Fanny and Nelson Grande, both actors and producers, saw a need for independent filmmakers struggling through the difficult and sometimes demoralizing process of funding a project, filming it and getting distribution. Their shingle, Avenida, gets in on the ground floor, offering clients guidance in crowdfunding and its management, pre-production, production and post, distribution and marketing, and focuses on Latino, women and LGBTQ-plus creators, underrepresented voices that they advocate for with a lot of energy and enthusiasm.
Now, Avenida offers studio space an affordable rate to indies. With 7,000 sq.-ft., the space on Beverly Boulevard near Echo Park in Los Angeles — about an eight- to 10-minute drive to downtown L.A. — is being built out with a green screen, hospital set, an apartment, a jail cell, building facades, a flexible screening space that can seat up to 50-100, plus an airplane fuselage and elevator bank — sets that can be priced out of range for indie creators.
Avenida also includes an airy costume and makeup room with specialty lighting and loads of natural light, a greenroom, a meeting room and a kitchen; ADR and post production suites are in the works. There’s mesh network Wi-Fi throughout the entire studio.
“So what we’re doing, taking a true stand for independent filmmakers is really providing them with all of the resources they need to successfully shoot their projects,” Nelson says.
The common areas are inspired by the couple’s experience at WeWork facilties: bright, open and comfortable to encourage idea swapping. Plus, the neighborhood is packed with fantastic little restaurants. The space is also decorated with work from local Latino artists.
“We want people to feel like, ‘OK, I have all the comforts and everything I need,’ ” Fanny says. “You don’t get the scraps, the leftovers—everything that they really need to feel inspired,” adds Nelson.
Producers can rent out the entire first floor of the facility, and filmmakers can also apply to Avenida to help take their projects from an idea to distribution. The Grandes aim to empower emerging voices.
“A lot of [other] places are like $5,000 and above for a day, which is a 12-hour block. We’ll be working with numbers under that because we want to get people in here, but also, again, we’re doing this for independent filmmakers. We don’t want to be out of reach,” he says. “We’re not going to be the cheapest because you get a lot here, but we are going to be affordable and competitive.”
“We are working with filmmakers, mostly from underrepresented communities that haven’t had access to college, to the
resources [that others have],” Fanny says.
Avenida is getting ready to launch its own crowdfunding platform soon.
So along with the new space for productions, the couple are digging into the community. Highland Park native Nelson remembers what it was like to have productions film in his neighborhood, and the couple are very much committed to the “see it to be it” school of thought. Avenida has an internship program and hosts various workshops, while also reaching out to Los Angeles city councilman Mitch O’Farrell about education programs revolving around content creation and below-the-line training for local students.
“We want to put our roots in the neighborhood and start programs with the local schools and start teaching the youngsters about a career in the industry,” Nelson says.
They run Avenida with the goal to transform the entertainment industry from within for Black, brown, Indigenous and LGBTQ+ creatives. “Best thing to do. You empower yourself. You’re not waiting for someone to give you a role. You can show them. This is what you can do,” Fanny says.
Fanny and Nelson are also exploring studio spaces in Atlanta and San Antonio.
“Just a funny thing on the wordplay on Avenida. Avenida means avenue in Spanish. And for us, we’ve just had to take all this new avenue into Hollywood. To create your own avenue,” Nelson says.
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