A lot is going on in Hollywood these days with films and shows debuting, but also navigating carefully through the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strike, whether that be through waivers to continue forward or stand still and/or supporting through other means.
Amongst the Hollywood noise, one company has a lot on the horizon for fans to look forward to. We sat down with Brian M. Conley, Founder and CEO of Conley Entertainment Group to discuss his new feature film, the apocalyptic thriller, “Last Night On Earth”, the psychological thriller, “Traction”, which he is set to produce this fall, and his company’s ambitious plans for 2024 and beyond, including his thoughts on the current status hitting the entertainment industry.
Let’s get right into it Brian… “Last Night On Earth”, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May, was your fifth feature film in five years! Your prior expertise was in the energy sector, but obviously you are making quick waves for the positive in film!
Movies have always been my first love. We took Last Night On Earth to the Cannes Marketplace this year to find an international distributor, which, thankfully all four of our previous films were successful in procuring.
And were you successful, so it shows that you are doing something right!
Very much so. We have had numerous offers to distribute the film, including offers for a wide theatrical release, but I was never worried about finding a distributor for Last Night On Earth. It is hands down the best film we have produced.
So have you inked a deal with anyone yet?
No. The movie is being represented by The Gersh Agency, and they have advised us to take our time. Their thinking is that the dearth of new content created by the WGA and SAG strikes will increase the demand for quality finished product, and Last Night On Earth certainly fits that criteria.
You mentioned the strikes. Do you have a position on them?
We are sympathetic to the grievances of both the writers and the actors, but we also recognize the challenges faced by the studios and streaming services. Basically, the entire business model has to be redone and we are not optimistic that they will find the solutions in the near term.
How is the strike affecting Conley Entertainment Group?
We are an independent producer and a non-struck company. We have applied for a waiver from SAG so that we can proceed with filming our next feature this fall.
Can you tell us a little bit about it?
“Traction” is a Hitchcockian psychological thriller written by James Robert Johnston and, Bennett Yellin, who co-wrote Dumb and Dumber with the Farrelly brothers. It’s a really terrific script, which we are thrilled to be producing.
That’s all we are going to get out of you?
I’m afraid so. Don’t want to give too much away.
Understood. You were recently featured in a big media article which named you as one of the city’s most innovative “movers and shakers.” Congrats! Can you tell us a bit more about the innovative things you are doing?
That’s a great question and I’m not sure I know the answer. I am relatively new to the industry. My background is in the energy sector, but I also have a good deal of experience in real estate and multimedia, including newspapers and e-commerce. I have been very fortunate to find myself with the time and resources to fully dedicate myself to my first love, which I believe is evident from Conley Entertainment Group’s track record over the past five years.
I can tell you that I am dedicated to being the best feature film and television producer I can be.
You mentioned television. I read elsewhere that you have several television properties in development.
Yes. And those have been negatively impacted by the strikes. Essentially, everything is on hold until the writers and actors resolve their issues with the major studios and streamers.
So you’re just focused on Traction at present?
The closer we move to our shoot date, Traction will necessarily fill up more of our bandwidth, but, no, we are always focused on finding great screenplays, whether for film or television. We are actively working with the agencies to get them to send us their best scripts. We have faced a number of challenges since 2018, but we’ve kept our head down. During the pandemic, I must have read 200 scripts before finding Last Night On Earth.
Hopefully the strikes won’t last forever. Where do you see Conley Entertainment Group in 2024 and beyond?
The key to longevity in any business is generating revenue and having access to capital, which we are fortunate to have. We are in this for the long haul. Our goal is to produce bigger and better feature films each time out and to get a firm foothold in the world of television. I believe we currently have ten television properties in different stages of development.
And let’s not shine away from another big deal… You won an Emmy this past spring?!
That’s an amazing start!
It’s a start.