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Q&A: Light Iron CEO Michael Cioni on His Move to Manhattan

Buying Offhollywood's Post Business, Bringing the Outpost Mobile Lab East, and Targeting the Fashion Industry

Light Iron CEO Michael Cioni won't be at Sundance this year. He's gearing up for a move to the Big Apple, where he'll be overseeing business at the Hollywood-based company's New York City expansion, in the 580 Broadway Soho offices occupied until today by Offhollywood. Offhollywood founders Mark Pederson and Aldey Sanchez will stay in the same building, running Offhollywood's camera-rental and production-services division and bringing Light Iron's Outpost mobile-lab systems to the New York market for the first time. "The strategic transaction allows Offhollywood to focus and expand on its camera and production service operations while maintining a leadership position in supporting file-based acquisition and workflows," Offhollywood said in a prepared statement.

We asked Cioni what the move means to his business and to the New York production market.

StudioDaily: So you're moving to New York. Are you taking over day-to-day operations in New York City?

Michael Cioni: Yes. I will be moving there in 10 days, and New York will become my new home.

I understand Offhollywood founders Mark Pederson and Aldey Sanchez will be running their production services company downstairs from you, although they won't be involved in the post business.

That's what's so great about this. Light Iron really wanted to expand in New York, because we saw a lot of things we could offer to the community. I've been friends with Mark and Aldey for a long time, so we decided it would be a good idea to inquire and see what might help Light Iron move faster. And obviously it would be faster to acquire an existing entity, rather than start from scratch and compete. It was what they wanted and what we wanted. Technically, we're open today in New York City. There's no lead time. There will be some upgades and changes, but as far as the New York community is concerned, this is an instant transition.

How long has this been in the works?

It's been in discussion for a couple of months. That's actually a pretty quick turnaround.

You said that the new facility will be up and running without any downtime …

Well, the honest truth is we will be doing a lot of construction. But we're taking customers right now, and that's the most important thing. If we announced, "We're moving to New York," it would be a year before we'd be open, or at least six months. But his way, we won't have that problem. And, because Mark is the rental house downstairs, he'll be renting the Outpost Mobile Systems, which are so popular. And those will also be deployed immediately.

Have the Outpost systems ever been available to users in New York before?

Not really. We've done shows out there, but they're L.A.-based shows. We would just ship the carts out, and they'd be serviced in New York by Offhollywood.

And, just to be clear, you're moving to New York, but Light Iron remains a bi-coastal company, right?

Yes. We are staying here [in Los Angeles]. We are very strong here. This is an expansion. On our website, it now says Light Iron Los Angeles and Light Iron New York City. We've really grown up in L.A., and already expanded quite a bit. We have two locations here where we're doing 35 features a year and a number of TV shows, and it's perfect timing for us to take our development and training and our talent and technique and share it with another community. Los Angeles is still a very legacy-driven community and New York, as far as post is concerned, is, too. If we want to see the evolution in New York that we're experiencing in L.A., we're going to have to do it ourselves.

What's your take on the New York market, compared to Los Angeles? How do New York's cutting-edge production and post workflows compare to their counterparts on the West Coast?

I think the West Coast is still missing a lot, but the East Coast is as well. We actually do a couple of shows in New York where they don't use local New York post because they say it doesn't deliver. They're coming all the way to us, in Los Angeles, for a show shooting on the East Coast. Clearly that's an invitation for us to make our way out there. 

Where do you see the biggest opportunities in New York?

We're going to focus on fashion. We have a lot of contacts in the fashion industry, and in terms of motion picture advertising, fashion is not being harnessed well. We love doing super-high-res, high-fidelity fashion work, and that's one of the things we're going to target. Also, our television workflows with the Outpost system are the best in the world, and so much great television is photographed in New York. We really want to deliver the television community a totally amazing alternative.

For more information, see the official press release.

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