Whenever we hear about an entertainment business committed to growing and expanding its presence in the Golden State, we like to pay them a visit. And, when Film Works learned that Lee Brownstein, founder of Santa Monica-based XcitableBoy Productions, made the gutsy decision to expand during one of the slowest film production periods on record, we knew that he and his company needed to be celebrated for their investment in California.
Before July 2010, Brownstein ran XcitableBoy Productions from a single office in Santa Monica, which was sufficient to meet his needs for producing reality television and branded entertainment. But given the explosive growth of the reality programming, branded entertainment and web content industries during the last ten years, it wasn’t long before Brownstein spotted an opportunity.
“When all of the new content and reality programming came around, the business model in L.A. changed,” said Brownstein. “Brands and reality productions want a one stop shop for their production needs, and for the most part, I found that wasn’t available.”
According to Brownstein, many reality productions do their pre-production in one place, prep and shoot in another, and then do post-production somewhere else. “As a producer of the same kind of content at XcitableBoy, I wanted the convenience of a one stop shop where I could do it all in one place.”
Opportunity soon knocked when a large amount of space at Brownstein’s current office park became available. It was a large risk to invest in an expansion, but Brownstein said the economic downturn enabled him to negotiate a better price, which was critical in making the risk worth his investment. Overnight, Xcitable Boy went from being a production company to the operator of a small movie lot.
Brownstein not only made a financial investment in acquiring the space, he spent a large amount of money to renovate and upgrade its aesthetics and technology. “I have some background designing and building broadcast offices, including the very first office for MSNBC,” Brownstein told Film Works. Brownstein sa
id that while he obviously spent money on the cosmetic things that you do see, like high-quality equipment and furnishings, he spent even more on hidden things, like high speed network capabilities, advanced communication services and an electrical overhaul to handle modern production needs.
“Basically, I had a blank slate and I built the studio and production offices I found ideal to me as a producer,” Brownstein noted. Since Brownstein has nearly finished working on XcitableBoy Production’s first feature, he is happy and “Xcited” to make the studio available for others to use.
The new studio is a dream for reality television productions, or any medium-sized television show. The build-out includes 4,200 square feet of space, including a 900 square foot uncertified sound stage, three editing bays, a sound mixing room and production offices. The lot has parking for up to 20 vehicles, a rarity in Santa Monica, and Brownstein even offers valet parking services for his clients. A large center courtyard — large enough to accommodate cube trucks — can also easily double as a private outdoor production space.
Currently wrapping production at Santa Monica’s newest mini movie lot is an Ish TV Entertainment reality show being produced for the Oxygen network. Brownstein said he was thrilled to host such a great client, and their business reassured him that his venture would work out.
“When the economy is horrible, it’s scary to take a big risk when everyone else is failing,” Brownstein admitted. And while we can’t presume to know just how daunting that must have been for XcitableBoy Productions, we are very glad they took a chance and bet on Film Working for California. Hopefully, others will follow the same example.