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Monday, Jul 22, 2024

Apparel Distribution Adding New Level of Reality to BASE

An average day for the average company chief executive is filled with hard decisions but taking a tennis ball shot at high velocity to the groin probably isn’t one of them. Unless your name is John Brenkus and you happen to not only be the CEO of a reality-based production company but also host one of the shows. On “Sport Science,” Brenkus has been battered, pummeled, choked, knocked down, and dragged all in the name of entertainment and breaking down the physical marvels done by world-class athletes. Testing the limits of the human body is a shared theme among a number of shows BASE Productions makes. Then there are shows like “Crime 360” aired on A & E;, a real-life “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “American Cowboy,” still in production about the competitive careers of real-life Montana range riders. Common to all, said Brenkus, are high production values; of being able to take a $1 million budget and make a series look like it cost 10 times that amount. BASE operates on the East Coast and in a new facility in Burbank after many years as one of the biggest tenants on the Paramount Studios lot in Hollywood. The company shoots its own programming, does all the post-production, creates it own graphics and owns its music publishing. “We’re like Warner Bros. without the overhead,” Brenkus said. Now in a deal with European clothier X-Bionic, BASE is attaching its name to sports apparel products by scoring an exclusive distributorship for the clothing line. Brenkus sees this opportunity as an offshoot to the core business. As he and business partner Mickey Stern are entrepreneurs at heart, distributing active wear is another type of business for them to build. With its programming distributed on television, home entertainment and through the Internet, BASE has the platforms to get the X-Bionic name in front of North American consumers. The clothing line will appear in several shows, including “Sport Science.” “We can create the images that are going to sell in the marketplace,” Brenkus said. Founded by Brenkus and Stern in 1992, BASE grew from a bootstrap operation into one that produced 100 hours of programming in 2008. “Crime 360” is in its second season; “Fight Science” is in its third season. A key to all the shows is making them in a compelling way and incorporating a story arc and character development that engages the audience. If there is no story at the core then all you are presenting is images, Brenkus said. At the Old Ballgame Documentary filmmaker John Scheinfeld debuted his latest project June 12 at the Chicago Theater. The two screenings of “We Believe: Chicago and Its Cubs” drew an audience of 3,600 people with the proceeds going to charity. With a cast including current and former Cubs players and appearance by actors, musicians, sports writers, historians and even a Catholic cardinal, “We Believe” takes a look at the unique relationship between the Cubs and their fans irrespective of the win-loss record. Scheinfeld has always described the film as less of a Cubs movie and more as one that anyone with a passion for their team and their city will understand and appreciate. The audience at the two screenings laughed and applauded in all the right places, Scheinfeld said in a phone interview from Chicago where has been supervising the post-production. “When you sit in an editing room month after month you don’t know how people are going to respond,” said Scheinfeld, who otherwise works in Studio City. With the film completed, next up is to find a distributor. Scheinfeld wants “We Believe” in theaters by the end of the summer, and on DVD by the fall. The documentary is just one of three films needing distribution. “Heaven,” a project that Scheinfeld started several years ago, is in the final editing stage. It is a look at how the five major world religions view heaven and how individuals and groups prepare to get there. “Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?)” had a favorable run on the festival circuit. With issues over the use of Nilsson’s music resolved the next step is getting the film before a wider audience. “The word for me this year is distribution,” Scheinfeld said. Screen Miracles Burbank filmmaker Leslie McRay has her hands full juggling four projects through her production company MiracleFilms.com. One is a big budget feature, two are based on true stories and all have a faith-based element to them, be it angel warriors or miraculous healing. “You don’t have to spend a lot to send a message,” said McRay, whose credits also include “Day of Miracles,” about survivors of the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attack. For “Seized,” however, McRay’s project is a budget of $30 million and reportedly is in discussions to get some big name performers involved. The story of child abduction and angel warriors, McRay turned to North Hollywood effects and prop house Renegade Effects Group to design the angel wings. The other films are: “Gold Score,” to shoot in Houston with a screenplay written by a country singer who will also provide the soundtrack; “Through the Fire,” based on a true story of a paralyzed girl who was healed and goes on to be an evangelist; and “Fighting Spirit,” also based on the true story of two brothers in the Central Valley one of whom comes out of a coma and wins a high school wrestling championship. When the films are finally released (financing for all four is still being worked out) McRay hopes to replicate the success of “Fireproof,” a Christian genre film released last year made for all of $500,000 that brought in $6 million in its first weekend and $33 million overall during its theatrical run. With the poor economy and depression news people are looking for something to give them hope and McRay wants her films with their inspirational messages to help. Using real life stories in the plotlines is a plus because those resonate better with an audience, McRay said. “I think people like testimonies more than being preached at,” McRay added. Staff Reporter Mark Madler can be reached at (818) 316-3126 or by e-mail at [email protected] . He recently appeared on Sunday L.A. on KNBC Channel 4.2 to discuss the auto industry.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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