Strategically opportunistic financing company 30West has been a whirling dervish of activity, from its Sundance acquisition of a controlling stake in distributor Neon to hiring away 24-year Sundance programming veteran Trevor Groth, who will join the company in February and hit the ground running in Berlin. Clearly, 30West partners Dan Friedkin, the Texas entrepreneur behind The Friedkin Group consortium, and ex-CAA agent and Cinetic Media executive Micah Green, are scooping up the talent they think will best take their company into the rapidly evolving future.
The company’s stated goal: to provide full-service support to help filmmakers package and produce their films, find financing and distribution, and reach the largest possible audience. 30West also arranged the financing for Sony’s “All the Money in the World,” directed by Ridley Scott and starring Oscar-nominated Christopher Plummer, which was produced by Friedkin’s Imperative Entertainment. Green is based in the LA, while his former CAA colleague Dan Steinman, another partner, runs the New York office. Groth joins recent 30West hires Tristen Tuckfield (another CAA defector), Adam Paulsen, and Katie Anderson.
So far, 30West has made a range of different film investments to raise the likelihood that they’ll be attached to some hits, from partnering on sleeper Oscar contender “I, Tonya” with distributor Neon to selling projects like Morgan Spurlock’s “Super Size Me” sequel, and finally acquiring a majority stake in Neon. At a Sundance dinner for rookie director Michael Pearce’s stylish UK noir romance “Beast,” Green said that he years ago decided that Radius distributor Tom Quinn should launch a distribution company aimed at the younger audience underserved by older executives who sell movies to older adults. Now he and Friedkin own Quinn’s new company, which is geared toward luring that hard-to-reach demo into cinemas.
Groth was known to be getting restless at Sundance, looking for his next opportunity to get closer to movie production, but his 30West duties are vague at best. So far, 30West players wear many hats while shepherding their own projects. And Groth, who is as knowledgeable as anyone about rising talent, championing such Sundance finds as Damien Chazelle’s “Whiplash,” Ryan Coogler’s “Fruitvale Station,” Christopher Nolan’s “Memento,” and Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Hard Eight,” is well-positioned to help pull in some sexy productions. Both Tony Safford and Geoff Gilmore left running the Sundance festival to enter the industry, as an acquisition executive and Tribeca Film Festival executive, respectively. “He’s been talking to filmmakers for 20 years,” said Roadside Attractions’ Howard Cohen, who was approached by Friedkin as a distribution partner on “Beast.” “He’s a very well-respected curator of independent film.”
Also at Sundance 2018, 30West partnered with Bleecker Street to buy U.S. rights to Wash Westmoreland’s period biopic “Colette,” starring Keira Knightley as the bisexual French writer, and brokered the partnership between Neon and Agbo Films to buy global rights to Sam Levinson’s tech thriller “Assassination Nation” for $10 million. 30West is already in production on Karyn Kusama’s “Destroyer,” starring Nicole Kidman, and Peter Hedges’ “Ben Is Back,” starring Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges.