Canadian Microsoft Slayer Loudon Owen Launches Movie Shingle (Exclusive)
The venture capitalist, who took on the U.S. tech giant and won, is looking to Participant Media as he makes emotionally compelling, socially conscious films.
TORONTO – Hard-driving Canadian venture capitalist Loudon Owen, who won a David-and-Goliath battle against Microsoft, is going into the movie business.
Owen, flush with cash after the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011 sided with his Toronto software company in a $290 million patent infringement case against the U.S. tech giant, is launching Toronto-based Know Rules Media.
Canadian filmmaker Sanzhar Sultanov has been hired to run the production shingle as vp, development and production.
Participant Media is their model as they make emotionally compelling, socially conscious theatrical features for the world market in the $1 million to $25 million budget range.
“They’ve done a fantastic job in making great films. For us, it’s finding stories that also have a global resonance,” Sultanov said with a tip of the hat to Participant Media, which was founded by another Canadian tech giant with deep pockets, Jeff Skoll.
Sultanov was backed by Owen on his debut feature, Burning Daylight, the Robert Knepper and Paul Calderon-starrer set in 1920s Wall Street.
Now he’s developing for Know Rules Media a theatrical feature about an early 1700s slave rebellion in Jamaica.
“That’s an inspirational story, a story about oppression and about human triumph and achievement after struggle,” Sultanov explained.
Know Rules Media also is targeting underdog tales, especially after Sultanov penned a movie script about i4i, Owen’s tiny Toronto tech firm, and its seven-year legal battle to defend patent rights related to computer programming language against Microsoft.
“Though it’s about technology, there’s a lot of cornerstones about the story that are very relatable,” Sultanov added as the producer pushes ahead on the movie project.
Owen is no stranger to Hollywood.
Well before i4i, he financed and advised Softimage, a Canadian-based 3D animation company founded by Daniel Langlois that designed special effects for blockbuster movies such as Jurassic Park and Titanic.
Microsoft eventually acquired Softimage in 1994.
Owen, a former amateur boxing champion, is also a major shareholder in The Fight Network, a mixed martial arts TV channel controlled and run by former CanWest Global Communications Corp. CEO Leonard Asper.
Besides three theatrical features now in development, with budgets ranging from $1 million to $20 million, Know Rules Media also is developing a documentary, a TV drama and a web-based platform.
And while Owen can develop projects on his own, his production shingle will ideally look to co-finance with established U.S. and other foreign producers, including in China where he has a branch of his venture capital firm.
“We are able to finance our own projects,” Sultanov added, underlining the obvious appeal of Know Rules Media, even as it looks to foreign partners for creative leverage.
A fast-changing distribution landscape also is giving the production shingle a tailwind as it launches.
“This has opened up a lot of opportunities for independent filmmakers like ourselves to make great stories with high production values, but which can be done for a lower cost,” said Sultanov.