital for film and TV projects where you don’t have to know the right people. Your project has just as good a shot as anyone else’s at getting financed if you check all the right boxes.
It is much more efficient as it can take months to get capital for a film right now in a world without FilmHedge. With FilmHedge, the type of funding we provide can be completed end-to-end in a couple of days. That means from the point that you apply if you’re qualified, and it goes through our underwriting process successfully, we can fund you within days, not months.
We’re really trying to speed up the process overall. What that has led to—because it is all technologically driven—is a number of other financial services to the film and TV industry that don’t currently exist we can offer people.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Witch Hunt is now available to rent or purchase on-demand from digital retailers.