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Medient expected to have master plan finished soon

POSTED: February 24, 2014 8:47 p.m.

Medient Studios is expected to present a master plan in the next 30 days for its planned production complex, according to Effingham Industrial Development Authority CEO John Henry.

Henry said the studio is working on a revised master plan that will focus more on building the movie, video and gaming production facilities than a recent proposal that included housing in the first phase of construction.

“They are working steadfastly on signing with a general contractor and working on revising the master plan,” Henry said.

The studio has a memorandum of understanding for a massive project on 1,550 acres off Interstate 16 and Old River Road. The first phase includes the studio and video and gaming production facilities.

Last month, Medient completed its acquisition of Atlas Film Distribution, a deal that had been months in the making. Jay Self, Medient’s president and head of corporate affairs, said it is crucial to have a distribution arm.

“Distribution is a key component to any media company that wants to remain sustainable,” he said.

Atlas arranges financing for movies and also provides marketing and distribution services and global sales for films.

“Distribution is one of the great unknowns to every producer, every director,” said Self, “anybody who is trying to put a project together. It’s one of the biggest unknowns in how a project is financed.”

Atlas was founded in 1967 and is one of the oldest independent film sales agents in Europe. It also boasts a library of more than 250 films.

“They have a history,” Self said.

Self, who joined Medient in November, explained that most distribution channels are funnels. “You’re competing with other content producers to get content out,” he said. “It happens all the time — someone make a great film and it never gets distributed.”

He also called knowing how film markets work “very important.” Medient’s plan is to produce movies in as many as four different languages to overseas markets.

“It’s important to understand what you’re going to do with your product before you market it,” Self said. “The major growth is outside the U.S. To ignore those markets would be silly.”

The studio also appointed Merriman Capital as its capital markets advisor for the OTCQX market, which trades over-the-counter. According to the studio, the OTCQX provides investors with objective measures to distinguish the best over-the-counter-traded companies, and many companies join the OTCQX as a final step before a listing on the NASDAQ or New York Stock Exchange.

“There are long-term investors and short-term investors,” Self said. “People who are interested in good investments understand those don’t come from speculation. It comes from people who are investing for a reason.”

According to Securities and Exchange Commission filings, Medient CEO Manu Kumaran converted $660,000 of his own loans to the company into more than 10.3 million shares of Medient stock, at 6.4 cents per share.

“The price of the stock is not indicative of the worth of the company,” Self said. “There’s a lot more that goes into a stock price.”

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