Breakwater Studios Breakout Films of 2019: Q&A with Founder Ben Proudfoot

**Breakwater Studios will screen selections from “Almost Famous” on Saturday, January 25th at Brand Storytelling 2020, a Sanctioned Event of Sundance Film Festival.

Almost Famous, a new series of four films released by Breakwater Studios in partnership with The New York Times, has garnered millions of views and as much attention since the series was released just before Christmas. The success of the series is one of many in 2019 for Ben Proudfoot, Founder and CEO of Breakwater Studios, who was named on Forbes 30 under 30 list for his success with Breakwater.

Brand Storytelling caught up with Proudfoot to learn more about the origins of Breakwater Studios, inspiration for the Almost Famous Series, and what to expect from the studio as they screen at Brand Storytelling 2020:

What inspired you to found Breakwater Studios?

I founded Breakwater Studios in 2011 out of sheer frustration and disappointment that movie studios didn't work they way I though they worked. When I moved to LA from Nova Scotia, I expected Hollywood to be comprised of booming creative campuses with department collaborating together for decades of their career. Instead I found a fractured, itinerant gig world where films were made over dropbox and email. I decided to start the company where I wanted to work and make movies.

When did investors come on board? How many rounds of investing did you do/have you done?

We partnered with Gigi Pritzker & Clint Kisker's MWM in October 2017, and we've closed two rounds with them, but far more important than cash is the transfer of their knowledge, acumen and relationships — it's transformed our business and given us a fighting chance in a highly competitive field.

How did you initially become involved in working with and securing financing with brands?

First time I made a film financed by a brand was in 2014. My friend Jeff Hurlow at Vimeo Brand Studio (now shuttered) reached out to me. I had a couple Vimeo Staff Picks, and Vimeo had a partnership with an agency that had a partnership with Charles Schwab. We made a 4-minute short documentary for Schwab and that kicked off a wonderful and continuing relationship with Kirstin Falk and her team.