News Column

Local entrepreneur opens Knoxville film studio [News Sentinel]

November 16, 2013

YellowBrix

There are varying versions of the mythological tale of the Salmon Boy.

The legend tells generally of a boy who, after showing no respect for the salmon, is swept underwater and dies. The Salmon People take him to live with them undersea, where they teach him the principles of respect, honor and morality. He is later returned to his family, with whom he shares what he has learned.

It's this type of oral tradition mixed with history and conservation that appeals to Breezy Wynn, who is producing a $6 million full-length feature film on the story, titled "The Salmon Prince," through his new Knoxville-based creative firm, Breezy Media USA.

"At Breezy Media, we make stories. We discover really amazing, magical, exciting stories that we can put into a feature film format, mixing live action and animation," said Wynn, 42, the grandson of textile manufacturer Herman "Breezy" Wynn and real estate developer Oliver Smith Jr.

Breezy Media has partnered with various film, game development and publishing companies across the globe to create a business model that will support and expand the project across different platforms.

The company is working with Cartoon Saloon in Ireland to combine the cinematography and hand-drawn animation sequencing for the film. A hardcover and digital publication of a complementary children's book will support the project, as well as game, mobile and tablet applications through London-based Johnny Two Shoes.

"They take great mythology and make it modern and accessible to people today like the Disney family, which is my target audience," Wynn said of his film studio partner.

Live-action footage will be shot on location in Japan, Russia and Canada, as well as Bristol Bay, Ala., and the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state.

Pre- and postproduction work, however, will be done in Knoxville, where Wynn said he hopes to take advantage of local talent and state film incentives.

"I want to tap into the creative talent here. We have such a tremendous pool of resources," Wynn said.

Last May, the refundable tax credit to film productions was repealed and replaced with a 25 percent reimbursable cash grant program for qualified projects through the Tennessee Film, Entertainment and Music Commission.

The barrier to qualify was lowered from a $1 million production value to $250,000 so that independent, smaller production houses like Breezy Media could access the tax reimbursement, said Clint Brewer, assistant commissioner for communications and marketing for the Tennessee Economic Development Council.

"We listened to the film community and realized for small to mid- size companies the old system was pretty cumbersome. Our idea in changing the law was to help these companies build and create permanent jobs in the state," Brewer said.

Wynn said he believes the incentive package will help more filmmakers like himself produce films in the state. He plans to add to his portfolio with several projects already in varying stages of development.

After years of working as an emergency medicine doctor, Wynn decided to pursue a new career in television and film production. He moved to London in 2007 because of the U.K.'s strong documentary production talent. He studied at the American Intercontinental University.

"I decided to go over there to learn it, make my mistakes and do it right, really learn how to produce and be an executive producer," he said.

Wynn spent the past six years working on various television productions and films.

His latest projects overseas include two video productions; the one-hour television documentary "Card Shark" for National Geographic Channel, featuring a British card magician; and "Fishing for Survival" a one-hour documentary for IMG network featuring two professional anglers in the Russian Arctic circle.

While he will maintain a satellite office in London, Wynn said the timing was right to move back home. "The Salmon Prince" will be his first project out of Knoxville.

Trout Unlimited is the fiscal sponsor of the project, which is slated to be released for Christmas 2015.

A portion of the film's proceeds will support the conservation and restoration of North America's salmon fisheries and their watersheds.

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.


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