By Jill Goldsmith
Robert Halmi’s Great Point Studios has partnered with Spain’s Grup Mediapro to form Phygital FX, offering expansive production services and led by Mediapro veteran Mario Sousa.
Plans are for the joint venture, initially a U.S. project, to expand globally, providing full production services to the film and television industry from stage and studio rentals; rental equipment including lighting, grip and electric; postproduction services; graphics; and virtual production services.
Halmi told Deadline that Phygital has committed more than $50 million to acquire state-of-the-art lighting and grip equipment, and set aside 200,000 square feet of space to store it in across Great Point’s growing roster of studio locations. Lionsgate Studio Yonkers is up and running while still being built out. Great Point now has 63 film stages open or under construction at locations in Yonkers, Atlanta, Buffalo, Newark and Wales. Halmi stepped in as did other developers to address the deficit of studio space as streaming led to a surge in content production.
Phygital (the name is a combination of the words “physical: and “digital”) will also offer services to interested productions outside the Great Point network.
Spain-based Mediapro is an anchor tenant at Lionsgate Studios Yonkers. The European media powerhouse, which produces more than 12,000 live events each year, along with 13 top-tier national soccer competitions, as well as scripted and unscripted content, has a major global equipment and technology business.
Sousa, who was most recently in Miami for Mediapro, moved to New York in 2019 to extend its production services Stateside, ultimately landing a base at Mediapro stages in Yonkers. Halmi, at the same time, wanted to offer Great Point producers the convenience of not having to haul in their own equipment, and to provide the latest of what the market has to offer as productions, especially TV, have expanded, becoming bigger, more multilayered and complex.
Halmi proposed a broad venture servicing all Great Point locations, and the broader industry, but didn’t have anyone in house to lead it. That led to the JV with Phygital and Sousa at the helm.
The company has been active for a while, servicing production from Raising Kanan to Winston, but just closed all the JV documents and formally named Sousa CEO of what the exec called “a one-stop shop for technical stages services.”
That also coincided with strikes by writers and actors in a time of upheaval in the entertainment industry. As a result, Souza said he’s pivoted a bit, now looking at musicals, which are still up and running, commercial shoots and other productions that need lighting and services. “This is a start-up,” he said. “So we need to try. … These now are some of my priorities.”
When the strikes end and productions return — to sets that were left on stages — the company is ready to gear up.