In March 2023, an AI platform for the film industry, Filmustage, announced a new $550,000 funding round.
Investors included Flyer One Ventures, Geek Ventures, Vesna Capital. The funding will help the startup enter new markets, develop new features, and make the platform available in Spanish, French, German, and other languages.
In this article, I’m unveiling three key reasons why F1V has added Filmustage to its portfolio.
Profile: Filmustage Filmustage is a U.S.-based startup founded in 2020. The startup simplifies pre-production in the film industry, reducing the time required for script breakdown from days and weeks to minutes. The platform uses AI to accelerate the process, enabling it to break down around 100 scenes within a minute. Once done, Filmustage also offers locations for shooting and it lists the needed props, sourcing them from marketplaces. In February 2023, Filmustage said it had more than 4,400 registered users. One of them is Roger Christian, a director and Oscar-winning set decorator recognized for his work on “Star Wars.” The company has raised two investment rounds in total: pre-Seed in 2022 and Seed in 2023.
Reason #1. High-performing team, CEO with experience in filmmaking
Filmustage was co-founded by Egor Dubrovsky, Ruslan Khamidullin, and Andrei Karalkou, who are originally from Belarus.
Prior to Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine, the founders lived in Ukraine, but have since left and are currently residing in various European countries such as Portugal and Lithuania.
The startup’s co-founder and CEO Egor Dubrovsky has worked in the movie industry for 10 years and in web development for nine years.
Once, after being robbed, he became stranded in the U.S. and had to wait until his documents were replaced. While waiting, he worked for a Hollywood studio that was producing a show for Netflix.
Another co-founder and CTO, Ruslan Khamidullin, has 11 years of experience in software development and five years in neural networks. Andrei Karalkou, the third co-founder and COO, has worked in software development and automation for 11 years.
The company’s co-founders have known each other since their university days.
Alexander Bobko, head of marketing and one of the company’s early hires, has over 10 years of marketing experience. He was the marketing director of Maps.me (with 140M downloads) and the ex-Latin America marketing director of Borzo (providing same-day delivery in 10 countries).
The startup’s team is adept at iterating ideas quickly and persistent enough to convert leads into deals. These qualities are very important for B2B. It usually takes much effort and time to convert B2B leads into sales; it can take up to a year or, in the film industry, even longer.
The co-founders are also good at networking. In fact, they were introduced to F1V by two friendly VC funds. Introductions matter a lot in the VC world; the movie industry, especially Hollywood, is also handshake-driven, so networking skills are very much needed in this field.
The founders of Filmustage have established personal connections with numerous Hollywood professionals who have either invested in the company, used its services, or served as advisors to the startup. Some notable names include Roger Christian, known for his work on Star Wars; Byron Saltysiak, former VP at WarnerMedia; and Chris LeDoux, co-founder of Crafty Apes.
“It’s mind-blowing how accurate and efficient their software is, and I truly believe it’s going to shake things up in the film industry,” LeDoux wrote on LinkedIn.
Reason #2. Huge & growing movie market
The video content industry has been expanding at a rapid pace. In 2020, it was valued at $235 billion; it is projected to surpass $400 billion by 2030.
Since the launch of Netflix in 2007 and the subsequent emergence of its key competitors such as Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Disney+, streaming platforms have become huge content producers.
According to TechCrunch, Netflix and HBO Max spend $18 billion on content each, while Disney spends approximately $33 billion.
Meanwhile, Amazon upped its content spending to $16.6 billion in 2022, a 28% increase from $13 billion in 2021. Another streaming service Paramount+ plans to boost its budget for content to $6 billion by 2024.
All content-creating companies, including Hollywood film studios and streaming services, write scripts and need to break them down and produce original content as quickly as possible to be on top of the competition.
Furthermore, both Filmustage's decision to seek funding and our fund's selection of an AI-driven startup were well-timed, aligning with a surge in interest in AI following the public launch of ChatGPT.
Reason #3. Innovative tool & startup-investor fit
Filmustage is a SaaS early-stage startup with an innovative B2B product, which perfectly aligns with our industry focus. Its software helps film creators cut costs and save time on pre-production. While it could take days or weeks to complete a scene breakdown manually, Filmustage provides an editable breakdown within minutes; it has up to 86% accuracy rate.
“Previously, filmmakers only used AI tools in post-production. The pre-production phase lacked innovation, and Filmustage created an effective solution,” says Vital Laptenok, general partner at Flyer One Ventures.
By breaking down the script, the software creates separate scenes, pointing up characters, locations, costumes, props, extras, and more. The summary tool compiles all the elements of a scene onto a single page.
Filmmakers can use breakdown sheets to quickly assess the number of locations required for a film, the number of scenes in which each actor appears, and even the props and costumes needed for each scene.
Filmustage’s semi-automatic shooting schedule feature helps create a stripboard schedule and assists with location scouting and assignment. It also allows for the addition of visual references from stocks or uploads and helps manage issues like children's safety, copyright law, and other potential concerns.
The platform is integrated with popular production tools such as Movie Magic and Gorilla Scheduling and offers a 7-day trial.
Filmustage's product sets itself apart from rivals like StudioBinder and Celtx by offering an automatic script breakdown and scheduling service, rather than simply providing tools for manual breakdown. These features have proven to be highly effective, as evidenced by the impressive ROI of over 6,000% experienced by some of Filmustage’s clients.
The startup has provided substantial evidence of the product-market fit. Its monthly revenue and about a hundred solid leads prove it, as well as plenty of deals in the works with big players in the film industry.
Filmustage’s software is used by well-known filmmakers such as Mark Kolpak, a producer and director (he worked on “S.H.I.E.L.D.”); Callan Green, a director of photography (“The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” “The Enforcer”); and Andrew Giannetta, a producer and director of photography (“Dead in the Head,” “Cry-Baby”).
“I worked for over 10 years in the industry and always wondered why we couldn’t automate some of the most time-consuming processes in filmmaking,” says Egor Dubrovsky, co-founder of Filmustage.
“Even in the U.S., a hotbed for filmmakers, creators face the same problem,” he says.
Read more about Filmustage on TechCrunch.