The Orchard Film, TV Head Stepping Down (Exclusive)

Christina Gandolfo
Paul Davidson

Paul Davidson intends to leave his post as executive vp film and television once the sale of The Orchard to 1091 Media is completed.

Paul Davidson is set to step down as executive vp film and television at The Orchard Film Group, the company behind movies like The Hero with Sam Elliott, the Oscar-nominated documentary Life, Animated and American Animals, after the pending sale of the company to 1091 Media is completed.

Davidson and CEO Brad Navin met Tuesday morning with the staff at The Orchard, and Davidson in an internal memo also discussed his decision to "move on" from the company.

"While I am very appreciative that 1091 asked me to continue to run the company in its new iteration, for me the time is right to look toward my own next chapter and build something new. There are exciting things on the horizon, and I look forward to sharing more when I’m able," he wrote.

Davidson, who has been with The Orchard for five years, made the company a competitive buyer on the festival circuit, where he spearheaded such splashy acquisitions as Louis C.K.’s I Love You, Daddy for $5 million at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. The Orchard subsequently relinquished the film to C.K. after the comedian was the subject of a New York Times exposé in which several women accused him of sexual harassment.

The Orchard in January unveiled a deal to be acquired by 1091 Media, a holding company whose management is affiliated with Dimensional Associates, a private equity firm. The Orchard Film Group is owned by The Orchard, an asset of Sony Music Entertainment.

The Orchard is set to spin off its film and television assets so it can focus on its core business of music. Dimensional Music Publishing has a catalog that includes 25,000 copyrights and contains compositions by John Denver, Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood and many more.

Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but 1091 Media is to rename The Orchard Film Group, and is expected to continue making investments in content and distribution technologies. Dimensional Associates, the private equity arm of JDS Capital Management, owned The Orchard from 2003 to 2015, so the agreement with 1091 Media reunites The Orchard Film Group with its original ownership team.

The internal memo from Paul Davidson follows.

Team,

When I came to The Orchard almost five years ago, it was clear there was great potential for the film division, which would build off the amazing achievements of the music side of the business, with the same spirit of transparency and true partnership. We saw the opportunity to replicate this success for film directors, producers and content creators, and we launched a new strategy for the film group, bolstered by a stellar, wildly creative team of leaders passionate about film and smart about business.

I'm very proud of what we've built with The Orchard in such a short amount of time: a well-recognized brand associated with high-quality films, strategic thinking, collaboration and creativity, and a track record of critically acclaimed (and award-nominated) films including What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, American Animals, The Hero, We the Animals, The Overnight, Birds of Passage, Neruda, Beats Per Minute, Cartel Land, Life, Animated, The Dawn Wall and so many more — about 4,000 more to be exact.

Now, as the company ends one chapter and begins another, I have made the decision to move on from The Orchard film group. While I am very appreciative that 1091 asked me to continue to run the company in its new iteration, for me the time is right to look toward my own next chapter and build something new. There are exciting things on the horizon, and I look forward to sharing more when I’m able.

I want to thank Brad for his support for all these years. He has always been a huge supporter of what we've been doing and has been an incredible partner. Without his support and that of the management team at The Orchard, we would not be where we are today.

I also want to thank the entire team, whose hard work and passion attracted a stable of incredible filmmakers, emerging new voices and prolific producing teams which, in turn, spread the word about the valuable brand we’ve built. This has been an immensely personal journey for me, and I am incredibly proud of the work we have all done together and of the relationships we have forged. I wish you all the very best!