Jonathan Bronfman and Daniel Bekerman have made a splash in the indie film biz after joining forces less than three years ago. By Katie Bailey - Playback Magazine
Playback‘s New Establishment is an annual feature highlighting Canadian companies or individuals achieving great success mid-career. Inspired by our 5 to Watch nominations, these individuals are already “watched” and are making waves in the Canadian entertainment industry. Our third 2015 New Establishment profile looks at the team of Jonathan Bronfman and Daniel Bekerman.
Like Bron Studios, Toronto’s entrepreneurs Daniel Bekerman and Jonathan Bronfman (pictured right and left, respectively) have made a bold splash in the indie film biz in a short period of time. In under three years, Bekerman’s Scythia Films and Bronfman’s JoBro Productions have forged a partnership that has already borne high-profile festival accolades, U.S. sales and projects with enviable industry talent.
Together, the two producers have completed four films and a further five individually. They currently have two in production (Bekerman with an additional two), five in development and, under the JoBro-Scythia banner, aim to complete four projects together per year in the future. Their business model is build on balancing both original production with service production, bigger budgets and small.
They’ve already had success: Bang Bang Baby was booked for TIFF 2014 (winning the award for best Canadian first feature), while copro The Witch (with U.S.-based Parts and Labor) made both TIFF and Sundance in 2015. At Sundance, The Witch sold to U.S. distributor A24 for a reported $1.5 million. Upcoming bows include Two Lovers and a Bear from director Kim Nguyen and The People Garden, by up-and-coming director Nadia Litz.
Bekerman and Bronfman met three years ago via entertainment lawyer Daniel Goldenberg of Hall Webber LLP. Bronfman was wrapping up a stint working with Martin Katz’s Prospero Pictures and Bekerman was working with Goldenberg as he launched his career as an independent producer. Together, they started circling Bang Bang Baby, a long-gestating script by Jeffrey St. Jules.
“We saw an opportunity to create a low-overhead sleek company that covers everything a bigger company covers,” says Bekerman. “We found that between the two of us we had a lot of the tools [to run a film company]. I had really detailed brass tacks experience with line producing and deep knowledge of budgets and production models. Jon had financing resources, experience and relationships.”
Of maintaining separate companies instead of merging as one, Bronfman says the desire was to stay “nimble and fluid” and maintain the ability to commit to projects in different capacities as required. ”We have the capability of going on and working with different producers based on their varying needs [and] of where they’re at in terms of financing and packaging. As a banner — the Sycthia-JoBro/JoBro-Sycthia banner — we’re a one-stop shop from package to delivery,” he says.
Bronfman says the duo are not limiting themselves to any one style or scale of project: their only criteria are stories well told and with international market appeal.
“We can scale from a $1 million feature to a $10 million feature. We want to be really strategic with how our money is being deployed alongside partners we trust and want to pursue relationships with in the future. We want to be here for a while — we want to create a model that’s sustainable."