Frank Patterson, prez of Pinewood Atlanta Studios, investing $16.5 million in production companies

His goal: a complete “ecosystem” for content at Pinewood

Originally posted Monday, January 6, 2020 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Pinewood Atlanta Studios president Frank Patterson and chief operating officer Craig Heyl have raised $16.5 million to invest in two production companies as venture capitalists.

His venture firm Green Honey is a way to help create a "complete market ecosystem" at Pinewood's 700 acres and 18 sound stages in Fayetteville, Patterson said. Right now, they are primarily a rental service with 49 different vendors on site offering everything from lighting to cleaning.

"We're already a biggest one-stop shop studio in this part of the country," Patterson said in an interview today. "Everything you need from Panavision cameras to lighting and grip, from recycling to fabrication."

The studio over the years has been home to big-budget films such as  "Passengers," ""Ant-Man and the Wasp," "The Avengers: Endgame" and "Captain America: Civil War."

But Patterson wants to get in on the action of actual production of films and TV shows. Locally grown content, he said, will help solidify Georgia as a major hub for entertainment.

The first two companies Green Honey is investing in are Sutikki out of Los Angeles and Believe Entertainment Group out of New York. Sutikki created Universal Kids' "Moon & Me," which shot 50 episodes at Pinewood. Believe Entertainment Group was founded in 2010 and focuses on digital content.

The Atlanta Business Chronicle broke the story.

"We're excited about investing in some of the most inspired creatives in the world," said Patterson, a tech entrepreneur who moved to Atlanta in late 2016. "We have abundant resources where anything is possible."

Pinewood’s core business will remain rentals and Warner Brothers and Marvel will stay active there, Patterson said.

The Cathy family last year purchased the Pinewood minority share of the studios and own it outright. The official owner is River's Rock, a trust set up by Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-A. Pinewood is actually a sizable studio company based in the U.K.

The name of the studio will change though Patterson won’t reveal it until mid year. For now, it remains Pinewood Atlanta Studios. Patterson’s venture firm has also invested in the new Pinewood.

In an interview, he said $13.5 million of the $16.5 million of the investment money came from Georgia. While he won’t reveal his investors, he said a couple have provided funding to Hollywood before but most are newbies to the business.

He is also excited by the breadth and depth of film and TV production.

“It’s an industry with highly creative artists on one end and hardworking blue-collar people who know how to rig and build sets on the other,” Patterson said. “Then there’s all the new technology, the new visual effects. And all of them are working together.”

Patterson previously founded Pulse Evolution, a digital media company that creates "virtual humans" — digitally-generated facsimiles of dead performers. Six years ago, Patterson produced a hyper-realistic digital human in the likeness of the late Michael Jackson at the Billboard Music Awards.

As far as the recent murmurings in state legislature that the film and TV production tax credits might be scaled back amid a budget crunch, Patterson is taking the long view.

“I’ve watched these kind of processes over the years in different states and different industries,” Patterson said. “The reason I felt comfortable moving here is the smart way the state positions itself in the business community. The tax credit is smart business. And the state leaders created a best-practices tax policy.”

He added: “I hear discussions that this person is going to do this and that person will do that. Georgia state leaders have been very wise the way they’ve handled business in the past. I’m confident they will be wise in the future.”

The Georgia tax credits are among the most generous in the world and are not capped, which has provided an incentive for big-budget films to come here. Last year, tax credits valued at $870 million were handed out (though not all of it was cashed in). On the other hand, the industry has generated tens of thousands of jobs though the actual number of jobs is in dispute.