We had the good fortune of connecting with David Schatanoff, Jr. and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi David, how do you think about risk?
How do I think about risk. Well, risk is how we grow, and how little or much risk we take on can determine how much we grow and learn. Personally, risk got me to move from the small town of Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania to Los Angeles and pursue my dream of working in the film and television industry. The risk of failure was high, but I have been able to sustain a career working with the film studios, and now as an independent producer, for over 23 years. On a professional level, and as a producer, risk is everything. It is calculated and quantified as best possible to achieve the best outcome. On the business side, we reduce risk of commercial failure and try to make films and television series that are widely accepted to a large market to maximize revenue. Take a risk there and you might not get another shot with a studio. If you look at crews and actors, how safe are they? How much risk can you as a production take on? Stunts, special effects, pandemics; they all boil down to risk, how comfortable you are with the risk and how best you prepare yourself and others if you take that risk on. During the pandemic, I had colleagues filming and taking precautions. I looked at the slate of projects I had, looked at the risk associated with filming during a pandemic, and just couldn’t justify putting people at risk. And the end of the day, we’re not performing brain surgery and saving lives, we’re entertaining people; and if the risk associated puts lives at risk, I err toward the side of caution. Now, where’s my mountain bike…
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
D Studios Productions, LLC was created to handle the various types of creative endeavors I pursue professionally; but our big revenue stream comes from post production. I have a long career in post production working for small post houses and for the large studios so it was natural that when I started the company, our focus was going to be on finishing projects. Because we are small, we can be flexile for independent projects; and for larger projects, our relationships both inside and outside of the entertainment industry make it easy to scale to the size of budgets and project needs. Our most recent release, the second season of the thriller L.A. Macabre, presented us with the opportunity to provide pre-production support, production services including audio, grip, staffing, location services, construction, prop acquisition; and post production support including audio editorial and re-recording services. The journey of growth for D Studios Productions has been slow and steady. We do a lot of things well but we are in no hurry to grow into a giant studio with huge overhead. Over the last 20 years we have seen studios and facilities shutter their doors or go into bankruptcy. In fact, I have a conference room white board that used to hang in the Rhythm + Hues offices in El Segundo. I know at one point it had scribblings of workflows and action items for Life of Pi and The Golden Compass. Now, it holds the next slate of films and pilots that D Studios Productions will consider and evaluate for development. Additionally, the state of California, where we are based, is making it increasingly difficult to hire contractors for work. So instead of contracting individuals, we are now forced to work with other companies directly, or hire individuals as D Studios Productions employees. As a small company, this doesn’t force us to grow, it forces us to look at other states that are hospitable to working with the types of projects our clients are looking to develop. I think, if there is one thing that I want the world to know about our brand is that we love what we do as storytellers and we want that to come through in our projects. If we have done our job, you won’t remember the D Studios Productions logo at the beginning of the film, TV show or on the album liner notes; you’ll remember a story that you can relate to and that has entertained you for a brief moment in your life.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My favorite spots in the city; there are a lot of them. I think back at how many cool places there were when I first moved to Los Angeles and how that has changed over the years. There are still a few staples that I love so here is my itinerary. Breakfast – I love Home in Los Feliz. I used to go to the Silver Lake location which was a little quieter and a little more secluded. I also love Alcove Cafe for breakfast. You can grab a nice coffee and a slice of quiche, read the trades on your iPad and catch up on things with friends, then head into the Big Bar when they open up and start drinking. On the ocean side, I love Ivy by the Shore. I’ve done a lot of Santa Monica morning meetings there. It’s usually filled with hotel guests but you can almost always get a nice corner table if you request it in advance. Also a long term morning hang is Paradise Cove. Parking is like $20, but I always like sitting in the sand, having a little breakfast with a few friends, then relaxing on the beach chairs with a beer listening to the waves. It’s super chill and a great way to decompress. Lunch – There are too many awesome lunch spots in Los Angeles. I love Jackson Market when I’m down in the Sony area. Fresh sandwiches and chill outdoor patio make you forget that you have to get back to the studio lot and keep working. Century City has too many to offer but I love swinging by Eataly and head to the back corner where La Pizza & La Pasta is located. The pizza and pasta there are great and the wine selections are perfect for pairing. Fairfax to La Brea area, I like Canter’s Deli, The Village Idiot; and downtown I like Bottega Louie. Dinner – It’s tough in Los Angeles because we have so many great dinner spots. My cool classic ones I like to frequent are The Dresden, Musso & Frank, the Smoke House, Patina, Melisse and Spago. Some of my more recent favorites are Bestia, Majordomo, Laurel Hardware, Go’s Mart Sushi, Nobu and Little Dom’s. If I’m just looking to hang or set up a meeting with someone, I like Messhall in Los Feliz, The Red Lion in Silverlake, Aroma Cafe, and Petit Trois le Valley. My favorite bars in L.A. are Crane’s in DTLA, Frolic Room in Hollywood, The Bar at Cole’s French Dip, El Carmen (velvet luchador art on the walls), Bird & Bees speakeasy DTLA, and the bar at Bazaar. We’re a city of entertainment so there’s always a live band to check out, world class opera, symphony, pops symphony, every major sports in a 60 minute drive from the city, movies with talks, a few great bookstores left, trendy shopping, great hiking, a ton of tourist traps, theme parks and recreational activities from surfing and beach activities to biking and climbing. Top notch curated art and science exhibits and cultural historical displays at some of the best museums around. If I were to do a day of just culture, I would start off with the breakfast near the beach, Getty Villa in Malibu, lunch at the LACMA followed by a stroll around the museum, then dinner at Patina at the music center, and an evening with the Symphony at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The causal version of that would be breakfast in DTLA with a stop at the Natural History Museum. then over to the Getty for lunch at the cafe and stroll around the museum afterward, then pack a picnic and a bunch of wine for a box seat at the Hollywood Bowl. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Shoutouts… well. my wife, Viviane, is super supportive of my creative endeavors. If she were more about stability and 9-5 paychecks from a studio, my life would be pretty dull. So she’s my first shout out. I think my parents are a given. They gave me the tools to be creative and think outside of the box while also appreciating science, data and respecting others. But I think my largest shoutouts go to the people that molded my music education. The love of creativity and the exploration of discipline in the arts was magnified by them and I continually come back to their lessons again and again: Bill Ford, Dave Foor, William Deremer, and Bill Moersch.