With digital filming the new norm for action flicks, Michael Mansouri has found an opportunity to build and rent custom rigs for directors experimenting with filming techniques.

The co-founder of L.A. camera house Radiant Images said the instant feedback of digital filming has emboldened some directors to experiment with unusual cameras to achieve unique perspectives.

“They come to us when they have a challenging shot and want to do something that hasn’t been done before,” Mansouri said.

Earlier this year, Radiant provided a custom camera for “End of Watch,” a cop drama that recently wrapped up five weeks of shooting in downtown and South Central Los Angeles.

David Ayer, the director, known for writing cop drama “Training Day,” asked Mansouri for a small camera to be mounted on lead character Jake Gyllenhaal’s chest. The idea was to capture the perspective of the character, a Los Angeles Police Department officer, as gunshots are fired at him and he gets in fights.

To make it happen, Mansouri’s brother and partner, Babak Mansouri, whittled down their standard 15-pound, 2,000-pixel camera into a tiny hand-held version. The camera looks like a point-and-shoot, but maintains theatrical quality video. The brothers now rent the camera, called SI-2K Nano, for $895 per day.

Michael Mansouri said rentals for a full suite of cameras often cost filmmakers between $10,000 and $15,000 a day, though the rate can go higher for unusual requests. In addition to the Nano, Radiant supplied all of the other cameras for the “End of Game” shoot, including car-mounted rigs and more standard setups.

After viewing the results at a recent screening, Mansouri said he was satisfied to give viewers a new perspective without using 3-D; the movie will only be shown in 2-D.

“You feel like you’re getting shot at or you’re getting hit. It breaks the third wall, which is the screen,” Mansouri said.

Seeing Red

NowLive produces and streams live entertainment events online, focusing on red-carpet arrivals at movie premieres. It even handled last weekend’s Academy Awards arrivals.

But even though the Oscar ceremony has passed, the Westwood startup is hoping it’s just hitting its stride.

Chief Executive Sara Bordo launched NowLive a year ago, seeing an opportunity to promote movies with social media, which she is certain will become an increasingly vital part of studio marketing budgets.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t betting my business on it,” said Bordo, a former digital executive at studios Paramount Pictures and MGM Inc.

The company has produced and streamed about 30 live events, including the premiere of last year’s “Twilight” installment. Earlier this month, NowLive was hired by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. for the premiere of “Good Deeds,” the latest movie by actor-director Tyler Perry.

NowLive produced and streamed two days of promotional festivities for the movie in Los Angeles, including a Q&A panel with Perry at the Four Seasons Los Angeles hotel Feb. 13 and the red-carpet arrivals for the movie’s premiere at L.A. Live the next night. The streams were made available to Perry’s 6.5 million Facebook fans, as well as visitors to Yahoo Movies, which attracts about 25 million monthly visitors.

The company usually charges studios between $40,000 and $80,000 for an event, though prices can hit $200,000 depending on the number of cameras desired. NowLive contracts a separate production company to handle filming.

While those fees have been the sole source of revenue to date, Bordo said her company will create new revenue by selling advertisements by the end of the quarter.

Ratings Dollars

Costa Mesa station KOCE-TV (50) is hoping British period drama “Downton Abbey” can do for donations what it’s done for ratings: boost them.

The show brought in more than 100,000 viewers for KOCE each Sunday night of its recently concluded second season, with the series’ Feb. 19 season finale drawing a reported 166,000 viewers.

Those number raised the station’s average prime-time viewership during January to 47,000, up 12 percent from the same month last year and 149 percent from January 2010, before the station became the primary carrier of PBS in Los Angeles under the PBS SoCal moniker.

PBS SoCal President Mel Rogers said he expects the viewership boost from “Downton Abbey” to pay off in donations to the station.

“It all comes on the back end,” he said. “You don’t start out with more donors, you start with more viewers.”

Staff reporter Jonathan Polakoff can be reached at jpolakoff@labusinessjournal.com or at (323)549-5225, ext. 226.

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