News Column

Hispanic Entrepreneur Looks to Transform Hollywood

July 16, 2013


Albert Sandoval
Radioactive Giant CEO Albert Sandoval

When Albert Sandoval launched RadioactiveGiant several years ago, his goal was to build an entertainment company that wasn't a typical Hollywood studio that just produced programs for television and movie theaters.

Mr. Sandoval's goal was to create a studio of the future, where content could be viewed from a computer, smartphone or tablet, in addition to traditional media.

"The foundation of our company is built on this multiscreen and distribution system, multiplatform direct-to-consumer platform," Mr. Sandoval said. "Anything you want at any time on any device."

So far the formula has proved successful for Mr. Sandoval and his Santa Monica, Calif.,-based company that was founded in 2006. The company started out marketing and developing programming, but in the past couple of years it has started producing its own content.

Its first Indie film, "Killing Winston Jones," includes actors Richard Dreyfuss, Danny Glover, Danny Masterson and John Heder, and is currently in post-production. The film is about an English teacher trying to get a newly built gymnasium named after her father, even though one of the naming requirements is that the person must be deceased.

"Avatar" star Joel David Moore directed the film, which is expected to do a film festival tour with plans for larger distribution.

Next up for RadioactiveGiant is the new film "Electric City," co-produced with Metta World Peace, formerly of the Los Angeles Lakers and now with the New York Knicks.

"We as a company, culturally, are very cautious moving into any kind of business venture," Mr. Sandoval said about the "Killing Winston Jones" movie. "I think we spent a long time considering the film and the first film we wanted to come out with as a company."

Studio of the Future

With RadioactiveGiant producing full-length feature films, Mr. Sandoval's studio of the future feels more like a traditional Hollywood studio. But Mr. Sandoval says its approach is different than that of the big studios.

"The term we use in our office is 'platform agnostic,'" Mr. Sandoval said. "We create content that consumers will engage with and consume. That content will be something you read, something you interact with, or it may be a feature length film you watch in a movie theater, on a tablet or an Internet-enabled box on top of your television."

Prior to founding RadioactiveGiant, Mr. Sandoval worked in advertising and brand building. While working with well-known brands such as DirecTV, Yoplait, Coors Light and Cheerios, Mr. Sandoval saw the direction of consumer's media habits.

"We spent a lot of time trying to understand consumer media consumption habits, how they valued media and what they were willing to pay for it and what they wanted to spend time watching," he said.

"Unfortunately, a lot of clients that we worked with didn't take our advice at the time," he later added.

Mr. Sandoval said he would try to educate large corporations about reaching "acculturated" Hispanics, consumers who are born and educated in the U.S. The campaigns would often miss their mark, he said. When he raised the issue with marketers prior to the 2000 U.S. Census, he said, they "would look at me like I was crazy."

He emphasizes that Hispanics are not only great film audiences, but the demographic is a big supporter of art galleries, museums and concerts.

"Just because you guys put it in Spanish doesn't mean it's getting to me or a lot of my friends," he said. "By the way, we went to college and we've got disposable income. You shouldn't be ignoring us."

Even though Mr. Sandoval is a third-generation U.S.-born Hispanic and proud of his heritage, the projects RadioactiveGiant produces aren't targeted to a single demographic or minority. Mr. Sandoval says he keeps an open mind when it comes to all projects.

"I'm not necessarily drawn to ... a Latin theme as opposed to not," Sandoval said. "I'm just drawn to good entertainment. I am completely open, it doesn't necessarily play a role in my decision making as far as the content that I'm creating or business ventures.

"The idea of being a filmmaker was sort of unattainable and out of the realm of reality. I do think it's important as a Hispanic filmmaker not to lose sight of that and to give inspiration to younger generations."

Room for Growth

RadioactiveGiant has a small staff compared to traditional studios such as Disney or Warner Bros. The RadioactiveGiant studio has just 10 full-time employees and utilizes a staff of 15 to 25 freelancers and contractors. The company is privately held and does not disclose its revenues.

During production of the dark comedy "Killing Winston Jones," the company's staff grew to more than 100 employees.

Mr. Sandoval prefers to keep the employee count low and isn't looking to become the next DreamWorks, although he's not opposed to it.

"I feel like we're definitely growing and will continue to grow," he said. "We're keeping our eye on the prize and operating as a multimedia studio, a development and production studio ... and producing and developing films. Chances are we'll likely grow, I'm not sure how big, as long as it's not too big to lose focus on things that are important."

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Source: (c) 2013. All rights reserved.

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