Cineflix Media Unscripted-Side Shakeup Sees Simon Lloyd, Joe Houlihan Exit

The Canadian factual producer is following the money by bolstering its Los Angeles and London development and production arms as it scales back in Canada.

TORONTO – A shakeup at Canadian indie producer Cineflix Media will see Toronto-based factual production lynchpins Simon Lloyd and Joe Houlihan leave to start their own shingle at the end of the year.

Lloyd, CEO of Cineflix Productions, who joined the company in 2005, and Houlihan, executive vp programming, will stay with Cineflix until the end of 2013 to underpin the restructuring.

“After eight years, it’s time for me to move on with Joe to run our own company. We relish the challenges that await us at one of the most exciting times in the evolution of TV and digital media,” Lloyd said Friday in a statement.

STORY: Imax Second-Quarter Earnings Rise on Hollywood Releases, Theater Signings  

Lloyd’s exit has been in the works for some time, with Canadian and British broadcasters informed last spring of the impending departure.

His exit is also key as Lloyd, from his Toronto base, built out Cineflix's contacts with U.K. and U.S. broadcasters, including handling a series of co-productions with HGTV U.S. and securing the success of American Pickers as an international calling card for the company. Those contacts are crucial as the Cineflix factual model hinges on American broadcasters being able to tap Canadian tax credits by boarding Cineflix's factual series, while Canadian broadcasters get an American partner for projects they commission.

Along with flagship Pickers, Cineflix’s slate of factual fare also includes Mayday, Property Brothers and Surviving Evil.

The exits of Lloyd and Houlihan follow earlier ones at Cineflix by other executives similarly launching their own companies. Former Cineflix head of documentaries Nick Godwin left in January 2013 to help super-indie Argonon launch BriteSpark Films, a factual TV producer. A month later, CFO Greg Francis departed, followed by Paul Heaney, president and managing director of distributor Cineflix Rights, stepping down in May. Also out the door earlier this year was Gabrielle Free, the communications head at Cineflix.

Friday’s announcement also on Cineflix’s unscripted division, and left out mention of Cineflix Studios, the scripted division. On that side, scripted TV toppers Peter Smith and Christina Wayne are rumored to be weighing their options, which include leaving the company.

Cineflix co-founders Glen Salzman and Katherine Buck thanked Lloyd and Houlihan for their “fantastic contribution” to growing the company. “We could not be happier for them striking out on their own and we wish them great success,” they said in a statement.

In their place, Salzman, Buck and newly installed COO Andrew Akman are following the money and bolstering their U.K. and U.S. factual production arms as they scale back in Canada.

Jodi Flynn will oversee unscripted development and programming for North America, while Charles Tremayne remains responsible for unscripted production in those markets. Los Angeles-based Lisa Levenson will continue developing and producing unscripted fare for the U.S. market, where new reality series are on the drawing board.

STORY: Cineflix Rights Inks Distribution Deal for Aussie Drama 'Secrets & Lies' 

U.K. unscripted development and production will be led by Rob Carey, creative director, and managing director Camilla Lewis. And Chris Bonney, CEO of Rights, will continue to oversee the distribution arm, based in London.

The corporate restructuring at Cineflix Media also follows Participant Media last year taking an equity stake in the Canadian factual and scripted TV producer to jointly develop and produce series.