Having written, produced and directed award-winning titles such as “Dawn of the Dragonslayer”, “Dragonhunter”, “The Crown and the Dragon”, “Orc Wars” and now the 10-episode series “The Outpost”, Arrowstorm Entertainment has already become a creative production force to be reckoned with. Owned by production partners Kynan Griffin and Jason Faller and run by Jennifer Griffin, the team has been writing, developing, directing and producing content for film and television for over 15 years.
The trio met in the film program at Brigham Young University Media Arts Program and the rest is history. They initially made a romantic comedy and then branched into what has become their signature genre: Sci-Fi and Fantasy television and film. Their newest series, “The Outpost” features a heroine who sets off to track her family’s killers and along the way discovers her supernatural powers, powers that help her achieve her goals. Owned by CBS and Warner Brothers parent companies, the series will premiere on The CW July of 2018. The Outpost’s crew and cast are made up of people from Australia, New Zealand, England, as well as locals, bringing a wide range of talent and exposing them to the local market.
After filming the opening sequence in Ireland, says Jennifer Griffin, Senior Producer, most everything else was filmed in Utah. “Utah is a gold mine for production resources. Whether it is for geographical landscape alone or production resources, a filmmaker can produce 95 – 99-percent of their project right here. Every department is represented here from the Art Department to Production Design and Post Production services.” Arrowstorm works with a number of production houses such as BluFire and Redman Movies and Stories to accomplish what they need from pre-production to post-production. “Redman is providing an opportunity with their green screen and equipment to finish everything, get every last shot we need or think we will need for post to complete the 10 episodes for a July, 2018 deadline. We can get everything done in just one day due to the team that is available here. Everything is so centrally located and it is easy to get from one location to the next—it saves time.”
“One of the things people forget is that because of Silicon Slopes, Utah has cutting edge IT and technically savvy companies—it has pushed the film industry here. There are a lot of young people who have grown up here, been educated here and moved away for job opportunities, only to have returned to open their own companies and share the wealth. Right on our doorstep. And they still do work for major studios such as Sony, DreamWorks and Industrial Light Magic,” Jennifer says.
“The plan was always to just graduate and try and make it in the film world and re-locate to LA, says Kynan Griffin, Owner and Executive Producer. Also, Writer and Director. But we learned how to put together a business plan and raise money—we made our first feature and kept making films since then. We put down roots, spent a lot of money, employed a lot people, had families and bought houses.” That kind of strategic planning has continued to pay off. As companies that have come in from LA and take their post-production dollars elsewhere, Arrowstorm continues to develop the local economy.
“[Staying in Utah] was a huge benefit for us. We’ve been able to spend a lot of time cultivating production relationships with people here in Utah: sound teams, visual effects companies, art direction, production design, because of vendors who have come into Utah to set up facilities and provide technical skills. It makes it very attractive to keep productions here, especially when you have excellent post production services here.” With Redman Movies and Stories, Blufire and Huge Post Production, just to name a few, the pre-, production and post-production options are limitless. Kynan says Utah is becoming known as a tech state—high-tech, high-skill jobs pay better than run-of-the-mill production jobs. It’s good for the economy to cultivate high-level skill sets and high-tech vendors and contractors.
Arrowstorm has produced approximately 20 feature films with budgets ranging between half a million and one million USD with a good distribution pipeline. The most profitable arena at the moment is television as the budgets per episode are larger versus an entire independent film. Even on a low budget, half-hour to one-hour episode, the spend is more than the entire budget of one film. Also, Kynan says, when you shoot a film, the people that you hire on the production usually work between three to five weeks versus a television production where there is a longer pre-production, production and post-production period that could be from 16 weeks to up to two years depending on the project. Most platforms for films are shrinking—if it’s not a big theatrical film it is difficult for filmmakers to make money.
Arrowstorm’s website explicitly states that scripts that are submitted to them will get tossed. They are eager to promote and support filmmakers but because they typically create their own projects and pursue their own funding partners, they are a turn-key production operation. The driving creative vision comes directly from Kynan and Jason. All three of them are involved in the business development, funding, investment, distribution and technical production aspects of each product they create. They do not compare themselves to other production companies in Los Angeles or New York City, they are just doing what they love and “we have been lucky to have found great funding partners within and outside of the United States,” says Jennifer. The biggest demand for their films is foreign at 75 percent with 25 percent in the United States. In fact, Arrowstorm did their foreign deal with their current series “The Outpost” with NBC Universal International Distribution prior to wrapping up their domestic deal with CW because of the demand for their product.
At the end of the day, Kynan and Jason are huge fantasy nerds. This might be part of the passion and drive behind their acute business and creative production sense. Even though Jason grew up in Canada and Kynan in South Africa, they shared a love for the same genre. “We played D&D, all video games in fantasy space and we both read the same books. In college, we talked about the lack of exciting Sci-Fi and Fantasy content at the time and wanted to fill that gap. Since then, of course, we’ve had “Lord of the Rings”, “Harry Potter” in the feature film arena but the television space is still underserved. In fact, most book sales are in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy arena. For kids, sales in Sci-Fi/Fantasy is over 50 percent of the market.”
Arrowstorm will continue to make Sci-Fi and Fantasy content, utilizing Utah creative and technical talent with an eye on sustaining the Utah creative film and television industry with their own projects. Utah can expect to continue to benefit from the work they will create - over the next five years, the Arrowstorm team is looking forward to producing a few more seasons of “The Outpost” and another feature film, this time, a medieval horror/thriller. They have worked extremely hard to get where most independent filmmakers want to be. When asked if they will be taking a vacation soon with a full production pipeline, Jennifer confirms, “the price of success is hard work.”