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Matt Damon and Ben Affleck say they plan to give freedom and profit-sharing back to artists — from writers and directors to costume designers and editors — with their newly launched production company Artists Equity.
The duo spoke about their plans for the new company, which follows the closing of their previous Pearl Street production firm, in an interview with The New York Times published Sunday. The independent production company arrives after Damon and Affleck “obtained a minimum of $100 million in financing from investment firm RedBird Capital Partners,” with Affleck and Damon committing their own “unknown amount of capital.”
Affleck called the new venture his “next act of my career for a long, long time,” with the Oscar-winning actor, producer and director planning to work exclusively with the company. Damon, who will produce exclusively with Artists Equity, said the company will allow film and TV talent to “take ownership of their creative power, providing a platform for both established and emerging filmmakers to streamline the development of their content.”
“I know what kind of freedoms artists long for and how they can be empowered — treated like grown-ups,” Affleck said.
The duo’s newest production company arrives as streaming has begun to shift its focus from quantity to quality, with the actors’ adding that they hope to address the impacts on deals for film and TV makers the streaming companies have had in the last half-decade.
“As streamers have proliferated, they have really ended back-end participation, and so this is partly an effort to try to recapture some of that value and share it in a way that’s more equitable,” Affleck said. “Not just writers and directors and stars. But also cinematographers, editors, costume designers and other crucial artists who, in my view, are very underpaid.”
Affleck addressed his previous experience launching multimedia company LivePlanet with two others in 2000, noting that he was humbled by the experience but feels ready to take on this latest endeavor.
“There was part of me, I have to admit, that was like — come on, these studio guys sit behind desks and make phone calls. The artists are the ones who have to go off and actually make the movie and do all the work. I have already been humbled,” he said. “But my only regret is that I didn’t have the sense of self to try this earlier. Now I feel very ready to do it. I’m right at that period of life where you have enough experience and confidence and self-assuredness.”
Actors’ Equity will have three films out its first year, including an untitled sports drama starring both, directed by Affleck and co-written by Affleck, Damon and Alex Convery. The project, which centers on the sneaker salesman who convinced Michael Jordan in the ’80s to work with Nike, will be produced with Skydance Sports, Mandalay Pictures and Amazon Studios.
After its first year, the company’s annual goal will be five films a year.
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