EXCLUSIVE: After 15 years as co-CEO of international production group Umedia, Adrian Politowski has stepped down to launch LA-based production and finance outfit Align. The new company, co-founded by Umedia’s Nadia Khamlichi, intends to deploy $150M from now through 2022, focusing on three-five English-language projects per year across film and television, and with budgets in the $5M-$30M range. Align is backed by its officers as well as high-net-worth individuals out of Europe.
The company’s first project to launch, Blithe Spirit, began principal photography last week. A comedy, it’s directed by Downton Abbey’s Edward Hall and stars Leslie Mann, Dan Stevens, Isla Fisher and Judi Dench. Align is majority financing with additional equity secured by Fred Films.
Politowski tells me that after working with dozens of titles a year at Umedia, he “wanted to produce fewer films and be much more involved in them.” Khamlichi, with whom he co-founded Umedia, remains CEO of that company while also acting as Chairwoman of Align and sitting on the investment committee. Politowski is still on the board of Umedia, but no longer has an operational role.
Projects at Align, which is “agnostic to genre,” may originate internally or through a collaboration with third party producers. Politowski says the company will “board both features and TV in a very flexible manner. It could vary from taking more of an executive producer role and financing, all the way up to being lead producer or boarding at a later stage. There’s no set formula, we’re driven by the project and the team around it.”
As an example, Politowski says Blithe Spirit “fits perfectly into the types of projects we want to be part of. It’s a brilliant and funny screenplay that has attracted outstanding talent, is surrounded by a strong production team, has generated considerable interests from distributors and is made for the ‘right’ budget. Most importantly it’s a film we feel passionate about.”
Headquartered in LA, Align has a strong international presence with staff in London, Brussels and Luxemburg. The executive ranks also include SVP of Production, Martin Metz; Head of Legal and Business Affairs, Nessa McGill; and VP of Production, Sierra Garcia. Mark Wheeler and Fred Malmberg of Pathfinder will also serve as senior consultants.
Politowski and Khamlichi launched Umedia in 2004 and grew it into a $100M+ turnover international production group with 200 staff. Since 2004, it has raised and financed over $630M, coproduces 50+ features/TV series a year and its VFX division has grown into the largest in Benelux. Among Politowski’s credits while at the company are Oscar-winner The Artist, Mandy, HBO’s My Brilliant Friend, What Happened To Monday, Grace Of Monaco, Yves Saint Laurent, The Mustang and I Kill Giants.