Recent upgrades at the Margarita Mix postproduction house have brought a bevy of reality TV business through the door.

It started when parent company, postproduction firm FotoKem in Burbank, wired Margarita Mix’s Hollywood and Santa Monica locations with high-speed fiber optics.

The fiber optics connect Margarita Mix with all of FotoKem’s other postproduction facilities, helping to cut down on time and costs, said FotoKem Senior Vice President Rand Gladden, who added that it has been particularly attractive to creators of reality TV, often on tight budgets and timelines.

“This has helped control the costs and make it more efficient for reality shows,” he said. “It has tripled our revenue in the reality market.”

Reality shows that have come through Margarita Mix since the beginning of last year include MTV’s “Ridiculousness,” History’s “Top Gear U.S.A.” and National Geographic’s “Life Below Zero.”

For postproduction workers, the network allows greater flexibility in completing tasks, Gladden said. For example, sound mixing, which formerly came at the end of the postproduction process, can now be completed at the same time as video editing. The network also allows for quicker transfer of content compared with hand-delivering tapes from across town.

Domestic and international clients with access to the network can also send and receive video works in progress.

FotoKem also owns L.A. Studios, a Hollywood sound facility used primarily for animation, as well as postproduction facilities Keep Me Posted in Burbank and Spy Post in San Francisco.

Margarita Mix started out as an audio mixing facility for commercials more than three decades ago. It has diversified in the three years since FotoKem purchased it and recently installed two suites for color finishing.

Producers rent space from Margarita Mix and pay a fee depending on the amount of time and attention needed to complete the job. Finishing 13 episodes of a reality show can take 16 to 20 weeks. Margarita Mix staff acts as technical support.

Gladden said the studio is now trying to increase its business serving producers of one-hour dramas.

Poster Boys

When reggae musician Jimmy Cliff starred in “The Harder They Come” 40 years ago, his music helped the movie earn cult status – and to a lesser extent, so did the movie’s iconic poster.

The film is now getting a theatrical re-release in September, but this time, with a twist. Its distributor, Syndctd Entertainment of Los Angeles, is crowdsourcing new artwork for a poster. Syndctd hired crowdsourcing firm Creative Allies to find a fan-generated work to be used for the theatrical run.

The idea is that fan-generated content can lead to greater buzz, especially on social media, than a normal promotion, said Creative Allies co-founder Greg Lucas, who runs the firm’s Santa Monica operations.

“The viral reach of our content is really significant,” he said. “That authentic engagement is a lot more valuable than a sponsored promotion.”

Creative Allies ran a contest on its site that ended in late July. It gave designers some guidelines for their entries: For example, the poster needed to have an illustration-based design, mention the movie’s 40th anniversary and display credits.

Crowdsourcing isn’t yet widely used for theatrical movie posters, but the strategy has attracted significant interest from musical acts. For example, Creative Allies ran a contest earlier this year to find album art for a recent Counting Crows release.

Creative Allies is paid a fee for running the contests, although Lucas would not say how much.

Lucas, a former music manager, co-founded the company in 2009 with Sean O’Connell, a music marketer. They raised $500,000 of seed funding in 2011 and have other offices in New York and Asheville, N.C. Lucas moved to Los Angeles two years ago to expand the company’s clientele in the entertainment industry.

Other plans include launching an e-commerce store to sell items, such as T-shirts, based on fan-generated artwork.

Creative Allies expects to announce the winner of the Jimmy Cliff contest this week. The designer will be awarded $500.

Producer Expanding

It was just in December that U.K. independent TV production giant All3Media launched its L.A.-based offshoot, All3Media America. Now it has new digs.

Last week, All3Media, which produces TV shows including CBS’ “Undercover Boss,” announced it has expanded into 50,000 square feet at the Howard Hughes Center and named Amy Hussey chief operating officer.

The move follows All3Media’s acquisition last year of Studio Lambert, which produces “Undercover Boss.” The new facility will house Studio Lambert as well as All3Media America’s production companies, including Zoo Productions and Maverick Television.

Hussey was previously executive vice president at Studio Lambert, where she worked on such series as “Undercover Boss” and AMC’s “The Pitch.”

All3Media America is in production on series including “Million Second Quiz” at NBC, “Inside Job” at TNT and “Supermarket Superstar” at Lifetime.

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

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